Pittsburgh Steelers: Greg Warren

Moore, McCain ruled out for Steelers

September, 5, 2014
PITTSBURGH -- Wide receiver Justin Brown will get a chance on Sunday to show he belongs on the 53-man roster.

Brown will serve as the Pittsburgh Steelers' No. 3 wide receiver as well as primary slot receiver against the visiting Browns.

The second-year man, who spent all of last season on the Steelers' practice squad, gets an early opportunity with veteran wide receiver Lance Moore ruled out for the 1 p.m. ET game Sunday due to a groin injury.

Cornerback Brice McCain has also been ruled out of the season opener with a groin injury while rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant won’t play against the Browns because of a shoulder injury.

Bryant is listed as doubtful on the Steelers’ final injury report of the week but the fourth-round pick hasn’t practiced enough to play against the Browns even if he was healthy enough to do so.

Center/guard Cody Wallace is questionable because of a broken pinkie while linebacker Sean Spence (knee), long-snapper Greg Warren (knee) and tight end Matt Spaeth (hamstring) are all listed as probable for Sunday.

The Steelers are likely to dress eight offensive linemen even if Wallace is able to suit up in case he suffers a setback. Rookie Wesley Johnson will likely be a part of the 46-man game-day roster if the Steelers dress eight offensive linemen because of his versatility.

Here are my projected Steelers inactives for the season opener in addition to Moore, McCain and Bryant:
  • NT Daniel McCullers: It wouldn’t surprise me if the rookie plays on Sunday since coach Mike Tomlin likes to dress an extra defensive lineman early in the season. But defensive end Cam Thomas can also play nose tackle and that position won’t receive a ton of snaps anyway.
  • CB D.W. Webb: The former Dallas Cowboy is still learning a new defense and safety Shamarko Thomas can play cornerback if the need arises there.
  • G Chris Hubbard: The Steelers aren’t dressing nine offensive lineman, and he is the odd man out even if they go with eight against the Browns.
  • QB Landry Jones: The second-year man didn’t dress for any games last season.

Steelers healthy with opener looming

September, 2, 2014
PITTSBURGH – The Steelers should head into the regular season with a relatively clean bill of health.

Wide receiver Martavis Bryant is nursing an A/C shoulder sprain that kept the rookie from practicing on Monday, but coach Mike Tomlin hasn’t ruled out Bryant playing Sunday against the visiting Cleveland Browns.

“At this stage early in the week we’re going to leave the light on for all of these men,” Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.

A handful of players who have been working through injuries practiced at least on a limited basis on Monday, the first day the Steelers went through drills since assembling their 53-man roster.

Those include cornerback Brice McCain (groin), linebacker Sean Spence (knee), tight end Matt Spaeth (leg), wide receiver Lance Moore (leg) and long snapper Greg Warren (knee).

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Tomlin said.

One thing Tomlin said he is not worried about when it comes to injuries is Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown getting hurt while returning punts.

Brown will serve as the Steelers’ primary punt returner, Tomlin said, with rookie Dri Archer behind the fifth-year veteran.

Brown averaged 12.8 yards per punt return last season and scored a touchdown in that phase of the game.

“He’s a Pro Bowl-caliber return man. So that’s what you do with those guys, you play them,” Tomlin said. “I don’t live with my fears.”
PITTSBURGH -- Wide receiver Martavis Bryant might be looking at the equivalent of a redshirt in his first NFL season.

Bryant left the Steelers’ final preseason game early Thursday night with an A/C sprain in his shoulder, and the injury is expected to sideline the fourth-round pick for an extended period.

Depending on the severity of the injury, which is a separated shoulder, the Steelers could place Bryant on the short-term injured reserve list after he makes the 53-man roster.

If the Steelers use that designation on Bryant he would be allowed to resume practicing with the team after the sixth week of the regular season. The 6-4, 211-pounder wouldn’t be eligible to play until after the eighth week of the season.

If Bryant goes on short-term IR he likely won’t contribute much this season. His injury makes it likely that the Steelers will keep six wide receivers when putting together their 53-man roster, a process that must be completed by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Coach Mike Tomlin said after the Steelers’ 10-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers that two other rookies, cornerback Shaquille Richardson and linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, are possibilities for short-term IR, which teams are allowed to use once per season.

