Week 1 Blog: News and Notes

Friday, September 8

A tough test on tap: It's been a long wait, but for the Steelers, the start of the 2023 season is less than 48 hours away and linebacker T.J. Watt is ready.

"I can not wait to see Steelers Nation in Acrisure this weekend," said Watt following the team's practice on Friday. "I am so excited. It's been way too long."

While it's the first time they will take the field in the regular season, that doesn't mean there hasn't been plenty of work going on preparing for it.

One area that has been a major focus is communication, especially with almost a complete overhaul of the inside linebacker's room – which is the hub for on-field communication. The team has three new players there in Elandon Roberts, Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander, with Mark Robinson being the only holdover from 2022.

But there haven't been any issues so far.

"Communication has been awesome. It's been great," said Watt. "It's one of those points of emphasis right when we got here, when we got the new guys in the inside backer's room. E-Rob (Elandon Roberts) has been making it a point of getting up in our ears, making sure we know what the call is, doing a great job of dealing with the crowd noise all week.

"I am excited to show everybody what we have been doing."

It will be a tough test for them, going against a San Francisco 49ers team that can throw a lot at you under Coach Kyle Shanahan, and a team the Steelers don't face often.

"A lot of misdirection, stuff that doesn't look similar to what you saw," said Watt. "They do a lot of really good things. They have a lot of athletic guys they like to get the ball to. And obviously, No. 13 (Brock Purdy) is a capable quarterback as well.

"If it's a non-divisional opponent there is a little bit more to learn. But you have more time, more film to digest. Every game is tough. This is no different."

Making the jump: The jump from year one to year two in the NFL is a big one, and defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal wants to show that he has made that jump, feeling more comfortable in what he is doing with the passing of each day.

"I feel a lot more confident," said Leal. "When you have that confidence, playing with a team like this, it helps you be able to build your game and be more confident in yourself and do things that you knew you could do from the jump and just put them on display.

"Last year was a learning lesson. There were a lot of things that developed into my game that I had to put into my game on the fly. I feel like I adjusted pretty well for the first year doing a lot of different things. That helped me for this year knowing what I need to study, gave me more of a perspective to get ready."

Leal, who was drafted in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, played in 11 games last year, starting two, but missed time due to injury.

He is coming off a strong camp and preseason, and veteran defensive tackle Cameron Heyward can see the change.

"Leal has come a long way learning the defense," said Heyward. "As a rookie we put a lot on his plate. At times it was a lot. I think this year he is more comfortable in the situation.

"Depth is going to play a big part, whether it's this game or Game 16 or 17. We are not just trying to do this for this game, we are trying to have guys that no matter who is out there we are getting the same production."

And that is exactly what Leal is aiming for, to have no letdowns when he steps onto the field.

"I want to earn more of their trust," said Leal. "I know there is more to earn. I have things to prove to myself. That goes with it. Hopefully we can be the best defensive line in the country."

Ready for the challenge: Rookie defensive lineman Keeanu Benton knows this Sunday things get real. The preseason is behind them, and the whole approach changes now that things count in the win-loss column.

"I think it's a great challenge for us," said Benton. "We went 3-0 in the preseason, now it's time to keep it going on through the season."

As he prepares for Sunday's game against the 49ers, he knows one thing he has to focus on is having the playbook down pat.

"I feel like most of the playbook will be my main point of emphasis," said Benton. "Just getting more comfortable with what I am doing, what the guys around me are doing, so I know what I can and can't do.

"I feel like that's been getting better each day. We don't have a huge game plan. Just go out there and make routine plays. That has been my point of emphasis."

Marquee Matchup: San Francisco 49ers left tackle Trent Williams is a 10-time Pro Bowl player and has been named All-Pro three times.

The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Williams also is considered by some to be the best offensive lineman in the NFL, even now at 35 years old.

But Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said Thursday, he expects outside linebacker Alex Highsmith to "win his share" of snaps against Williams, who allowed just one sack in 2022, when the two teams meet on Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.

Highsmith, who had a career-high 14.5 sacks in 2022, is looking forward to testing himself against one of the game's top tackles.

"I've just been studying the matchup because I know he's one of the best in the game," Highsmith. "I look forward to competing against the best. That's what you look for. I'm ready to get after it on Sunday."

-- Blog entry by Dale Lolley

He said it: Cornerback Patrick Peterson on if he still feels the same excitement for the opener in his 13th season in the NFL:

"I am still excited. I have an opportunity to do something I love. I don't know when my number is going to be called, so I want to make sure I continue to enjoy the moments that are presented to me. I still get excited. I still get juiced up. I can't wait until Sunday."

