Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Player Profile: Defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux

Another in-depth look at one of the newest members of the black-and-gold.

The 6’5, 288-pound defensive lineman was one of four Pittsburgh Steelers’ signings from rookie minicamp. Mondeaux will have a mountain to climb to land a spot on the 53-man roster or the team’s practice squad. Stephon Tuitt, Cam Heyward, and Javon Hargrave are locked in as the 2019 starters along the defensive line. The team also re-signed top backup Tyson Alualu. In 2018, the team carried six defensive linemen into the season.

Too small to play nose tackle, his only true option will be to compete for a backup defensive end position. His competitors at the position will be 2019 sixth rounder Isaiah Buggs, Casey Sayles, Conor Sheehy, and Craig Winston. Overcoming challenges is nothing new to Mondeaux, as he is a type-1 diabetic. The diabetes forces Mondeaux to take insulin daily to manage his condition.

“I deal with that and play football and that’s what I try and play for — kids that get affected by stuff like that. It doesn’t mean that your dreams are over,” Mondeaux said.

“I’ve got to make sure that I know everything that’s going into my body especially even more with my condition,” he said. “So I’d say that’s the toughest part, maintaining my weight and all that.”

The former Oregon Ducks defensive lineman appeared in 41 games in college which spanned four seasons. He had 111 total tackles, 10 sacks, and two fumble recoveries. His senior season was his most productive with 45 total tackles, six for loss, five sacks and one fumble recovery.

His productive college career landed him with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2018. Mondeaux could not crack the final Saints roster and remained a street free agent until December 31 when he was signed to the team’s practice squad.

On February 1, Mondeaux was signed to fill out the Kansas City Chiefs 90-man roster. He lasted just over three months and was cut before the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp. The move cleared the way for him to compete in the Steelers’ minicamp.

On his third team in over a year, it does not bode well for Mondeaux but the others vying for the position are not guaranteed of the final spot and are not household names. Buggs may have a leg up at this stage because of his draft pedigree but he is assured of nothing. Steelers fans know that sixth-round picks are not guaranteed roster spots.

During the Kevin Colbert era, there have been plenty of sixth rounders who have failed to land a spot on the final 53-man roster. According to Pro Football Reference, over a quarter of the Steelers sixth rounders do not make it into the regular season.

Camp body? Or legitimate 53-man roster contender?

My 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers UDFA sleeper pick for the 53-man roster

My sleeper pick for the UDFA player with the best chance to make the Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 roster is former WVU S Dravon Askew-Henry.

What once was quite rare has now become commonplace across the NFL landscape. A vital aspect of team building for any successful NFL franchise. Priority undrafted free agents are more important than ever. Since the NFL implemented the current seven round format in 1994, more talented players with pro potential go undrafted than in prior years. Therefore, it is not a big surprise that each year undrafted players across the league not only earn spots on practice squads, but often on NFL rosters.

The league imposed salary cap, coupled with the constantly growing salaries of established veteran talent, makes it imperative that each team fills out the back half of their rosters with a cheaper alternative. That’s where the importance of UDFA’s reveals itself.

Teams with great depth at all positions are a thing of the past. Teams with solid depth across the board are now younger teams with an inordinate number of individuals still playing under their rookie contracts. This makes talent evaluations even more important, and also requires a good bit of luck. Not only do you have to nail your draft across the board, but those players need to be able to gel almost instantly and have success as a team right out of the box. Easy to say, much harder to do. This has become the accepted plan for success for many franchises because the window of opportunity is rapidly closing. Before you know it you have a roster full of established veterans just waiting to get paid. Roster turnover is unavoidable.

Some positions are much easier to fill with UDFA’s than others. Finding a starting QB utilizing this method would be the equivalent of a Bigfoot or unicorn sighting. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but I will believe it when I see it. However, finding a running back or offensive lineman with starting potential is much more common.

Last season UDFA LB Ola Adeniyi seemed destined to make an impact. His game and body type instantly brought to mind memories of a young James Harrison, and his preseason performance did nothing to dispel those notions. He was a young, inexpensive option at an area of need. After a perfectly timed stint on the injured list, he eventually made the active roster and actually saw a few minutes of live action. His rookie season had to be considered a success for a UDFA. Bigger expectations can be assumed for his sophomore campaign.

So who will be this seasons UDFA with the best chance to make the active roster at some point this season? My sleeper pick is former WVU S Dravon Askew-Henry. There are a multitude of other talented possibilities at the moment, but I feel Askew-Henry is the best option at the biggest area of need. Tight end could be argued as the biggest area of need, but at least the Steelers selected a TE in the draft this season. Safety was not addressed at any point in this draft class, or free agency for that matter. A few UDFA safeties have been brought in since the draft, but Askew-Henry appears to be the best option at free safety.

