Kevin Stefanski non-committal on Baker Mayfield playing in Week 8


NFL: Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns
Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers might not know which quarterback they’ll face until, at the earliest, the end of the week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns are going to square off for the first time in 2021 this Sunday in Week 8, and it is the first time they are meeting since the AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field last season.

Entering the game Sunday, one of the biggest question marks is the health of several key Browns players. The biggest name most fans want to know is quarterback Baker Mayfield. Head coach Kevin Stefanski met with media briefly Tuesday, and when pressed about Mayfield’s availability, he was tight-lipped.

This from the SB Nation site, Dawgs By Nature:

So will Mayfield be able to practice this week? Head coach Kevin Stefanski was asked that on Monday and he was very succinct in his answer, according to a team-provided transcript:

“We will see.”

So can Mayfield play against the Steelers if he does not practice all week, coach?

“We will see.”

Stefanski did say he is not ruling anyone out for Sunday’s game just yet, nor will he feel any pressure to name a quarterback until he sees how Mayfield is feeling and if he is able to practice.

If Mayfield can’t play, the job will fall upon Case Keenum’s shoulders for the second straight week. It was Keenum who got the Browns their fourth victory in Week 7 on Thursday Night Football when they defeated the Denver Broncos.

During Mike Tomlin’s Tuesday press conference, he was asked about the Browns’ quarterback situation, and if Baker Mayfield brings something different to the table compared to Keenum. As it turns out, Tomlin doesn’t see much of a difference.

“Not based on where I sit here today. Just specifically looking at the schematics and how they attacked and the things that they did a week ago, it was the Cleveland Browns. They just plugged in 5 [Case Keenum]. But that’s what a veteran quarterback provides you. He provides you an opportunity to maintain your personality. It appears that they’re capable and they have done that.”

Wednesday is the first reported practice for the upcoming AFC north game, and while the Steelers seem to be a very healthy team coming off the bye, all eyes will be on the Browns’ injury report.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Browns this Sunday in Week 8.

5 Steelers on defense who need to elevate their game to make a playoff push


NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers will need some big contributions from key players if they want to make the postseason.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a tough team to figure out so far this season, and after a 1-3 start they have found a way to get back to .500 with back-to-back wins. Following their Week 7 bye week, it is safe to say the focus now turns not just to the Cleveland Browns in Week 8, but a potential playoff push.

Many will suggest looking ahead is futile, but at the same time the improvement of individual players, even on a week-to-week basis, will be what determines the Steelers’ season outlook. With that said, I put together a list of five offensive players and five defensive players who need to step up their game for the Steelers to be considered a contender, not a pretender.

If you missed the 5 offensive players, check the link below:

Now onto the defense…

Defense

Devin Bush

I hate putting Bush on this list based on the fact he very well could still be healing from not just his ACL tear last season, but also his injured groin which forced him to miss a game this season. Nonetheless, if a player is healthy enough to play, the fans’ expectations will remain the same — play at a high level. Some say it takes a full year until you actually feel “back” after an injury like a torn ACL, and Bush is hopefully finding his way back to where he was before his injury in 2020. The Steelers need him to play like the Top 10 pick he was when the team traded up with the Denver Broncos to select him.

Cam Sutton

Sutton’s play hasn’t been horrible, but it feels as if he is a player who could really benefit from a big game. A game which will boost his confidence. It doesn’t have to be a two interception game, but maybe just a game where he has several pass break ups and looks the part as a starting outside cornerback. I realize in the NFL Sutton is asked to be much more than an outside cornerback, but the Steelers’ defense was at its best when someone who was more than capable was across from Joe Haden. If Sutton can elevate his game, watch out.

Joe Schobert

At what point will Schobert be deemed comfortable in the Steelers’ defense? At what point will the “He is getting acclimated” run out? This is the point where Schobert is this season. After six games, and heading into Week 8, the crutch of “not knowing” certainly will be running out, if it hasn’t already. Schobert is a player who can be a tremendous force if he and Devin Bush can play in harmony alongside one another. Fans have yet to see this, and the hope is it happens in Cleveland in Week 8 vs. the Browns. If not then, when?

Minkah Fitzpatrick

No one is denying Minkah Fitzpatrick is a playmaker, but many want to know when those plays will start being made? When will we see more 2019 and 2020 Minkah? Where is the Minkah magic? Fitzpatrick has been playing great in run support, but hasn’t generated the turnovers many have grown to expect from the former Alabama standout. Mike Tomlin said those type of splash plays are coming, and it could be just what the doctor ordered for a defense which has been struggling to generate turnovers, especially interceptions.

Joe Haden

Just like Sutton made the list, Haden could prove to be more valuable this season too. If Haden were a genuine lockdown cornerback, even at his age, the Steelers’ defense, mainly the pass rush, would be able to generate even more pressure than they always do. On top of his coverage skills, Haden’s tackling certainly can take a step up to help the defense. On top of that, Haden’s ability to make quarterbacks pay if/when they test him will also pay huge dividends for the defense and team as they hope to make a playoff push.


To hear this list in more detail, check out the Monday edition of my “Let’s Ride” podcast in the player below: