Justin Layne Jersey

Justin Layne grew up in Cleveland in a family of Browns fans.

His hometown team bypassed the former Michigan State cornerback in the second round in favor of Greedy Williams. Layne – projected by some as a possible first-round pick – waited deep into the third round before finally getting a phone call.

From the Browns’ biggest rival.

“Where you? You in Cleveland, Ohio, tonight?” Mike Tomlin asked Layne on Friday night. “We shouldn’t have any problem getting you over here tomorrow at some point then, man. Are you ready to be a Pittsburgh Steeler?”

With that, going No. 83 overall after leaving MSU a year early, Layne’s professional future was set.

As for his family allegiances?
“My dad threw away all his Browns stuff. He already has all of his Steelers stuff on him right now,” Layne told reporters on a teleconference. “We are ready, we are switching it up. … We are taking all of the Browns stuff down right now.

“Be ready, I’m ready.”

Layne’s selection extended the Spartans’ streak in the NFL draft to 79 straight years, the third-longest in the Football Bowl Subdivision and going back to 1941. MSU is one of five schools to have at least one player taken each year since the modern draft began in 1967.
Layne joins Michigan linebacker Devin Bush Jr. in Pittsburgh. The Steelers selected Bush 10th overall on Thursday.

A number of mock drafts projected Layne as a second-round selection, with a few – including ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. – projecting he could go in the late first round.

He did not get picked Thursday, and waited and watched a run on cornerbacks starting with the beginning of Friday night’s second round.
Ten corners went in front of him – Deandre Baker in the first round, seven in the second round and one in the third. That group included Central Michigan’s Sean Bunting to Tampa Bay at No. 39 overall. Michigan’s David Long went to the Los Angeles Rams four picks ahead of Layne.

“I expected to go in the second round, but it’s all good,” Layne said. “They are going to feel me, it’s all good.”

Michigan State Spartans cornerback Justin Layne (2) attempts to make a catch during the first quarter of a game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Spartan Stadium.

Steelers senior defensive assistant/secondary Teryl Austin told reporters he does not believe it is because of any issues with Layne’s game, and that he “didn’t think (Layne) would be around this long.”

“I’m not sure what the flaw is,” said Austin, the former Detroit Lions defensive coordinator. “There are a lot of good football players that probably got picked before him. I think it’s just a matter of flavor. And I think when we saw him sitting where he was, I’m very excited to have him.”

The 6-foot-2, 192-pound Layne impressed scouts at the NFL combine in February, and his stock built into a top-50 player by a number of draft experts after that performance.

Layne finished fifth for the Spartans last season with 72 tackles, including a team-high 15 pass breakups and an interception in 12 starts en route to second-team All-Big Ten honors. He started 26 games at cornerback in three seasons after making his debut at wide receiver as a true freshman in 2016. He finished his career with 130 tackles and three interceptions.

“When I first saw him, I thought he was really quick bodied, long arms, good ball skills, and very competitive,” Austin said. “I think that’s one thing that sticks out with him when you watch him. He’s competitive. He’s not afraid to throw it up in there. He’ll tackle. He’ll compete at the point of attack for a ball. So he’s got a lot of good things to work with.”

The Steelers have three cornerbacks, including starter Joe Haden along with backups Mike Hilton and Artie Burns, who can become free agents in 2020. They added former Kansas City cornerback Steven Nelson in the offseason.

NFL Network analyst Joel Klatt had rave reviews for Layne.
“I think this guy is a highly competitive, very sticky, comfortable, physical player,” Klatt said. “You’ve got to be that if you’re going to play for Mark Dantonio on that defense, in particular in the boundary, which he was most of the time. A lot of short side field for Justin Layne. But this is the type of guy that understands how to cover.”

Layne, who arrived at MSU as a 4-star receiver but quickly shifted to cornerback midseason as a true freshman in 2016, deemed himself “a football player at the end of the day.”

One who will be wearing black and gold instead of orange and brown. Something he thought might happen.

“I talked to the coaching staff, coach Tomlin a lot at the combine,” Layne said. “Even at my pre-draft visits, I kind of had a feeling and knew they were going to get me. I don’t know. It was just a feeling I had. It was in my dream and just what I felt. I felt like I was going to go against our rivals, and they are the rivals to the Browns.”

Layne’s first step will be making an impact in rookie minicamp in the coming weeks. He already has his new coach’s attention.

