UNITY TWP., Pa. — The 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers had eight interceptions, which was the fifth-fewest total in the NFL.
In 2019, the Steelers are determined to increase that total.
The first step was the acquisition of free agent corner Steven Nelson, who had four all by himself for the Kansas City Chiefs last season and is expected to start opposite veteran Joe Haden.
But beyond that, the returning Steelers defensive backs are focused on grabbing more passing this coming season. For the most part, the team’s belief is that they put themselves into good position to make more picks than they did a year ago, but fell short in one crucial area: catching the ball.
So that’s the mantra of the defense backs corps this training camp: catch the ones that come to you.
“Just look back at last year,” strong safety Terrell Edmunds said. “We had a lot of balls that came to us that we just dropped.”
So far, that focus on receptions has led to long lines at the Juggs machine, with defensive backs taking reps at what is normally a wide receiver’s forte. It’s also meant for some punishment for those that fail to meet that expectation.
During Monday’s practice, dime corner Cameron Sutton had a gift-wrapped interception that would have easily gone for a defensive touchdown that clanged off his hands and hit the turf.
Immediately after, so did Sutton, as he performed some push-ups to atone for his misdeed. So far, that’s as far as the punishment has gotten. Well, that and some good-natured teasing.
“He didn’t do it,” Edmunds said. “He had to give us some push-ups. … Right now, it’s just push-ups at you get laughed at in the film room the second day.”
But Edmunds knows that if the Steelers are able to make those plays when the regular season starts, no one is going to be laughing.
“If we just made the plays that came to us, who knows how far we would have went?” he posited. “That’s the main focus. When you get a may, make the play, and don’t be happy for making a play that you should’ve made.”
Report: Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey Has Told Teammates He’ll Retire
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has told teammates that he will retire, according to a report by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Former Steelers guard Ramon Foster, now of DK Pittsburgh Sports, reported on Jan. 12 that Pouncey was “50-50” on whether he would return for the 2021 season.
The 31-year-old Pouncey just finished his 11th season in the NFL, all of which have been with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has one year remaining on his contract, which would pay him $14.475 million if he returns. Just $6.475 million of that is guaranteed. The Steelers would save $8 million in cap space if he retires.
Pouncey made the Pro Bowl for the ninth time in 2020 and has also been a five-time Associated Press All-Pro. He was also a member of the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team, largely giving him Hall of Fame credentials.\
JuJu Smith-Schuster Asks Fans to Give him Space
JuJu Smith-Schuster is experiencing the negative side effect of living so much of his personal life in the public eye. The Steelers receiver, who is looking for a new NFL contract, took to Instagram to ask fans to leave him alone.
This stems from allegations that fans are showing up to his family home in California while he is there. Obviously, fans have no right to show up unwelcome anywhere to stalk an an athlete or celebrity, but this is just another example of the polarization of Smith-Schuster’s career. While he’s received much criticism, most notably this past season, for his sometimes over-the-top behavior and seemingly prioritizing his brand at all times, he also has many avid supporters who would stop at nothing to defend one of their favorite players.
Smith-Schuster is set to be a free agent in March for the first time in his professional career. If the Steelers should try to bring back the receiver has become a hot debate among Pittsburgh fans, so much so Smith-Schuster himself addressed the situation during a live Twitch sessions with fans.
Even Smith-Schuster’s play on the field is often up for debate. He totaled 97 receptions, but for only 831 yards with an average of just 8.6 yards per catch, which is significantly lower than his average from past seasons, including 15.8 his rookie year and 13.1 in 2019.
When it comes to JuJu Smith-Schuster, it’s always best to just stay tuned.
Steelers’ Vance McDonald Reflects on Stiff Arm Moment, Relationship with Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers tight end Vance McDonald spoke to the media after officially announcing his retirement from the NFL. McDonald responded to a question about the play he’s most synonymous with by saying he embraces the famous stiff arm moment. He also detailed his interaction with Ben Roethlisberger when he told his quarterback he was planning to retire.