Richardson, a fifth-round pick, has been out with a knee injury while Zumwalt has been sidelined by a groin injury. Neither, Tomlin said, were close to playing in the Steelers’ final preseason game.

The Steelers received some good news on the injury front earlier this week.

Long snapper Greg Warren told 970 ESPN that he will be a “full go” when the Steelers return to practice on Monday and that he will be able to play in the Sept. 7 season opener against the visiting Browns.

Warren, who has been recovering from surgery that fixed a meniscus tear in his knee, said he practiced on Wednesday.

Tomlin said he is pleased with how the Steelers made it through training camp and the preseason from an injury standpoint.

The Steelers did not suffer any major injuries to core players. Bryant and reserve cornerback Brice McCain (groin) were the only players who sustained injuries of note in the loss to the Panthers.

“It’s not something that we have control over so I don’t spend a lot of time fretting over that,” Tomlin said of injuries. “But it is a blessing when they’re minimal and not a lot of significant ones so we’ll take that.”
PITTSBURGH – A handful of players, including a trio of rookies fighting for roster spots, won’t play in the Steelers’ third preseason game on Thursday night in Philadelphia.

Coach Mike Tomlin has ruled out cornerback Shaquille Richardson (knee), linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (groin) and tight end Eric Waters (concussion) for the 7:30 p.m. game against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

Joining the rookies on the list of players who won’t suit up against the Eagles are center Cody Wallace (finger) and long snapper Greg Warren (knee).

Tomlin said Wallace is recovering from surgery he needed to fix a broken finger.

Among the players who are questionable for Thursday are fullback Will Johnson, safety Will Allen, running back Tauren Poole and cornerback Devin Smith.

All are dealing with hamstring injuries, Tomlin said.

Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones is expected to play against the Eagles unless he has a setback in practice on Tuesday. Jones, who has been plagued by a groin injury, did not play in the Steelers’ 19-16 win over the Buffalo Bills last Saturday.

Tomlin said the team will evaluate Jones after practice.

Tomlin did not say how much the starters will play against the Eagles, but they are expected to stay in the game for at least a half.

That means reserves who are trying to make the team will have to make the most of the limited snaps they receive in Philadelphia.

“We’re getting into the meat of this thing a little bit and if guys are going to make a move it’s kind of now or never,” Tomlin said Tuesday at a news conference. “I like that sense of urgency in the guys as we prepare this week, and I think it’s creating a good, competitive environment.”
PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger anticipates playing the first half Thursday night in the Pittsburgh Steelers' third preseason game, and he would like to get at least one series of running the no-huddle offense at Philadelphia.

"I'd like to get a little more road work," Roethlisberger said, "see if we'll do no-huddle on the road, which is usually a little different."

The Steelers play the Eagles Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET, and the starters will see their most extensive action of the preseason at Lincoln Financial Field.

Roethlisberger played three series last Saturday night against the Buffalo Bills and the Steelers ran their no-huddle offense almost exclusively when he was in the game. Roethlisberger completed 8 of 11 passes for 128 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and film review of the Steelers' 19-16 win confirmed that the no-huddle offense was as good as it looked against the Bills.

"There was only one (mental) mistake and it was a very minor one," Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger threw a 16-yard touchdown pass that highlighted the growth second-year wide receiver Markus Wheaton has made since last season.

Wheaton turned around Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore with a double move and then dragged his feet after hauling in Roethlisberger's pass near the out of bounds line. Roethlisberger, whose locker is next to Wheaton's at the Steelers' practice facility, expects big things from the player who has all but won the job of No. 2 wide receiver.

"He's learning and growing fast and we need him to," Roethlisberger said of Wheaton. "He doesn't make the same mistake twice and he's busting his butt every day in practice. I grabbed him upstairs today and talked to him about something he did a little wrong in the game. He had nothing to do with the play but he was like heartbroken that he kind of screwed something up that he probably shouldn't have."

