TIOPS Daily Five | Steelers Edition|
(Rumblings, Musings, Opinions)
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1. Are the Steelers getting played by Le’Veon Bell?
“We are disappointed Le’Veon Bell has not signed his franchise tender and rejoined his teammates. Coach Tomlin and the coaching staff will continue to focus on preparing the players on our roster for our regular season opener on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns — Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said in a released statement on Monday.
The Steelers believed this year would be the same with Bell in that he would report 8-9 days before the opener and there would be no drama ahead of week 1.
However, things are drastically different right now.
When sides failed to reach an agreement before the mid-July deadline, the Steelers brass privately felt talks were in such good-faith that Bell would be here by now but the communication from Bell and his agent towards anybody in the organization has gone completely dark.
From Mike Tomlin to Kevin Colbert, Bell is not just returning calls or messages, he’s also orchestrated his agent Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
2. Ben Roethlisberger today on 937 The Fan for the Ben Roethlisberger show (always a must listen) raved about the Browns defense and even stating it might be the best defense the Steelers will see all season.
The way Ben talks, this isn’t a Mike Tomlin going overboard about the opponent talk.
As the Le’Veon Bell drama drags out, all eyes will be on James Conner vs Cleveland.
The preseason is the preseason. The flashes Conner has shown is all good but what he does on Sunday’s is what matters.
With Bell’s absence setting the stage for Conner to start Week 1, we’re going to find out immediately if all this glowing talk of Conner from players to coaches all summer is actually real or not.
This is a group that honestly believes Conner can be very productive in this offense and a big reason for that belief is the growth Conner has made as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
If Bell purposely arrives too late this week to be a factor in the game plan for Cleveland or remains a complete no-show, you’d have to think a monster game from Conner in week 1 might start getting his attention or maybe not……
3. So I guess the Steelers didn’t actually regard Landry Jones as being better than 80% of backups in the NFL. The rest of the NFL also doesn’t agree with that assumption as to even the Steelers surprise, Jones remains unsigned as of now.
The Steelers were never going to carry four quarterbacks but the organization just saw too much upside in last couple weeks to move on from Josh Dobbs.
“It was a very difficult decision,” said Tomlin. “It really wasn’t about what Landry did or didn’t do, it was about what Josh did.”
Was releasing Jones a smart move?
Ben loved Jones in the room so this wasn’t going to be popular with Roethlisberger but at the end of the day, who gives the Steelers the best chance to win a football game or multiple games if Roethlisberger goes down.
For now that answer is Jones because he has proven it and we just don’t know what Dobbs can do when he’s not going against 3rd-4th stringers.
The Steelers, though, picked upside over the safe decision.
Sometimes you can’t fault that.
4. The least surprising news over the weekend was the Oakland Raiders releasing Martavis Bryant. It was insane at the time the Raiders handed the Steelers a third-round pick for Bryant and looks even more insane now.
There’s no NFL future for Bryant who is in line for another suspension……
5. Mike Tomlin today called Antonio Brown a “full-go” for Cleveland on Sunday. If Brown gets off to a slow start to the season, his lack of practice time over the last month will come into focus much greater.
Of note, Tomlin said the Steelers are healthy going into the season.
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“The vast majority of guys who had missed some time throughout the process have worked in some capacity and even participated in the last preseason game,” said Tomlin. “Even those that we didn’t allow to participate in the game have been practice participants at least in some capacity and we expect that to continue. We should anticipate all members of our team at least being partial participants as we get started this week in practice and kind of let that be our guide in terms of their inclusion in the plan, or the anticipation of play. Some of those guys that I’m talking about that have missed some time are, Vance McDonald, James Washington, Mike Hilton, T.J. Watt, Xavier Grimble.”