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Week 10 Blog: A recap of the news

Friday, November 11

Watt said he expects to play: T.J. Watt stood in front of the media following practice and was asked the question everyone in Steelers Nation wants to know the answer to.

Are you going to play?

"Yes," said Watt.

Watt was placed on the Reserve/Injured list after suffering a pectoral injury against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the season and still remains on the list. Nothing official has been determined yet as far as his status and whether he will play on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, but Watt seemed very positive about the potential of being back.

"I am very excited. It's been a long time coming," said Watt. "I feel very, very good about the week that I had and excited to play, excited to be back at Acrisure Stadium and get the fans involved.

"It's huge to finally have a helmet back on and be out there on the field. Just to feel the emotions and feel alive again in the stadium. It's huge to be able to tap a guy on the head after he makes a good play. Get some guys celebrating. Bring some juice, bring some energy is all that I can ask for when it's time to play football. And I'm excited about it."

He said if he does play, he doesn't expect to be limited at all.

"No pitch count," said Watt. "I don't want to put limitations on myself. I've never played 100 percent of the snaps anyways."

In Watt's absence the Steelers have had their struggles on defense, and he said the key for him is just being himself and not trying to overdo it.

"I am just trying to not be someone that I am not," said Watt. "That's all we ask. I am not going to go out there and try to make every single play because I am putting guys in the back end at risk. I am trying to help this team win games any way I possibly can, whether that's just making plays or being on the field in a leadership role as well."

Watt, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, had a sack and an interception in the win over the Bengals, before leaving the game with the injury. He said he is hoping his return will provide a spark for the defense because all he wants to do is go out and win.

"I think everybody in here is trying to find a spark and trying to get in the win column," said Watt. "Every week it starts with having a great week of practice, which I feel like we have. I'm excited to go out and see what were made of on Sunday. 

"I feel really good. We have a good plan. I honestly feel really good."

Center of attention: Coach Mike Tomlin referred to center Mason Cole this week as a 'hub of communication' for the offensive line, a 'steady eddy' who provides consistent leadership.

It's a role Cole embraces, knowing the value of it and knowing his position often calls for leadership.

"I think especially at the center position, it's important for you to be the soul and heartbeat of that line," said Cole. "You are trying to control what these guys are doing at all times. It naturally happens that way. As the years have gone on in the league, I have become more comfortable with that role. We have a lot of leaders on the line. James (Daniel) does a great job. Chuks (Chukwuma Okorafor) does a great job. There is not a lot that needs to be said because these guys are professionals. Anything I can do to help these guys and be an example I try to do."

And example is a key word there. Cole will be vocal if needed, but his leadership comes from the way he approaches every day. 

"For me it's mostly by example," said Cole, who signed with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. "Sometimes there are things that need to be said. I am not a huge rah-rah guy. These guys don't need to be fired up. They understand how important this game is, how hard it is. There are times you have to talk. But it's mostly by example. How you are as a professional. How you attack each day. How you attack each game, play one play at a time, and move on. That is huge."

When Cole and his other offensive linemen are talking these days, one of the topics has been finding a way to cut back on pre-snap penalties. Yes, holding penalties and the like will always exist. But eliminating the pre-snap penalties that have been haunting the line this season is a must for them.

"It's a huge emphasis," said Cole. "The big thing for us is not the physical stuff. Holding is going to happen. It's the pre-snap stuff, the offsides, lining up improperly. We are trying to figure out ways to correct the illegal man downfield. We have had so many penalties this year that we have killed us over and over again. We put ourselves in bad situations. You get behind the chains and defenses tee off on you. It gets tough, especially in this league."

The bye week was an opportunity the line to take a deeper look at what has been causing some of the penalty issues, and they weren't shy about it.

"We were super critical of ourselves," said Cole. "Guys know when they mess up too. They know when they false start. You have to be more dialed in, locked in, not overthinking. We have to know what we have to do so when we get to the line of scrimmage, we aren't thinking about it, so those things don't happen."