Askew-Henry is a natural free safety. He is a high effort player who has developed a lot of bad habits. That often happens when the talent surrounding you is severely limited. You try to do too much to overcome the shortcomings of your teammates and lose your defensive integrity. This resulted in plenty of bad angles, both against the run and in coverage. It also slowed his play recognition and reaction time. I don’t believe this was a indictment on his instincts, which I believe to be adequate.

Askew-Henry was asked to fill like a LB and cover like a CB for WVU’s undersized gimmicky 3-3-5 defense, and he did it all to the best of his ability. He has decent size and speed for a free safety, having run a 4.52 forty at his pro day. He was brought in for a predraft visit, unofficial because he was considered a local prospect, but obviously the interest was mutual. Another player from this year’s additions who is thrilled to be a Steeler. I don’t know about you, but I am starting to notice a trend.

So now my sleeper pick has been made known. Who do you consider from this group of UDFA’s to have the best opportunity to make an impact? Please vote and explain your pick in the comments below. This should be interesting. As always, Go Steelers!

Steelers have Game of Thrones fever prior to the series finale

Devoted Game of Thrones fan Cam Heyward asks Mike Tomlin the tough questions ahead of the final show of the popular TV drama

For fans of the popular TV show Game of Thrones, Sunday night represented the final episode of the worldwide hit drama that first aired in 2011. And for those who have never seen it, the end of the constant talk about a program that has dominated the entertainment headlines over the past few months.

Game of Thrones fever is everywhere these days and it would appear that there are several members of the Pittsburgh Steelers who have been caught up in the drama as well. Those who follow Cam Heyward on social media will already know that he is a big fan of the HBO show, frequently tweeting about each episode and offering his thoughts about what might happen next, as does Vince Williams.

Mike Tomlin would also reveal himself as a “Game of Thrones guy” when talking to the media at the end of a practice session last week.

The final few episodes of the show have been met with dissatisfaction in some quarters, with a section of the show’s fans dismayed about the endings given to some of the characters. Heyward among those voicing his displeasure with certain scenes on social media.

And for those wondering how Tomlin might have felt about the twists and turns the plot has taken as of late, the edited video the team’s media department tweeted out on Sunday provided a rare insight into the thoughts of the head coach, thanks in part to the assistance of super fan Heyward.

Meanwhile, players like Anthony Chickillo and Josh Dobbs were meeting up at the Hyde Park restaurant in Pittsburgh to watch the show together with some of their teammates, presumably also enjoying some prime steaks at the same time.

There will be no spoilers in this piece, mainly because I have not seen the final episode yet, but if I am rooting for one character over any other (barring Arya of course), it would have to be for Jon Snow. And not just because he is wearing a Steelers hat in the photograph below. Well, maybe a little bit because of that …

It’s great to see so much peace, love and warmth emanating from the Steelers these days

The Steelers seem like a much happier bunch following the offseason departures of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Coincidence? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Remember when the Pittsburgh Steelers were a circus? It seems like only yesterday, right?

Maybe that’s because it wasn’t so long ago that Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell were the stars of just about every headline related to the Steelers. Even after they left, they were still making noise, at least as it pertained to the shade they were throwing on their former team—namely, the general manager, head coach and quarterback.

It really wasn’t that long ago that I was defending the Steelers on social media while arguing with people—mostly non-fans who supported other franchises—who were laughing at the perceived circus/Dumpster fire/you name it they thought the team had become.

But it’s amazing the difference one day (or a few weeks) can make when changing the perception of a football team.

Maybe it’s my imagination, but don’t the Steelers seem more loving these days? Don’t they seem more joyous? A lot happier? A lot closer?

Instead of negative quotes, images and videos on social media, you’re seeing players yukking it up on the dance floor at Ryan Shazier’s wedding (speaking of joyous, heartwarming and dancing, has there been a better sight in recent weeks than that of Shazier dancing at his own wedding)? Negative rap songs by disgruntled former Steeler running backs have been replaced by terrible singing by happy current linebackers and receivers such as Anthony Chickillo and Ryan Switzer, respectively. Speaking of Switzer, he was recently spotted, along with B.J. Finney, dancing with sick kids at Children’s Hospital’s annual prom. Defensive end Cameron Heyward just celebrated his 30th birthday by hosting kids at his annual “Heyward House Birthday Bash.” Pittsburgh’s defenders were recently in the news for having a spirited cook-off won by defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Ben Roethlisberger just made headlines for inviting his skill position players down to his summer home in Georgia (before you say it, I know he does this with his teammates every year). Alejandro Villanueva and T.J. Watt, a left tackle and a linebacker he probably has to block a lot at training camp, recently went fishing together.

And, last but not least, receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster just continues to do many wonderful things with the world.

