Category Archives: Pittsburgh Steelers News

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will remain at University of Cincinnati Medical Center for a second consecutive night Tuesday while doctors monitor his back injury.

A joint statement from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s director of neurotrauma David Okonkwo and chief of neurosurgery for UC Health Joseph Cheng said Shazier has undergone a series of tests to evaluate his spine injury.

“He will continue to be monitored and treated by the neurosurgery experts at UC Medical Center until he has been cleared to return to Pittsburgh,” the statement said. “It is expected that Ryan will undergo additional tests and evaluation over the next 24 to 48 hours, and he will then return to Pittsburgh to receive further evaluation and care at UPMC.”
Okonkwo is also a neurosurgeon on the Steelers’ medical staff.

Ryan Shazier suffered a scary back injury after his helmet crown collided with Bengals receiver Josh Malone's rib/hip area on Monday.

Ryan Shazier suffered a scary back injury after his helmet crown collided with Bengals receiver Josh Malone’s rib/hip area on Monday.

Shazier was strapped to a board and removed from the field after suffering the injury on a tackling attempt in the first quarter of the Steelers’ 23-20 win over the Bengals. Shazier’s helmet crown collided with Bengals receiver Josh Malone’s rib/hip area. Players were emotional as they crowded around him, with defensive end Cameron Heyward holding his hand.

Sources on Monday night were encouraged that Shazier’s injury would be better than originally anticipated but didn’t know the extent until the process played out.

Shazier spoke to multiple teammates Monday and has remained upbeat about the process. He tweeted out a message of gratitude to fans on Monday.

Thank you for the prayers. Your support is uplifting to me and my family. #SHALIEVE

— Ryan Shazier (@RyanShazier) December 5, 2017
Shazier is one of the Steelers’ best playmakers and is considered among the most likable teammates. He leads the Steelers in tackles (87), forced fumbles (two) and interceptions (three). Shazier also had a streak of four straight games with an interception late last season. He was hopeful to play his first full NFL season before the injury.

Coach Mike Tomlin was among those who visited Shazier early Tuesday morning.

“It was a tough evening. Ryan is a trooper,” Tomlin said. “Had an opportunity to spend some time with him; he is in really good spirits, tough guy. He has great support from family and loved ones there. It was painful to get on that plane last night. That’s life. We realize and understand he is in really good hands and getting expert medical care. He also challenged us to move on with what it is we need to move on, and he is with us as well.”

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PITTSBURGH — JuJu Smith-Schuster exploded for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense on the same day Martavis Bryant was inactive after he made comments on social media, saying that “JuJu is no where near better than me.”

Smith-Schuster, who lost his bicycle this week and documented the loss on social media, broke the Steelers-Lions game open with a 97-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. On third-and-long, Ben Roethlisberger squeezed the ball between the corner and safety over the middle of the field, and Smith-Schuster did the rest.

“How I saw it was Ben called the play, and I was like the middle feels open,” Smith-Schuster said. “You got to take it. I took it. Ben believed in me and got the job done. It was great.”

Roethlisberger explained that the touchdown was set up by an earlier route.

“[The Lions] gave us a coverage where the safety split wide, kind of a 22 man. And JuJu had something similar to that earlier in the game, and he tried to kinda juke the guy and then give him an out move and then go up,” Roethlisberger said. “I told him, I said, ‘Listen, next time you get that look, if it’s a 22-type man, beat ‘em with speed. Just get down there.’ And that’s what he did. And I threw it over the top, and I told him, I didn’t know he had that much speed. He said he didn’t either.”

The play was the longest receiving touchdown in Steelers history and the longest of the NFL season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin benched Bryant over his comments, which refueled his trade demands. He said the Steelers should give him what he wants and can have “JuJu and whoever else.” Smith-Schuster, 20, slid into the No. 2 receiver role with 189 yards on his six receptions.

After the game, running back Le’Veon Bell called Smith-Schuster the “best player ever under [the age of] 21.”

“Hands down, got a lot of room to grow, for him to be 20 and play the way he plays is unbelievable,” Bell said. “He can block, catch the ball short, go balls, mentally in the game, best player ever under 21.”

At 20 years old, Smith-Schuster is the youngest Steeler to record a 100-yard receiving game. Entering Sunday, Roy Jefferson was the youngest, at 22.

