New Steelers LB Patrick Queen lands at No. 64 on NFL Top 100

Patrick Queen #6 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after sacking Geno Smith #7 of the Seattle Seahawks during an NFL football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Seattle Seahawks at M&T Bank Stadium on November 05, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland.
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The Steelers’ free agent signing is a rising star.

Steelers linebacker Patrick Queen received some good news after reporting to camp on Wednesday, landing at the No. 64 spot on the NFL’s annual Top 100 list, as voted by his peers.

It’s the first year Queen has appeared on the list. He’s the fourth off-ball linebacker to appear thus far, ranked over Zaire Franklin, Lavonte David, and Dre Greenlaw.

In 2023, Queen broke out playing alongside Roquan Smith in Baltimore, garnering Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro nods. He recorded 133 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, and an interception, helping the Ravens secure the AFC North title.

However, Baltimore had declined Queen’s fifth-year option ahead of the 2023 season, leaving him a free agent after his big year. Queen ended up signing with division rival Pittsburgh in 2024 on a three-year, $41 million deal, the largest free agent contract in Steelers history.

Two other Steelers, Cam Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick, have already appeared on this year’s Top 100, each falling over 50 spots from their previous ranking. Queen’s trajectory is headed in the other direction, and the Steelers are betting on that continuing in 2024.

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The best Steelers roster in the history of the franchise, as voted by you — the fans

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Pittsburgh Steelers training camp is just around the corner, which means we’re one step closer to finalizing the 53-man roster for the 2024 NFL season.

… but what about the Ultimate All-Time Steelers roster? It’s about time we finalize that one, too.

But we can’t do it without the help of you — the fans of the best d*mn NFL franchise in the land. So, every day, leading up to the start of Steelers training camp (Thursday, July 25), we will be dropping a positional poll for you to vote on which players, past and present, would be on the All-Time Steelers roster.

The roster format is as follows:

You’ll note the absence of a punter on this list… because this team of stars would never need one.

Every time a new positional poll is published, we’ll link it here so you’re able to vote along day-by-day.

Then, stay tuned, as the FINAL All-Time Steelers roster, as voted by you — the fans — will be announced on Wednesday, July 24, the day before the Steelers 2024 training camp kickoff!

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin discusses plan at QB ahead of training camp

Pittsburgh Steelers OTA Offseason Workout
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The QB competition will be the talk of training camp

With the Steelers’ first training camp practice set for Thursday, al eyes will be on the impending quarterback battle between Russel Wilson and Justin Fields.

When speaking to the media Wednesday, Mike Tomlin was asked if Russell Wilson was still on pole position.

“Nothing has changed,” Tomlin said.

He was then asked how the Steelers would manage the allocation of reps between Wilson and Fields.

“Very carefully,” Tomlin said with a sly smile. “You guys think I’m actually gonna back myself into a corner so guys can ask me daily about the rep allocation? No way. I’ve been on the job too long for that.”

Both Wilson and Fields look very well during the offseason program. Wilson showcased his deep ball on multiple occasions, specifically one during team drills to Quez Watkins that would have been an 80 yard touchdown in a game. Fields showed off continued and linear growth throughout the program, and both his athleticism and arm talent were put on display over the course of the month. Come tomorrow, fans will get their first in-person look at both of their new quarterbacks in Steelers garments.

Several Steelers start training camp on PUP, NFI lists

Cole Holcomb #55 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is carted off the field with an injury in the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Acrisure Stadium on November 02, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Some injury updates Day 1 out of Latrobe…

The Pittsburgh Steelers reported for 2024 training camp on Wednesday, and the team announced that they made several roster designations. ILB Cole Holcomb and DL Dean Lowry will start training camp on the Active/PUP (Physically Unable To Perform) list, while RB/return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson will start the year on the NFI (Non-Football Injury) list.

Holcomb suffered a gruesome season-ending knee injury in Week 9 of the 2023, so his start on the PUP list isn’t all that unexpected. He’d given a positive update on his recovery back in May, voicing his confidence that he’d return to play in the pros again, but there was no definitive date of return.

The Steelers opted for several insurance policies in case it’s an extended absence leading into the regular season, having signed LB Patrick Queen to a significant three-year, $41 million deal in free agency and drafting Payton Wilson out of NC State in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Lowry, who’s new to the team this offseason, suffered a season-ending pectoral tear in Week 11.

As players on the Active/PUP list, Holcomb and Lowry can participate in team activities but will not practice. They count toward the active 90-man roster and can be activated at any point during training camp. Once they’re off the list, however, they can’t be put back on it.

