Last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers officially inked former Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Steven Nelson to a three-year, $25.5 million deal. Nelson spent four seasons with the Chiefs after being selected in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, accumulating 182 total tackles, 35 passes defended, 4 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and 1 forced fumble during that time.
Nelson originally had pre-draft visits with the Steelers, and thought for sure he was going to end up sporting the black and gold before the Steelers opted to select cornerback Senquez Golson in the second round.
“Coach Tomlin told me everything I wanted to hear. But you know, you never know how those things are going to go” Nelson told Steelers.com reporter Missi Matthews.
Alas, Nelson is now where he thought he’d end up all along, providing welcome help to a Steelers secondary that at times during the 2018 season looked lost. Nelson is the early favorite to start opposite of Joe Haden, thanks to the inconsistent play of Coty Sensabaugh and general unreliability of Artie Burns.
So what will Nelson bring to the table? Judging from the numbers ran by Pro Football Focus, Nelson immediately improves the Steelers secondary.
-20 forced incompletions (T-2nd, CB)
-4 interceptions (T-3rd)
-53.1% reception allowed % (T-8th)
-82.8 passer rating against (24th)
-2018 Grades: 72.1 overall, 71.2 coverage (both 28th) pic.twitter.com/5izgwAzxW5
— PFF KC Chiefs (@PFF_Chiefs) March 12, 2019
However, numbers don’t tell the whole story. To get a better glimpse at Nelson and his evaluations, I was able to grab a few words from Travis Steffen (@SteffenNFL on Twitter), Chiefs Film Analyst for FanSided’s Arrowhead Addict.
Steffen named quite a few good qualities about Nelson from his time in Kansas City, but Nelson’s consistent improvement and competitiveness stuck out most.
“I think moving to a more aggressive scheme and style will do him well. He can play inside and out. Moved inside on the nickel and dime every year until 2018 when Kendall Fuller was brought in” said Steffen. “Super sticky in press man coverage, but fails to get his head turned around most of the time. He can jump routes in zone coverage, which is where he improved as you can see with his interception numbers.”
Did Pittsburgh just get a shutdown cornerback? From all the hype and numbers, the signing might certainly suggest so. Steffen pumps the breaks on all that talk: “He’s not going to shut down a guy for an entire game and shouldn’t be left on an island either” said Steffen before coming back with more positive remarks “But he is a solid second corner that compliments well and needs a change of scenery”.
With Nelson now taking advantage of the change of scenery, Steffen’s overall opinion of him remains in a good light, speaking on his aura of being a “locker room guy” while becoming more vocal/chippy in 2018.
Steelers fans got a small glimpse of this when Nelson and the Chiefs paid a visit to Pittsburgh last season.
@SteffenNFL told me new #Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson became more vocal/chippy in 2018, and this play displays that. Doesn’t shy away from the Antonio Brown after the play. pic.twitter.com/2G0KEE6cfk
— Donnie Druin (@DonnieDruin) March 16, 2019
Time will tell if Nelson truly becomes the player he can be in Pittsburgh. Yet when comparing numbers to words of people who have watched his entire career thus far, Nelson will be expected to come in and contribute in a significant way.
NFL Announces Coaches can Return to Team Facilities
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced that coaching staffs may return to team facilities Friday, June 5 in a memo issued to teams Thursday morning.
Here is the crux of the memo that just went out to teams from the NFL regarding coaches being back in the building safely. Still no players, but a reason for optimism. pic.twitter.com/A8LyqqHJK3— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 4, 2020
Staying consistent with their message throughout the reopening process, coaches may return only if clubs have “received necessary permission from state and local governments.”
Clubs were informed last week that coaches will count towards the maximum number of employees permitted in facilities, but the total number allowed will increase from 75 to 100 tomorrow as well.
While Goodell has not yet announced when all players will be cleared to return, he did add that the league is still working “with clubs medical staffs to implement a program of COVID-19 testing” prior to players coming back.
