Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat: 7.10.17
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Ray Fittipaldo
11:54
Welcome to my Steelers chat. Let's get started.
Scott in Amsterdam
11:55
Why has Bell not signed his franchise tag yet? Given his history of injury and off-field issues, the Steelers would be fools to sign him long term!
Ray Fittipaldo
11:56
Well, the Steelers just might be fools then because they have said on the record they would like to keep Bell as part of their core. We'll find out in a week. The deadline to get a long-term deal done is 4 p.m. July 17. I don't have a feel one way or the other, but there is plenty of incentive for both sides to strike a deal.
Scott in Amsterdam
11:57
Will Keith Butler be on the hot seat if his defense doesn't take another big step forward this year? In an interview two weeks ago, he gave a very poor excuse for why his secondary was not prepared against the Patriots...
Ray Fittipaldo
11:59
I don't know if he'd be on the hot seat, but the defense is expected to take a big step forward this season. Of course, his best players have to be healthy, and that was not the case early last season when Bud Dupree and others missed time due to injuries. I think more than anything, Butler will be judged this year on the transition to playing more man defense. Everyone knows it, the Steelers have said it. They need better man defense to be a part of their arsenal if they are going take that next step. Butler is the coordinator and it will be up to him to make sure his players are able to do that.
JamesinNYC
11:59
What is your favorite "good news" out of early training, besides lack of serious injuries?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:00
Probably the way the rookies seemed to respond in OTAs and minicamp. The coaches had some high praise for TJ Watt and Juju Smith Schuster. They're also high on the potential of third-round pic,k Cam Sutton. Soon, the real football starts and we'll find out if they're ready to play in the NFL.
Jim Rogers
12:00
Besides BR, which player can the Steelers least afford to lose to a long term injury?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:04
That's a great question. We saw last year they were able to win without Cam Heyward. And we saw in 2015 they were able to win without Le'Veon Bell and Maurkice Pouncey. The sign f a good team is being able to win when your stars go down. The Patriots did that last year when they won the Super Bowl without Rob Gronkowski. We just saw the Penguins win the Stanley Cup without Kris Letang. The Steelers obviously proved they have a strong group of players who can fight through injury adversity. I suppose the one scenario we don't really know about is playing for a long stretch without Antonio Brown because they haven't had to do that since he was drafted in 2010. So Brown would be my answer if for no other reason than being able to replace his immense production in the passing game.
Steelbravo7
12:04
So 26 is doesn't show up to OTAs but plays in a charity basketball game and is all about his "album" release.  Doesn't it seem like his mind is extremely off of football and the f.o. should seem a bit peeved at this?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:05
I don't see it that way. He was allowed to rehab on his own this spring and Mike Tomlin did not say he was unhappy about Bell not being present for OTAs or minicamp. He's always had other interests and it's never interfered with his preparation for a season. I don't expect that to happen now especially with him going into a season where so much could be on the line for him.
Scott in Amsterdam
12:06
Heard several coaches talk about the need to secure home field advantage in the playoffs...what happened to the attitude that they can beat anyone, anywhere?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:08
Home-field advantage is important for the Steelers because they have a hard time in New England. They have a hard time with New England in Pittsburgh, too, but your chances are better in a home playoff game. The Steelers have proven the past few years they win on the road in the playoffs. They won in Cincinnati two years ago and in Kansas City in January. That's not the problem. Beating the Patriots anywhere, most notably in Foxboro, has been the problem.
Scott in Amsterdam
12:08
Haley mentioned Knile Davis as one of the new guys on offense that he is excited about. Can you understand why (from you have seen so far)?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:09
He looked pretty good to me this spring too. He had early success with the Chiefs and then fell out of favor. Sometimes a change of scenery is all that's needed for a player. We'll see if that works for the Steelers. And if not, no big deal. He signed for pretty much the veteran minimum.
Guest
12:10
Why not take a shot at Regis. The Jets are paying him. He could help tutor the corners in how to play at a high degree of comps
Ray Fittipaldo
12:10
What about Kathie Lee?