A couple of notes:
  • Greg Warren is on the mend after having surgery late last week to fix a torn meniscus in his right knee. The veteran long snapper said he expects to miss about a month, which means he is unlikely to play in the Steelers' season opener on Sept. 7 against the visiting Browns. Warren hurt his knee last Wednesday during the Steelers' joint practice with the Bills at St. Vincent College. "I was just blocking and braced on it and it kind of popped and I knew something was abnormal when it happened," said Warren, who is in his 10th season. "I think it could have been a lot worse and I think after the surgery they were very happy with the way things went."
  • There are no significant changes on the depth chart that the Steelers released Monday. Brian Arnfelt is still ahead of Josh Mauro at right defensive end and Hebron Fangupo is ahead of Daniel McCullers at nose tackle. Martavis Bryant is fourth on the depth chart at one of the wide receiver spots, behind Antonio Brown, Justin Brown and Darrius Heyward-Bey.
PITTSBURGH -- The first-team offense ran the no-huddle attack almost exclusively in a 19-16 win over the Buffalo Bills, and coach Mike Tomlin couldn’t have asked for much better results.

 The Steelers scored a pair of touchdowns in their first three possessions and averaged 9.6 per play with Ben Roethlisberger playing quarterback.

They also converted three out of four third down. The only time they punted with the starters in the game came was when tight end Heath Miller's 9-yard reception fell short by less than a yard short for a first down.

“It was a good start to the no-huddle,” said Roethlisberger, who completed 8 of 11 passes for 128 yards and a pair of touchdowns while playing a little more than a quarter. “The communication was what I wanted to work on, and we didn’t have mental errors of what I saw so far.”

Indeed, the Steelers did not commit any penalties with their offensive starters on the field, and the line kept Roethlisberger off the ground. It also allowed the veteran quartebrack time to wait on a perfectly executed double move by wide receiver Markus Wheaton and throw a 16-yard touchdown pass that gave the Steelers an early 13-3 lead.

“We wanted to get Ben some quality work, particularly in no-huddle in the comforts of Heinz Field,” Tomlin said.

Here are some leftovers from the second preseason game:
  • It could be a good omen. Or it could mean nothing with two games left on the preseason schedule. But the Steelers have stayed relatively clean from an injury standpoint. The most significant injury is a meniscus tear to long snapper Greg Warren. The only injury of note in their win over the Bills was a shoulder dislocation suffered by guard Bryant Browning. “Don’t anticipate anybody else having any type of injury that would prevent them from playing in Philadelphia,” Tomlin said. That doesn’t include cornerbacks Shaquille Richardson and Devin Smith, each of whom sustained undisclosed injuries last Friday and did not play against the Bills.
  • The Bills rushed for 150 yards, and their success on the ground allowed them to put together extended drives against the Steelers’ first-team defense and control the clock. “Too many missed tackles, particularly in the early stages,” Tomlin said. “We had them in the backfield and the line of scrimmage, and they were squirting through and able to stay on schedule. They weren’t necessarily big runs, but if you can get them in second and 12s, it changes the whole complexion of the series. Those missed tackles didn’t allow us to do that.”
  • Three of Shaun Suisham’s four kickoffs were returned, and that was by Tomlin’s design. “The only way you get to know some of these kick coverage guys is to put balls in play,” the eighth-year coach said. “Shaun could put the through the back of the end zone like some of these people we’re playing, but we want to see what our kickoff coverage teams are capable of because we’re going to get into the season, and I’d rather know now than then.”
LATROBE, Pa. -- Linebackers Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones are questionable for the Steelers’ second preseason game and long snapper Greg Warren will probably miss at least the first regular-season game after sustaining a meniscus tear.

 Warren hurt his knee Wednesday during the first of two joint practices with the Buffalo Bills, and coach Mike Tomlin said the 10th-year veteran will be out “maybe four weeks or so.”

Warren, who has played in every game the past four seasons, will have surgery, leaving Bryce Davis as the only healthy long-snapper on the roster with the Steelers breaking training camp on Friday.

“The priorty is simply to get Greg fixed and rehabbed as quickly as we can,” Tomlin said Thursday during a news conference. “We’ve got a great deal of respect for what Greg is capable of and the importance of the position.”

Davis, who signed a reserve/future contract with the Steelers last January, is expected to do the majority of the long snapping Saturday night when they play the Bills in a 7:30 p.m. ET game at Heinz Field. Tomlin said some offensive linemen also could get some work at long snapper, and the eighth-year coach has not ruled out signing a player at the position to give the Steelers more options while Warren is sidelined.