“I’m comfortable with his ball skills after watching him play and talking to people and being at his workout. And I’m comfortable with where he is,” Austin said. “And it’s just a matter of turning that into production at this level.”

Diontae Johnson Jersey

The Pittsburgh Steelers expect third-round picks Diontae Johnson and Justin Layne to get their hands on the ball. That’s where the similarities in their job descriptions end.

Fans sit on the main stage during the second round

The Steelers began the process of reloading following the high-profile departure of star wide receiver Antonio Brown by taking Johnson with the 66th overall selection in the NFL draft on Friday night then took aim at a secondary in serious need of a ballhawk or two by grabbing Layne with the 83rd pick.

Johnson understands the parallels he shares with Brown. Both are 5-foot-10. Both are around 180 pounds. Both played collegiately in the Mid-American Conference. Both posted 40-yard dash times that didn’t exactly dazzle pro scouts.

Yet Johnson — selected with a pick the Steelers acquired when they sent Brown to Oakland in March — knows that’s where the parallels end. Brown is a great player. The three-year letterman at Toledo is eager to write his own story.

“At the end of the day, I can only be me,” Johnson said. “Do what I do best.”

Namely, attack defenses in a way that renders his lack of breakaway speed — at least according to the stopwatch — meaningless. The player who ran a so-so 4.53-second, 40-yard dash won over the Steelers’ coaching staff with his ability to win one-on-one battles at the line of scrimmage.

Head coach Mike Tomlin noticed Johnson first then sent wide receivers coach Darry Drake to do some digging. What Drake found turned him into Johnson’s biggest advocate in the team’s draft war room.

“He’s a tremendously gifted young man,” Drake said. “The most natural catcher that I’ve seen in a while. … He doesn’t have great timed speed but he plays the game fast. He’s really, really good against the press and this is a press league. DBs walk up to your face and try to fingerprint you. He gets off bumps, gets in and out of his breaks as well as anybody I’ve seen in a long time.”

Johnson caught 43 passes for 663 yards and seven touchdowns for the Rockets as a redshirt junior last season and was named the MAC’s Special Teams Player of the Year after returning a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns. He’ll likely get a chance at special teams too, where Brown first distinguished himself after being taken in the sixth round out of Central Michigan in 2010 before developing into one of the top receivers in the league.

Brown’s record-setting run in Pittsburgh ended with an ugly divorce in the offseason, with the Steelers sending him to the Raiders. They used one of the picks they acquired from Oakland to grab a player that joins a room that will have a decidedly different feel with the prolific but also high-maintenance Brown out west.

This is the third straight season the Steelers have taken a wide receiver in the top three rounds of the draft. They selected JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round in 2017 and James Washington in the second round last year. Pittsburgh signed former Jacksonville Jaguar Donte Moncrief to a two-year deal in March and also have Ryan Switzer and Eli Rogers in the mix.

Drake likes Johnson’s versatility and expects the Steelers will move him around instead of just sticking him in the slot. Drake also isn’t worried about Johnson’s 40-time. The coach who counts Larry Fitzgerald among his former pupils doesn’t believe the stopwatch tells the whole story.

“We want that guy, that blazer but normally with that package of that dynamic speed, very seldom do you get the total package,” Drake said. “This guy has the ability to be a total package guy.”

Pittsburgh is hoping to one day say the same about Layne, who arrived at Michigan State as a wide receiver before moving to cornerback during his freshman season to help address a spate of injuries at the position. At 6-2 and 192 pounds he has the size to be a potential difference maker on the outside for a secondary that picked off just five passes in 2018.

“He’s competitive, he’s not afraid to throw it up in there,” Steelers defensive backs coach Teryl Austin said. “He’s got a lot of good things to work with.”

Even if Layne didn’t always get a chance to show it. He picked off just three passes during his career with the Spartans, though his 15 pass breakups in 2018 ranked among the top 10 in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Layne called the move from offense to defense “nothing major.” Last he checked, the game is still the game.

“I’ve been playing both ways my whole life,” said Layne, who went to Benedictine High School in Cleveland, the alma mater of late Hall of Fame Steelers coach Chuck Noll. “I’m a football player today. I expected to go in the second round but it’s all good. They’re going to feel me.”

Devin Bush Jersey

Devin Bush Jr. picked up his phone Thursday night and heard Mike Tomlin ask a question he’d been waiting two years to ask.

