Friday, September 28, 2018 12:14 PM America
Is JuJu Smith-Schuster a No. 1-caliber receiver in the NFL?Steelers OC Randy Fichtner says "he's playing that way now," adding every starter must have that mentality. Antonio Brown still the clear No. 1 but Smith-Schuster has 38 targets, third in NFL with 356 receiving yards.
Smith-Schuster has almost 700,000 followers on Twitter, 1.2 million followers on Instagram and another 500,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel. Followers only tell half the story; Smith-Schuster is a rare breed athlete because he is also highly engaging with the content he distributes.
The endorsement opportunities have followed based on Smith-Schuster's social media success. He has been announced as the first National Football League (NFL) player to become a brand ambassador for HyperX, the gaming division of Kingston Technology Company on June this year.Smith-Schuster is already earning more away from football than many of his teammates, and the young wideout appears to be far more accomplished than some of the bigger names on the roster at developing and monetizing his brand. That’s an indication several teams misunderstood how mature the former USC product really is in some aspects of his life.
Ultimately, Steelers fans should be grateful that so many teams in the league underestimated how well JuJu would adjust to life in the NFL at such a young age and enjoy the fact that Smith-Schuster might be a Pittsburgh Steeler for a very long time considering he’s still only 21 years old.
“When I’m not training, studying, or at practice, I’m in my element playing video games; my HyperX headset offers the sound quality and comfort I need to stay focused and win,” said Smith-Schuster. “I wanted to work with HyperX because they have the best headsets, and I love how the brand is always looking for unique ways to work together with me.”
The move comes shortly after Smith-Schuster, esports star Ninja and rappers Drake and Travis Scott smashed Twitch viewing records after filming themselves playing Fortnite on the streaming platform.
“HyperX is expanding into the console gaming market and is very happy to have JuJu Smith-Schuster join our brand ambassador team,” added Dustin Illingworth, influencer manager at HyperX. “His love for gaming is displayed all over his social media, YouTube, and even on the football field. JuJu has brought more sports fans to gaming.”
Tuesday, September 25, 2018 11:06 AM America
Running back James Conner's inspiring story has resonated with NFL fans before he has played a down in the NFL,which has helped him become one of the NFL's most popular players. Conversely, Le'Veon Bell's continued holdout has certainly impacted his popularity. Bell's No. 26 Steelers jersey, one of the hottest jerseys in the NFL over the past several years, has taken a dramatic fall in DICK's Sporting Goods recent rankings of NFL jersey sales.
While a star playmaker at Pitt, Conner captivated college football by overcoming Hodgkin lymphoma in 2015. Videos of Conner in a medical mask practicing with his team between treatments went viral. Conner returned to the lineup in 2016 and posted 20 total touchdowns.
The Steelers drafted him in the third round, No. 105 overall.
James Conner's jersey sales should continue to climb with every week he spends as Pittsburgh's starting running back. In Week 1, Conner rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries while also catching five passes for 57 yards. In Week 2, he scored another rushing touchdown while catching all five of his targets for 48 yards. He also caught a 2-point conversation in Pittsburgh's 42-37 loss to the Chiefs. Conner is slated to start Monday night's game in Tampa Bay.
Below is a list of each Steeler and where they currently rank on the list of the NFLs top 100 jersey sales. No.7: JuJu Smith-Schuster No.9: Antonio Brown No.18: James Conner No.35: T.J. Watt No.69: Ben Roethlisberger No.71: Ryan Shazier No.79: Le'Veon Bell No.94: Alejandro Villanueva
Monday, September 17, 2018 11:45 AM America
Antonio Brown had a frustrating Sunday at Heinz Field during Pittsburgh's 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. While he set the NFL record by becoming the fastest player in league history to reach 750 career receptions, Brown failed to gain a consistent rapport with Ben Roethlisberger, who instead had more success with second year receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Brown also endured a trying week off of the field, as he was forced to issue an apology after physically threatening an ESPN writer on social media.
Brown finished the game with nine receptions for only 67 yards. He was eclipsed by JuJu Smith-Schuster who finished with 13 receptions for 121 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. It was clear the Chiefs’ goal was to double Brown all game long and it was wise to look elsewhere.
As unhappy as he was with how the game went, Brown still set another milestone as the fastest player to record 750 catches in a career, but this does not seem like something he will be celebrating on Sunday given his mood.
Brown losing his cool on the sideline is nothing new. Brown, an All-Pro each of the last four seasons, routinely wears his emotions on his sleeve and sometimes, that gets the best of him. Last year, in a Week 4 victory in Baltimore, Brown threw a Gatorade cooler out of frustration, an action that he later apologized for on social media. He was reprimanded for those actions by head coach Mike Tomlin during that week during his weekly press conference.
While some may argue that Brown's sideline antics is a sign of passion, it also can be looked at as a player coming unglued when his team needs him to remain cool and collected. Regardless, it's clear that Brown and some of his offensive coaches are not on the same page two weeks into the 2018 regular season. This is something that obviously needs to be resolved before Pittsburgh's next game in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers.