The “best player ever under 21″ didn’t celebrate his touchdown in the end zone, but he pretended to lock up an exercise bike on the sideline.

Smith-Schuster also participated in Bell’s celebration of a 5-yard touchdown run in the first half, getting on all fours and serving as the bench as Bell pressed the football, James Harrison style.

The rookie wide receiver has a hand in coordinating the team’s intricate celebrations and says it’s a matter of “bringing my younger generation into the guys. Getting everyone to celebrate more.”

Also an accomplice in the Steelers’ celebration catalog? Smith-Schuster’s phone. He said he has a list stored in his iPhone of even more celebrations that he and Bell have discussed for future use.

Smith-Schuster went into deeper detail in explaining Sunday’s bike lock celebration.
“So today we had a lot of free time, so I decided I got to get a chain, so I went to Home Depot down the street, bought a chain, and I was like, if I score, my celebration is going to be the bike thing,” Smith-Schuster said. “So we have the spin bike where … train to warm up your legs, as soon as I scored, I went to the bike, grabbed the chain and locked it up, and it was fun to prove that I got my bike back and I’m locking it up this time and with my boys and celebrating.”

Smith-Schuster said the past week has been “crazy,” but he didn’t take Bryant’s comment personally.

Smith-Schuster finished the Steelers’ 20-15 victory over the Lions with 193 yards and one touchdown.

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CHICAGO — In a sign of solidarity, the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in the locker room during the national anthem before their 1 p.m. ET kickoff with the Chicago Bears.

Players for the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans did the same before their game.

An NFL official told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that no fines are being considered for those players who stayed in the locker room during the anthem.
As the anthem began in Soldier Field, several Steelers coaches were on the sideline, including head coach Mike Tomlin, while the players were not present. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley, offensive line coach Mike Munchak and running backs coach James Saxon also were spotted.

Players took the field within a few seconds of the anthem’s end, just after fireworks launched; quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was one of the first players out of the tunnel. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, an Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan, was seen on the CBS broadcast at the edge of the tunnel during the anthem, hand over heart.

Roethlisberger made it a point of emphasis after the Steelers’ 23-17 overtime loss to the Bears to say that the team’s decision was a unified one, and that he has the “utmost respect” for “our troops and those that serve this country.”

In Nashville, the Seahawks and Titans both issued statements saying their players were united in their actions.

“As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem,” the Seahawks’ statement said. “We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all.”

Seahawks general manager John Schneider said in a pregame radio interview that coach Pete Carroll met with a few players individually Saturday, prior to a “pretty emotional” meeting by the entire team later that night.
The Seahawks walked onto the field after the anthem with players locking arms.

“We showed we have power as people and that’s what we were doing today. I think that it was super impressive,” Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett said after the Seahawks’ 33-27 loss.

The Titans took a similar approach with their statement.

“As a team, we wanted to be unified in our actions today. The players jointly decided this was the best course of action. Our commitment to the military and our community is resolute and the absence of our team for the national anthem shouldn’t be misconstrued as unpatriotic.”

Steelers coach told CBS’ Jamie Erdahl before the game that the team wanted to “remove ourselves from the circumstance” and means no disrespect.

“We’re not going to play politics,” Tomlin said. “We’re football players, we’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today — not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from the circumstance.

“People shouldn’t have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn’t be separated from his teammate who chooses not to.”

The Steelers did not protest the anthem last year and had stayed relatively neutral on the national discussion, but President Donald Trump’s verbal attack on NFL players who protest appears to have changed things.
Team president Art Rooney II released a statement regarding the pregame protest.
Several Steelers leaders, including defensive end Cameron Heyward, linebacker James Harrison and others, were involved in the discussion about Sunday’s protest, one team source said. Those discussions took hold Saturday as the team traveled to Chicago and got situated at the team hotel.

“We will not be divided by this,” Tomlin said after the game. “We’ve got a group of men in there that come from different socio-economic backgrounds, races, creeds, ethnicities, religions and so forth. That’s football. That’s a lot of team sports. But because of our position we get drug into bulls—, to be quite honest with you. Some have opinions; some don’t. We wanted to protect those who don’t and we wanted to protect those who do.”