Bringing you the action: The Steelers open the regular season against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Sept. 10 at Acrisure Stadium. For fans who don't want to miss any of the action, NFL+ is here, which means you can now watch the Steelers live and on the go! Watch live local and primetime regular season games on mobile, plus NFL RedZone, NFL Network, live audio and more - all in one place. Start your free trial today here.

Thursday, September 7

Communication is the key: Communication is important in any relationship, but there might not be one where it matters more than in football.

That is exactly why the Steelers defense has been harping on communication throughout the offseason and training camp, especially with an influx of new blood, to assure they are ready when they take the field this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers at Acrisure Stadium.

Steelers Nation is going to be bringing the noise when the team is on defense, and silent communication will be a must.

"Communication is always key, especially when you have new guys and when you are playing in your backyard, with the fans we have," said cornerback Patrick Peterson, a 13-year veteran who is in his first season with the Steelers. "We aren't going to be able to communicate with each other using words, we are going to have to use our hand signals with one another, making sure we are on the same page at all times. Miscommunication can lead into mistakes and that is something we don't want to have.

"We know the fans are going to be on our side. It's going to be tough to communicate verbally. Hand signals are at a premium."

Mistakes could be very costly against a 49ers offense that is loaded with talent all around, especially at the skill positions. Running back Christian McCaffrey, receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle all led in yards after catch last season at their respective positions and the defense has to protect against that.

"They present challenges at every level, even the offensive line," said Peterson. "They have the best receiver, running back and tight end when it comes to run after catch. These guys are very dynamic on every level on the offensive side of the ball.

"We have our work cut out for us. If we are able to execute the game plan, and force (quarterback) Brock (Purdy) into some poor decisions, I believe we'll be pretty good."

Purdy is in his second season in the NFL, playing in nine games in 2022 with five starts. The defense wants to do everything they can to give him different looks, hopefully forcing bad decisions that Peterson mentioned.

"The Steelers way is get to the quarterback with the guys we have on the front line, Cam (Heyward), Alex (Highsmith), T.J. (Watt), Markus (Golden)," said Peterson. "We invest a lot of money in those guys up front and have the guys in the backend cover.

"Rush and coverage are like a marriage, it goes together. That has been the motto here and that is what we want to get back to this season to help us be really successful.

"It's definitely going to be a chess match. We know it's going to be a physical ball game. They are going to show us a lot of eye candy, dressing up a lot of plays, making sure our communication is on point. That is just the nature of a Kyle Shannahan offense. We just have to make sure we are all on the same page. They aren't running any rocket scientist plays. It's just pre-snap shifts and motions that force you to get into another call or check."

It takes a village: Cameron Heyward echoed the same enthusiasm everyone in the Steelers locker room shares this week.

He is ready to just get on the field on Sunday and get the regular season started.

It's been a long eight months since the last regular season game, and a 16-day span since the preseason ended, and everyone is ready to put the pads on and make it count.

"I am just excited to get to Week 1. I feel like it's been a while," said Heyward, who missed practice on Thursday with a stomach injury. "We have a good group."

But that enthusiasm is only going to mean something if the Steelers come out on fire against the San Francisco 49ers at Acrisure Stadium.

The 49ers have a well-balanced offensive attack, led by running back Christian McCaffrey, who can be even more of a hazard if he gets free in space, something Coach Mike Tomlin has been preaching this week.

"We just got to respect the dynamic playmaking ability that he has both in the running game and in the passing game," said Tomlin. "It's very evident how significant his addition has been for them. I think prior to his addition, they were averaging 20 points a game, with him in 2022, they averaged 30 points a game. And so, 10 points with the addition of one man, he's dynamic in the run game, he's dynamic in the passing game.

"We better be really careful about being matched up against him in space. He's a one-on-one space winner. They have a lot of one-on-one space winners. He might be the most dynamic one-on-one space winner at running back in the NFL."

Heyward knows what McCaffrey brings to the table and they can't let their guard down for a minute.

"His versatility to be at any position, running back, wide receiver, coming out of the backfield catching," said Heyward. "There is nothing he can't do on the field. If you give that guy space, you are in for a world of hurt.

"(We have to have) good tackling, guys running to the ball and just being on your Ps and Qs. We've got to be in the right spots to make tackles. We can't have guys wide open because they have so much YAC (yards after catch). It's an 11-man job. It's not one guy. We have to make sure we minimize that part of the game."

