Highlighting Patriots-Steelers connections

Each week, we use this space to highlight connections between the New England Patriots' upcoming opponent and the organization. As of early this week, we were anticipating the return of former punter Zoltan Mesko, signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers after being released at the end of the preseason. On Tuesday, he was waived by Pittsburgh after struggling during the season’s first half.

Passing along other connections of note.

Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders hasn’t played a snap as a Patriot, but he came very close to becoming one, as he signed a one-year offer sheet this past offseason as a restricted free agent. The Patriots agreed to terms on a one-year, $2.5 million offer that the Steelers had seven days to match or else they would receive a Patriots third-round pick. The Steelers matched the offer, and that pick ultimately became safety Duron Harmon.

Steelers offensive-line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. Bicknell has strong areas ties, having played at Boston College and later coaching there. His father, Jack Sr., was the head coach at BC from 1981 to 1990. The younger Bicknell got his coaching start as a graduate assistant at Boston College before later coaching at the University of New Hampshire.