Patterson, also new to the team, is on the Active/NFI list with a hamstring injury; HC Mike Tomlin notes that he is considered “day-to-day” with the injury, Alan Saunders of Steelers Now reports. The original occurrence of his injury appears to be unknown at this time.

Steelers’ Minkah Fitzpatrick lands at No. 79 on NFL Top 100

Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs onto the field before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Acrisure Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Jaguars beat the Steelers 20-10.
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The star safety drops 61 spots from 2023.

Another Steeler has made the NFL’s annual Top 100 list, with star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick landing at No. 79.

Like teammate Cam Heyward, No. 98 on the list, Fitzpatrick dropped from his 2023 ranking, falling 61 spots from No. 18 last season. Fitzpatrick is the sixth defensive back to appear on the list.

Fitzpatrick dealt with injury last season, playing in just 10 games. His numbers also dropped, with the veteran safety going from 96 tackles and six interceptions in 2022 to 64 tackles and no interceptions in 2023. Due to injuries on the Steelers defense, Fitzpatrick was forced to play out of position for much of the year, playing closer to the box instead of his preferred “center-fielder” role.

Still, Fitzpatrick remains one of the league’s most well-respected defensive backs, and with a likely improved secondary entering the new season, he’s primed to return to form in 2024.

Najee Harris reveals real reason Steelers declined his fifth-year option

Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks
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Why the Steelers declined Harris’ fifth-year option

In one of the more surprising moves of the offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers declined running back Najee Harris’ fifth-year option, making him a free agent after the 2024 NFL season.

The Steelers arrived for training camp on Wednesday, and Harris was asked if he was given a reason as to why the team decided not to pick up the option.

“Let me think,” Harris said. “It was [because] they didn’t know where the offense was headed. That was it.”

New offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is known for his heavy utilization of the run game. Last year, the Falcons ran the ball 44 percent of the time under Smith, which was second in the league. The Steelers were third at 43 percent.

Harris has eclipsed 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons, but 2023 was the first in which he topped four yards per carry.

The Steelers also need to bring back Jaylen Warren in 2025, who will be a restricted free agent after this season. One could guess they feel more comfortable going forward with Warren as the lead back on a cheaper deal and bringing in a new RB2 rather than paying two running backs.

Steelers QB Russell Wilson highlights rising star he wants to give more targets to

Pittsburgh Steelers OTA Offseason Workout
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The Steelers’ quarterback has a certain target in mind

The Pittsburgh Steelers report for training camp today, and they will begin practices on Thursday.

Ahead of getting on the field, though, Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson spoke to the media and highlighted one rising star in particular that he wants to get the ball to.

Wilson said he wants to make second-year tight end Darnell Washington the ball and see him get more targets than he did in 2023.

Washington was selected in the third round by the Steelers in the 2023 NFL Draft, and was utilized as a blocking tight end more than anything, catching only seven passes for 61 yards as a rookie.

Washington looked very good in the offseason program, and seemed to be building a good rapport with both quarterbacks, especially Justin Fields who compared him to Jimmy Graham.

In an Arthur Smith offense, we should see the 6-foot-7 specimen get more looks as a receiver. Specifically, I’d love to see the Steelers turn him into a massive red zone threat in any way they can. As a jump-ball tight end, as a fullback who could get carries inside the five yard-line, over the middle of the end zone – any way they can to his his size to their advantage.

Steelers Read & React: Which roster bubble candidate needs to shine in training camp?

Texas Longhorns defensive back Ryan Watts (6) catches a ball before a Big 12 college football game between the Texas Longhorns and Kansas State Wildcats on November 5, 2022 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, KS.
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This week, Ryan and Ryland look at which players need to have a big showing to make the roster and make some predictions about the AFC North.

Rejoice, Steelers fans! Players report to training camp today and soon enough we’ll be kicking off a brand new season. We’ll be back next week to react to the first week of camp, but for now Read & React keeps its eyes towards the future as we look at which players need a strong summer and Ryan and Ryland make predictions about some of Pittsburgh’s rivals.

Who is a roster bubble player you’re keeping your eye on this summer?

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

RP: The Pittsburgh defensive line is an interesting era. On the edges, TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith are one of the better pass rush duos in the league, while also bringing adequate ability when they are asked to drop into coverage as linebackers. On the interior, Cam Heyward hopes to show he is still one of the best in the league as he ages and Keanu Benton appears poised for a breakout in 2024. But behind them is an interesting mix of characters, young and old alike. The easy answer would be to highlight the entire line, but for this, I’ll focus on third-year player DeMarvin Leal.