Steelers history on display: The Steelers Hall of Honor Museum opens to the pubic today after the ribbon cutting was held on Thursday. The museum follows a chronological flow of Steelers history focusing on the key moments and people that made the history happen. There are life-sized player mannequins, one-of-a-kind artifacts, exclusive game-worn uniform pieces, replicated offices of founder Art Rooney Sr. and Daniel M. Rooney, the Steelers six Super Bowl rings, and touch-screen informational kiosks that include bios, photos, and videos on the Hall of Honor inductees and the storied Steelers history.

The fan-friendly interactions include photo opportunities, a radio booth replica where visitors can record their call of the most historical Steelers plays, and a place for fans to see where they match up against the team's current and former players. The exhibit also includes the Hall of Honor, a powerful showcase of the steel footballs given to the inductees. There is also a changing gallery to allow for new stories to be told.

Read more about the Steelers Hall of Honor Museum here.

The Steelers Hall of Honor Museum is located above the team's Pro Shop at Acrisure Stadium and accessible via Gate B suite entry. Fans can visit the Steelers Hall of Honor Museum year-round from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Wednesday through Monday. (Closed Tuesdays, days and hours subject to change.) The tour fee is as follows: adults - $18, seniors(62+)/military - $15, children (ages 6-17) - $12, and children ages 5 & under - free. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Art Rooney Scholarship Fund

For more information on tours, group tours and booking, visit, or email

Tune in: 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 your phone or tablet. Start your free trial today here.

Thursday, November 10

Only winning matters: Cameron Heyward doesn't care about what happened in the past.

He doesn't care if his team isn't favored to win at home.

There truly is only one thing he cares about.


And Heyward is itching to do that coming off a loss and then the bye weekend.

"We just gotta go play," said Heyward. "I think it's just we're itching to play because the last game we had out there left a bad taste in our mouth. We have some guys that are coming back from injury, but I think everybody is raring to go because we've gotta get going."

The players Heyward is referring to are safety Damontae Kazee and linebacker T.J. Watt. Kazee came off the Reserve/Injured List on Thursday and Watt is expected to.

But Heyward knows it's not just about one or two players. It's about the team as a whole playing better.

"At the end of the day it's a team game," said Heyward. "Obviously (No.) 97 has to play better. Just take it one game at a time. We got a lot to improve on and things we have to do. One play at a time, one quarter at a time and then one game at a time.

"You just take it game by game and try and improve."

Time will tell: Coach Mike Tomlin was asked during his weekly press conference if he would look at Jaylen Warren as a feature back at this point when he talks about changes to the offense.

"He's a quality back that's made some plays," answered Tomlin. "We'll keep giving him an opportunity to do so, and maybe he'll write that script."

Warren has 153 yards on 29 carries this season, a 5.3-yard average, giving the offense a spark every time he is in there.

"We've gotten some awesome contributions from Jaylen, and it's reasonable to expect that to continue," said Tomlin.

Warren's practice reps haven't changed so far this week, but whatever the case may be, Warren is ready.

"Same reps. I am getting the same amount of reps," said Warren. "I am obviously not the main guy. I am here to complement him. Whenever he needs a blow, that is when I go in.

"I don't expect nothing. Whatever they want me to do, I will do. Whatever they feel is best. I'll try my best to not disappoint them and help the team win.

"If given more, I can handle it. I understand my role on the team. If my role increases, that will speak for itself. I am someone who always had to prove myself. If I got it, cool. If not, it is what it is."

The Wright stuff: With kicker Chris Boswell dealing with a right groin injury, the Steelers signed kicker Matthew Wright to the 53-man roster on Wednesday.

Boswell, who missed the Eagles game, was placed on the Reserve/Injured List on Wednesday and Wright is preparing to do whatever is asked of him this week against the New Orleans Saints.

"My job is just to put the ball through the uprights," said Wright. "That is all I focus on day-in and day-out. Get my body ready to put the ball through the uprights on Sunday.

"I am really excited. Any time I get to play I am fired up. Being back here is great."

Wright is no stranger to the Steelers, originally signing with the team as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft. While he didn't make the roster that year, he did return in 2020 on the practice squad and was a game day elevation, playing in three games, connecting on four of four of his field goal attempts, with a long of 46 yards, and was seven for seven on extra point attempts.

