Shark Bites

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is out of the concussion protocol, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac reports. It's still unclear whether Big Ben actually sustained a concussion in practice earlier this week, but it's a non-issue now. With an ADP sitting in the 10th round, Roethlisberger is 1 of a handful of solid QBs values late in drafts.

Update: ESPN's Adam Schefter hears that Roethlisberger did not sustain a concussion.

ESPN reports that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger entered the concussion protocol after taking a shot in Tuesday's practice. We have yet to see confirmation that he actually suffered a concussion, but that seems likely at this point. Of course, we've still got plenty of time before the regular season for that to be a non-issue. We'll see how the Pittsburgh QB progresses.

Just 2 days after returning from injury, Steelers WR Antonio Brown limped off the practice field after limited individual work, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Brown already missed 10 days with a quad strain. We'll see what the issue is this time around.

Update: Brown later tweeted at Bouchette about "making [stuff] up." HC Mike Tomlin, meanwhile, said Brown left early as part of the plan and suffered no injury in the workout. Sounds like there's no reason to worry here.

It's been 2 weeks since Steelers TE Vance McDonald went down with a foot injury. He still hasn't returned to the field, and we still don't know much about his status. "Nothing's changed," HC Mike Tomlin said Sunday. "When it does change significantly in terms of progress toward return to play, I'll update you guys." If McDonald was dealing with a serious injury, we'd likely have heard about it by now. But all this missed time is bad news for a guy in just his 2nd season with the Steelers. McDonald will be tough to trust in early-season fantasy lineups if he doesn't get back on the field soon.

Steelers RB James Conner left Sunday's practice early with a groin injury, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. We've seen no indication of the severity, though the report didn't make it sound overly serious. Conner reportedly finished the workout watching from the sideline with ice on the problem area. We'll see how quickly the 2nd-year back returns to the field.

Steelers WR Antonio Brown (hip) returned to practice on Saturday. He ended up missing about a week-and-a-half with a minor hip flexor. Barring some sort of setback, it'll be a non-issue for Brown's fantasy value. He remains 1 of the safest picks in fantasy football.

Steelers WR Antonio Brown's chiropractor revealed on Instagram Monday that Brown is dealing with a hip flexor issue. It was previously reported as a quad injury. Brown has been sidelined for about a week now and won't play in Pittsburgh's preseason opener -- but he did re-join the team on Tuesday after being in Pittsburgh to have that injury re-evaluated. We're still not worried about Brown at this point but would like to see him back on the field by next week.

Steelers WR Antonio Brown has missed the last 2 days of training camp with what HC Mike Tomlin called a "minor injury." Tomlin added that Brown has been sent back to Pittsburgh to have the injury evaluated further. "I’ll have more information, but again, largely, it probably could be characterized as a day-to-day type deal," Tomlin said. Pro Football Talk hears that Brown is dealing with a "strained" quad and is expected back in a few days. This doesn't sound like anything to worry about, but we'll continue to keep an eye on fantasy football's #1 WR.

Steelers TE Vance McDonald rode a cart to the locker room at the end of Sunday's practice after suffering a foot injury. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic cautioned that "we have no idea the severity of it." Leaving on a cart doesn't necessarily mean that McDonald suffered a serious injury. As Kaboly pointed out, the locker room is "far away" from the field. Of course, McDonald has played in just 58 of a possible 80 games through 5 NFL seasons -- including only 10 last year. We'll await further word on the status of his foot before altering our rankings.

Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell's agent Adisa Bakari said Tuesday that his client plans to skip training camp and preseason but report by Week 1, "barring something exceptional." ESPN's Adam Schefter reported yesterday that Bell might hold out for the first half of the season, but that always seemed unlikely. An August holdout is still a bit of a concern, though, after Bell did it last year and then ranked just 25th among RBs in PPR points over the season's first 2 weeks.

The Steelers and RB Le'Veon Bell failed to come to an agreement on a long-term deal prior to today's 4 pm ET deadline. So he'll play on the franchise tag for the 2nd straight season, earning a little more than $14.5 million. Bell held out last year until 9 days before the opener and then got off to a relatively slow start, totaling 236 yards and 1 TD in his first 3 games. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported this morning that Bell is considering holding out for the first half of this season. It'll obviously be a situation to track closely over the next 8 weeks. There's certainly some risk to Bell in fantasy drafts right now, but we still wouldn't let him slip past #2 overall.