Devin Bush is selected as the 10th overall pick at the draft in downtown Nashville, Tenn.

Are you ready to be a Pittsburgh Steeler?

“Hell yeah,” Bush replied. “I’m ready.”

Michigan’s junior All-American linebacker went off the board at No. 10 overall in the NFL draft on Thursday night, becoming the highest U-M selection since offensive tackle Jake Long went No. 1 overall in 2008.

And for the Steelers, the wait was long enough.
Pittsburgh didn’t think Bush would be on the board beyond No. 11. So the Steelers opted to move up 10 spots, swapping first-round picks with the Denver Broncos and giving up a second-round choice in 2019 and a third-rounder in 2020 for the right to take the player they entered the draft wanting the most.

“We identified Devin even going back into last year, watching him (as a sophomore at Michigan),” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Thursday night. “We scouted him extensively. We had four different people go in, myself included. We saw him play live games. We visited him at the combine. We visited with him the night before his pro day. Attended his pro day.
“This is a quality, quality young man and an excellent football player.”

The Steelers — who began the draft with 10 picks before making the move — jumped at the opportunity to grab who most believe is a prototype for the new wave of inside linebackers in the NFL. Bush ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine this winter. He measured in at 5-foot-11, 234 pounds. He can play sideline to sideline and cover.
He made plays everywhere at Michigan and Pittsburgh knew it.
Both Tomlin and Colbert said they spent time talking to as many Michigan players as they could and wound up hearing the same thing more often than not: Bush was the leader of the defense, one of the country’s top outfits over the last two years.

“He’s an all-situation linebacker,” Tomlin said. “We’re equally as fired up about his intangibles. He comes from a football family, he’s a football guy. Everyone speaks very highly of him as a player and a person.

“We interviewed a lot of Michigan players during the draft process and it was unanimous of who their unquestioned leader was. The position he plays is like a defensive quarterback, that’s something that comes very natural to him.”

Pittsburgh is still in the process of replacing Ryan Shazier, who suffered a likely career-ending injury two years ago.

Colbert said the trade was a logical move, as Bush was high enough on Pittsburgh’s board that the entire organization believed giving up two picks was worth it.

This was the third time in Colbert’s tenure as the Steelers’ general manager that he opted to trade up for a draft pick. The previous two moves netted Pittsburgh Troy Polamalu and Santonio Holmes.

Those players both helped the franchise win a Super Bowl.

Colbert is hoping Bush, who Tomlin said will have a chance to play early with the franchise, can do the same.

“We’ll see,” he said. “If Devin helps us win a Super Bowl, it’ll be very similar.”

As for Bush?

He’s ready to get to work.

“I think I’m a good fit because I love to win, and this team wants to win,” he said. “I’m a guy that loves to win and just put me in the team nucleus. Being able to put a guy that loves to win, you know that’s how effective he’s going to be.

“Have a winning attitude, go to practice to win so that’s what they’re looking for.”

Rocky Bleier Jersey

The narrative of what happened Sunday in Oakland regarding Ben Roethlisberger’s rib injury and his availability has changed over the past two days.

Ben Roethlisberger drops back to pass Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Oakland. The Steelers QB injured his ribs during the loss.

What had been a broadside criticism of coach Mike Tomlin from many sides for his use and non-use of his starting quarterback in Oakland took a different turn after several sources provided new information.

It does not reach the level of calling it Rib-gate, or even X-ray-gate. We suppose Roethlisberger and Tomlin are partly to blame for much of the skepticism because their explanations immediately after the game were not real clear. That led to all kinds of speculation about what really happened, including those who suggested Roethlisberger should have fought to play if he were healthy.

But coaches and players are not always clear during interviews right after such a bitter defeat on the final play of the game.
It would appear nothing nefarious took place, unless you want to blame Oakland’s setup and X-ray technician, who was missing and unavailable to run the X-ray for a while, and his X-ray machine that took the picture of Roethlisberger’s ribs that, according to Tomlin, was “unreadable.”

“One hour before kickoff, the medical staff from both teams, as well as unaffiliated medical staff in the stadium, come together for a pre-game meeting led by the head physician for the home team,” an NFL spokesperson said Tuesday evening via email. “They review a number of items including the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and path to the X-ray unit to ensure medical care is as efficient and complete as possible.”

Dr. David J. Chao, a former San Diego team orthopedic surgeon, wrote about the Oakland X-ray room on Tuesday in the San Diego Union Tribune.

