First Call: Another in-house candidate gets 2nd Steelers GM interview; Mike Tomlin applauds retiring Raven

Friday’s “First Call” has an update on the Pittsburgh Steelers general manager interviews. We also get a look at the franchise’s offseason “to do” list. Mike Tomlin pays respect to a retiring Baltimore Raven. And an ex-Penguin plays a role in St. Louis’ win in 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 in-house candidate to replace Kevin Colbert as general manager.

The organization announced Thursday that pro scouting director Brandon Hunt received a second interview.

Hunt has been with the Steelers since 2010. He interviewed for the Raiders GM opening this year. The Bills and Eagles have also talked to him about various front office openings in their organizations, too.

Pitt product, Upper St. Clair graduate and ex-Bills GM Doug Whaley also interviewed twice. So has 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 be finally coming to a close.

Colbert has led the Steelers front office since 2000.

What’s left to do

Whenever someone does take over for Colbert, they’ll have a lot on their plate.

Marc Sessler of NFL.com came up with a list of one major offseason priority for every NFL team to address. For the Steelers, in his opinion, it’s finding pass-rushing depth.

“The overhaul of Pittsburgh’s (offensive) attack is underway, but roster holes remain on the other side of the ball,” Sessler wrote. “The Steelers are paper thin at outside linebacker beyond T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Were either to miss time, the Steelers can’t count on Genard Avery or Derrek Tuszka to fill the gap. It’s a tough time of year to find help, but camp cuts could bring an answer. The Steelers specialize at filling gaps with chip-on-their-shoulder veterans.”

Like Melvin Ingram, right? That worked out great.

But that doesn’t mean the Steelers shouldn’t try again. Sessler’s right. The position must be bolstered. The front office just needs to find the right personality this year. Ingram clearly wasn’t that guy in 2021.

I’d also argue that finding a similar kind of backup running back is just as big of a challenge. But the most crucial issue for the team to figure out at this point is what is going on with Stephon Tuitt.

They have to make that determination, as well as make a call on what to do with contract extensions for Diontae Johnson and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Tip of Tomlin’s cap

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

But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin certainly took notice of that development Thursday.

Long-time Ravens punter Sam Koch announced his retirement after 16 years in the NFL. He is immediately going to jump on the Baltimore coaching staff as a special teams consultant.

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

During every press conference Tomlin has conducted in advance of a Ravens game, he has always taken time to throw a great deal of praise at the Baltimore special teams units, Koch and kicker Jason Tucker especially.

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

Other side of the coin

A lot has been made about the celebration of the Immaculate Reception that will take place at Heinz Field on Christmas Eve. The NFL schedule makers and the Steelers came together on that one to get the Raiders to Pittsburgh for the 50th anniversary of that event.

But as it turns out, the Steelers are going to have to endure another anniversary celebration from that year — one that Black and Gold fans aren’t going to enjoy quite as much.

As the folks at Steelers Depot unearthed, the Sunday Night primetime game on Oct. 23 in Miami is going to be a celebration of the Dolphins’ unbeaten 1972 campaign. They beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game 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 scheduling executives Mike North and Howard Katz said they talked to the Dolphins ahead of time about having that game set up to be an anniversary special for the ’72 team’s accomplishment.

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

Former Penguin in play

The St. Louis Blues tied their second-round playoff series with the Colorado Avalanche at game apiece. They won Thursday’s Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal 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. That’s allowed? Who knew?

Perron also scored on this two-on-one.

That was Perron’s 10th point of the postseason. Gibsonia’s Brandon Saad added an empty-net goal. Game 3 is in St. Louis on Saturday.

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

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