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.”
Highlights from Steelers Practice 10/22/20
Stephon Tuitt practices his footwork and Minkah Fitzpatrick works on his ball awareness as the Steelers defense prepares for their upcoming matchup with the Tennessee Titans.
Footage courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers
Highlights from Steelers Practice 10/21/20
Steelers receiver Diontae Johnson returns to practice and joins star rookie Chase Claypool by running routes and catching passes on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. The Steelers hope to show off their dynamic offense at full strength during the team’s game this Sunday against Tennessee.
Footage courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers
Le’Veon Bell Says He’s Never Played with an MVP-Caliber QB
Kansas City running back Le’Veon Bell spoke with the media Wednesday for the first time since signing with the Chiefs and expressed excitement about the chance to play with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but he may have taken a shot at his former teammate Ben Roethlisberger in the process.
“Patty Mahomes, I’ve never played with a player MVP-wise, so it’s gonna be fun,” Bell said. “I think it’s a lot of weapons, it’s gonna be fun for me.”
“Patty Mahomes…I’ve never played with a player MVP-wise so it’s gonna be fun. I think it’s a lot of weapons, it’s gonna be fun for me.”— The MMQB (@theMMQB) October 21, 2020
Le’Veon Bell talks about why he chose the Chiefs
While Bell could just be propping up his new teammate, it does appear that the three-time Pro Bowler has already forgotten just how good he had it as a Pittsburgh Steeler.
Roethlisberger has never won an MVP award, but the future Hall of Famer did post MVP-caliber numbers over the five seasons they spent together in Pittsburgh.
From 2013 to 2017, Roethlisberger passed for 21,221 yards and 138 touchdowns, as the Steelers went a combined 48-24 when he was under center. Bell was a clear beneficiary of Roethlisberger’s production. Not only did he rush for 5,336 yards and 35 scores as a Steelers, but he also caught 312 passes for 2,660 yards and seven touchdowns.
Bell signed with Kansas City last week after being released by the New York Jets following a disappointing 17 games with the franchise. The two-time All-Pro rushed for just 863 yards and three touchdowns as a Jet. He had no rushes over 19 yards while playing under head coach Adam Gase, and did not post a single 100-yard rushing performance in New York.
Pittsburgh selected Bell in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but the two sides were unable to agree to a long-term extension following a productive five years. Bell sat out the entirety of the 2018 season before signing a free agent contract with New York. He is fourth in Steelers history with 5,335 rushing yards and 35 rushing touchdowns