ESPN's Adam Schefter dropped a bomb in a Sirius XM radio appearance on Monday morning, stating that he believes Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell might sit out the "first half of the year" if he doesn't get a long-term deal. "The goal at that point would be to hit 2019 free agency healthy, not rack up another 400 touches," Schefter added. The Steelers slapped Bell with the franchise tag again this offseason, and the 2 sides have until 4 pm ET this afternoon to work out a long-term contract. Bell played on the franchise tag last year and didn't report until September 1 -- just 9 days before the start of the season. We'll continue to keep a close eye on this situation. For now, Todd Gurley looks like the safer pick at #1 in fantasy drafts.

The Steelers selected Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. A 3-year starter for the Cowboys, Rudolph finished his college career with a 63.2% completion rate, 9.4 yards per attempt and 92 TDs vs. 26 INTs. He was especially good throwing downfield. According to Pro Football Focus, Rudolph’s 51.1% adjusted completion rate on deep passes last year ranked 5th in this draft class — ahead of Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson. Rudolph sports prototypical size at 6’5, 235 pounds and has plenty of arm strength. Opponents will point out that he played in a pass-friendly offense with a pair of future NFLers in (fellow new Steeler) James Washington and Marcel Ateman. But there’s some NFL starting potential here. Rudolph, of course, will sit behind Ben Roethlisberger for now. We’ll see if he can develop into his eventual replacement.

The Steelers nabbed Oklahoma State WR James Washington with the 60th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Washington posted huge numbers in the Cowboys’ pass-friendly offense. He broke out for a 53-1,087-10 line as a sophomore and improved to 71-1,380-10 as a junior. This past year, Washington led the entire country with 1,549 receiving yards and tied for 4th with 13 TDs. He ranked 5th among all draft-eligible players with 3.47 yards per route run, per Pro Football Focus, and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top WR. Washington goes just 5’11, 213 pounds but plays bigger thanks to hand size, arm length and wingspan all in the 62nd percentile or better among WRs. He also boasts some of our favorite tape in this WR class, flashing technique and craftiness that belies a 21-year-old. This isn’t a great landing spot for Washington, though. He’ll sit behind Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster on the target totem pole in the short term. In the long term, Pittsburgh needs to find a successor to QB Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers picked Virginia Tech S Terrell Edmunds with the 28th pick in Round 1 of the NFL Draft. Edmunds posted a 97th percentile SPARQ score in predraft testing and flashed his versatility by playing multiple positions over his 3-year college career. NFL Network's Mike Mayock and David Shaw both called him "physical," while the broadcast touted his ability to cover TEs. There's room for Edmunds to start soon in Pittsburgh.

Multiple outlets report that the Steelers are finalizing a deal with free-agent S Morgan Burnett. An IDP force through much of his Green Bay stint, Burnett heads to a defense that hasn't been overly friendly to safety scoring for a while. Combine that with his injury history -- 14 games lost over the past 5 years -- and he looks like no more than a DB2 for 2018 fantasy football drafts at this early stage. Second-year DB Josh Jones looks like the best current bet to take over Burnett's job with the Packers, though we'll see how the rest of the offseason goes. Jones flashed as a rookie, seeing time in DB and ILB roles.

The Steelers have used their franchise tag on RB Le'Veon Bell for the 2nd straight year. The 2 parties have been discussing a long-term contract but have yet to come to an agreement. They now have until July 16 to do so. Otherwise, Bell will play 2018 on a 1-year deal that will pay him $14.5 million. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported earlier this week that Bell will "likely" skip training camp without a long-term contract. He did that last year and got off to a relatively slow start, totaling 236 yards and 1 TD over his first 3 games.

Steelers WR Eli Rogers tore his ACL late in last weekend'd loss to the Jaguars, according to insider Gerry Dulac. The timing of the injury will make it tough for Rogers to be ready for the start of the 2018 campaign. After catching 48 balls a year ago, Rogers tallied just 18 this season as he played behind Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant. The 25-year-old is a restricted free agent this offseason.

The Steelers have promoted QB coach Randy Fichtner to OC. He's been with the team since 2010 and reportedly has a good relationship with QB Ben Roethlisberger. The continuity is good news for Pittsburgh's offense.

The Steelers will not bring back OC Todd Haley, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Haley led the Steelers to top 10 finishes in both total yards and points in each of the past 4 seasons. But he's had a rocky relationship with QB Ben Roethlisberger. We'll see who Pittsburgh tabs to replace Haley.


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