5 questions with Behind the Steel Curtain

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I talked with Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain to get answers to some burning questions.

1. The Steelers have had a lot of roster turnover this offseason. Who are you going to miss the most?

Without a second thought, it's James Harrison. He came up through the ranks the hard way; cut multiple times, undrafted, had to play in Europe, for cripessake. He just kept working, and found himself on the roster. Battled through on special teams, body-slammed a Browns fan, got his first start after Joey Porter got in a pregame fight and did pretty well. Because of him, they let Porter walk, and a year after that, he was Defensive Player of the Year.

You've already heard me rave about Luke Kuechly, who's, in my opinion, one of the two best inside linebackers in football. Harrison is the opposite of Kuechly. He wasn't a high draft pick, he's not an amazing athlete, he was supposed to have been cut 10 years ago, yet, he's still here (granted, he's with the wrong team now, but that's neither here nor there).

Harrison played the game aggressively and without apology. Despite Harrison being one of several dozen players hitting hard, and yes, sometimes high, the league made him the scapegoat for their legal troubles, and created the impression in the media Harrison was and is doing something other players are not. His comments made about the commissioner of the NFL probably didn't help his image, but the NFL specifically branded him as a thug at a time when they needed to start shedding the blame for the sake of the upcoming concussion lawsuits they're facing. It's really a shame. Harrison is one of the most underrated players - and probably the best run-supporting outside linebacker - of the last decade.

2. I picked Ben Roethisberger in fantasy. Allay my fears given he'll be without Mike Wallace.


Even with Mike Wallace, Roethlisberger wasn't a great Fantasy threat. I will say he was doing very well through the first half of the season (see vs. Raiders Week 3), and Wallace was barely involved anyway. He got injured and things changed. We'll see what happens, but I wouldn't wait long to make a move on waivers.

Note: I probably should have let Neil know that Big Ben is my backup.

3. Which of the Steelers' draft class has looked the best so far?

It's Jarvis Jones by a healthy margin, despite outstanding play from third round pick Markus Wheaton and some nice highlights from fourth round pick Shamarko Thomas. Jones has been a part of a turnover in two of his three preseason games (it would have been three if not for a penalty), and has already endeared himself to the fans. I think people are really excited to see if his playmaking ability will show in the regular season as well.

He won't play Thursday, though, due to an injury he suffered in the third preseason game, but he'll play in the opener.

4. If you could pick one player from the Panthers and put him on the Steelers, who would it be and why?

Kuechly. Holy hell, Kuechly. With all due respect to the rest of the Carolina Panthers, there probably isn't a combination of two players on that team I'd rather have than Kuechly. I know it was the preseason and it doesn't count and blah blah blah, but that string of plays he put on the Ravens was absolutely amazing. Rarely at the professional level of any sport do you see one player so thoroughly dominate the opposition. Very impressive.

I was a big fan of Star Lotulelei heading into the draft, and he looked outstanding as well this preseason. Carolina's defense is a major concern for the NFC South starting this year.

5. Who's one player we don't know now, but we'll remember his name come Thursday?

Keep an eye on undrafted free agent OLB Alan Baxter. He's explosive off the edge, but a lack of height negated his draft chances. If he was a few inches taller, he would have been a first-day pick (so I've been told by one of his former coaches, all bias considered). In a season in which the Steelers could have as many as three undrafted rookies on their roster after the final cuts, Baxter has been one that shouldn't surprise those who have been watching this team.

You can see my answers to Neal's questions here

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