First call: Where were the Steelers as NFL free agency was going nuts? |
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Tim Benz

In “First Call” Tuesday, the first look at Antonio Brown as a Raider. Kinda. What were Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin doing as the NFL free agent frenzy was taking place? A funny check on Le’Veon Bell and Adisa Bakari. The Penguins can’t gain ground in the Eastern Conference.

Sneak peek

The “Madden NFL” video game folks are giving Raiders fans a chance to see what it is going to look like when Antonio Brown gets on the field with Derek Carr.

And they are giving Steelers fans are a reason to throw bricks through their monitors.

Pretty life-like. The “Toni Toe Tap” seems to transfer nicely to Silver and Black.

One thing, though. They skipped the drive in between those last two Chargers clips where Brown yelled at Carr for not throwing him the ball during a three-and-out.

Is there a Gatorade cooler toss function on “Madden?”

This is fitting

As NFL free agents were flying off the board, the Steelers were doing next to nothing.

Many Steelers fans were asking, “What’s with Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert? Aren’t they going to do anything in free agency? Have they been hanging out with the Pirates too long or something?”

Uh oh.

Maybe they were asking if Starling Marte had any interest in being a wide receiver. Perhaps inspired by seeing a Black and Gold roster that gets little to no help in free agency every year, Colbert reportedly agreed to sign cornerback Steven Nelson from Kansas City.

But he waited until well after the game was over and after that ball slipped through his fingers.

Much like C.J. Mosley.

That actually may make sense

A lot of the national media commentary surrounding the Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown situations has been garbage, quite frankly.

But I can’t disagree with this one entirely.

What will become of JuJu Smith-Schuster without Antonio Brown? It’s a valid question. Eric Dickerson’s argument about who is going to be No. 2 behind Smith-Schuster’s No. 1 worries me, as well. That concerns me perhaps even more than Smith-Schuster rising to top-receiver status. And I’d also echo his comments about James Conner being a “nice running back,” but not being Bell.

Yes, despite Conner’s fine season last year.

Purple-and-black smokescreen

With bemused familiarity, I laughed out loud when I read this passage from a ProFootballTalk story regarding Le’Veon Bell — shortly before he agreed to sign with the Jets.

“The thinking is that someone is trying to push the Ravens as a potential destination for Bell in order to get the only remaining candidate — the Jets — to pay more. The source speculates that the Baltimore interest in Bell is being fabricated by Bell and/or Bakari, for obvious reasons, and that has morphed into a major production, all aimed at freaking out the Jets at a time when they’re already reeling from Anthony Barr deciding not to sign in New York and to stay in Minnesota.”

Bell and Bakari fabricating something? Turning a negotiation into a “major production all aimed at freaking out” the team involved?! No! The hell you say!?

Well, that’s the Jets’ problem now, I guess.

Meanwhile in hockey

As for that other sport actually in season, the Penguins helped themselves with a 5-3 win over the Capitals Tuesday night.

They got no help elsewhere, though.

The Canadiens got two goals from Max Domi to beat Detroit 3-1. The Blue Jackets got a hat trick from Boone Jenner en route to a 7-4 win over the Bruins.

Artemi Panarin even got into a fight!

So that means the Penguins gained no separation on two of the teams chasing them in the standings.

The Penguins sit with 85 points in third place in the Metropolitan Division. Columbus and Montreal are tied for the last wild-card spot with 81 points, but the Blue Jackets own the tiebreaker.

The team in the first wild-card spot, Carolina, was idle. They have 83 points.

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