Nothing will create infighting like losing. And Sunday’s loss was a doozy. Maybe Brown thought forcing him the football would have done more but he didn’t notice how well the passing offense was working. We get it. Brown is a fiery guy, a competitor and all that. He’s also had a pretty awful week even before this game. Nevertheless, the optics on that are bad so early in the season.
Friday, September 14, 2018 4:50 PM America
Perhaps the most surprising thing we saw Sunday from James Conner wasn't that he rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns in Le'Veon Bell's absence, but what he purposely did to his hair before the game.
Now that Conner is a starting NFL tailback replacing an absent All-Pro, his hair elicits social media reaction -- especially after he added two tiger stripes through the middle of his head to accompany the mullet for Sunday's game at Cleveland.
"Yeah, we were gonna keep switching it up. So we'll see for next week," Conner said Wednesday from his locker. "It might be the same next week. I'm not sure yet. I gotta let it grow back a little bit. But I plan on having different styles throughout the year."
Conner confirmed that the funky cuts will be a weekly thing, but he has no immediate plans for the Week 2 'do against Kansas City.
The Twitter responses ranged from the not-surprising-at-all apoplexy to "we definitely didn't see that coming" sympathy. Turns out, some bald folks embraced Conner's do because in their mind, any hair -- even if it looks like that -- is better than none at all.
It turns out at least one Steelers fan will share in his stylistic joy.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018 12:05 PM America
The 29-year-old cornerback Joe Haden originally injured his hamstring on a special-teams play in the Steelers’ 21-21 tie against Cleveland. Pittsburgh plans to be cautious with Haden’s recovery, the report says.
Haden had three tackles and a pass breakup before suffering the injury. His status for the Steelers' game against the Chiefs on Sunday is uncertain, according to the report.
Haden, who is entering his ninth NFL season, was signed by the Steelers just before the start of the 2017 regular season. Haden enjoyed a strong first season in Pittsburgh while helping the Steelers finish fifth in the league in pass defense last season. Haden, who earned two Pro Bowl selections during his time with the Cleveland Browns, was asked by 247Sports about his individual goals for the upcoming season.
“We’ll find out more tomorrow,” Haden said after the Steelers and Cleveland Browns played to a 21-21 tie. “I just know it’s my hamstring. I’m going to figure it out.” Haden's injury will leave a void in the Steelers secondary that won't be easily filled if he misses extended time.
Mike Hilton will likely step into an increased role with Haden out of the lineup. The 24-year-old recorded 64 tackles during his rookie season in 2017, mostly playing slot corner. Haden has not played a full NFL season since 2010.
Saturday, September 08, 2018 5:40 PM America
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown supported his teammate Le'Veon Bell on Friday, commenting on the controversy surrounding the star running back's holdout.
"No one wins when the family feuds," Brown told reporters Friday as he prepares for the Week 1 matchup with the Cleveland Browns. "At the end of the day, we're family. We want the best for him. That's what it's all about. It's not about pointing fingers and fighting among each other. We are a core group that should respect and love each other regardless of the situation."
Le'Veon Bell still hasn't joined the Steelers as he continues to hold out under the franchise tag, and some Steelers players have already voiced their problems with the decision. However, Bell does have one pretty big name in his corner.
Antonio Brown is currently the second highest-paid receiver in the NFL with an average cap hit of $17 million a year, so he knows about getting his money. On Thursday night, Brown posted a picture of Bell and Brown celebrating a touchdown together, along with a message: "We all we got, we all we need. ready to roll whenever you get back with us, family."
Bell has not decided when to return to the Steelers and will forfeit $853,000 for each week he doesn't show up. He must sign his tender by 4 p.m. Saturday to get paid for Week 1. Bell and the Steelers failed to reach a long-term contract in each of the past two summers, and the running back isn't happy about playing on the franchise tag.
Brown, who is eyeing a sixth consecutive 100-catch season, never has played on the tag but wanted a new contract in the 2015 and 2016 offseasons. He never stayed away from the team and signed a four-year, $68 million extension last offseason.
Of course, that "when" is looking more and more like an "if." The Steelers hit Bell with the franchise tag, and he does not seem to have any interest in playing under it. The star running back is still nowhere to be found as the Steelers approach Week 1 against the Browns.
Thursday, September 06, 2018 3:00 PM America
The team hoped Bell would show up for work this week, but Bakari told NFL Live that Bell is "going to do the things necessary to protect his value long-term."
Bell is arguably the game's most productive running back. His average of 128.9 total yards per game is the highest clip for a player's first five seasons since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.
A source told ESPN that the Steelers have no plans to rescind Bell's tender, and league sources say a trade would be difficult to execute because of Bell's position and teams' unwillingness to inherit a franchise-tagged player.Le'Veon Bell did not report to the Steelers' facility for Wednesday morning meetings and has not signed his $14.5 million franchise tag, setting the stage for James Conner to start Sunday at Cleveland.
Conner will get first-team reps this week, and teammates have praised his development. In the preseason, Conner produced 100 rushing yards on 19 carries along with 64 receiving yards.
Linebacker Vince Williams said Conner has "turned the page" with play resembling a savvy veteran.