And it's not just McCaffrey. You have receiver Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, tight end George Kittle, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and young quarterback Brock Purdy.

Heyward is right, they are going to have to be on their Ps and Qs if they want to start the season strong and set the standard for the year.

"In the month of September, you are building your resume, and everybody is watching," said Heyward. "It's what everybody is going to say you are for most of the season. It's best to start fast, not build a hole where you have to climb out and you are trying to fight back. You want to get on the right foot."

Sunday will be a measuring stick of sorts for the defense, with the 49ers coming in as the No. 1 ranked defense in 2022.

"We get to see the number one defense from last year," said Heyward. "Everybody is going to measure themselves against them because they had a lot of success. Then they add a guy like (Javon) Hargrave. We'll see where we are at. Last year is last year. We have to see who is number one this year."

Focused on fundamentals: Safety Keanu Neal has heard the stories from his teammates about how loud it will be at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday when the Steelers are on defense, and he knows that means one thing.

Communication and being fundamentally sound are major points of emphasis for the defense.

"It's huge," said Neal. "That is what Mike T (Mike Tomlin) has been emphasizing, especially going into this game.

"It's a home game. I haven't officially played in one on this side of the field besides the preseason. It gets crazy. It gets loud. The communication aspect is big, especially on defense in that stadium."

Facing an offense that has talent across the board is always a challenge, but one that is also a danger in space adds another aspect the defense must key in on.

"It's going to come down to fundamentals," said Neal. "What we have been doing since OTAs, training camp, tackling, fundamentals. We have been doing that all year. That's what it boils down to."

Running back Christian McCaffrey is coming off a season where he had 746 yards on the ground while adding 52 receptions for 464 yards. He brings a balanced attack that will keep the defense on their toes.

"He has great balance," said Neal. "He reminds me of (Alvin) Kamara a little bit as far as his balance, staying on his feet and making guys miss. For us it goes down to the fundamentals, tackling, getting guys to the ball and going from there."

Bringing you the action: The Steelers open the regular season against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Sept. 10 at Acrisure Stadium. For fans who don't want to miss any of the action, NFL+ is here, which means you can now watch the Steelers live and on the go! Watch live local and primetime regular season games on mobile, plus NFL RedZone, NFL Network, live audio and more - all in one place. Start your free trial today here.

The Steelers prepare for the Week 1 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers

Wednesday, September 6

Focused on the details: It's been eight months since the Steelers played a game that counts in the standings, and running back Najee Harris is ready to get it going for real.

"I am excited. I am ready to go," said Harris after the team's practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Wednesday. "It's been long enough. We are all excited."

Harris said he spent time this offseason working and focusing on the smaller details in his game, something running backs coach Eddie Faulkner encouraged him to do.

"That is one thing that stood out," said Harris. "A lot of times we would watch film, and it would be the details we were missing. Coach Faulk came to me and said a lot of times I wasn't detailed in my work. That's something I focused on a lot. Other guys too.

"Me being more detailed in my work is one thing that stood out. The more film you have out there, the more details other teams focus on."

One thing the Steelers put on film in the preseason was splash plays. And if they can carry that over into the regular season, especially on the outside, that can open things up for Harris and the other backs to make more explosive runs.

"I think it will help a lot," said Harris. "If we can make these big plays on the outside, splash plays, hopefully teams won't pack the box so much and it can create more running room for us backs and we can make more explosive plays."

The offense created a lot of buzz in the preseason with the first team scoring on every possession, garnering a lot of national attention for it. Harris is hoping they can carry some of that over into the regular season, but he also knows you have to start fresh because the preseason is when the stats truly don't matter.

"You have to start from scratch no matter what because preseason doesn't count," said Harris. "What you've got to do is take that momentum not only from the preseason, but last year, and take the things we did good at, things that didn't go well, and capitalize on that, figure out how to make it work. Go about this game plan we have, try to execute everything."

With the expectations high coming off the 3-0 preseason, Harris was asked if he feels like the offense has to prove they are as good as everyone is giving them credit for.

He knows the only important people they have to prove something to are themselves, and doing it against the 49ers is the way to go as they were the No. defense in the NFL in 2022.

"I feel like we have to prove it to ourselves," said Harris. "If we want to be the team that we want to be, the team that we are capable of being, I feel like there is no better test. Last year they were the No. 1 defense. They've got good players. They have a good defensive front. They got a good defense. There is no better competition than the 49ers."

