By Jeremy Hritz
It’s Friday, and the weekend is finally here, and there is so much to celebrate as a Steelers fan! And oh yeah, the first regular season game is just two days away. As I always say on the Study Sessions, Life is beautiful in the black and gold. As we prepare to get our weekend on, here are my Steelers Study Notes for this Friday, September 10th.
- TJ Watt finally signed his new contract! Watt was extended for 4-years, $112 million dollars, a $35 million dollar signing bonus, and a fully guaranteed amount of $80 million dollars, making him the highest-paid defender in the league. There was a report floating around yesterday that Watt’s agents wanted to continue to push for more money, but apparently Watt overruled them, walked into Mr. Rooney’s office, and said they had a deal. He then proceeded to the weight room to workout. Stuff of legend is that is true.
- The Steelers Thursday injury report had some good news, some bad. After not practicing on Wednesday, Tyson Alualu was a full participant, as was Kendrick Green. Unfortunately, not practicing was Alex Highsmith, who is battling some type of groin injury, and his status for Sunday’s game is in question. Hopefully he gets healthy, otherwise, we are going to have to see Jamir Jones in that OLB rotation.
- The injury bug continues to plague AFC North rival, the Baltimore Ravens, as they lost two more players to torn ACLs: Gus Edwards and Marcus Peters. Their running back room has been decimated, and now, Le’Veon Bell, yes that Bell, will be the Ravens featured running. What a strange world the NFL can be.
- A player I haven’t talked about much who will need a strong game this weekend is Chris Wormley, as he will fill in for the injured Stephon Tuitt. Wormley had a nice camp, and has had the time to adjust and adapt to the Steelers defense and organization, and we should see much improved play from him on Sunday. Keep an eye on Wormley, as his performance will be telling as to the overall play of the entire defense, as the game starts up front.
- What will we see on Sunday when the Steelers sub-package defense requires a slot corner? Will it be Cameron Sutton shifting inside and James Pierre moving outside? Does Ahkello Witherspoon factor into this equation at all? Or, is there some other scheme/strategy that we are clueless about and will discover this weekend?
- There are so many rookie debuts I am excited to watch this weekend, including Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, and Dan Moore, Jr. However, don’t forget about Pressley Harvin and the value he can bring this team in terms of flipping the field with his powerful leg. His punting can really enhance both the offensive and defensive units against the Bills.
- With all of the injuries occurring across the NFL, and especially in light of recent events in Baltimore, let’s hope and pray the Steelers can stay healthy against the Bills. The team has had challenges with injuries the past two seasons, and with some of the challenges with depth, staying healthy will be key. If only there was a way to control that…
- And finally, one player on offense I am looking forward to watching their development this season is Diontae Johnson. He was somewhat under the radar in camp and the preseason, though he did have a few nice catches, but I believe he could be a player that ascends to a Pro Bowl caliber level in 2021. Having a nice showing against the Bills would aid such a recognition.
That is all for this Friday! Make it a great weekend!