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Steelers LB T.J. Watt Earns NFL Network’s Top 100 Honors

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Since 2011, NFL Network has polled NFL players to compile a list of the top 100 players heading into the following season. The lists are averaged, finalized, and aired through a series of episodes that involves commentary from various players in the league. The Pittsburgh Steelers have seen their fair share of players crack the list, even going as high as the number two spot for 2018 when Antonio Brown earned such honors.

The 2019 countdown began on Monday night, with players 100-91 revealed on the opening episode. Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt saw his name called as the 93rd best player in the league voted by his peers.

 

Watt’s play has been met with high praise from those who share the gridiron with him. “I think for T.J. understanding the growth it takes from year one to year two, I thought T.J. showed more growth in his pass rush” said Steelers defensive linemen Cameron Heyward on the show.

Much has been made of Watt’s family tree, one that includes brother and All-Pro pass rusher J.J. Watt. Some experts were weary on Watt during the draft process, simply believing his last name aided T.J. more than anything else. “For a guy like me, if my brother was J.J. Watt and I was coming into the league… I wouldn’t want that type of pressure” said Browns running back Duke Johnson.

Watt has quickly become one of the best young outside linebackers in the league after being selected with the 30th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. 2018 saw Watt lead the Steelers in sacks, bringing the quarterback down for a total of 13 times. Watt also added 68 tackles (17 tackles for loss) and 6 forced fumbles through last season as well. With more players to come as the list continues to be revealed, how many players will the Steelers land in the rest of the NFL Top 100?

NFL Network will release the rest of the episodes on consecutive days, with the final episode on July 31.

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Steelers Connections Abound in Chiefs-Buccaneers Super Bowl

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While the Pittsburgh Steelers saw their Super Bowl LV hopes dashed two weeks ago, fans will recognize plenty of familiar faces when the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet on Feb. 7.

Six players with Steelers ties are expected to take the field in either red or pewter on Super Bowl Sunday, with the two most notable examples being Tampa Bay wide receiver Antonio Brown and Kansas City running back Le’Veon Bell.

Both missed their respective championship games due to injury, but could return to health in time for the Super Bowl with two weeks to recover.

In addition, the Chiefs also boast guard Stefen Wisniewski and punter Dustin Colquitt, who both spent time in Pittsburgh earlier this season.

Wisniewski is in line to make his second-straight Super Bowl start in response to injuries along the Chiefs’ offensive line suffered Sunday, while Colquitt is on Kansas City’s practice squad.

Former Steelers defensive back Ross Cockrell and nose tackle Steve McLendon will take the field for the Buccaneers defensively.

But Tampa Bay’s Pittsburgh connections do not stop on the field, as the Buccaneers will also have six coaches with Steeler ties on the sideline for the big game, including head coach Bruce Arians.

Arians, who is in his second season in Tampa, spent eight years in Pittsburgh, serving as wide receivers coach (2004-06) before being elevated to offensive coordinator (2007-11).

Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich played under Arians in Pittsburgh, and had three separate stints with the Steelers as a backup quarterback to Ben Roethlisberger.

Tampa Bay also boasts assistant head coach and run game coordinator Harold Goodwin, outside linebackers coach Larry Foote, offensive assistant Antwaan Randle El and assistant coach Tom Moore.

Even with the Steelers at home watching along with the rest of the country, Pittsburgh should have no shortage of rooting interests when the Chiefs meet the Buccaneers in Tampa in two weeks time.

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Report: Steelers OL Coach Candidate Hank Fraley Retained in Detroit

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Former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Hank Fraley will reportedly be retained as the Detroit Lions’ offensive line coach, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett.

Pittsburgh reportedly interviewed Fraley last Thursday for their offensive line coach vacancy, but he has opted to remain with Detroit under new head coach Dan Campbell.

Fraley was a standout at Robert Morris before signing with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2000. He was waived prior to the season, but played ten seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams. Fraley has spent the last two seasons as Detroit’s offensive line coach.

Pittsburgh’s search for their next offensive coordinator and line coach continues. The Steelers chose not to retain Randy Fichtner and Shaun Sarrett earlier this month.

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Report: Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey Has Told Teammates He’ll Retire

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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.\

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