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Yuri: Hello Ray. Apparently, Najee Harris impressed the Steelers and others at the recent minicamp. Do you know if the Steelers were similarly impressed by any other players who participated? Thank you Ray.
Ray Fittipaldo: I wouldn’t put too much stock into a three-day rookie minicamp. The real work begins at training camp. OTAs will be a bit more revealing assuming everyone shows up, but Latrobe is where this team will be molded.
Gino: Hi Ray, how close were the Steelers to signing Kerrigan? Was it simply a matter of not being able to fit him into their salary cap? Thanks.
Ray Fittipaldo: I have yet to see the particulars of the deal with the Eagles, but they likely offered more money. His role with the Steelers likely would have been as a top reserve OLB/edge — a situational pass rusher. Not sure what the Eagles offered in terms of money or playing time/role, etc.
Hawaiian Steeler: Aloha Ray, will the back end of the schedule, 5 out of last 6 games against AFC Playoff teams, determine if the Steelers make the Playoff or not?
Ray Fittipaldo: I think it will go a long way toward determining whether they make the playoffs and/or seeding for the playoffs.
Donna: Hi Ray…what’s your opinion on James Washington. To me, he’s the forgotten receiver when people talk about that position. If I’m not mistaken, he’s a free agent after this season and I think he will be gone one way or the other. If he has a great season, Youth Derek Watt Jersey, someone may offer great money…if doesn’t do well, he may be cut. Thank you.
Ray Fittipaldo: Washington is a good No. 4 WR. Typically No. 4 WRs don’t sign second contracts with their original team s. He probably wants to go somewhere were he can have a bigger role.
Jyro: Good Afternoon Mr. Fittipaldo and thank you for the venue! Any trade value in the receiver room with all of the newly-acquired weapons on the offensive side?
Ray Fittipaldo: Not sure what Washington would bring back in a trade… maybe a fifth or sixth-rounder. But I’m not sure I’d make a deal. He’s the No. 4 WR, and they didn’t draft any to develop for the future. I’d keep him and then draft another WR next year.
Retire21: All Power 5 draft picks this year for the first time. Did the problem with a scouts traveling hurt kids on lower tiers?
Ray Fittipaldo: Without a doubt. Kevin Colbert was very open and frank about that. He wanted to draft players who played in the fall. The Power 5 schools played the closest thing to a full schedule. So it’s not surprising the Steelers drafted a bunch of players from those schools.
Jim: Even if Loudermilk was gone when we selected in the 5th, would it have made a difference for a guy that isn’t going to play for a year or two? Still scratching my head over trading a 4th rd pick to move up. Has Colbert given a logical explanation for it?
Ray Fittipaldo: He said they liked him and Camo Derek Watt Jersey, believed it was worth trading away a 2022 fourth-rounder to get the chance to take him.
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Tre Norwood (21) practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex during rookie minicamp, Friday, May 14, 2021 in Pittsburgh, PA.
Cam Sutton has ascended to starting status. Now who becomes the Steelers’ next jack-of-all-trades?
Southside Jimmy: Ray, does it seem odd that this year will be the 7th year in a row that the Steelers will open the season on the road?
Ray Fittipaldo: Yes it is. I assume the city asks the Steelers to open on the road when the Pirates are at home. I don’t think they want the traffic concerns of getting fans in and out of those stadiums that are about 500 yards apart.
Erk the jerk: Ray Ray Dewitts over here. So the stinkers are finished and with the teams 1st losing season under the combo of Tombo/Rozzenbaggs do you envision a scenario where said stinkies are so bad they can get their next q.b if the go 5-12 or 6-11 ?? Graciano
Ray Fittipaldo: I do not, Erk the Jerk. I think they are a 9-8 or 8-9 type of team. I honestly can’t see them having anything less than seven wins barring a major barrage of injuries.
Retire21: Trying to plan some road trips but I heard the flex option is even earlier this year and May involve games moving in and out of Mondays!
Ray Fittipaldo: Book for September and October when the weather is much better. Who wants to travel in November and December?
Dru: Hi Ray. Do you have a sleeper team you predict to have a great season? Thanks.
Ray Fittipaldo: I like the Chargers to make the playoffs, and I think New England is going to bounce back.
Carl in Carrick: Have you had a chance to evaluate this year’s crop of college quarterbacks who may eventually be Ben’s replacement? Thanks Ray.
Ray Fittipaldo: Carl! It’s only May. We have 11 months to go. Take a deep breath and exhale. There will ne plenty of time for that in January.
DaquidoBazzini: Hi Ray – Any updates or thoughts on Freiermuth’s shoulder in rookie mini camp?
Ray Fittipaldo: Not that I am aware of. Freiermuth said after the draft his shoulder is fine and has no limitations.
Humble Guest: Hello Ray, An NFL Business question. From Amazon: “The NFL has announced its 2021 regular-season schedule, including 11 Thursday Night Football games on Prime Video available at no additional cost to Prime members…” So, to watch a regular season football game, I will need to have a paid subscription Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic, (I moved from Pittsburgh 25 years ago..). Is this leading the way to pay per view playoffs and Super Bowls much like Wrestlemania or am I being paranoid? The greed is boundless..
