First call: Minkah Fitzpatrick wanted a fifth-year option for the Steelers teammate; Gerrit Cole’s awkward Spider Tack response

Wednesday’s “first call” features interesting comments from Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on some recent front office decisions. Gerrit Cole gives a bizarre explanation about Spider Tack. Levon Kirkland sees himself a lot in a potential star linebacker in the NFL. And yet another entertaining game in the west between the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights.

Minkah makes his thoughts known

Ahead of the draft, Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick insisted he didn’t want to pressure the team’s front office to pick fellow Alabama Najee Harris with the first-round pick of the organization.

But he gave the running back a strong endorsement.

Now that both players are in the same locker room in Pittsburgh, Fitzpatrick sings Harris’ praises again.

“He’s a great player, and I expect him to be,” Fitzpatrick said Tuesday after OTA practice. “He’s a tough guy, an athletic guy. He quickly comes out of the backfield. He was picked (in the first round) by the Steelers for a reason.

Fitzpatrick was also happy that the Steelers brass picked his fifth-year option during the offseason.

However, Fitzpatrick wasn’t so thrilled with the franchise’s decision to retain a fifth-year option over former No.1 draft pick Terrell Edmunds. The former Virginia Tech Hokie has been Fitzpatrick’s safety partner since the Steelers acquired Fitzpatrick via trade from the Miami Dolphins in early 2019.

“It’s part of the game. I wish they would,” Fitzpatrick replied when asked about his reaction to the Steelers’ decision on Edmunds. “He’s a great player. I love to play with him. What must happen will happen. It’s up to the people above. We’re going to go out this season and play our best.

I think Edmunds is doing his best every game. His effort should never be called into question. I wonder though if his best is good enough for the money he would order after this season.

I understand why the Steelers did what they did with Edmunds. It is good. Not great. But that’s yet another hole to be filled on defense during next year’s offseason when plenty of leaks will need to be plugged.

i can see it like that

During the NFL draft season, many Steelers fans fell in love with Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins.

He’s often been described as a guy who could have thrived into a “Levon Kirkland” type inside linebacker. Large. Strong. And athletic enough to cover well. It is also believed that Collins could bump into the edge and rush the passer when needed.

Kirkland went the other way. He went from 240 pounds to Clemson when he played outside and ended up playing indoors at an All-Pro level at 275 pounds.

Collins (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) went to the No. 16 pick in the Arizona Cardinals’ first round, eight spots before the Steelers selected Alabama running back Najee Harris.

During Tuesday’s Breakfast with Benz podcast, Kirkland told us he knows Collins and enjoys comparisons.

“He’s explosive. If you make him understand the position of the inside linebacker – being able to use your eyes a little more instead of your athletic abilities, then it can probably work. Especially if he can lower the coverage, ”Kirkland said.

Cardinals signed Collins Tuesday. He will earn $ 14.7 million ($ 8 million signing bonus) on his four-year contract. The Cardinals also have a fifth-year option for 2025.

Repeat that?

Former pirate launcher Gerrit Cole was directly requested if he had used Spider Tack to have better grip on the ball.

the Athletics recently reported that Major League Baseball study the substance that greatly increases pitching turnover rates.

His answer was… awkward.

After a long pause, Cole stammered the next soliloquy in which he didn’t deny – or confirm – that he was using Spider Tack, which would be easy to hide when a pitcher is on the mound.

“I don’t know if – I’m not sure how to answer that to be honest,” Cole said on Tuesday. “There are customs and practices that have been passed down from older players to younger players, from the latest generation of players to this generation of players, and I think there are some things that are certainly prohibited in this regard and I have been quite firm about this and regarding our communications among our peers and so on. “

If that sounds curvy to you, wait until you see the video with it.

Wow. I thought the Zoom connection got stuck for a minute.

The internet had fun with this answer. Like it should be.

MLB recently suspended four minor league pitchers for using illegal substances.

Cole allowed five runs in five innings against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson made the connection and said there was a connection between those suspensions and why Cole’s turnover rate plummeted during this start.

“Is it a coincidence that Gerrit Cole’s turnover rate dropped after four Minor Leaguers were suspended for 10 games?” Donaldson said. “Is that possible? I don’t know. Maybe. At the same time, with this situation, they let the guys do it.

I have an answer for that.

Exactly, Chuck. It doesn’t matter what you say.


We saw another very entertaining game between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night in the second round of the West Division. And once again, Gibsonia’s Brandon Saad and former Penguins goaltender Marc-André Fleury were at the center.

Saad opened the scoring at the end of the first period by throwing this shot towards the net of Fleury. And one way or another, Fleury misinterpreted it in purpose.

It was Saad’s seventh goal in his last eight games. He had 15 during the entire regular season. Colorado would score another goal in the second period. But the Knights recovered to tie it at 2-2 before settlement ended, Fleury keeping them in, making some sprawling saves, and even one with his mask on.

Then, Mark Stone won it in just 50 seconds after the start of extra time for the Knights, after the Avs had a glorious chance 30 seconds earlier.

The Golden Knights won the game 3-2. And they also lead the series 3-2 with a chance to eliminate the Avalanche in Las Vegas on Thursday night. Fleury made 28 stops in the evening.

Tim Benz is an editor for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tim at or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication, unless otherwise specified.


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