First call: Another inside candidate gets an interview with the Steelers’ 2nd general manager;  Mike Tomlin applauds Raven’s retirement

First call: Another inside candidate gets an interview with the Steelers’ 2nd general manager; Mike Tomlin applauds Raven’s retirement

Friday’s “First Call” features an update on interviews with the Pittsburgh Steelers general manager. We also take a look at the franchise’s offseason to-do list. Mike Tomlin pays tribute to a retiring Baltimore Raven. And an ex-Penguin plays a role in St. Louis’ victory at Colorado on Thursday night.


Keeping it in-house (part 2)

After giving a second interview to vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan, the Steelers took a second look at another internal candidate to replace Kevin Colbert as general manager.

The organization announced Thursday that Director of Professional Scouting Brandon Hunt had secured a second interview.

Hunt has been with the Steelers since 2010. He interviewed for the opening general manager of the Raiders this year. The Bills and Eagles also told him about various front office openings in their organizations.

A Pitt product, Upper St. Clair graduate and former Bills general manager, Doug Whaley was also interviewed twice. The same goes for Buccaneers vice president of player personnel John Spytek, Eagles vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl and Titans vice president of player personnel Ryan Cowden.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler says the process may finally be coming to an end.

Colbert has led the Steelers front office since 2000.


What’s left to do

Each time someone takes over from Colbert, he will have a lot to do.

NFL.com’s Marc Sessler listed one major offseason priority for every NFL team. For the Steelers, in his view, it’s all about finding passing depth.

“Pittsburgh’s offense (offensive) overhaul is underway, but roster holes remain on the other side of the ball,” Sessler wrote. “The Steelers are slim at outside linebacker beyond TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith. Should either run out of time, the Steelers won’t be able to count on Genard Avery or Derrek Tuszka to fill the void. It’s a tough time of year to find help, but cuts to camps could provide an answer. The Steelers specialize in filling gaps with chip-on-the-shoulder veterans.

Like Melvin Ingram, right? It worked very well.

But that doesn’t mean the Steelers shouldn’t try again. Sessler is right. The position needs to be strengthened. The front office just needs to find the right personality this year. Ingram was clearly not that guy in 2021.

I would also say that finding a similar backup type is just as difficult. But the most crucial issue for the team to figure out at this point is what’s going on with Stephon Tuitt.

They need to make that decision, as well as make an appeal on what to do with contract extensions for Diontae Johnson and Minkah Fitzpatrick.


Tomlin’s cap tip

Of all the things swirling around the Steelers’ rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens, one thing that may not move the needle is a punter’s retirement.

But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin certainly took note of the development on Thursday.

Longtime Ravens punter Sam Koch has announced his retirement after 16 years in the NFL. He will immediately join the Baltimore coaching staff as a special teams consultant.

Tomlin took to Twitter to congratulate Koch on his fine career.

In every press conference Tomlin conducted before a Ravens game, he always took the time to praise Baltimore’s special teams units, Koch and kicker Jason Tucker in particular.

Koch was on the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII team. He was a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro in 2015.


The other side of the coin

Much has been made of the Immaculate Reception Celebration taking place at Heinz Field on Christmas Eve. NFL schedulers and the Steelers have come together to bring the Raiders to Pittsburgh for the 50th anniversary of this event.

But it turns out the Steelers are going to have to endure another anniversary celebration starting this year – one that Black and Gold fans won’t enjoy as much.

As the folks at Steelers Depot found out, Sunday night’s Oct. 23 prime-time game in Miami is going to be a celebration of the Dolphins’ undefeated campaign in 1972. They beat the Steelers in the championship game of the AFC that year, a week after the Steelers dispatched the Raiders via the Immaculate Reception.

According to a podcast with NBC Sports football writer Peter King, NFL programming executives Mike North and Howard Katz said they spoke to the Dolphins in advance about setting up this game to be a special anniversary for the accomplishment of the 1972 team.

The Steelers were already destined to play in Miami due to the NFL’s scheduling formula, it was just a matter of when and what time.


Ancient Penguin in play

The St. Louis Blues tied their second-round playoff series with the Colorado Avalanche in game apiece. They won Thursday’s Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals 4-1.

Ex-Penguin David Perron scored two of the goals. The first was on a 5-on-3 power play.

Wow. Some teams actually score with a two-man advantage. It’s allowed ? Who knew?

Perron also scored in that two-on-one.

It was Perron’s 10th point in the playoffs. Gibsonia’s Brandon Saad added a goal into an empty net. Game 3 is in St. Louis on Saturday.

Tim Benz is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless otherwise specified.

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