Martavis Bryant was cleared by the NFL to participate in the Steelers preseason game

LATROBE, Pa. — The NFL has cleared wide receiver Martavis Bryant to participate in preseason practices and games, according to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bryant is still under conditional reinstatement and hasn’t been cleared for regular-season games, but Bryant has done what the league has asked of him since serving a yearlong suspension for multiple drug violations.

“[Bryant] will continue to be evaluated as to his readiness to participate in regular-season activities under the terms of his conditional reinstatement,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement.

Bryant participated in offseason work but was benched for training camp practices until now. Recently, he has been working out on an auxiliary field during those sessions.

Bryant is unlikely to play in Friday’s preseason opener against the New York Giants since he hasn’t logged a practice and the team travels on Thursday.

Bryant is an enormous talent, scoring 15 touchdowns in his first 21 NFL games. He has also missed 20 games for drug violations. Bryant said in the spring that he has been clean for a year and has redirected his life.

Antonio Brown: My plan is to finish career with the Steelers

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers have begun contract talks with star receiver Antonio Brown.

A source says optimism exists that both sides could complete a deal well before training camp. Asked this week on the Dan Patrick Show about the contract, Brown said both sides are “beginning to get it rolling” and he wants to finish his career as a Steeler.

“That’s my plan,” said Brown, who will be 29 in July.

The Steelers are generally willing to negotiate with key players entering the final years of their contracts, but those negotiations can happen at various times. Brown has one year left on a six-year deal that pays him $4.71 million in 2017. Before the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the Steelers restructured Brown’s contract by moving up money from future years. These tactic earned Brown about $10 million in advance money.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is the league’s highest-paid receiver at $15 million per year, with three others — Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant, Denver Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas and Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones — in the $14-million-per-year range on long-term deals.

Brown, the first player since Marvin Harrison to record four consecutive 100-catch seasons, made headlines for the wrong reasons last month when he broadcast a Steelers’ post-game locker room scene on Facebook Live. The broadcast caught coach Mike Tomlin’s profanity-laced message after a playoff win at Kansas City.

Brown has remained apologetic for the judgment lapse. But his image appeared to take a hit, with some in the media calling for Brown to be traded.

Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey came out in Brown’s defense this week on Instagram. “Can’t hold my tongue anymore tired of all the hate, bull— stories!!” Pouncey posted. “AB is a team player loved by all his teammates especially ME! You against him you against me!”

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PITTSBURGH — Martavis Bryant(Martavis Bryant Jersey) showed he can catch Ben Roethlisberger’s hardest throw.

The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver is not backing down from his quarterback’s public challenge to “toughen up” entering Saturday’s AFC wild-card matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I’m happy he issued out the challenge,” Bryant said. “I accept it.”

On his weekly radio show with 93.7 The Fan Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger said Bryant has to “get tough, and you’ve got to make tough plays and you’ve got to make tough catches.” Roethlisberger said the comment was made out of love, and he reiterated that stance Wednesday in the locker room, emphasizing he’s trying to maximize the potential of a talented receiver.

“Nothing more than just a challenge,” Roethlisberger said.

After 48 catches, 759 receiving yards and seven touchdowns (one rushing) in his first nine games of 2015, Bryant struggled in his final two, with a combined two catches for 6 yards, dealing with an illness during Week 17 and leaving the game against the Cleveland Browns in the first quarter after hurting his neck.

From his locker Wednesday, Bryant spoke with eagerness to get back on the field and said Roethlisberger loves him like a big brother.

“If he feels you need to step up your game, it’s his job to call you out,” Bryant said of his quarterback. “I’m happy he did it. It woke me up. I’m ready to work … He wants to see me be great.”

Bryant said he plans to “regenerate,” focusing on what he used to do, which is catch touchdowns and keep opposing defensive backs honest.

Even after the four-game scoring drought, Bryant still has 15 touchdowns in 21 career games while averaging 17.3 yards per catch.

What happens if Cincinnati plays press coverage on him?

“Take advantage of it, like I always do,” Bryant said.

As for Roethlisberger’s callout, teammates don’t mind.

Defensive end Cam Heyward said the Steelers expect a lot out of each other.

“We’re all trying to win here – we’re not worrying about feelings,” Heyward said. “He’s our leader. I support him in whatever decision he makes. He’s been there. He’s won two Super Bowls. You’ve really got to buckle down and listen to a guy like that.”