Wright said he is a different kicker today than when he first signed with the team out of the University of Central Florida.

"I have been to a couple of different places, learned a lot of things from different people," said Wright. "I feel like I got a lot stronger. A lot of things changed in my mentality and the way I go about things."

Wright spent the 2021 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, playing in 14 games and connecting on 21 of 24 field goal attempts, including a 56-yarder. He also connected on 13 of 15 extra point attempts. It was that season that was the biggest boost for him, allowing him to have consistency.

"Having a whole year under my belt and being able to go week by week felt great for the confidence," said Wright. "Having a successful year was really good too."

Wright was on the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad when the Steelers signed him and was a game day elevation in Weeks 4 and 5, kicking in place of the injured Harrison Butker. He hit a career-long 59-yard field goal in Week 5 against the Raiders, which was a Chiefs' record at the time until Butker broke the record the following week.

"It was pretty funny," said Wright. "Butker deserves it. He has been their kicker for so long and he is one of the best kickers to do it. When it happened, I joked with him that he was going to break it the next week and of course he went out and broke it the next week."

Tune in: 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 your phone or tablet. Start your free trial today here.

Wednesday, November 9

Staying optimistic: Diontae Johnson isn't looking back at what happened the first eight weeks of the season.

Instead, he is looking forward to the final nine games with the belief that the team can turn things around.

"We still have a chance. We can make it to the playoffs," said Johnson. "The season ain't over. We have nine more games left. I know I am talking early on the playoffs, that is just me. I like to speak stuff into existence. I am going to continue to do that. The more we win, the more it gives us the urge to want to win more. I am just going to believe in that."

Johnson is realistic and knows there are challenges ahead of them, and at 2-6 there is a steep hill to climb.

The focus is climbing it one step at a time.

"You can't try and fix everything at once," said Johnson. "All of that is going to come. The more you press, the more you are going to continue to do the same mistakes. It's going out there and being relaxed and knowing your assignments and just playing comfortable. Do that and you can minimize the mistakes."

It's a message Johnson is sharing with his fellow receivers, making sure everyone's on the same page as he grows in a leadership role for the group.

"I like the challenge," said Johnson. "I have never been in this position. I have always led by example, let my work do the talking. It's something different. I have to be able to adapt to it and lead and be the example for the group. I am going to continue to do it the best way I can. I am just going to control my attitude and my effort and hopefully they fall along with me."

He is starting by accepting whatever role is asked of him after Chase Claypool was traded to the Chicago Bears last week. Johnson could be asked to do different things in the offense, including lining up more in the slot. Whatever he is asked, he is ready to do. 

"I am sure they will move me around a little bit," said Johnson. "I am going to just keep playing. If they move me around in the slot, I am ready for it. If I am outside, I am ready for it. It doesn't matter.

"It's next man up. Nothing really changes. It's the same offense. The same routine we have. We are ready for this week, ready for the challenge. Get these wins going. The early part of the season we weren't playing well but it's time to turn it up a notch and get back going.

"You can feel the energy. The wanting to get better. Guys are buying in. Just wanting to do the little things, going in the right direction. I feel like we are on the right track."

Ready to get back together: The potential return of linebacker T.J. Watt this week has been the talk of the Steelers locker room, and among the players who will welcome him back with open arms is fellow outside linebacker Alex Highsmith.

"It's going to be awesome to have him back and know you have a guy like that on the opposite side," said Highsmith. "He elevates everyone he plays with. He is going to elevate everyone when he comes back in, especially me since we play the same position. He elevates me in everything I do."

Watt's potential return, along with the potential return of safety Damontae Kazee, would give the Steelers a complete defense for the first time this season, as Kazee opened the year on the Reserve/Injured List, and a healthy group for the first time since Week 1.

"I think having guys like T.J. and everyone back it's huge," said Highsmith. "When we were a fully healthy defense Week 1, we showed what kind of defense we were. It's so important to have everyone back and show what kind of defense we can be. I am excited to have everyone back."

The key now is to get back in the win column. The Steelers have a nine-game season remaining after the bye and it's enough time to turn around a disappointing 2-6 start. 