“The setup in Oakland is awful,” Chao wrote. “The X-ray machine is a long way from the field and up three flights of stairs. There are certainly complications there that don’t arise in other stadiums.”

We’re told that broken ribs are notoriously difficult to diagnose with an X-ray even when the photo is clear, although it was funny when Tomlin called the Raiders’ X-ray equipment “outdated.”

That is why Roethlisberger had an MRI on Monday in Pittsburgh, which diagnosed his injury as bruised ribs.

The Steelers’ doctor administered a pain-killing shot to the quarterback at halftime in Oakland and he finally came out on the field and waited for the medication to kick in. Once he felt good enough to play, he told them, and he played.
What’s so mysterious about that?

It’s happened before. Tomlin cited the playoff game in Cincinnati when Roethlisberger was hurt, Landry Jones went in and was ineffective. Roethlisberger went back in and through a miracle performed by the Bengals, the Steelers won.

Roethlisberger also started a game in San Francisco in 2011 on a badly sprained ankle. He probably should not have played that day, but he did, he played poorly and the Steelers lost.
Rocky review

You know the Steelers did not have a good day when Rocky Bleier said he was “done” with them.

Bleier, one of the most venerable players from those 1970s Super Bowl teams, even called for the firing of some coaches. It was reminiscent of Steel Curtain lineman Dwight White ripping the Steelers defenses of the mid-1980s as “soft and cheesy.”

Bleier, though, hasn’t uttered a critical public word in 40 years, despite all those motivational speeches he gives around the country. He made up for it with one Facebook rant Monday.

And when a key player of the ‘70s Steelers speaks, most in Pittsburgh take it to heart. That dynasty will forever remain the most popular in town.

Tomlin took the high road when he responded to a question about what Bleier said, first saying he did not hear it.

“Those guys are entitled to an opinion,” Tomlin said. “They care and care deeply. We appreciate them and respect the fact that they care and care deeply. Trust that we’re equally or more disappointed than Rocky.”

Tomlin had the good taste not to mention that Bleier’s 1980 Steelers, which were going for their third Super Bowl win in a row, finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Or that the 1981 Steelers (without Bleier) went 8-8. Both still had Terry Bradshaw in his prime.

Where the Steelers find their kickers

Whatever happens with Chris Boswell, know this — the Steelers have found most of their kickers as cast-offs, going back at least to Gary Anderson whom they claimed off waivers from Buffalo in 1982. And most of them performed well.

More recent examples of players signed by them during the season because of the failure or injuries to their kickers: Jeff Reed (2002), Shaun Suisham (2010) and Boswell (2015).

Boswell signed after they traded for Josh Scobee, who failed miserably. That happened after Suisham blew out his knee in a preseason game.

Joe Gilliam Jersey

A Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback not many remember, but a story worth telling.

My last name is not very common, so I sat down at my computer to look for others that might share my last name, Gilliam. The results did not have a huge celebrity base, but I did find a British director, a Christian singer and a San Fransisco 49ers’ offensive lineman.

I continued the search and found there is a Gilliam county in Oregon and a general in the Mormon Wars. I did happen to come across a picture of a QB wearing a black and gold jersey throwing a football who’s name on the back was Gilliam and I was intrigued to learn more.
Joe Gilliam played for my favorite NFL team the Pittsburgh Steelers and he actually replaced Terry Bradshaw as the starter one year during their heyday in the 70’s. I stopped reading and thought, wait what? He replaced a four time Super Bowl champion?

Questions came flooding in and I wanted to know when this happened, how it happened and where is he now? Who the heck is this guy? I am a die hard Steelers fan and I have never heard of him.

I read on quickly but intensely, focused on every word and meaning to find more information and the answers to my questions . What I learned about him, the 70’s in America and the NFL was very interesting to say the least.

Joe Gilliam was the first African American QB named as the starter going into week one.
He replaced Terry Bradshaw in the 1974 season after outplaying him in the preseason.  The Steelers won their first of four Super Bowls that year.
NFL QB’s were allowed to call their own plays during this time
Since Joe could call his own plays, he decided to call too many pass plays and did not listen to the coach. He ignoring team rules and game plans and was benched after 6 games.
Joe Gilliam might have been BETTER than Terry Bradshaw. Terry even admits it saying that “It could of easily of been Gilliam who took the Steelers to their first Super Bowl and not me.”
Racism was bad at the time. Some seemed to not be able to accept a black QB and there were reports that his car was vandalized and he had death threats
When he was benched Joe had a 4-1-1 record  (Wikipedia). There was some speculation as to why he was being benched with a winning record. There were people who thought that it was racially motivated.
Drugs seemed to destroy his career and life. To cope with the benching and the racism he faced, Joe turned to drugs which eventually caused him to be cut by the Steelers and later become homeless.
Mr. Gilliam died at the young age of 49.