In other injury news, Tomlin said Shazier’s much-anticipated NFL debut may have to wait another week. Shazier is nursing a knee bruise though the first-round pick said earlier this week that he plans to play against the Bills after missing the Steelers’ preseason opener last Saturday night.

Jones joins Shazier on the list of players who are questionable for the Bills game, as the second-year man has been plagued by a groin injury. Linebacker Vince Williams may also miss the game after sustaining a concussion on Tuesday.

Williams will have to pass concussion tests before he is cleared to return, and Tomlin said the Steelers will “err on the side of caution” with the second-year man who has stood out in camp.

“We’re going to play everybody [who's] healthy and capable of playing,” Tomlin said. “We’re going to hold out until the 11th hour in terms of making a decision whether they are available or not and try and give everybody an opportunity to play in the football game.”

Steelers re-sign Michael Palmer

March, 21, 2014
PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers added depth at tight end Friday when they re-signed Michael Palmer to a one-year contract.

Palmer, whom the Steelers signehttp://proxy.espn.go.com/blogadmin/pittsburgh-steelers/wp-admin/edit.php?page=statusPaged last August, played in every game last season and caught one pass for eight yards. He was a core special teams player in 2013, and the fourth-year veteran joins Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth and David Paulson as the tight ends on the roster.

The Steelers lost tight end David Johnson last week when the fifth-year veteran signed a two-year contract with the Chargers.

Palmer is the fifth of the Steelers' free agents to re-sign with the team, joining center Cody Wallace, offensive tackle Guy Whimper, safety Will Allen and long snapper Greg Warren in that group.
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers bolstered their secondary by signing safety Mike Mitchell to a five-year, $25 million contract, and they did so while putting minimal stress on their salary cap.

Mitchell’s cap hit in 2014 will be just $2.2 million, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and the guaranteed money in his contract is just $5.25 million, with $4.75 million from his signing bonus plus a $500,000 roster bonus due in April.

I included the impending roster bonus as guaranteed money because it would make no sense for the Steelers to release Mitchell, a five-year veteran, less than a month after signing him.

Here is a breakdown of his contract:

2014: $950,000 signing bonus, $750,000 base salary and $500,000 roster bonus. Cap hit: $2.2 million.

2015: $2 million base salary, $2 million roster bonus and $950,000 signing bonus: Cap hit: $4.95 million.

2016: $5 million base salary and $950,000 signing bonus. Cap hit: $5.95 million.

2017: $5 million base salary and $950,000 signing bonus. Cap hit: $5.95 million.

2018: $5 million base salary and $950,000 signing bonus. Cap hit: $5.95 million.

Mitchell’s relatively small cap hit of $2.2 million for 2014 gives the Steelers some flexibility, as they were about $7 million under the cap before signing Mitchell.

They have since re-signed safety Will Allen, center Cody Wallace and long-snapper Greg Warren.

Allen and Warren signed one-year deals, and their combined cap hit is about $1.2 million if the Steelers used the exemptions that allow teams to re-sign veterans to one-year contracts but count only part of their salaries against the cap.

ESPN Stats & Information projects Allen to have a cap hit of $570,000, and Warren should be around that number, too, if the Steelers took advantage of the veterans exemption with each player.

Depending on what Wallace signed for, the Steelers don’t have a ton of room under the cap, but they should have enough to keep re-signing their own free agents and to entertain signing free agents from other teams.
PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers announced the re-signings of safety Will Allen and long snapper Greg Warren on Wednesday morning with each agreeing to one-year contracts.

Neither is the kind of move that elicits much more than a collective yawn from the Steelers’ fan base, but the signings are significant.

Allen provides depth in the secondary as well as competition for second-year man Shamarko Thomas for the position of safety in the Steelers’ sub-packages.

Allen thrived as the safety in the quarter package after re-signing with the Steelers last October. In the process the 10th-year vereran showed that he can still play after getting released by the Cowboys.

The key with Allen is that he is also a core special-teams player so even if Thomas wins the competition for safety in the Steelers’ sub-packages Allen can still contribute.

Warren will return for a 10th season and the best thing you can say about him is that you never hear his name. Nothing could be better for a long snapper whose anonymity is crucial to his job security.