Yes, seeing the players so close-knit and happy is wonderful, even if this is behavior they most likely have engaged in in the past (see Roethlisberger’s annual get-togethers with teammates at his summer home). Unfortunately, perception is reality, and with Brown and Bell hogging most of the recent Steelers headlines, there simply wasn’t much oxygen left to allow the good news to emanate from the locker room.

Maybe that’s what head coach Mike Tomlin was trying to convey recently with his “cleansing” comment regarding the departures of both Brown and Bell.

Does this cleansing—this clearing out of all the stuffy, negative air—mean the Steelers will win a championship in 2019? It’s obviously impossible to tell. However, when you see Brown in the headlines for saying goodbye to the murals at his old Pittsburgh home, it makes you realize how, well, “unique” he may have been to deal with in the Steelers locker room. When you see Bell still in the news for perhaps not being fully embraced by new Jets’ head coach Adam Gase, you wonder if controversy will forever be a part of his career (although, in all fairness, it’s kind of hard to blame Le’Veon for that one).

To paraphrase Tomlin regarding Brown’s insubordinate behavior that often included being late to meetings: “We will tolerate his behavior until his play on the field dictates that we shouldn’t.” Obviously, Brown is still very much at the top of his game. And even though he hasn’t played a down since 2017, Bell likely is, too. But this doesn’t mean championships can’t be won without them.

Legendary actor Marlon Brando was notorious for being hard to work with. Same for current actor Christian Bale, who is considered to be one of the most talented at his craft. But that doesn’t mean great movies couldn’t be made without them—Titanic was still a great film, even without Bale, who was in the running to play Jack Dawson before Leo grabbed the part.

Again, the love and joy that has seemingly overtaken the locker room on the South Side may not lead to a title—plenty of close-knit teams come up short every year. But if it does, it sure will make for a great narrative for a future America’s Game film involving the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Win a free JuJu Smith-Schuster Pittsburgh Steelers Jersey through BTSC

If you have a phone, Twitter, and imagination, a brand-new JuJu jersey could be all yours.

BTSC is holding a contest for a free Nike replica JuJu Smith-Schuster jersey in the size of the winners choice (from adult sizes small to 3XL). The contest is going to run on Twitter, so if you do not have a Twitter account or are not following Behind The Steel Curtain, get going on these items first. To enter, the next step is to create a short video of a possible touchdown celebration JuJu Smith-Schuster could use for the 2019 season. Creativity and enthusiasm are obviously key ingredients for a successful video, but my opinion of your celebration is irrelevant. The true judges of this contest will be the Twitter-verse.

Here are a few guidelines: Entrants must be at least 18 years old and following BTSC (@btsteelcurtain) on Twitter. Participants in the video may be of any age, but the original tweet must be submitted by someone 18 years or older. So if you are under 18, make sure you have a parent tweet your video for you. The video should be no longer than 20 seconds and should introduce the name of the touchdown celebration before giving a demonstration.

Once you have your video ready, the next step is to tune in to the Steelers Preview podcast live on YouTube around 9 PM Thursday evening (May 23). During the show, we will announce the hashtag which must accompany the original tweet in order to enter the contest. Along with the given hashtag, make sure you tag BTSC in the tweet @btsteelcurtain. If you are unable to watch the broadcast live, it can still be viewed on YouTube or any of the audio platforms BTSC podcasts can be found. Additionally, check BTSC’s Twitter feed as we will tweet out the hashtag at some point after the live broadcast.

Once your video is posted to Twitter with the proper hashtag, you are officially entered into the contest! The winner will be determined by who receives the most likes on the original post by the end of the contest at 10PM on Wednesday, May 29. Additionally, If JuJu likes your video, you will receive an extra one million likes towards your score! So if your video is liked by @TeamJuJu, it will have the overwhelming advantage over all other submissions unless JuJu likes multiple videos.

Once your video is up and going, it is up to you to promote it the best you can. Retweet it as much as you want to gather likes. Make sure you do not create a new tweet with the same video because the likes will not be compiled. Only likes from original tweets (not replies) will count towards your score.

So there you have it. Get working on those videos and tune in to YouTube Thursday night for the Steelers Preview. If there are any questions regarding the contest, please email me at [email protected]

Podcast: Devin Bush and company finally hit the field at rookie minicamp

In the latest episode of “The Standard is the Standard” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold from the week that was.

The Pittsburgh Steelers season is over, but the news is just starting to heat up. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers, including a fun game of “True or False!”

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Talking expectations for Ben Roethlisberger in 2019
  • The Steelers’ skill players heading to Georgia with Big Ben
  • Six pack of Steelers Question
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: Can the Steelers’ kickers have a bounce back season, or just more of the same?

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With the 2019 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 season is fast approaching, and the news surrounding the black-and-gold is far from over. As the team now turns their attention to more offseason workouts, OTAs and minicamp, there is no shortage of news.

