UNITY TWP, Pa. — While day one focused mostly on the players getting acclimated to their new home for the next few weeks, day two was all about business. The current Steelers welcomed legends of the past to St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania when Merril Hoge showed up to introduce the 2019 class for the Hall of Honor. This gave the young team a chance to impress those who wore the black and gold before them.
Rookie running back Benny Snell flashed his giant smile when asked about interacting with the fans at camp. Snell, a Kentucky product, is dealing with this type of atmosphere for the first time – a rabid fan base that eats and sleeps their football team.
A FOCUS ON THE PASS RUSH
Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar led a drill session for the defensive ends and line backers. Cam Heyward, one of the most veteran leaders on the team, also took charge of making sure his teammates were performing the drill properly.
Even though the Steelers still practiced without pads, the intensity was turned up for the Saturday practice. As become a trend through the opening weekend of training camp, newly signed receiver Donte Moncrief impressed fans in attendance and JuJu Smith-Schuster appears to be even better, which could be a scary thought for opposing defenses.
One of the major highlights was when JuJu caught a ball in the back of the end zone for a first team offense touchdown.
It was a bit of a better day for the Steelers defense, who managed a couple stops, including Kameron Kelley picking off a bad Josh Dobbs pass and Artie Burns getting in the way of a pass intended for James Washington.
Outside linebacker T.J. Watt remains the only key injury. He did not practice and is still listed on the physically unable to perform list with hamstring tightness. Head coach Mike Tomlin characterized him as day-to-day.
He was one again replaced in the base defense by Anthony Chickillo.
Kevin Colbert’s daughter Jennifer and her kids visited camp for the first time this year.
Steelers Connections Abound in Chiefs-Buccaneers Super Bowl
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.
Report: Steelers OL Coach Candidate Hank Fraley Retained in Detroit
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.
Some good news for Lions fans still coming to grips with the news Matthew Stafford likely will be playing elsewhere in 2021:— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) January 24, 2021
Respected OL coach Hank Fraley will be back with the team, and Dave Fipp could be joining him as ST coach now that the Eagles are letting him interview.
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.
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.\