The Steelers signed long snapper Bryce Davis to compete with Warren. But the latter has become so used to fending off challenges for his position that there is no reason to think he won’t be snapping for the Steelers in 2014.

Warren is one of just five players on the roster who were part of the Steelers’ Super Bowl-winning teams in 2005 and 2008.

The others are quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, safety Troy Polamalu, cornerback Ike Taylor and tight end Heath Miller.
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed punter Brad Wing and long-snapper Bryce Davis to reserve/future contracts.

Wing competed for the punting job in Philadelphia last season before getting released Aug. 25. The Australian native starred at LSU, earned 2011 first-team All-American honors, and was a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award that season.

Wing is best known for the booming punts that allowed LSU to beat Alabama, 9-6, in a showdown between the nation’s two top-ranked teams in 2011.

He joins fellow Aussie Mat McBriar as the only punters under contract for the Steelers, and McBriar will become an unrestricted free agent in March. Long-snapper Greg Warren, who just completed his ninth season for the Steelers, is also set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Davis spent parts of the 2012 season on the Bengals' practice squad after signing with Cincinnati as an undrafted free agent out of Central Oklahoma.

The Bengals released Davis on Aug. 31.

Upon Further Review: Steelers Week 13

November, 29, 2013
A review of four hot issues from the Pittsburgh Steelers' 22-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
AP Photo/Nick WassPittsburgh's offensive line took good care of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against the Ravens.
O-line keeps Big Ben clean again: I thought the offensive line played one of its better games of the season. It is difficult to understand why the Steelers didn’t use their no-huddle offense more before the second half, because the line did not seem all that bothered by the crowd noise. It certainly wasn’t rattled by it. The Steelers had just one pre-snap penalty -- right guard David DeCastro was flagged for a false start in the second quarter -- and the Ravens did not sack quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The line has given up one sack over the past three games, and Roethlisberger has not been sacked in the past two games. Not that any of that mattered to DeCastro after the Steelers fell to 5-7. "It’s a tough one to swallow," he said. "I thought we played OK. We didn't run the ball efficiently in the first half. We protected Ben OK, but it wasn’t enough."

O-line dealing with more injuries: How healthy the offensive line is moving forward will be an issue considering four players from that unit left the game with injuries. Coach Mike Tomlin provided the minimum on those injuries (ankle, knee, etc.), and it looked like starting center Fernando Velasco might have been the only one to suffer a potentially serious injury. Velasco hurt his right ankle, and he left M&T Bank Stadium in a walking boot and crutches. Injuries to Kelvin Beachum (knee) and Mike Adams (ankle) forced the Steelers to use three players at left tackle, and DeCastro hurt his foot. Defensive end Brett Keisel left early in the first quarter after aggravating a foot injury that had sidelined him the previous two games.

They like Ike: Torrey Smith ended up 7 yards shy of becoming the third consecutive wide receiver with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown while getting covered primarily by cornerback Ike Taylor. And Smith drew a 26-yard pass interference penalty on Taylor on a third-and-7 play in the second quarter. The Ravens were 6-of-8 on third-down conversions in the first half, and Taylor's penalty led to one of five Justin Tucker field goals in the two-point game. Smith's 54-yard catch set up the Ravens' only touchdown. It also went down as the 10th play of at least 50 yards that the Steelers have given up this season.

Not so special: The Steelers' special teams gaffes were costly -- and will likely hit Tomlin's wallet after he almost wandered onto the field during Jacoby Jones' 73-yard kickoff return while watching it on a scoreboard Jumbotron. I think Tomlin made an honest mistake and that there was no intent by the seventh-year coach to slow down Jones, who flashed through a huge opening on the left side on the way to the longest play of the game. What hurt the Steelers more than Jones' return was the botched field goal attempt in the second quarter. Kicker Shaun Suisham started his approach too early, and he never had a chance to attempt a 50-yard field goal. "We were doing it on a slow cadence to slow their pass rush," Tomlin said. "I don’t think Shaun heard the cadence." The Ravens took advantage of the short field after Suisham, who ended up with the ball, was tackled for a 12-yard loss, and they kicked a field goal. "I don’t think he did anything to beat himself up [over]," long snapper Greg Warren said of Suisham.