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at whether 2019 will be a different year for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ specialists, Chris Boswell and Jordan Berry, or if their dreadful career paths will continue.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers’ kickers was awful last season. There is no better way of putting it, but can fans expect a bounce back season from Boswell and Berry? Or maybe they won’t even make the team?

Analysis: Special teams jobs up for grabs?

By: Dale Lolley, DKPittsburghSports

Typically, the focus on a football team in terms of position battles is on the offense and defense. Special teams are largely an afterthought.

But anyone who watched a single Steelers game in 2018 knows this team had issues aplenty with their special teams performances, most notably at placekicker.

That’s why starting Tuesday, when the Steelers open Phase 3 of their OTAs, there will be a lot of attention on the special teams units.

We’ll take a look at the special teams battles and what to look for as they are set to begin. We’ll do these in order of significance, with the most pressing battles listed first…

To read the full article, click HERE

  • One of the biggest question marks on the Steelers’ offensive roster is at the tight end position. Who will actually be the depth behind Vance McDonald?

Steelers OTA preview: Who is behind Vance McDonald at tight end?

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Today: Tight end

Who’s back: Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Christian Scotland-Williamson*

*International player/roster exemption

After battling injuries in 2017, McDonald made 14 starts last year and played in all but one game. Not surprisingly, he set career highs with 50 catches and 610 yards while tying a personal best with four touchdowns. He returns as the starter. As he begins his fourth season with the Steelers, Grimble enters OTAs as the backup for the first time in his career. Scotland-Williamson is entering his second year as part of the NFL’s International Pathway Program and doesn’t count against the offseason roster limit.

Who’s gone: Jesse James, Bucky Hodges, Jake McGee, Ryan Malleck

To read the full article, click HERE

  • A pretty big name country music star was in town recently, and he paid the Steelers a visit.

Brooks: ‘I like the people here’

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

“Where I was from everybody was a Dallas Cowboys fan,” said Garth Brooks, who is from Oklahoma. “If I am going to go against the grain, the two teams going against Dallas at that point were the Washington Redskins and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh had (Jack) Lambert and (Jack) Ham. If you are a little kid and see those guys, that’s who you want to be.”

His love of all Pittsburgh sports teams grew through the years, as did his friendship with players, from Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Keisel, to newcomers like Mason Rudolph and James Washington, who both played at Oklahoma State.

“I’m in love with Ben Roethlisberger,” said Brooks. “He’s my guy. Any time I get down, I look in the mirror and say, ‘I am Ben Roethlisberger.’

“Ben always told me the difference between this city and others is that they expect you to get up here. If you get knocked on your (butt) you’re in the game, which means you’re living.

“I think that’s why I like Ben. I like the people here. They’re the kind of people I want to be.

“Keisel might be one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met. Thank God that God put a sweet soul in a man that size. He is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, at the same time one of the most feared guys I have ever seen. You put him around children, and he becomes this teddy bear. That’s the kind of guy I want to be around. It’s pretty cool.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • If you live in the Pittsburgh area, and you have a small child, this is a football camp you might want to attend.

Roethlisberger to conduct 11th annual youth football camp

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Roethlisberger’s 11th annual event will take place June 16 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. The last day of mandatory minicamp — the final football work until training camp — for the Steelers is June 13.

The camp, which runs from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., is open to boys and girls in grades one through eight.

Camp attendees will be taught fundamental football skills and will have a chance to interact with Roethlisberger, who is entering his 16th season with the Steelers. Participants will receive a limited-edition T-shirt, a mouth guard, a souvenir autograph and a team photo with Roethlisberger.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Georgia golf club creates practice field for Ben Roethlisberger to use with teammates

Thanks in part to the efforts of his local golf club, Ben Roethlisberger has been training with his teammates while in Georgia.

While Ben Roethlisberger and some of his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates have been enjoying time together at his lake house in Georgia, it seems they have also had a chance to do some training as well.

In previous years, Roethlisberger had used the training facilities at the University of Georgia for these offseason sessions when at his lake house, but this time around, Big Ben was able to find somewhere a little closer to home to accommodate him and his teammates. Using a brand new practice field made especially for them by the kind people at Reynolds Lake Oconee golf club, the group was able to hold a workout at a place that would figure to be just a short boat ride away from Roethlisberger’s lake house.

Nicknamed Heinz Field South, credit for the field belongs to course Assistant Superintendent Justin Miller and 2nd Assistant Superintendent Logan Larmour, with the later the one we have to thank for all the images of their fantastic creation.

Given that Miller and Larmour must logically spend the bulk of their working lives making sure that the pristine courses at Lake Oconee always look their best, it is perhaps unsurprising to note how immaculate the 60-yard practice field looks. Roethlisberger was certainly appreciative of the efforts of his local golf club.