No place like home: There is a feeling of excitement in the air with Week 1 of the NFL season finally here, and that excitement can be felt inside the Steelers locker room.

The Steelers open the regular season on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers at Acrisure Stadium and the players are ready to go.

"I am very excited," said rookie tight end Darnell Washington. "My first game to be at home. See what the season opener is going to be like.

"I am excited to get right into it. Go out there and do what I do."

Fellow rookie Keeanu Benton has heard stories from teammates about what to expect from the crowd and it has his juices flowing.

"I am ready," said Benton. "I heard it's going to be a lot louder than in the preseason. I am excited just to see how the fan base is going to be. I am excited to accept the challenge of having San Fran the first week and go defend the run."

While he is in his second season, this will be the first time receiver Calvin Austin III will experience a regular season home crowd in uniform, after spending the 2022 season on the Reserve/Injured List. He knows what to expect but is going to have a different appreciation for it this year.

"That is probably the thing I am most excited about, the crowd," said Austin. "Any road game last year, except maybe against the Bills, our fans outnumbered the home crowd. And at home it was amazing. Just to see that atmosphere and be a part of it, I can't wait.

"I remember it last year, but I was in my boot watching. To experience that feeling this year, on the field, the crowd going crazy. It makes the work during the week worth it just to see how they come out and support us."

While playing in the preseason was special, this being Austin's first regular season NFL game takes it even to the next level.

"I am very excited," said Austin. "My parents are going to be there. It's going to be a good moment for them. I am definitely excited to step out on the field. It was great to have the preseason opportunity as well, but I am excited for the first game."

Execution a must: The Steelers first-team offense had an impressive preseason, scoring on every possession and bringing the splash plays, but that success won't mean much if it doesn't translate into regular season play.

"Execution by all parts," said tight end Pat Freiermuth as far as how to make it carry over. "We just have to continue to do that going into the regular season."

They know they have a lot to prove and want to start doing that on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

"For sure. I think we have a lot to prove," added Freiermuth.

The offense was ranked only 29th overall last year in the NFL, something they know they have to improve on, and know they can improve on.

"There's probably a lot of categories we can get better in," said guard James Daniels. "We are excited this year to improve those categories and help us win more games."

With quarterback Kenny Pickett embarking on his second season in the league and new pieces mixed with a wealth of returning talent, the expectations are high for the offense this season.

The players are taking it in stride.

"Business as usual," said receiver Calvin Austin III. "There is a lot of outside talk. We are excited to show what we can do. Everything is new. New players. A fresh start. We are excited to go out there and show what we can do.

"We have been so focused on ourselves throughout spring, OTAs, minicamp, camp. We have been so focused on ourselves, making sure we are improving, making those corrections from last year. We aren't thinking about what is next. We are just thinking about what we are doing."

What has already improved with the offense is a feeling of comfort with the group, which included newcomers in 2022 as well. With a year under their belt for the most part, there is a different feel heading into 2023.

"It's a lot better," said Freiermuth. "We are feeling more comfortable with each other. We are all excited for Week 1 and going out there and letting it loose."

He isn't alone in that feeling.

"I can only speak for myself, but it's a year we ran the same offense," said guard James Daniels. "I can hear things and understand formations, how a running back likes to run certain ways. I feel more comfortable with the offense this year."

Making progress: Darnell Washington smiled when he was asked the question of his comfort level with the Steelers offense.

"Like out of a 1 to 10 scale," he asked.

Why not.

"I feel pretty comfortable," said Washington. "I will say 9.5. I am a confident guy. It's just more anxious. I don't want to mess up. Things like that."

Washington, the big tight end who was drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, said he knows there is a different feeling this week than the preseason and you have to be on top of everything.

"It's a little different. It's not preseason. It's regular season," said Washington.
"We are going against the best of the best each week."

Washington doesn't know what his role will be yet on Sunday, as he said it is still developing. One thing he does know, though, is the regular season hits differently.

"It has sunk in a little bit. Not fully," said Washington of preparing for his first NFL game. "I sit back at the house and think I have a game this week, football is back. Just seeing on Instagram and TikTok the memes and stuff, that football is back."

Bringing you the action: The Steelers open the regular season against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Sept. 10 at Acrisure Stadium. For fans who don't want to miss any of the action, NFL+ is here, which means you can now watch the Steelers live and on the go! Watch live local and primetime regular season games on mobile, plus NFL RedZone, NFL Network, live audio and more - all in one place. Start your free trial today here.

