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Daily Links: Steelers Get (Some) Playoff Help; Highsmith Pro Bowl Snub



Steelers OLB Alex Highsmith

The Pittsburgh Steelers got a small amount of playoff help on Thursday night, and Alex Highsmith not being selected to the 2023 NFL Pro Bowl is looking like a snub.

🏈 With the Jacksonville Jaguars beating the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football, it improved the Pittsburgh Steelers playoff odds from 0.5% to 0.7%, per Five Thirty Eight.

🏈 Alex Highsmith is seventh in the league with 11.0 sacks. He’s the only player in the top 10 who didn’t make the Pro Bowl, however. Chris Wormley believes Highsmith got snubbed.

🏈 Minkah Fitzpatrick thanked friends, family and peers for voting him to the Pro Bowl. Fitzpatrick led all free safeties in votes in the AFC.

🏈 Saint Vincent College President Father Paul Taylor released a statement on the passing of Franco Harris. “The Saint Vincent community cherishes our long friendship with Franco Harris. As we all mourn this loss, we offer sympathies and prayers to his wife, Dana; the Harris family; and the Steelers organization. We commend him to our loving Savior.”

🏈 Joe Paterno’s son, Jay, penned an article on how integrity, loyalty and compassion guided Franco Harris. “While the time on his clock may have ended, he hustled toward the goal line until the final whistle. We will all forever remember those hands reaching to make the impossible happen and his youthful stride down the sideline and the joy of miraculous victory. And in that memory, we will see that spark and hope’s fire rekindled time and time again,” Paterno wrote.

🏈 Jim Rooney shared a video of Franco Harris taking a stand against the Ku Klux Khan outside the Pittsburgh City-County Building in April of 1997. “Conviction, @francoharrishof stood up to the KKK & those who promulgate hate,” Rooney tweeted. “He stood with political candidates he believed in. His principals were clear, while using decency & kindness in his approach. A Role Model!”

🏈 Al Vento Jr., son of “Franco’s Italian Army” co-creator, reflects on the late running back’s legacy. “He called me up six months ago, maybe, and he said, ‘Al, I’m going to be selling Franco’s Italian Army shirts,’” Vento said. “He goes, ‘I want you to tell me a charity. You’re going to get 25% of the charitable donations from the shirt. Where do you want it to go?’ … His legacy is more than football. His legacy is being a humanitarian and a great human being.”

🏈 Pittsburgh based artist Cody Sabol announced he will be painting at the Steelers-Raiders game on Saturday as part of the pregame ceremony honoring Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception.

🏈 Franco Harris was on Cam Heyward’s Not Just Football podcast  on Tuesday — just hours before his untimely death. During the interview, Harris and Heyward reminisced about the Immaculate Reception. Harris talked about what he was supposed to do during the play, what he remembers after catching the ball, and what transpired after the incredible catch (including when he wound up alone in a restaurant with the entire Raiders team).

🏈 Warren Sharp shared the best footage out there on the Immaculate Reception, which occurred 50 years ago on Friday. Franco Harris’ miraculous play changed the Steelers franchise forever.

🎂 Happy Birthday to Hall of Fame Steelers linebacker Jack Ham, who turns 74 today.

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🏈 Baylor NT Siaki Ika has declared for the 2023 NFL Draft, he announced on Thursday. Ika is 6-foot-4 and 358 pounds and is the best pure run defender in the class at the nose tackle position. His combination of twitchy athleticism and heavy hands gives him a three-down skillset. He should go early in the second round, and for the Steelers, the Bears; a second-round pick could be perfect to select Ika.

🏈 Pitt DT Calijah Kancey has declared for the 2023 NFL Draft, he announced on Thursday. Kancey is only listed as 6 foot, but he was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and a First-Team All-American in a year that saw him put up 7.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. He is still recovering from shoulder surgery, which could complicate things, but Kancey has day two talent.

🏈 Oregon LB Noah Sewell has declared for the 2023 NFL Draft, he announced on Thursday. Sewell, the brother of Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell, registered 56 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, an interception, and 6 passes defended. Throughout his career at Oregon, Sewell has been a stalwart in the conference, winning Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2020. His upside and athleticism stand to make him an intriguing day-two talent for teams.

🏈 In a new mock draft conducted by Kent Platte of Pro Football Network, the Steelers land, yet again, Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. While most will point to the need at cornerback for the Steelers, Platte has more than just that for why Porter should be in Pittsburgh.

“He’s gotten his hands on the football more times in 2022 than he did in the previous three years combined,” Platte wrote. “While Porter’s not a big turnover machine, he has the athletic talent and instincts to put himself in position more often than he’s in the wrong spot, and that’s a valuable trait for an NFL defender.”

The Steelers have had a number of coverage busts this year, so this seems like a valuable trait for a cornerback to have. Porter continues to be the consensus pick for the Steelers at this point.

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