The NFL is filled with stories of this nature. Players who fought their demons and lost or could not cope with the overwhelming pressure of professional sports. I have been an avid Steeler fan my entire life. When I was in the 5th grade I wrote a report on Terry Bradshaw because I loved football and my favorite team.

Terry Bradshaw Jersey

Terry Bradshaw has come to Ben Roethlisberger’s defense after Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell’s recent criticism of Big Ben’s leadership. Bradshaw, Pittsburgh’s quarterback from 1970-83 and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was recently asked by TMZSports about the recent criticism that’s been thrown at Roethlisberger.

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“He’s a great leader,” said Bradshaw, who was also critical of Roethlisberger earlier in his career. “He is. He’s solid.”

Bradshaw was also asked what he thought of Brown and Bell’s criticisms of Big Ben. Brown said that Roethlisberger has an “owner’s mentality”, while Bell said that he didn’t feel that his relationship with Big Ben was genuine. Both players have made it clear that their relationships with Roethlisberger played a factor in their decisions to leave the Steelers.
“That’s their opinion,” Bradshaw said. “That’s their opinion. I’m not there, I’m not in that locker room, I can’t answer that. I don’t know.”

“I don’t understand it,” Bradshaw continued. “All I know that the Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Jesse James, the tight end, they’re going to lose the safety (Morgan Burnett). I’m worried about our team.”

Bradshaw was asked if Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s leadership style should be what’s really being criticized. Bradshaw, an NFL analyst on Fox Sports, has been very vocal in his criticism of Tomlin’s coaching style in the past.

“Once again, I’m not there,” Bradshaw said. “From what I’ve seen outside, the coach I had was the kind of coach you needed to win championships, and that’s what we did.”
Bradshaw’s coach, Chuck Noll, inherited arguably the NFL’s worst franchise in 1969 and turned it into a Super Bowl champion just five years later. Noll’s Steelers went on to become the third NFL franchise to win two Super Bowls and the first franchise to win three and four Vince Lombardi Trophies. Noll’s Steelers remain the only team in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowl championships twice. In all, the Steelers won four Super Bowls in a six-year span in the 1970s while going 4-0 in Super Bowl competition.

The irony in Bradshaw’s new comments on Noll is the fact that Bradshaw loathed the way Noll treated him during his years with the Steelers. Bradshaw has said on numerous occasions that he wished that the Steelers would have traded him so that he could have played for another coach. Apparently, with time, age and maturity, Bradshaw now understands that Noll was simply trying to get the best out of him as well as his teammates. The fact that they are arguably the greatest team in NFL history is proof that Noll’s coaching style paid off.

Bradshaw, who earned MVP honors in Pittsburgh’s victories in Super Bowl XIII and XIV, is still the only Steelers quarterback that has won a league MVP award, doing so during the 1978 campaign. While he doesn’t know if Roethlisberger will even win an MVP award, he does believe that Big Ben will get his contract extension at some point this offseason.

“He’ll get the contract,” Bradshaw said. “He deserves it.”

Vince Williams Jersey

Le’Veon Bell quickly reacted to his new team’s matchup against his old team as soon it was announced that the Jets would host the Steelers in Week 16. Vince Williams, Pittsburgh’s starting inside linebacker, has responded to Bell’s message with one of his own.

Bell isn’t the most popular person in Pittsburgh after sitting out the entire 2018 season, then signing a longterm deal with the New York Jets earlier this offseason. Bell, voted twice by his former teammates as the Steelers’ team MVP during his time in Pittsburgh, will play against the Steelers when the Jets host Pittsburgh during the 2019 regular season.
While he upset many of his teammates after deciding not to show up last season, Bell and his former teammates have appeared to have patched things up. Bell and Cam Heyward shared pleasantries on Twitter last week after Bell posted a video of himself making a big play in Madden ’19.

