East Rutherford, NJ (GSM) — Although there were no fans in the stands, “Steeler Nation’s” presence was felt at MetLife Stadium.
The Steelers were victors on the road over the home team New York Giants, 26-16, thanks to the return of Ben Roethlisberger – JuJu connection that was missing last season. Roethlisberger was placed on injured reserve in 2019 to recover from a year-long elbow injury. On Monday night, Roethlisberger completed 21 of 32 passes and 3 touchdowns.
Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was on the receiving end of two touchdowns, one for 10-yards another 8 yards, respectively.
James Washington caught one for 13-yards and scored on a valiant second effort to reach over the goalline for a touchdown.
Steelers’ defensive end Cam Heyward racked up an interception after a pass from Giants quarterback Daniel Jones was deflected.
The Steelers are now 1-0 on the season and have their home opener against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
PITTSBURGH (GSM) — Actor Chadwick Boseman, most known for roles in “42” and “Black Panther,” has died at age 43. He reportedly lost his battle with colon cancer.
Boseman spent a considerable amount of time in Pittsburgh in 2019 filming “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” originally a stage play by legendary playwright August Wilson. The film is produced by Denzel Washington and co-stars Viola Davis.
While in Pittsburgh, Boseman spent time with the Steelers during the team’s annual Family Day practice at Heinz Field on August 4.
Boseman died on August 28, 2020 after a 4-year battle with colon cancer. He was 43.
PITTSBURGH (GSM) — The rising star on the Steelers’ offense will be sidelined a bit due to a minor injury, Head Coach Mike Tomlin said Friday.
In Friday’s practice, wide receiver Diontae Johnson interacted with teammates and walked the field but didn’t practice. Coach Tomlin didn’t specify the severity of the hip injury he endured or the time he will be out. However, Tomlin mentioned that both Johnson and Terrell Edmunds will miss time. “There are couple of guys that missed today’s work, new guys with minor ailments that can be described as day-to-day.” Tomlin said. “That’s Diontae Johnson and T [Terrell] Edmunds. Hopefully, those guys get back to us really soon. Again, it could be described as day-to-day.”
Johnson is expected to see significant playing time this year. He impressed in his rookie (2019) season racking up 59 receptions, 680 yards and 5 touchdowns.
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
PITTSBURGH (GSM) — The only hits currently being generated by the NFL are via the internet.
All-pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is among the nearly 1,700 players in the National Football League who are eager to take the field in the 2020 season. However, with the uncertainty of whether a season will be played — in light of the COVID-19 pandemic — Fitpatrick spoke to the media (via Zoom) and his message to the fans was one of optimism.
“We appreciate all of the love and support they show us, previously and in the future,” Fitzpatrick said in his remarks Tuesday. He, along with his teammates, have been practicing social distancing during the pandemic but have been in close contact to help team chemistry from afar.
As far as the loyal Steeler fans who are anxious to watch football, Fitzpatrick added, “Whether there are no fans in the stadium or whether it’s going to be full, we’re going to have unwavering support and that is greatly appreciated and reflected in the way that we play.”
As the world sits, waiting for an outcome to the coronavirus, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement saying, “We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary, as we have during this off-season in safely and efficiently conducting key activities such as free agency, the virtual off-season program, and the 2020 NFL draft.”
In the midst of waiting, Fitzpatrick knows there is no definitive answer to how the games will shape up, or if fans will be allowed in stadiums across the country, “Whether there is nobody in the stands or a full stadium, we’re going to give our best effort and make sure you guys are entertained and having a good time.“
The Steelers acquired Fitzpatrick in a week-3 trade with the Dolphins for a 2020 first round draft pick, a fifth rounder and a sixth round pick in 2021. He made a significant impact in the secondary immediately after joining the team.
He racked up 5 interceptions, 150 yards and 1 pick-six and became an instant fan favorite in the Steel City.