Bye Week Blog: A recap of the news

Wednesday, October 20

Building a bond with Ben: Last week quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dished out a huge compliment to rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth, something that holds a lot of water when it comes from an 18-year veteran.

"I think he's doing a really good job," said Roethlisberger. "I probably need to be better getting him involved more because I trust him, he's in the right spot. It's on me to get him more involved. I need to start making a more conscious effort to do that."

On Sunday, Freiermuth was targeted seven times, and proved Roethlisberger right with seven catches for 58 yards.

So is Freiermuth becoming Roethlisberger's security blanket?

"I hope so," said Freiermuth with a smile. "It was an awesome feeling getting the targets I did this past weekend, but I've got to continue to improve and continue to be there for him when he needs me."

Freiermuth and Roethlisberger are continually building their relationship and trust, something that happens on the field as well as off with conversations and advice.

"Sometimes it's just understanding what he thinks that we should do on a route, or what we see and just having that back and forth conversations," said Freiermuth. "Understanding where we're going to be in the route game and even the run game.

"It's very valuable having a quarterback that's been in the league as long as he has. Learning from a future Hall of Famer and understanding what he sees in the game and how I can implement that into my game.

"We're building that relationship and it's an everyday thing. He's had us over his house a couple times just to get used to us and all that kind of stuff. It's been awesome."

Freiermuth also said he has learned just observing some of the things Roethlisberger does on a day-to-day basis.

"It's how to prepare," said Freiermuth. "He probably watches the most film on the team, just trying to feel out how the defense does things, trying to stop our offense and kind of understanding what it takes to prepare to go into a game and be successful."

With six games under his belt now, Freiermuth might still technically be a rookie, but definitely has the experience that has him comfortable in the offense.

"I understood it a little bit going into the season but getting used to that game speed and everything like that and understanding what they're asking me to do in the offense, just getting used to that throughout the season so far," said Freiermuth. "That's probably where I've grown the most. Understanding what the defense is doing and what I can do. I understand the offense and what they're trying to have us do as a whole, and specifically the tight end position. I'm feel very confident in it and am ready to go attack the games after the bye week."

Watt a game: T.J. Watt was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 6.

Watt finished the game with seven tackles, two sacks for a loss of 13 yards, three pass defenses and one major forced fumble in overtime.

And it was in overtime where he really took over. First, he had a 13-yard sack of Geno Smith to force the Seahawks to punt on their opening possession of overtime.

Then Watt had a strip-sack of Smith on the Seahawks second possession, and Devin Bush scooped up the loose ball for the recovery. The play set the Steelers up for a 37-yard Chris Boswell field goal for the 23-20 overtime win.

Take a look at the best portraits from the Steelers' Week 6 game against the Seattle Seahawks

Tuesday, October 19

Doing his job: With JuJu Smith-Schuster out, it's been up to the entire receiving corps to pick up the slack in multiple areas. And the contributions are coming from all over, including Ray-Ray McCloud, who had two receptions for 18 yards against the Seahawks on Sunday night, including a 15-yarder.

"First, I want to thank God for the opportunity," said McCloud. "I know with JuJu going down it was a big thing for our team, our offense. Next man up mentality. As a team you have to be ready and prepared. I think we do a good job in our room preparing each other for that."

McCloud knows that Smith-Schuster is someone who has a good rapport with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a trust that the quarterback can go to him and depend on him. That is something that McCloud has been working on building and continues to work on daily. 

"JuJu brings a strong, smart, personality to the offense on the field," said McCloud. "I am just doing my job, gaining trust with Ben and the offense. Being able to have those plays when it mattered, and them being able to depend on me. When my numbers called. I make a play.

"Having last year to be able to come in later in camp, and then having an offseason with him and training camp this year, it's easier. It's going to start showing in the game.

"Practice is different than games. Being that trust factor in the game. Making the routine plays. Be Ray-Ray. I don't have to be Superman. I just need to make my plays when my number is called."

The Steelers practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex

Take a look at the best black and white photos from the Week 6 game against the Seattle Seahawks at Heinz Field

Monday, October 18

An attack mindset: Alex Highsmith was waiting for a night like last night. After going through the first portion of the season without recording a sack, Highsmith had 1.5 sacks against Seattle, getting to Geno Smith at key times.

Highsmith, who has battled a groin injury this season that he said hasn't bothered him the last few games, said he felt like he wasn't playing the way he knows he can and was just waiting for a game like this one.

"I just wanted to come out and make a statement this game because I know I hadn't been playing how I know I can play these first few games of the season," said Highsmith. "Forget the groin and everything, I know if I'm out there I've got to perform. I just wanted to come out and have an attack mindset all game. I felt like I did. I felt like I was getting to the ball well. I felt like it was a good night, so I just need to keep building on it."

Highsmith played every defensive snap against the Seahawks, something that has been rare as the Steelers have been rotating the outside linebacker trio of him, T.J. Watt and Melvin Ingram III. But he said he was feeling good and it just all worked with the game plan.

"I just wanted to go out there and do the best that I could when I was in there," said Highsmith. "I was feeling good. I felt like I was breathing well, moving well. That was the mindset for me. I was moving well and just overall my body was feeling well out there to be able to play more plays."

Quick learner: Danny Smith said it best last month when talking about rookie defensive back Tre Norwood.

"Tre Norwood is smart as hell," said Smith, the team's special teams coordinator.

Smith has said he has challenged Norwood in multiple fashions, and basically, the kid has 'never blinked.'

Last night, on a huge stage on Sunday Night Football, Norwood didn't blink at all.

The seventh-round pick had three tackles, including one where he stopped D.K. Metcalf short of a first down and another where he hit Freddie Swain for a four-yard loss on a completion. He also had a huge pass defense, breaking up a pass to Tyler Lockett and forcing a punt.

Norwood said it's all about preparation for him that leads to the success he has.

"Just coming into work each and every day, and stepping out on the field, and most importantly in the meeting room, making sure I'm honing in on meetings every week for whatever opponent that we're playing," said Norwood. "Taking it out there to the field during practice and working on that. That makes me more comfortable out there on Sundays. Just playing with a great group of guys on defense, and on the team as a whole. We always rally around each other. Being able to have that. Building my confidence through the week through my preparation allows me to go out there and play free."

It's an approach that isn't new to Norwood, one he brought with him from the University of Oklahoma where grinding and studying were always a key so he could pick things up fast and be a quick learner.

"That's something that I've always prided myself on, especially starting back in college," said Norwood. "Making sure that whenever I'm learning something new, that I pick it up in the quickest way possible and apply it to myself the best way that I can learn it. That's what helps me out a lot.

"Whatever needs to be learned, just breaking it down into terms that fits best with me. That's something I've always prided myself on and will continue to pride myself on."

Take a look at the best photos from the Week 6 game against the Seattle Seahawks at Heinz Field