Earlier in the week, Bell shared a recent message sent to him by the man that replaced him in Pittsburgh, James Conner. In light of Antonio Brown’s public criticism of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Conner felt that he needed to show his appreciation for Brown and his unwavering support. Bell, according to Conner, sent Conner encouraging messages throughout the 2018 season.

While Bell’s career has taken him to a new city, the 27-year-old running back provided plenty of memories during the first four years of his NFL career. After struggling during his first two NFL games, Bell’s 93-yard rushing performance helped the Steelers edge the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4 of the 2013 season to give Pittsburgh their first victory of the season. Bell’s solid play down the stretch helped Pittsburgh finish the year with an 8-8 record after a 2-6 start. That season, Bell broke Franco Harris’ 41-year-old record for the most yards from scrimmage by a Steelers’ rookie.

Bell’s breakout season took place in 2014, as the former Michigan State standout rushed for 1,361 yards and eight scores while also catching 83 passes for 854 yards and three touchdowns. Bell’s performance that season earned him his first All-Pro selection as well as his first team MVP award. He also helped Pittsburgh make the playoffs after a two-year absence while winning their first division championship since 2010.
After an injury wiped out most of his 2015 campaign, Bell enjoyed his best NFL season in 2016. Despite missing four games, Bell still racked up 1,884 all-purpose yards while rushing for a franchise record 236 yards and three scores in a late season victory in Buffalo over the Bills. Bell spearheaded Pittsburgh’s nine-game winning streak that included rushing performances of 167 and 170 yards (the later the most rushing yards by a Steeler in a playoff game) in the team’s postseason victories over the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. But for the third consecutive season, Bell’s season would end with an injury, as he was forced to leave Pittsburgh’s AFC title game loss to New England in the second quarter.

Bell enjoyed another strong season in 2017, amassing 1,944 all-purpose yards in 15 regular season games. After scoring two touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bell embarked on a tumultuous offseason with regard to his contract situation. While both sides tried, Bell and the Steelers were unable to come to terms on a longterm contract, essentially marking the end of Bell’s time with the organization.

While Bell’s legacy with the Steelers isn’t what it once was, it appears that his relationship with his former teammates has been repaired, as both sides are apparently choosing to remember the good times during their four seasons together.

Ramon Foster Jersey

Ramon Foster warned former Pittsburgh Steelers players not to “burn too many bridges” Thursday in a not-so-subliminal social media post.

The long-time Steelers offensive lineman posted the message after a feud between former star wide receiver Antonio Brown and his ex-teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster surfaced earlier in the week on Twitter.
Brown — who was traded to the Oakland Raiders this off-season — took to social media Sunday to voice his displeasure over his former franchise naming Smith-Schuster the 2018 Steelers Most Valuable Player. The players then got into a brief social media spat, before other voices from the Steelers and around the league chimed in with their opinions about Brown.

Brown played nine seasons for the Steelers, while Foster is entering his 11th season with the franchise.
“Moving forward, any former player or affiliate of the Steelers who has an issue with anyone still in the locker room, please contact me or Maurkice Pouncey or anyone else you feel you can talk to,” Foster wrote in his message Thursday. “Whoever you have an issue with, we will get you their number so you can address them. I promise.”

"These media takes might give y'all good traffic on your social media outlets but the guys still in that locker room, who y'all still know personally, have to answer for those comments. Call them what you want, but call them personally and tell them. Defend who you want to defend but you don't have to mention the team at all."

"Whether you have a ring or played for one year ... enough ... chill. Most players at one point in their life want to take their kids back to the place where they once played, don't burn too many bridges. It's a long history or brotherhood more than anything. Business is one thing but let's keep it at a minimum for the guys who have to answer for those comments moving forward."

The Steelers do not face the Raiders during the 2019 regular season.

David DeCastro Jersey

David DeCastro is the Steelers nominee for the fifth annual Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, presented to a player for his outstanding sportsmanship on the field, including fair play, respect for the game, and integrity in competition.

“He just does it the right way,” said Maurkice Pouncey. “He shows up for work, he doesn’t talk that much, and when he does you listen. He plays the right way. He isn’t dirty at all. He just likes being physical playing football. To have him around, and the things he does and the way he is, he makes football fun and easy. He earns respect from opponents for the way he plays the game. Everybody loves him.”

The award was created in 2014 to honor Art Rooney Sr., the founder of the Steelers and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Art Rooney is an iconic figure in NFL history,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the time the award was introduced. “It is appropriate that we honor his legacy in this way and recognize NFL players for one of the important values that Mr. Rooney represented so well.”

