What does Matt Murray’s contract extension mean for Marc-Andre Fleury? He still has 2 years left on his deal, but in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, one of the team’s goalies will have to left unprotected, unless the Penguins can work a deal before then. Pens General Manager Jim Rutherford told us today, not so fast, “let’s not presume that Marc is automatically out, okay? He’s been the franchise goalie here, he’s a terrific person and he’s a terrific player, and I think that assumption, that we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. So let’s let the two guys play it out and we’ll see where that goes.”
Big Penguins news. A contract extension for goaltender Matt Murray, and what a remarkable run it’s been. He’s 22-years-old, and within a span of six months, he’s won a Stanley Cup and now has earned a three-year extension that, starting next year, will pay him $11.25 million for an annual average of value of $3.75 million, “Yeah I’m thrilled obviously, you know Pittsburgh is a great place to play, and anybody in their right mind would want to be here so, I feel like that’s a vote of confidence. It’s awesome and I’m really thrilled.”
Landry Jones will step in for the injured Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday. It will be the third career start for Jones, and here’s what Mike Tomlin thinks,“I will say this about Landry: He has been here a number of years now; he has a very good understanding of our offense. That knowledge and understanding is one thing, ability to execute is another. We are going to give him all the reps this week and let him go through the preparation process. It’s less about what he knows and more about what he is capable of executing at a high level.”
Next week will tell a lot about the Steelers. But let’s not overreact to what happened today in Florida. They were off their game, but keep it in perspective. No Ryan Shazier. No Cam Heyward. Right now, the AFC North looks very average, so a team slightly above average can win the division. 6 regular season games down. 10 to go. I have a feeling the Steelers will be there in the end.
The Steelers defense applied the pressure in Sunday night’s win over the Chiefs, and Cam Heyward led the way. Heyward, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in preseason, came on strong with seven tackles and three sacks. One game is great, but Heyward says they have to keep it up, “now’s about being consistent, not about being a blip on the radar…we have a lot of good pass rushers, guys who can get after the quarterback, but we have to prove it week in and week out. First quarter we started off a little rocky. Now it’s time for the second quarter see how we do so we’ll see how it goes.”
Le’Veon Bell returned to the Steelers lineup last Sunday in style, cranking out 178 all-purpose yards. Bell looked great in the game against the Kansas City Chiefs, and says he’s felt fine since, “my body feels good…I take a lot of preparation…my training and my workouts, to get ready for getting hit and things like that, and obviously in the game I wasn’t trying to take direct hits and things like that, so my body feels good. I’m ready to move on.”
Mike Tomlin has always preached the “next man up” mentality, and that may be the case again this week. With Marcus Gilbert and Ryan Harris both fighting injuries, there’s a possibility that All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey could be used at tackle. Pouncey talked about his possible position move, “I played guard in high school and college but never tackle though, in the NFL never tackle though. I mean it’s just a little more space I guess and…guys gotta stand up the ball, guess I gotta be in a squat the whole time…biggest difference. I’ve always been the type of player to go out there and wing it man. I’m a competitor and we’ll go out there and see how it turns out man…and at the end of the day you have to go out there against another man and the best man’s gonna win.”
Running back Le’veon Bell is ready for his return to the Steelers backfield. Bell is eligible to play in Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs. Mike Tomlin said earlier this week that you can expect to see a lot of Bell, and offensive coordinator Todd Haley says the same, and that he thinks Bell will be up to speed immediately, “we’ve just got to make sure we get Le’Veon back in the mix and he’s looked really good this week, like I said he’s done a very good job of keeping himself in shape, physically ready, mentally ready. He’s a smart guy we gotta get him back in there, get him back in the mix, and then we’ll see how it goes..
Three-and-a-half months after winning the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe, Sidney Crosby has won the World Cup of Hockey and the MVP of the tournament. Crosby was his usual self, which is to say he was SPECTACULAR!
In terms of margin of defeat, Sunday’s loss to the Eagles was the worst for the Steelers in 27 years. In 1989, the Steelers lost to the Bengals in week two 41-10. On Sunday, they lost 34-3, and despite being down by so many points, Mike Tomlin decided to keep his starters in the game. Mike Tomlin was asked why, “I’ll always be one who is slow to acknowledge defeat, and acceptance of defeat. I take responsibility for those guys remaining in the game, and I always do and will, this is something that we do. We play and we play to win. We understand that injuries are part of football, but we don’t let that fear be our guide in terms of decisions making.”