"We still have nine games left," said Highsmith. "We can turn the season around. Plenty of teams have done it. Last year there were a couple of teams that did it. We know the type of team we can be. We know we have the team, talent, and quality of coaches to be able to turn this thing around and we know we can."

And it all started on Wednesday.

"It starts at practice," said Highsmith. "Coach (Mike) Tomlin always stresses being great every single day. It starts every day at practice. It doesn't start on Sunday. It starts on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It's individual film study too to be the best that we can be."

Right on target: Tight end Pat Freiermuth is expected to see an increased role in the Steelers offense after the team traded receiver Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears for a second-round draft pick.

But one thing Freiermuth doesn't expect, is any kind of major overhaul.

"I don't think the offense is going to change much," said Freiermuth. "I think they are going to continue to utilize me more down the field. I am excited for that expanded role."

Freiermuth said the excitement for the bigger role stems from one thing, and one thing only. The ability to help the team more.

"I don't care about the extra targets, numbers, stats," said Freiermuth. "I just want to do anything I can to help the team win. If that is me catching the ball more, making plays down the middle of the field, I am going to do that. We just want to win. We just gotta get the win this week. Whatever is asked of me I am going to do."

Time change alert: The Steelers Week 11 game against the Cincinnati Bengals has been flexed by the NFL.

The game, which will be played on Sunday, Nov. 20 at Acrisure Stadium, has been changed to a 4:25 p.m. kickoff. The game will be broadcast on CBS, KDKA-TV in the Pittsburgh market. The game was originally scheduled to kickoff at 8:20 p.m. on Sunday Night Football.

This is the first game this season that the Steelers have had flexed.

The Steelers prepare for the Week 10 matchup against the New Orleans Saints

Practice moves: In case you missed it, the Steelers signed receiver Josh Malone to the practice squad on Tuesday. In addition, the team waived linebacker Ryan Anderson from the 53-man roster and released kicker Nick Sciba from the practice squad.

Malone originally was signed to the practice squad on Oct. 18 but released a few weeks later.

Prior to joining the Steelers, Malone was last with the Tennessee Titans, after signing with them in the 2022 offseason.

Malone was a fourth-round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2017 NFL Draft. He has played in 26 games, with seven starts, and has 11 receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown.

He spent two seasons with the Bengals (2017-18), and additionally spent time with the New York Jets (2019-2020), and on the practice squads of the Denver Broncos (2021) and Green Bay Packers (2021).

Tune in: 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 your phone or tablet. Start your free trial today here.

Monday, November 7

Ready for his shot: Steven Sims laughed as he stood in the Steelers locker room, surrounded by media at his locker before moving in front of a Steelers backdrop that is normally used for the biggest interviews of the day because of the onslaught of cameras and attention.

"I've never been in front of this before," laughed Sims.

Well, there was a reason.

Following the trade of receiver Chase Claypool, who spent time working in the slot, Sims is one of the players now in the spotlight for the passing game and that meant the bright lights were on him.

"I started playing in the slot when I got into the league," said Sims. "I have been playing there ever since, bouncing inside and out. I can do both."

Coach Mike Tomlin expressed his confidence in the depth at wide receiver after trading Claypool to the Chicago Bears for a second-round pick. It's something Sims likes to hear but knows it's not just about him.

"They trust everybody in the room," said Sims. "There are a couple of us that play in the slot, me and Gunner (Olszewski), so we're kind of give a different style, both of us. I guess they trust in that, the different versatility we bring in the slot."

Sims said his role was not defined on Monday yet, as it was a bonus day of practice coming off the bye weekend. But he is happy to accept whatever role is given to him and embraces the challenge. 

"I see myself getting in there, running more routes than I have been running, doing gadget things, motion and that, jet sweeps," said Sims. "Just looking to build on that.

"I have done everything they ask me to do. When I get in, I make explosive plays. I guess they like that.

"Everything is the same for me. I am getting a bigger role, more opportunities to help the team win. That is all I can ask for, more opportunities. I have to capitalize on those opportunities."