If you haven't noticed not a lot of other teams are rushing to sign Revis either. His best days are behind him.
Ernie Jamison
12:11
Hey Ray, I get the feeling the Steelers really like Demarcus Ayers. Which I do. Though our wide receiving group is very deep it seems. Will he be one who makes the 53 man roster in your opinion?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:12
Will be tough for him because he plays the same role as Eli Rogers and the Steelers like Rogers too. Ayers came on late last season and did well when called upon, but he's competing for one of six spots on a roster that includes Rogers, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Martavis Bryant, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Justin Hunter. All but Smith-Schuster (who has the team made as a second-round pick) has a longer and better NFL resume than Ayers.
anthony
12:13
I think that Watts, Smith, Sutton, and B Allen will (by the end of the year) play a significant part in contributing to the Steelers getting to and winning the Superbowl, what's your take on this years draft class and who gas stood out the most?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:14
As I previously mentioned, the top three picks did well in the spring for whatever that's worth. Not sure Allen will have a role this season although he does have potential. I think the Steelers need some of the rookies to step up and play a role. I just don't know if those roles will be the determining factor in any Super Bowl run.
Andrew
12:15
Do you think we will see more blitzes from the secondary , leaving the rest in man coverage, as the DBs continue to develop?  QB pressure will be essential for this defense to be successful.
Ray Fittipaldo
12:16
The idea is to pressure with four and cover with seven. The Steelers haven't been great at generating pressure with four so they've had to incorporate more blitzes than they'd prefer. If they blitz a lot again this season I would imagine it's because their pressure with four wasn't up to par again.
BishkekSteeler
12:17
I'm seeing a lot of off-season hype about TJ Watt , and while I'm hoping it's true, is their any reason to get excited about someone who has switched position and has very limited experience playing that new position being a big contributor this season other than his last name?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:18
They're excited because he picked up the system well in the spring and because he looks the part. We won't really know what he's all about until the preseason games begin. But they do like the potential there.
GregLeaper
12:18
What do you think happens with Bell, long term?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:21
I keep going back to the fact Art Rooney and Kevin Colbert have come out and said they want Bell to be a part of the team long-term and the fact that Bell grew up a Steelers fan and has been excellent in his first four years in the league. for that reason, I have a feeling they will get something done. It's just a hunch. Neither side is discussing the negotiations right now. Not much information is being shared. I outlined in a story that will be on post-gazette.com later today why it makes sense for both sides to strike a long-term deal. My prediction: 4 years for $40 million or 4 years for $50 million with $20-23 million guaranteed at signing. I think that's the sweet spot when it's all said and done.
GregLeaper
12:21
Are you pessimistic, as many are, about Golson?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:22
Honestly, there is so little to go on. He's been injured for two years and he didn't do much to stand out this spring. I just don;t feel like there is any reason to be optimistic at this point. Obviously, this is a very important training camp for him.
12:23
Elite pass rusher or shutdown cover CB. But every defense in the NFL wants that.
GregLeaper
12:23
If you could one quality piece to the defense, what position would it be?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:23
Question to previous answer.
Will Blackwell
12:23
Assuming he stats healthy and drug free what kind of numbers do you expect Bryant to put up? 80 catches 10 tds?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:24
Well, Brown will continue to lead the team in catches and yards because he is that good. If Bryant stays healthy though and can produce big plays like he always has I'd say 55-65 catches for close to 1,000 yards is very doable.
Daniel
12:24
How likely is it that we see Xavier Grimble as a Day 1 starter?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:25
Not likely. Jesse James has done nothing to lose his job.
MoJoJoJoJoJoJo
12:25
Not much news around this time of year... NFL dead zone. Is it a good time to look away and take a break? Or is there anything developing other than L Bells contract?
Ray Fittipaldo
12:26
4 p.m. July 17 is the deadline for Bell to sign a long-term deal. Otherwise, he'll play the 2017 season on a one-year $12.12 million deal. Most of these franchise player deals come down to the deadline.
Rod Rust
12:27
Would the balance of Afc shifted if the Steelers would have signed Donta Hightower?
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