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Steelers to Start with Vets Tyson Alualu, Matt Feiler at NT, LG

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The Steelers don’t have a ton of holes to fill heading into the 2020 season, as they return the fifth-most starting snaps from 2019 of any NFL team.

The two biggest holes are at left guard and nose tackle, where the departures of Javon Hargrave to free agency and Ramon Foster to retirement have created significant voids in the team’s rotation.

On a conference call with members of the Pittsburgh media on Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin gave his first indication as to who will fill those roles.

Tomlin said that Matt Feiler will get the first shot at being the starting left guard, while Tyson Alualu will start at nose tackle.

Alualu, 33, is entering his third season with the team. The 6-foot-3, 304-pound veteran spent his first three seasons as a valuable backup at defensive end, making 12 starts over three years in the stead of injured starters Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.

The 2019 season was his among most productive. Filling in after Tuitt was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Playing in all 16 games and making five starts, Alualu had 41 total tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack.

Alualu is entering the final season of a two-year, $5.75 million contract extension.

Tyson Alualu rushes the passer against the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field on Dec. 15, 2019 — Ed Thompson

Feiler, 27, made 16 starts last season for the Steelers at right tackle in his first full season as a starter after filling in to make 10 starts at that spot in 2018. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Bloomsburg grad played guard previously, getting into five games and making one start at right guard in 2017 and playing one game in his first season with the team in 2016.

Feiler recently re-signed with the team by inking his second-round restricted free agent tender for the 2020 season. He will be an unrestricted free agent heading into 2021.

Moving Feiler to left guard will create a vacancy at right tackle, with 22-year-old Chukwuma Okorafor and 26-year-old Zach Banner likely vying for that spot. Feiler’s move to left guard will also solidify that free-agent signing Stefen Wisniewski will be the team’s top interior backup.

Steelers

Steelers QB Josh Dobbs Working with NASA for 2nd Straight Year

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Josh Dobbs is joining the NASA Kennedy Space Flight Center for the second straight offseason.

The collaboration is a part of the NFLPA’s virtual Externship program, which provides players with professional development experiences to prepare them for their careers after football.

Dobbs is part of an exclusive group of just 52 players participating in the program. His placement with NASA will last through the end of March.

“We believe that this year’s virtual Externship experience will provide our player members with a unique opportunity to broaden their knowledge, skillset and network in new, innovative ways that will serve them well during life after football,” NFLPA Player Manager Connor Ford said.

Dobbs’ mental acumen is well-documented, as the quarterback left the University of Tennessee with a degree in aerospace engineering in 2017.

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Steelers

Steelers RB Trey Edmunds Shares Love of Reading with Local Students

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Pittsburgh Steelers running back Trey Edmunds has been a lifelong lover of reading, a passion he shared with local students on Tuesday’s celebration of Read Across America Day.

Edmunds joined students at Pittsburgh Faison for a virtual assembly and read New York Times best seller, What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada.

“I am blessed and humbled to be amongst you guys today and to represent another part of the community and be able to read to you,” Edmunds told Steelers.com. “I am so happy to be here today. What I do want to say is I was in some of the same positions as you guys. I grew up listening to people come back and read to me. Some of those same people I have been in contact with many years later. Some of those same things they have read to me, I have had the privilege of reading to some of the people I mentor, some of the young people in my life, whether it’s cousins, nephews. I am extremely happy today.”

Edmunds also surprised the student with a copy of his own book My Brother’s Keeper – What This Means to Me…, written alongside with his brothers Terrell and Tremaine. Terrell is a safety for Pittsburgh, while Tremaine is a standout linebacker for the Buffalo Bills.

Edmunds’ love of reading came from his mother Felicia, who as an educator, always championed the important of the skill.

“My mother is an elementary school teacher, so she had me doing all of that stuff when I was in high school, college, as a matter of fact I have to go to her school to read for the month of March,” he told Steelers.com. “It keeps me on my toes, attentive. I am a big reader myself, so when I get the opportunity to read to kids, I like that type of interaction.”

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Should Steelers Sign Zach Banner to be Starter in 2021?

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Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault.

He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. With Banner expected to be ready for a return next season, should the Steelers sign the 27-year-old with the anticipation that he could be a key piece to bolster the offensive line that was missing during the 2020 season?

Do you believe in Zach Banner? Comment below with why or why not.

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