Right at home: Outside linebacker Markus Golden is one of several experienced, NFL veterans who have made a seemingly seamless transition to the Steelers this preseason, but for Golden it's no big deal.

"I'm pretty smooth, anyway," said Golden, who spent time in Arizona and the New York Giants over his first eight NFL seasons. "I ain't difficult, I just come to work. Of course, this is a great place to be so that makes it a lot easier, as well."

Golden, in particular, likes "the vibe, the energy" he's sensed upon joining the Steelers.

"You walk in here, you know everybody believes we can win," he continued. "You got a lot of guys who have been here for a while. It's just the whole vibe of just being a Pittsburgh Steeler. 'Mike T' (head coach Mike Tomlin), great leader, love playing for him. I just love everything about it. It's been great so far."

Golden is a backup at outside linebacker behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. He has a simple approach to finding out the specifics of such a role.

"Man, just getting out there and doing your job, doing your job," Golden said. "Whatever they ask you to do, make sure you do your job at a high level. This is the first game of the season, you just have to go in with the gameplan and do exactly what we do during the week and everything else will work itself out."

Opening the season against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday is a challenge Golden anticipates will have everyone's attention.

"Man, they have a bunch of great athletes on their team," he said. "Some great coaches over there, man. You've gotta be excited for a game like this, especially for a home opener to play a good team like 'San Fran.'

"It's gonna have everybody excited to get out there and play them."

-- Blog entry by Mike Prisuta

Monday, September 4

Ready to lead the way: Steelers players voted on their team captains for the 2023 season before practice on Monday, and it should come as no surprise that Cameron Heyward was selected for the ninth consecutive year.

Heyward, along with T.J. Watt, are the defensive captains, while Kenny Pickett is the offensive captain and Miles Killebrew the special teams captain.

"I never take it for granted," said Heyward. "Every year I am appreciative to be voted by these men to represent them. It's never about me. It's about the group. Being a captain should be a serviceable job where you represent everybody in this locker room and outside this locker room who claim to be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I think we have a lot of work to do but we have the right captains to get the job done."

Heyward knows being given the title of captain is special, but he also understands the work is something that continues all season.

"Just because you get voted a captain doesn't mean the job stops," said Heyward. "You need to not only prove it, but act on it. Be the voice of reason when it needs to be. Understand what the team needs. Challenge yourself as you would challenge others. There comes accountability with it."

Heyward is the type of leader who doesn't mind giving guys a push when it's necessary, or backing off and listening when someone requires that. 

"When you have a common goal in mind it shouldn't be that tough," said Heyward. "I would rather say I did everything possible. I was honest with my guys. They know what they were capable of, and I gave them what they needed. I don't ever want to live in a position where there was something I should have done and didn't do."

Heyward and Watt were both defensive captains together in 2020 and 2022, and the two work well off of each with providing everything that is needed for the others on defense in their captain role.

"T.J. has become wise in what he has done," said Heyward. "He is a superstar. He leads by example in how he goes about his work. All of these guys, they're real workmen. They come to work. They attack every single day. They leave no stone unturned. They get after it every single day.

"They all work their tails off in a different way. They're going to put the group ahead of themselves."

Heyward likes what he sees from Pickett, who in just his second season earned the captain title because of his work ethic and the way he handles himself.

"Kenny is just a kid who continues to work his tail off," said Heyward. "Whether its offseason, in season, communication, he has grown leaps and bounds from last year. With that there is a leadership role. Whether that's challenging guys on the field, holding guys accountable, working on your communication, having the dialogue back and forth with your guys. That is what a leader should be.

"We love that Kenny worked his tail off and everyone sees it. 
We bounce ideas off each other. We have communication. Whether this is the time to press the gas and challenge guys. You have to be able to challenge guys when you need to, but you have to be able to listen too. As a leader it's not always just having the biggest voice in the room but making sure you hear what guys are saying."

Take a look at photos of the Steelers 2023 team captains

It's only a number: For linebacker Kwon Alexander, changing his number from No. 26, which he wore in the preseason, to No. 54, which he is wearing now, is no big deal. Alexander switched numbers since third year running back Anthony McFarland Jr. already was No. 26.

"It's a number," said Alexander. "You know me as a player, I am not worried about a number. I'm trying to get a win. That is my first goal."

Alexander, who is entering his ninth season in the NFL after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, was signed by the Steelers just after the start of training camp. Alexander has played in 95 career games, starting 86 of them. He has 12.5 career sacks, eight interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.