Sims is more of a prototype slot receiver at 5-10, compared to Claypool who is 6-4. But recently bigger players have been used in the slot throughout the NFL.

"It's obvious Chase is a big body, I am not," said Sims. "We bring different elements to the game. I am quicker than fast. We are just different.

"I guess that is the coaches. They like big guys. It was always like that when I was younger. You are always going to pick the bigger guys before me, thinking the bigger guy is better than me. Time will tell."

And for Sims, time has told the story. He has gone from a kid who was told he didn't have a shot, to not getting a lot of attention from colleges, to going undrafted and working his way from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

"I remember my middle school coach telling me I wouldn't be anything," said Sims. "It's just my journey. Since I was a young guy, I was always an underdog story. That's just my nature to work. Wait my turn. It's normal to me. Always being counted out. Underdog, small guy. I just work.

"I put in the work like everybody else. I work hard, grind hard. I go every rep full speed, every rep likes it's a game rep, every practice likes it's a game. It just elevated my game as I grew in the league and got me to the point where I am now."

Keep communicating: The Steelers defense could get a shot in the arm this week when they play the New Orleans Saints, with the expected and potential return of linebacker T.J. Watt and safety Damontae Kazee from the Reserve/Injured List.

"Both of them are playmakers," said safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. "It takes pressure off myself and other guys to make plays. It puts other guys in position that they are able to make plays. Having a full defense back is going to help us out a lot."

The return of Kazee could definitely aid Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds, giving them someone who can make the secondary more versatile.

"With me and TE (Edmunds) out there, I feel like offenses get a good beat on where we're lined up, what we're doing. When Kazee is out there it adds a third guy who can move around, and it gives them a more difficult read."

With the return of Kazee and the addition of cornerback William Jackson, who was acquired via trade from the Washington Commanders, the secondary will have a new look this week. And because of that, communication is paramount.

"Communication is key in the secondary," said Fitzpatrick. "When you have new guys in there you have to make sure they know how we talk, how we communicate. You can't expect them to know. You have to overcommunicate."

Ready to go: The last few months haven't been easy for safety Damontae Kazee, struggling with spending time on the Reserve/Injured List for the second time in three years.

"It was frustrating," said Kazee. "Dealing with an injury two years ago where I tore my Achilles and trying to rehab, do that stuff last year. And then broke my arm at the beginning of this preseason. It was a downside. I got in a little dark mode. But I have my kids to put a smile on my face at the end of the day."

That dark mode was a time of struggle for Kazee, who knows what it's like to be in the locker room, in the meeting room, and not on the field.

"It's tough," said Kazee. "You have been doing this your whole life. Being out of football is just hard sometimes. That's all I know is football.

"My kids don't look at me playing football. They look at me as dad. I have to be there for them. It can be a win, a loss, my kids don't care about that. They want me to be dad. So that helped.

"But it's tough. You can't go out there and fight with your brothers. It hurts but we all get through it. I am through it now."

Kazee was placed on the Reserve/Injured List at the beginning of the season after suffering the arm injury against the Detroit Lions in the preseason. He was able to return to the practice field on Oct. 20, starting a 21-day window for the team to either activate him or keep him on the list for the remainder of the season. 

Kazee's plan is simple.

He wants to be activated on Thursday.

"I'll be ready to go," said Kazee, who said he will wear something to protect the arm when he returns. "People thought I messed up my wrist, but I broke my whole forearm. I had to let the bone heal. You can't go out there on a 50% chance of re-breaking it. I took my time in rehab and now I am back."

Kazee is hoping if all goes as planned, he will be able to help the defense as they fight to turn things around from the first half of the season.

"At the end of the day we have to make plays, get turnovers, give our offense another opportunity to go score some points," said Kazee. "We just have to trust our keys. Trust everything the coaches are giving us. Execute the plays. At the end of the day, they can call out any play. We just have to execute it. That's what we need to do more.

"We just have to work together. We've got to be brothers. You just have to do your job so your brother can do his. Everybody's job is important. Make sure we do what we have to do, execute the plays and come out with a win."

Tune in: 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 your phone or tablet. Start your free trial today here.