Ray Fittipaldo: Yes I believe games will be on local TV for both markets but you must have a subscription for the others. And, of course, if you are out of town, you’d need it for Steelers home games.
lamberto55: still no true nose tackle???
Ray Fittipaldo: Did they have one last year?
Luis: Ray over or under 6 wins?
Ray Fittipaldo: Over.
Clef: Hey Ray do you feel the same way I do it’s you must commit to the run so they extend Long drive so the defense can rest otherwise there will be no playoffs for the Steelers?
Ray Fittipaldo: I think the running game must be better. I won’t go as far to say they have to become a ball control team to save the defense. The defense has been plenty good the past few years.
Scott: Has Canada ever been known to use the FB much? I am still trying to figure out why they paid Derek Watt as much as they have/will.
Ray Fittipaldo: He used a FB at Pitt. Not sure if that guy was just a really good player, and he made it work, but I am sure Derek Watt will get a look if he can help the offense.
FredSmith: Does Jaylen Samuels have a future in this Matt Canada offense?
Ray Fittipaldo: If he’s on the roster he’s probably the No. 3 RB. That’s not a big role. I just don’t see him being in the mix unless there are injuries.
TexStill: I see you are in the 9 win camp, what are their 8 losses. I will give you Buffalo(A), Green Bay(A), Cleveland(A), Ravens(A) and KC(A).
Ray Fittipaldo: I also have them losing at the LA Chargers, at the Vikings on Thursday night and I believe I had them losing to the Seahawks. It’s all archived on the North Shore podcast. Give it a listen. https://newsinteractive.post-gazette.com/the-north-shore-drive-sports-…
Jesse: I was really excited when we picked Our TE @ 55, i really think then & now it was great value, I remember before his injury in the season prior to the pandemic one, he was kind of rated Ist Rd value.. and think he is very good really .. We missed some kind of Heath Miller (on of my all time favorites no doubt in every way, a true Pro on & off for sure) so what are your thoughts on Freiermuth? Thanks for your great chats!
Ray Fittipaldo: I like the pick. I think he adds immediate value as a receiver, and the thought is he can become a good in-line blocker in the run game. Not sure that happens right away, but he’ll stick his nose in there.
Luis: I think 2 ex Colts would provide next depth. Justin Houston, Malik Hooker. Thoughts Ray?
Ray Fittipaldo: I’ve often wondered why Hooker has struggled to make his mark. I know injuries are part of the reason. As for Houston, he’s older, but if he filled a role for a year I wouldn’t have a problem with it.
Jay: Hi Ray. First series, 3rd and 7, down a TD. Which 5 are the steelers lining up?
Ray Fittipaldo: Which five receiving options? I’d say Claypool, Johnson, JuJu, Ebron and Harris.
7 to 86: Since OTAs are still “football in shorts,” what do you find useful to learn about the team? Jobs are not being won and lost here, right? Sorry two questions but thanks!
Ray Fittipaldo: Who is lining up where, stuff like that. Little things you can pick up on with new coaches, etc.
Methuselah Thõempkrësharh: Reverses, double reverses, triple reverses, jet sweeps, have been woefully ineffective going back even before Finctner… Other than ‘motion’ to force a D to show itself, it seems the opponents, as Chuck Noll once said, aren’t “fooled” very often. Is all the Canada Jet Sweep talk the picture of 2021 to come.
Ray Fittipaldo: There is more to his offense than jet sweeps. He likes to use motion to identify things within the defense. He makes them declare and then goes for a mismatch. This is a staple of most coordinators now. We’ll see how effective he is in his first NFL gig.
TexStill: For all the huff about the Steelers schedule, Browns is not easy and Ravens is just as brutal, with a tougher end than the Steelers. What record wins this division? 11-6? 10-7 on a tiebreaker?
Ray Fittipaldo: 11-6 might be a good call. Maybe 12-5. I’d be surprised if any team got to 13 wins this year.
Steeler1974: Ray I’m not sure where all the doom and gloom over Ben has come from. I understand the 4 ints in the playoff game however we were down so far Ben had no choice but to gunsling. He did get us to within 11. The defense was failing us in that game. So obvious the the handcuffs were put on him wit the dunk and dunk. He looked pretty good in the Indy game when the defense helped out. Shouldn’t there be a little more optimism now that he has more help ie the draft picks?
Ray Fittipaldo: It’s hard to forget about the playoff game and all those other late-season games besides the Colts. It was a disaster versus the Ravens, Bengals and WFT.
Methuselah Thõempkrësharh: It appeared that Cam Heyward was live from Steeler HQs today, on GMF, for a bit of self promotion. Is that a bit hypocritical considering his Union rep stance?
Ray Fittipaldo: I didn’t see the interview so I don’t know where Heyward taped it. Cam has been outspoken about players not going to the voluntary workouts this year. Not sure if taping a TV appearance is doing his union dirty.
Jeff: Guess I am not on the Browns/Bengals bandwagon. Browns didnt win that game last year, we lost it and the Bengals still always manage to have holes and find ways to lose. You with me or do we expect 3 playoff teams from the north?
Ray Fittipaldo: I think it’s going to be hard for three teams from the AFC North to make the playoffs because the schedules are so decidedly harder than other AFC divisions. I think two make it.