PITTSBURGH (GSM) — The NFL season is fast approaching with players, coaches and personnel going through the motions of Training Camp in efforts of conditioning to have a robust (and safe) debut.
Steelers’ wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster spoke to the media Monday about his chance to play with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger again. Smith-Schuster says he doesn’t anticipate any challenges with chemistry. However, the chance for rookies to get acclimated to Roethlisberger’s playing style is key for team success moving forward. “I think one thing we did before camp, we always threw with him, which was a good part,” Smith-Schuster said. “Having these young guys—that is the biggest part for us—the young guys trying to get used to him.”
Smith-Schuster also took to Twitter over the weekend to show chemistry between he and quarterback Roethlisberger. A connection the world hasn’t seen since “Big Ben” was sidelined with an elbow injury on his throwing arm in September 2019.
Monday marks the first time the team will practice in pads prior to the 2020 season. Head Coach Mike Tomlin addressed the media last week and says he realizes how protocol has been altered due to coronavirus concerns.
“We are willing to adjust based on what transpires between now and then.” And that is really our mentality about this next month or so. We realize there are certain boxes that need to be checked between now and when we step into a stadium, but we also realize that we might have to alter the pace of some of those intended plans based on the readiness.” — Mike Tomlin, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers
CHARLOTTE (GSM) — In the wake of a major shake-up in North Carolina, secondary coach Perry Fewell will carry the team for the rest of the season. The Carolina Panthers fired head coach Ron Rivera after nine seasons at the helm.
2019 is Fewell’s first season with the Panthers and served as secondary coach for Bears, Rams, Redskins, Giants and most recently the Jaguars, stemming back to 1998.
Fewell adds to the list of only 3 black head coaches in the NFL: Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins), Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers) and Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers).
Fewell spoke about his past coaching experience, his on-field coaching style and his goals for the last four games of the season.
As for Rivera, however, he ends his tenure with an overall winning record of 76-63-1 with a poor showing in the postseason at 3-4. “My biggest regret is not winning the Superbowl,” Rivera said at Bank of America Stadium Wednesday. He says he is not done with his career and on if he plans to coach again, “I want to be able to coach people and impact people.”
Panthers owner David Tepper said in a statement, “I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team.” Tepper said about Rivera, “I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and to this community. I wish him the best. I will immediately begin the search for the next head coach of the Carolina Panthers.”
PITTSBURGH (GSM) — Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that injuries are a part of the game. The realization of adjusting for the sudden — and always unexpected — changes in personnel can throw off team chemistry. However, Coach Tomlin has preached the, “next man up” approach on the journey to success as his team continues to heal.
Since the beginning of the 2019 season, the Steelers lost starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the season due to an elbow injury on his throwing arm which required surgery. Starting defensive end Stephon Tuitt is out for the year with a pectoral tear, free safety Sean Davis was put on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, fullback Roosevelt Nix is also on IR with a knee ailment and kick returner/WR Ryan Switzer’s back will keep him from seeing action. Running back James Conner has missed significant time on the field as well when he re-aggravated his shoulder. Most recently, wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson in addition to linebacker Ola Adeniyi succumbed to concussions in the game against the Browns last Thursday night, just to name a few. Quite a few, actually.
While the team has seen its fair share of fallen players, Tomlin said in his weekly press conference Tuesday, “I don’t spend a lot of time crying over who’s available or who’s not available. It’s as much a part of the game as blocking or tackling,” Tomlin said. “If you are a competitor — like we as coaches are competitors — that fires you up. You want to smile in the face of adversity.”
The Steelers will play on the road Sunday Nov. 24 against the winless Cincinnati Bengals (0-10), a team that would love to get a win against the Pittsburgh. The Steelers (5-5) are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt and in 2nd place in the AFC North division.
PITTSBURGH (GSM) — Banged up wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson are added to the list of starters who have temporarily fallen victim to injuries.
In the game against the Cleveland Browns Thursday, both standouts left the game with concussions and as of Monday, were still in concussion protocol. Neither were available for interviews.
JuJu Smith-Schuster left the game after suffering a helmet-to-helmet hit. In the second quarter, 2 defenders, [former Steeler] Morgan Burnett and Greedy Williams made contact with both sides of Smith-Schuster’s helmet, on the same play, leaving him motionless on the field. He was later able to walk off the field on his own.
Smith-Schuster took to his Twitter account to thank those who were supportive following his injury:
Want to thank everyone for the thoughts and prayers from the injury last night. I will be ok and can’t wait to get back out on the field with my brothers. pic.twitter.com/SV09EGwr4o
As for Diontae Johnson, Browns safety Damarious Randall lowered his head and collided in the third quarter with Johnson after a helmet-to-helmet hit, leaving him wincing in pain. Johnson started bleeding from his ear shortly thereafter. The hit prompted an immediate ejection of Randall.
Appreciate all the prayers man.. I’m doing good. I’ll be back 🙏🏾
“The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed wide receiver Deon Cain and running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. to the 53-man roster, it was announced today. To make room on the 53-man roster, the Steelers released linebacker Jayrone Elliott and running back Tony Brooks-James.”
We have signed WR Quadree Henderson and WR Amara Darboh to our practice squad and released WR Terry Wright and LB Sutton Smith.
(GSM) — Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has been suspended without salary for the remainder of the 2019 NFL season following an altercation with Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.
The incident took place in Cleveland during the Thursday night matchup with 8-seconds left to play in the game where Garrett forcibly removed Rudolph’s helmet and hit him over the head with it. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey proceeded to throw punches, striking Garrett several times prior to kicking him while on the ground.
The National Football League hit both the Steelers and Browns with stiff financial penalties and said in a statement, “The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns organizations have each been fined $250,000 and three players – Cleveland’s MYLES GARRETT and LARRY OGUNJOBI, and Pittsburgh’s MAURKICE POUNCEY – have been suspended without pay for their actions in Thursday night’s game,” The statement read. “Garrett has been suspended without pay indefinitely – at a minimum for the remainder of the regular season and postseason – and must meet with the commissioner’s office prior to a decision on his reinstatement. He was also fined an additional amount. Garrett violated unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules, as well as fighting, removing the helmet of an opponent and using the helmet as a weapon.”
Art Rooney II, president of the Pittsburgh Steelers released a statement on the incident:
“As an organization, we are disappointed with what occurred last night near the end of our game against the Cleveland Browns. The actions of the players involved were not something that should be part of any football game. Our players, coaches and everyone in the Steelers organization understand that we must always maintain composure, no matter what happens. After a hard-fought game between two rivals, it is a shame that the game ended that way.”
The Cleveland Browns also commented publicly about what transpired Thursday night via owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam:
“We are extremely disappointed in what transpired last evening at the end of our game. There is no place for that in football and that is not reflective of the core values we strive for as an organization. We sincerely apologize to Mason Rudolph and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Myles Garrett has been a good teammate and member of our organization and community for the last three years but his actions last night were completely unacceptable. We understand the consequences from the league for his actions.”