DeCastro continually provides an example for younger players to follow for his dedication, determination, work ethic and the way he plays with integrity. It’s something his teammates notice, and can’t say enough good things about him.

“David has a very special relationship with football. It’s very unique. It’s a romance,” said Alejandro Villanueva. “He always tells me about the first time he played football and he quit in seventh or eighth grade because he didn’t like it. He came back to it his junior year and started doing very well. He never thought he would play in the NFL, but knew Stanford was a great university that would open a lot of doors in his life. He realized the potential he had to play in the NFL, and he has had a great approach. He never takes anything for granted. He is always taking care of the details. He plays to not let his teammates down and be a part of something bigger than himself. He likes being one of the guys.

“He doesn’t feel anything negative towards his opponent. He knows it’s not personal. He respects every single offensive lineman in the NFL. He has great relationships with the guys he looks up to, guys he respects and watches. The same thing with guys he goes against. He has so much respect for Geno Atkins. He talks about how he watches his game and compliments him all of the time when he watches him. Same thing with Aaron Donald, who trains here in the offseason. He has respect for opponents and that rubs off on the rest of us. He is someone who is good for the game. He respects players for who they are, not for what they are supposed to do.

“For younger players he is a role model because he is always doing the right thing. He never says anything out of line. He doesn’t do any of the things coach tells us not to do. He is the perfect Steelers player. He does everything right. If you are wondering how you should approach your career, take care of your body, treat others, face challenges, you just look at what David is doing. He always has a very intelligent and well thought out plan on how to accomplish any challenges that come up in your career.”

One player from every team was nominated for the award, and eight finalists, four in each conference, will be selected by members of the NFL Legends Community, including Warrick Dunn, Curtis Martin, Karl Mecklenburg and Leonard Wheeler.

Current players will have the final say, with them voting on the winner from the eight finalists, although they can’t vote for their teammate. The winner is announced during the NFL Honors show the night before Super Bowl LIII.

The winner will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice and the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Trophy, which represents the key role sportsmanship plays in the game and how NFL players who demonstrate integrity and honor on the field serve as role models.

“It is gratifying that sportsmanship is the category,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II when the award was announced in 2014. “It’s appropriate. I like to think of my grandfather as someone who truly was a good sport, somebody who cared about the respect and the integrity of the game. The fact it’s being voted on by the players, well, the recipient can feel good about it because it’s voted on by his peers.”
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Jordan Berry Jersey

All of the Steelers Killer B’s were a mess at one point or another last year.

Bell never played.

Brown went AWOL.

Ben threw a lot of picks.

And Boz missed too many kicks.

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Heck, even Jordan Berry struggled punting at times. But he seemed to get back on track toward the end of the season. That never seemed to happen for his kicking partner, Chris Boswell, though.

Wes Uhler and I interviewed Berry on Steelers Nation Radio and ESPN Pittsburgh last week at the Pittsburgh International Auto Show. We talked to Berry about Boswell’s bad year. Was it more a mental issue or physical problem?
“I’m not in his head so I really can’t tell that,” Berry said. “But he’s got one of the best kicks in the league.

“He was definitely hitting the ball well.”

Maybe the issues were from the neck up, then. For his part, Berry said that when it comes to his discipline of punting, the wires usually get crossed upstairs far more than they do mechanically.

“I feel like the mental part of it is the majority of — if not 90 percent — of what we do,” Berry said. “No one in the NFL is going to have horrendous technique. But it’s that mental aspect of being able to stay on top of things from the first day of OTAs right through to game days and into the playoffs.”

Now the question for Berry becomes whether he will be back with the Steelers next year. The 2018 campaign was a bit bumpy for Berry early. Head coach Mike Tomlin even threatened a competition, referring to his punter as “less than varsity.”

Berry was able to straighten out his act as the season went along, however. Even though he is a free agent at this point, he sounded confident about his chances of being resigned in Pittsburgh.

“From what I can tell everything is looking pretty positive,” Berry said. “We just have to let all the money guys sort their stuff out. Just wait to hear some good news hopefully.”

At another point in the interview, we also talked about Berry’s famous trick punt at Eastern Kentucky. It’s the one where he burned an 11-man all-out block attempt from Morehead State by kicking the ball behind the line of scrimmage to one of his gunners.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch.
And, yes, it was legal.