Injured and rehabbing players were some of the first who received the green light to return to team facilities, and have been back for a few weeks now.
Club facilities were initially closed by the league back on March 25 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While coaches are likely eager to return to their team facilities, they should make themselves comfortable for the long haul.
Goodell’s memo comes a day after multiple reports that the league informed franchises they must conduct training camp from their practice facilities this August.
This would mean the Steelers will be prepping for the season on the South Side, instead of making a 55th-consecutive trip to St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Art Rooney II, Steelers Issue Statements on Killing of George Floyd, Protests
Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II released a statement Wednesday on the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and the ensuing protests seen across the nation.
“Over the last week, we have witnessed the anger and frustration in our city and around the country relating to the killing of George Floyd and the recent deaths of African-American men and women. We have also witnessed the good in so many people who have peacefully expressed their concerns.”
“I am proud to hear the voices of many of our players who have spoken out against racism and injustice and called for unity. As an organization, we will continue to listen to our players, coaches, alumni and leaders in our community and work together to bring awareness and change in the effort to create a more fair and equal community.”
A number of prominent Steelers players also shared statements and comments regarding Floyd’s death and the nationwide protests, including Cam Heyward, Ben Roethlisberger, James Conner, Vince Williams, JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.J. Watt.
Defensive end Cam Heyward:
“A friend, a brother, a father, a son, just someone you meet, these are different ways people might know George Floyd. To know that the color of my skin could be at the discretion of someone who is supposed to protect is truly disheartening. I’m praying for the Floyd family.”
“To know a brother, a friend or someone I care about could be gone due to this just hurts. It’s not acceptable. Thank you for the people who do serve the right way and continue to protect our freedoms. I wish all held up his end and cared for all.”
“We all have people we care about and the fact that we can’t believe in everyone who is in the position of power to keep all safe angers me and tears me up. Change must happen. Our children are inheriting a world that is not improving. Life should be precious.”
“I still can’t find my words to make sense of it all. Too many have died, and not enough has changed.”
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger:
“The cruelty and injustice must stop, racism must end, and love must find a way to prevail. We are all children of God, equal in his eyes, and must hold one another accountable to fair and just standards.”
Running back James Conner:
“If we keep showing hate and violence, we will continue to have hate and violence. If we keep showing peace and love, we will have peace and love. I’ve retweeted disturbing and negative videos to HOPE they understand, but I will only be posting love from here on out. We know what’s been done and know it’s wrong.
“Make the Twitter timeline full of positivity. Like I said, I’ve been guilty of retweeting negative content, but that’s not it. They want the sickening and shameless videos at 100,000+ retweets to keep us divided. Make unity and togetherness the only content we see.”
Inside linebacker Vince Williams:
“Send me the GoFundMe of businesses that have been destroyed by the riots. I’ve done independent searches, but hopefully this helps me to be more thorough.”
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster:
“Our country is in pain right now, and coming together is the only way to heal each other. No more injustice!”
Outside linebacker T.J. Watt:
JuJu Smith-Schuster Delivers Pizzas to Steelers Fans
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is bringing some joy to fans during tough times.
Smith-Schuster spent his Tuesday afternoon delivering pizzas for PizzaHut, and even took the time to snap a pic with a young fan, courtesy of JimStamm22 on Twitter.
Hopefully, this gives everyone a little lift today. @TeamJuJu just delivered @pizzahut to our house in Pittsburgh. He even took a little time to take a picture with our son, Ben. Thanks Juju, you made our day!!! 👍😁🍕#Steelers #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/u7u561SheP— ForTheCity_412 (@JimStamm22) June 2, 2020
A fan favorite, Smith-Schuster is entering his fourth season in Pittsburgh.
After an explosive sophomore season in 2018, Smith-Schuster battled injuries and inconsistent quarterback play that combined for a lackluster 2019.
With the return of franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Smith-Schuster appears primed to deliver more than pizzas this upcoming season.