When Leal was drafted in the third round in 2022, it was easy to see the vision. At 6’4 and just over 280 pounds at the time, it seemed like the Steelers were nabbing a player deemed a “tweener” who they could ask to lose weight and move to OLB or ask to put on a few pounds to be better suited for the defensive interior.

Leal barely played in 2022, logging just 175 snaps. For context, Benton played over 500 as a rookie last year. Still there was optimism for Leal to take a step in 2023, and when Heyward went down with injury it seemed like an opportunity was presented to Leal. He failed to seize it and then didn’t dress for five of the final six games.

This offseason, the Steelers brought in veteran Dean Lowry and drafted another similar player in Logan Lee. If Leal doesn’t show some signs of life this summer, he might very well be on another team by September.

RB: I’ll go with Ryan Watts, a player I hope to get around to doing a film room on one of these days. The rookie sixth-rounder has rare measurable as a 6’3, 208-pound defensive back. A college cornerback, Watts is a bit stiff although not entirely slow (4.53 40-yard dash) for the position, meaning he fits best as a safety or some sort of hybrid defensive back at the next level. There, the evaluation gets exciting.

Watts is a smart defender and an energetic hitter, with the size to be an impact defender coming downhill. His length (34 1/2’’ arms!) is a valuable asset and his cornerback background broadens his repertoire.

Watts seems tailor-made to be a tight end neutralizer at the next level if he can live up to his potential as a versatile safety. Additionally, his willing physicality makes him a ready-made candidate for special teams, especially as Pittsburgh is in desperate need of a new gunner after losing both this offseason.

It’s all speculation at this point, but Watts has a unique enough set of tools to earn a spot on the Steelers’ 53-man roster in 2024. The problem? There are a lot of talented fringe defensive backs all trying to do the same this summer. I think Watts will be able to stand out, but he’ll have to prove that in training camp and the preseason.

We’ll make AFC North standings predictions later this summer. For now, give us an AFC North-related prediction.

Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens throws the ball during the AFC Championship NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at M&T Bank Stadium on January 28, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

RB: The Ravens will have a slow start to the season. I think that every team in the AFC North will be in the playoff race this year, but Baltimore might stumble out of the gate and spend 2024 playing catch-up.

For starters, the Ravens lost 3/5ths of their starting offensive line heading into the new season. I’m a fan of the new guys, with names like Andrew Vorhees and Roger Rosengarten being draft favorites of mine in the past, but it’s going to take time for the new group to develop and gel. The addition of Derrick Henry is a fun fit in Baltimore, but at 30 years old, he’s not the player he was although still a dangerous weapon. Lamar Jackson remains one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, but Baltimore’s receiving corps are scary thin — possibly worse than Pittsburgh’s.

On defense, it isn’t quite as bad, but Baltimore lost a Pro-Bowler in the middle in Patrick Queen, and star defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald left for the Seattle head coaching job. The Ravens will be just fine on defense despite these losses, but it might take some time for new DC Zach Orr to settle into the role due to his lack of experience.

To be fair, a lot of NFL teams, even others in the AFC North, have question marks close to or worse than the Ravens’ predicament. But check out Baltimore’s opening five-game stretch in 2024: Chiefs, Raiders, Cowboys, Bills, and Bengals. Four of those matchups will be against teams that will rank among the league’s best this season. It will take Baltimore some time to find their stride in 2024.

RP: In a famous scene from the television show Mad Men, a character tells series protagonist Don Draper they feel sorry for him, only for Draper to coldly reply: “I don’t think about you at all.” For myself and many other faithful of the black & gold, that is a perfect summary of our feelings about the Cleveland Browns. However, for this exercise, I’ll make an exception.

The animosity between Steelers and Browns fans has seen new energy in recent years as the TJ Watt vs Myles Garrett debate has become a yearly tradition since both were drafted in 2017. Garrett infamously won his first Defensive Player of the Year award last season despite having fewer sacks, tackles for loss, tackles, and forced turnovers than Watt — something that is also true with their career totals.

So today I come baring this prediction of ill-will for Cleveland: They fall out of the top ten for team defense and and finish 2-4 or worse in division play.

Defensive rankings for NFL teams are highly volatile from year to year. Let’s look at last year’s final ranks as a guide. Of the teams to finish in the top 10 in yards allowed for 2022, only five (the Bills, 49ers, Jets, Patriots and Ravens) repeated in 2023 and San Francisco fell from first to eighth. The top three teams were completely different as well. In yards allowed, six teams (the Bills, Cowboys, 49ers, Patriots, Ravens and Saints) repeated in 2023. The Browns themselves are a perfect example of this, ranking 23rd in points allowed and 14th in yards allowed in 2022 before breaking out last year.

