Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 1:08 am.

–The Steelers will go into the season without an experienced backup quarterback. Landry Jones, who spent the past three seasons as the primary backup to Ben Roethlisberger, was cut in favor of rookie third-round pick Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs, last year’s fourth-round pick.

Dobbs is the backup and Rudolph is the No. 3 quarterback. Dobbs had the best passer rating among the four quarterbacks in training camp. He completed 67 percent of his passes and threw four touchdowns and two interceptions.

“I thought I played well when my opportunities came,” Dobbs said. “I didn’t know how it was going to shake out. I felt like I prepared well, played well. Obviously, it showed. I’m thankful. I just have to continue to improve.”

–Fourth-year outside linebacker Bud Dupree believes his best season is ahead after moving from the left side of the defense to the right. Getting him on the quarterback’s blind side could mean more sacks for Dupree, who has struggled to live up to the hype associated with being a first-round pick in 2015.

“This year it will be different,” Dupree said. “Last year I missed five sacks. I could have had double digits easy. The opportunities were there. This year I’ll have more opportunities to rush. I’m looking forward to it.”

T.J. Watt, who played on the right side as a rookie, will move to the left, where he played in college at the University of Wisconsin. Watt registered seven sacks last season. The Steelers believe his ability to keep contain will lead to fewer scrambles by opposing quarterbacks.

–The Steelers have to decide how they will utilize Le’Veon Bell after he skipped training camp. They can apply to the league for a two-week roster exemption and decide if Bell is ready to play in Week 1. They determined Bell was ready to play in Week 1 last year, and he got off to a slow start. He did not rush for 100 yards in a game until Week 4 against Baltimore and had just 32 yards on 10 carries in the opener against the Browns.

Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner could give Bell his normal workload against the Browns this year in hopes of knocking the rust off earlier and avoiding another slow start. Or, he could split the carries between Bell and James Conner, who had a strong camp.

“That’s a hard question because it’s Le’Veon,” Fichtner said. “You’d like to think that he’ll be in good shape. But we’ll have to evaluate where he’s at – conditioning, health, things like that. Using him in the best way to help us win early will be the most important thing. There will be some things he can do that quite frankly most people who play his position can’t do. But that’s not anything against the running backs that have gone through training camp with us because they’ve done a heck of a job, including James.”

While Fichtner is confident Bell will be in good shape they do have contingency plans should Bell be unable to play in the first game.

“That’s why we’ve given all the (starter’s) reps to James,” Fichtner said. “We’ve given reps to other guys. That’s all part of it. We’ll be hopeful when he gets here. I’ll be excited to see him.”

–Receiver Antonio Brown: Brown has notched three 1,500-yard receiving seasons in the past four years and last season averaged a career-best 109.5 receiving yards per game. He turned 30 in July, but is showing no signs of slowing down. He needs just 90 yards to reach 10,000 for his career and should get to 1,500 again this season as long as he and his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, remain healthy.

–Safety Terrell Edmunds: The No. 28 overall pick in the draft flashed his potential during training camp and the preseason games, and the Steelers plan to use him in their sub-packages early in the season. He has been so good that he might force his way into the starting lineup sooner rather than later.