Now, he is learning a new defense, a new team, in just over a month, but he is adapting just fine and gelling with his fellow linebackers, including Elandon Roberts, Cole Holcomb and Mark Robinson.

"We've been evolving. Getting better," said Alexander. "Every little thing. Picking up off each other's game. We know how to talk. We know our strengths and weaknesses, what we can do better for each other. We are just working around that and helping each other.

"You have to communicate when you are playing ball. That is one of our first things, communication in the linebacker room. It's been growing a lot."

The Steelers prepare for the Week 1 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers

Real football now: Nose tackle Larry Ogunjobi didn't see any action in the preseason while dealing with an injury, but there is no doubt he is pumped up for Sunday's season opener against the San Francisco 49ers at Acrisure Stadium.

Ogunjobi likes what he saw from the defense as a whole through training camp and the preseason and feels with the group they have returning and the additions, they will be tougher against the run in 2023.

"I think we have the right guys back," said Ogunjobi. "I think guys are understanding their role, position, everyone is gelling, very cohesive.

"The challenge is on Sunday. It's real football now. The test is on Sunday. This will be our first test as a group, and we are excited to rise to the challenge."

Numbers game: The Steelers made some number changes with Week 1 of the regular season now on tap, as well as assigned some numbers to newcomers on the practice squad.

Among the veterans with new numbers are linebacker Kwon Alexander, who will wear No. 54, and linebacker Markus Golden, who will wear No. 44.

The full list of updated numbers is below:

21 Anthony Brown
25 Desmond King II
33 Josiah Scott
41 Qadree Ollison
44 Markus Golden
45 Zander Horvath
49 Tariq Carpenter
54 Kwon Alexander
72 Kellen Diesch
79 Joey Fisher
84 Simi Fehoko

Bringing you the action: The Steelers open the regular season against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Sept. 10 at Acrisure Stadium. For fans who don't want to miss any of the action, NFL+ is here, which means you can now watch the Steelers live and on the go! Watch live local and primetime regular season games on mobile, plus NFL RedZone, NFL Network, live audio and more - all in one place. Start your free trial today here.

Familiar faces: Former Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave was signed by the 49ers this offseason in one of the bigger free agent moves of the offseason.

A Pro Bowl player last season for the Eagles, Hargrave is coming off a season in which he had a career-high 11.0 sacks.

Handling Hargrave Sunday will largely fall on the shoulders of center Mason Cole, though he figures to have help in that regard from guards Isaac Seumalo and James Daniels. Cole also has other guys he can talk to regarding playing against Hargrave. He also has experience against him, as well, having played against the Eagles last season in a 38-17 loss in Philadelphia last season.

"I talked to Cam. I talked to Isaac, who played with him in Philadelphia. That's the thing about this league. If you're around long enough, there will be guys who have played with you," Cole said Monday. "And we played against him last year, as well, when he was in Philly."

-- Blog entry by Dale Lolley

Latest roster updates: The Steelers filled out their initial 16-man practice squad by signing three players over the weekend.

Those signed include defensive back Tariq Carpenter, running back Zander Horvath and running back Qadree Ollison.

More on the recent signings.

Defensive back Tariq Carpenter: Carpenter spent last season with the Green Bay Packers after they selected him in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He saw action in 14 games, finishing with eight special teams tackles, which was sixth on the team. Carpenter had at least one special teams tackle in six of the final eight games of the season. He played at Georgia Tech where he appeared in 52 games, 41 starts, and finished with 223 tackles, 152 of them solo stops. He also had 22 passes defensed, four interceptions, six and a half tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles.

Running back Zander Horvath: Horvath was drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft. His rookie season he played in 15 games, starting two, and finished with four carries for eight yards and had five receptions for eight yards. He also played in the Chargers AFC Wild Card game. Horvath played collegiately at Purdue, where he saw action in 28 games. He carried the ball 268 times for 1,181 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. He also added 68 receptions for 592 yards and a touchdown.

Running back Qadree Ollison: Ollison spent his first three seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons, before signing with the Dallas Cowboys in 2022 and then the Jacksonville Jaguars this past offseason. He was selected by the Falcons in the fifth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the 152nd overall selection. He played in 19 games for the Falcons, also spending time on their practice squad, and had 44 carries for 158 yards and five touchdowns, including four his rookie season. He played in three games for the Cowboys in 2022, also spending time on their practice squad. Ollison played at the University of Pittsburgh where he rushed for 1,213 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2018, ranking second in total rushing in the ACC that season and earning second team All-ACC honors.