Maintaining a top defense is hard and the Browns still have a ton of talent on paper. But don’t be shocked if they find it harder to dominate in the same way they did a year ago, especially with Devin Bush projected to have a starting role on the squad.

Join in on Steelers R&R by sharing your takes on this week’s topics. Who do YOU think has the most to prove in the preseason? Feel free to pitch future questions in the comment section or on Twitter/X: tag @_Ryland_B or @RyanParishMedia.

Steelers report for 2024 NFL training camp Wednesday

Russell Wilson #3 of the Pittsburgh Steelers works out during the Pittsburgh Steelers OTA offseason workout at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on June 6 2024 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

A look at the upcoming month’s schedule heading into the season…

Football is back, baby! Well, kind of. Almost.

The Pittsburgh Steelers officially report for their 2024 training camp session on Wednesday, July 24. Both rookies and veterans are set to report to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA at that point, with the first official training camp practice taking place on Thursday, July 25 at 10:30 a.m. ET.

2024 marks the Steelers’ 57th training camp session at St. Vincent, with the team once again ready to live the dorm life, though this year will look significantly different than last. This year, they’ll have a whole new vibe with the additions of OC Arthur Smith and a re-imagined quarterbacks room now headlined by Super Bowl-winning veteran Russell Wilson and flashy rusher Justin Fields.

Unsurprisingly, Wilson enters training camp in the pole position as QB1 for the season, but Tomlin has said they’ll leave Fields in a position to compete that will make the reps in the coming weeks crucial ones.

The Steelers will hold a total of 16 practices between Thursday, July 25 and Wednesday, August 11, with padded practices kicking off on Tuesday, July 30. The first four training camp practices prior to that date will be helmets-only. They’ll also once again hold the fan-favorite Friday Night Lights practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium coming up on Friday, August 2, with plenty of activities at Latrobe Fest leading up to the evening’s practice.

Here’s a look at the full list of Steelers training camp practices for 2024. As a reminder, it is free to attend Steelers training camp, though you must have a ticket to enter. Find tickets here on Ticketmaster.

2024 Steelers training camp schedule

  • Thursday, July 25 — 10:30 a.m.
  • Friday, July 26 — 10:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, July 27 — 1:55 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 28 — 1:55 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 30 — 10:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, July 31 — 10:30 a.m.
  • Thursday, August 1 — 10:30 a.m.
  • Friday, August 2 — Friday Night Lights practice, 7 p.m. at Latrobe Memorial Stadium
  • Saturday, August 3 — 1:55 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 4 — 1:55 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 6 — 10:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, August 7 — 10:30 a.m.
  • Thursday, August 8 — 10:30 a.m.
  • Sunday, August 11 — 2:55 p.m.
  • Monday, August 12 — 10:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, August 11 — 10:30 a.m.

*All times listed are Easter Daylight Time (EDT)

Steelers work out 3 WRs Tuesday

Greg Ward #84 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts against the Cleveland Browns during the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 17, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Browns tied the Eagles 18-18.
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Greg Ward Jr. was among those to try out for the Steelers ahead of training camp.

Pre-training camp tryouts continue to roll in for the Steelers. After it was reported that Ben DiNucci worked out for the Steelers on Tuesday, three more names were added to that list: wide receivers Tarik Black, Slade Bolden, and Greg Ward Jr.

Black went undrafted in 2021 out of Texas, signing with the Indianapolis Colts. A big receiver at 6’3, 215 pounds, Black ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at his pro day along with a 42-inch vertical and 11-foot long jump. However, he’s struggled to put all of those traits together, recording just 10 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown in his final year of college. He’s added just one game played, two catches, and 10 yards at the NFL level. Black has spent time with the Jets and Ravens after being released by the Colts.

Bolden was a slot receiver for Alabama who went undrafted in 2022, signing with the Baltimore Ravens. In his final season in college, he recorded 42 receptions, 408 yards, and three touchdowns. The 5’11, 193-pound wideout ran a 4.66-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He has yet to appear in an NFL game, going from the Ravens to the Falcons, and most recently, the Birmingham Stallions of the UFL.

Ward has the most experience of the group, going undrafted in 2017 before landing with the Philadelphia Eagles. A college quarterback at Houston, he transitioned to wide receiver at the NFL level. The 5’11, 190-pound receiver has appeared in 40 career NFL games with 768 career receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. In his most recent season, 2021, Ward recorded seven receptions for 95 yards and three touchdowns, appearing in all 17 games.

As with the other players the Steelers have worked out this week, Tuesday’s wide receivers aren’t likely to immediately contend for roster spots, but they provide names the Steelers can fall back on once the team starts to shuffle its roster during training camp.