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Will Steelers Pursue Safety Landon Collins?

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NY Giants Safety Landon Collins -- Jeffrey Beall. Own Work | CC BY 4.0

More potential help on the defensive side of the ball will be available for the Pittsburgh Steelers via free agency.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the New York Giants will not franchise tag safety Landon Collins, allowing the 25-year-old safety to hit the open market for 2019.

The Steelers historically have not broken the bank for signing veteran players via free agency, yet with the amount of young talent becoming available such as Collins and Baltimore’s C.J. Mosley, Pittsburgh may have to re-think its traditional process of growing players through the draft if they want to capitalize on a Super Bowl window that will essentially close when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announces his retirement.

Collins has made the Pro Bowl the last three seasons after being the Giants second round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. Collins plays at a high level thanks to his physicality and ball instincts, two traits dearly missed in Pittsburgh’s secondary. Despite ending his season in 2018 with surgery on a partially torn rotator cuff, Collins finished with 96 tackles, 4 passes defended and a forced fumble through only 12 games played.

GM Kevin Colbert made some noise at the NFL Combine with comments about re-evaluating how the team will look at players in the defensive secondary:

“Our game has always been about getting physical players who can come off the edge and close off the edge and make a tackle. But are they doing that at the expense of not making plays on the football? We have to maybe try to find that balance and maybe be more open to the concept that the game is constantly changing, and if you want playmakers in the back end, then find someone who has done it.”- Colbert on evaluating cornerbacks

Will the same re-evaluations carry over to the safety position?

If so, Pittsburgh may just be in the market for Collins’ services. However, Collins is favored to see a big payday this off-season, something the Steelers may shy away from.

Steelers

Steelers Honor 2020 Graduates at Heinz Field

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are showing love to the 2020 graduates that had their senior years cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team honored this year’s graduating class by displaying a congratulatory message on the scoreboard at Heinz Field Friday night.

A few current and former Steelers players also voiced their support on social media, including running back James Conner, defensive end Cam Heyward and retired defensive end Brett Keisel.

“Keep focused, keep chasing your dreams,” Conner said. “I know 2020’s been a wild year, but just stay focused, stay locked in. I know you guys are all going to go and accomplish great things.”

Students across the Pittsburgh area have been forced to finish the school year from home, and have unfortunately had to miss out on some of life’s biggest milestones, such as prom and graduation day.

It’s great to see the Steelers doing their part to make students feel celebrated and recognized.

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Steelers

Cam Heyward Discusses Philanthropic Work, Father’s Legacy and Mike Tomlin

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Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward joined The V Foundation’s “Voices for Victory” podcast to discuss growing up with an NFL father, the inspiration of his philanthropic efforts and playing for head coach Mike Tomlin.

His father, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, played eleven seasons in the NFL as a running back and fullback, rushing for 4,301 yards and 30 touchdowns and was recently inducted into the Pitt Hall of Fame.

The elder Heyward’s career was unfortunately cut short in 1998 when he was diagnosed with cancer, the disease that would tragically take his life eight years later.

Cam discussed what it was like growing up with an NFL player for a dad, and some of his fondest memories of his father growing up.

“I always get to hear about the stories, and about the interactions he has with people at Children’s Hospital, or just everyday people,” Heyward said. “He did a great job of always having moments with people. And always making people remember those times.”

Cam went on to say that in addition to being inspired by former Steelers teammates to give, it was the experience he shared with his father battling cancer that truly moved him to become a hero in the community.

“I always knew I wanted to give back to kids, and also to cancer research just because I was a kid, and I was always in the hospital as a kid,” he said. “I had great doctors and nurses that helped me along the way. And cancer research just because my dad has been affected by that, and on a regular day, my dad would visit other patients and just interact with them.”

The nine-year veteran also offered words of advice to kids that may have a parent battling cancer just like he did.

“I just tell people rely on your support system, and make sure you listen, because from an exterior point of view, they’re going to have a lot more to say and see why you’re going through.”

Cam also spoke about what it is like playing for Mike Tomlin, and the qualities that he believes make him a great leader.

“In adverse situations, he’s very steady. I don’t think he, he’s not looking to throw the whole playbook out and completely change the way we play,” he said. “As a leader, you have to be able to set a precedent and make sure the guys can rally around you.

“And I think the other thing he does is he’s consistent with that. From the beginning of offseason to the end of the season, he has preached the same message. And I think that resonates with a lot of older guys and younger guys, because that consistency can be brought through anywhere in our organization, in our staff, through each player. They know what’s expected of them, he challenges us and he’s honest with us as well.”

Selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Heyward is entering his tenth season in Pittsburgh. His 79 tackles-for-loss are the fourth-most in franchise history.

Heyward has made the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons, and has been named First-Team All-Pro twice over his career, including in 2019.

Founded in 1993 by ESPN and legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano, the V Foundation has awarded more than $250 million in grants and has “become one of the premier supporters of cutting-edge cancer research.”

Listen to the V Foundation’s entire interview with Cam Heyward here.

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Steelers Can Practice, Play in ‘Yellow’ and ‘Green’ Phases

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Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who recently voiced his concerns over not getting practice time, especially with rookies, may be getting his wish.

This afternoon, Governor Tom Wolf released a proposal that would allow professional sports teams to practice or play in the “yellow” and “green” phases without “on-site or venue spectators” as long as they have a coronavirus safety plan.

Before the Steelers can get to work, the plan must first be approved by the state Health Department and include testing or screening and monitoring of all players and personnel.

In this plan, no fans or spectators would be permitted on interior or exterior venue property.

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