When asked directly about Bell, guard Ramon Foster pivoted to Conner. "I trust James," he said. "He's ready."
James Conner returned from a serious knee injury and cancer diagnosis to compile a 1,000-yard rushing season in his final year at Pitt. James Conner Jersey .
After a year of limited activity in the NFL, Conner isn’t about to sweat his chance to replace Le’Veon Bell as the feature running back with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I get the opportunity to play the game again,” Conner said. “I’m excited. Anytime I can play football, I don’t take it for granted.”
Monday, September 03, 2018 11:50 AM America
Landry Jones had game experience and familiarity running the offense on his side. It wasn’t enough to keep his job as backup quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers on Saturday announced the roster moves to establish the initial 53-man roster, and veteran backup signal-caller Landry Jones was among the cuts.
The fifth-year veteran had his contract terminated as the Steelers decided to go with second-year player Joshua Dobbs and rookie Mason Rudolph as the backups to Ben Roethlisberger. Jones had served that role since the middle of the 2015 season.
As a vested veteran, Jones doesn’t have to clear waivers and immediately becomes a free agent. Jones was scheduled to make $1.9 million this season, the last of his two-year deal with the team. It’s conceivable the Steelers could try to re-sign him.
The Steelers will lose Jones’ experience in case Roethlisberger is unavailable for any amount of time. But this move indicates that they believe their young QBs — Dobbs in particular — are capable of stepping up to the plate.
Dobbs’ impressive performance during the Steelers’ preseason finale against the Panthers may have played a big part in convincing the coaching staff he was ready for a bigger role. He went 8-of-12 for 151 yards and a passing touchdown, and also added 18 yards with a rushing score. Teammates liked what they saw from Dobbs, who garnered at least mild trade interest.
"I told (Dobbs) I was proud of him," said running back Stevan Ridley. "For a young guy to come in and play the way he did tonight is exceptional. He rose to the occasion."
The Steelers are likely to rely on Dobbs as Roethlisberger's primary backup as Rudolph continues to develop in his rookie season.
Thursday, August 30, 2018 3:19 PM America
The 32-year-old Steelers offensive lineman was carted off the field after he suffered a knee injury in late July. He was expected to miss four- to six-weeks after he was diagnosed with an MCL strain and a bone bruise.
However,Ramon Foster made it back to Steelers practice Monday and is eyeing a Week 1 start, talked openly about the initial fear with his training camp knee injury. "I thought it was over," said Foster, who's 32 and in the last year of his contract. "I thought it was the worst. But we got the MRI and it's one of those things where you're calm now, you've got a shot. To say I'd be ready for Week 1, I honestly didn't think that, either. But the body's weird." But Foster, the Steelers’ second-longest tenured player, said if this weekend was the regular season, he would play.
“I always say to myself, ‘When I’m done, I don’t want to be a guy who you just totally forget about,” the starting left guard said after practice. “Clearly, I’m leaving a mark on some guys because they said the practice wasn’t the same after I left. “It was fun to be back.”
Luckily for him and the Steelers, their game this week is a meaningless preseason finale at Heinz Field against Carolina on Thursday. So the bone bruise and hyperextension Foster suffered during the Steelers’ first padded practice of training camp July 28 has almost two more weeks to heal prior to the regular season opener Sept. 9 in Cleveland.
Though he feels good, Foster is also being cautious. He doesn’t want to rush back at the expense of his long-term health.
“This season is challenging,” Foster said. “My goal is to be 100 percent right so I don’t have to take a week off at some point for general soreness. We’ll see how we feel (Tuesday).” Foster created a role for himself after making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and is entering the final season of a three-year deal he signed in 2016. He shrugged when asked if the injury ended any chance at signing a new contract before the regular season starts.
Monday, August 27, 2018 3:29 PM America
The Steelers tight end Jesse James left the team's 16-6 preseason win over the Titans with a back contusion during Saturday's preseason game against Tennessee, becoming the third player at the position to go down with an injury.
James suffered the injury in the second quarter while going high for a catch that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger insists should have been more accurate.The severity of the injury wasn’t known at the end of the night, but the quarterback did know that he felt regret about missing his spot with the pass.
"I was most disappointed throwing to him," said Roethlisberger, who completed 11 of 18 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. "We've had some good connections in the past. That's on me. He was in the right spots. I was sailing [the football] a little bit. It's one of those things where you see a big target and relax and don't think about the pinpoint accuracy. I need to do that, and I hate that he got hit because of a pass I threw tonight."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he doesn't know the severity of the injury or if James will be available when Pittsburgh closes out the preseason Thursday against the Panthers. the subject of the "surviving the ground" catch-rule debate after his reversed touchdown in Week 15 against the New England Patriots. James has emerged as a steady option with 43 catches for 372 yards and three touchdowns in 2017. He has had a strong preseason and is known to be durable. "I'm taking care of my body. I feel good," James said on Thursday. "Getting better every day, progressing well."
It will be interesting to see if all or none of the tight ends on the team's roster will be available for Week 1.The Steelers are without Vance McDonald due to a foot injury and Xavier Grimble had hand surgery, so the team’s top three tight ends are all nicked up at the moment.