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Asked and Answered: Aug. 24

Posted Aug 24, 2017

Another installment of Bob Labriola answering your questions about the Steelers and the NFL.

Let’s get to it:

ISAAC GREEN FROM MADILL, OK:
Why is Anthony Chickillo in front of Arthur Moats on the depth chart? What am I missing here?

ANSWER: You’re missing a lot. In a recent story written by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Stephon Tuitt said this about Chickillo: “Chick is awesome. He’s a hard-working player. You see it, he does everything 100 percent. Him coming out and making the plays he makes, we’re used to seeing that from him.”

Cam Heyward said, “He’s become a complete pass-rusher. He can do it with his hand in the ground, he can do it standing up. You love the growth he’s shown over the years.”

Beyond the testimonials from teammates, Chickillo has transformed himself from the 285-pound defensive lineman he was in college to a 250-pound outside linebacker for the Steelers. Both Coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Keith Butler have complimented Chickillo since training camp opened, and he did have two sacks against the Atlanta Falcons in the second preseason game after being held out of the preseason opener vs. the Giants. There also is an age consideration, what with Chickillo not turning 25 until December, which means he’s just entering his physical prime.

MIKE ARBAUGH FROM RANDOLPH, OH:
Recently you stated that you believed the Steelers would keep four inside linebackers. Barring injury, do you think they will keep four or five outside linebackers? And if only four, who gets cut, Anthony Chickillo or Arthur Moats?

ANSWER: Whatever else happens, both Anthony Chickillo and Arthur Moats make my 53-man roster.

JANIS GOUGEON FROM STRATFORD, ON
I am relatively new to the NFL. Can you shed light on how the schedule is determined beyond the requisite games with divisional rivals?

ANSWER: The following explanation was taken directly from the website: Operations.NFL.com:

* Every team plays six games against the other three teams in its division, facing off twice per season — once at home and once on the road.

* Every team plays one game against each of the four teams from a division within its conference — two games at home and two on the road. Which division a team plays is determined by a rotation system ensuring that the teams in one division will play the teams in every other division in its conference once every three years.

* Every team plays one game against each of the four teams from a division in the other conference once per season — two games at home and two on the road. These matchups are also determined by a rotation, which ensures that all teams play every team from every division in the other conference once every four years.

* Every team plays its remaining two games against teams from the two remaining divisions in its own conference — one game at home and the other on the road. The matchups are determined by where the teams finished in their divisions in the previous season. For example, a team that finished the previous year in third place in its division will play the third-place teams from the two other divisions in its conference.

JOHN FENNER FROM LITTLE ELM, TX:
I know the Steelers are pretty stacked offensively, but do you think that they would have taken tight end David Njoku in the first round of draft if the Browns didn't jump ahead of us?

ANSWER: In what universe do the Steelers need a tight end more than someone who can provide an outside pass-rush?

MASON CASERTA FROM GRANITE BAY, CA:
With the recent game where James Connor put up 98 rushing yards on 20 carries, what do you think the halfback depth chart will look like in Week 1?

ANSWER: Le’Veon Bell will be No. 1.

BONNIE GONG FROM BELLEVUE, WA:
What do you think of the single roster cut? I would think that it gives those players ultimately cut much less of a chance of making it on another roster.

ANSWER: I admire your sense of fair play, and I do not disagree with your contention, but I choose to view it in another way. By allowing teams to keep 90 players on their rosters through the final preseason game, it allows for more bodies to eat up the snaps in the fourth preseason game, the one I contend is the most meaningless of all.

If teams were permitted to keep 90 players through all four preseason games in 2012, Sean Spence isn’t on the field in the second half against Carolina at Heinz Field, and if Spence wasn’t on the field in the second half against Carolina at Heinz Field, then he doesn’t sustain that severe knee injury. And if Spence doesn’t sustain that severe knee injury in the second half of the fourth preseason game, maybe the Steelers would have had another Ryan Shazier on their hands.

BOB STAUB FROM FORT WAYNE, IN:
I recently heard that NFL teams will carry the entire squad of 90 players until the preseason is over when they have to go down to 53. Am I correct?

ANSWER: Yes, and the deadline for doing that is 4 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Sept. 2.

JAY BALL FROM LITTLE ROCK, AR:
What would be the harm in attempting to place Joshua Dobbs on the practice squad? He would probably clear waivers, and we would be better off holding onto an extra defensive back until we see how that unit shakes out.

ANSWER: And if he doesn’t clear waivers, you’ve just wasted a fourth-round draft pick on a quarterback the team believes can be developed into a competent NFL backup. And rest assured that the 10th or 11th defensive back you end up keeping isn’t as valuable as a No. 3 quarterback. That defensive back is the one you try to get onto the practice squad. Besides, the Steelers keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. That’s the way Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin do it. Always have.

DELA JOHNSON FROM NEWARK, NJ
Can you elaborate on the point of us keeping three quarterbacks on the active roster, especially since only two are in uniform on game day? I would think placing Joshua Dobbs on the practice squad would be a good idea. I don't think he's in any danger of being picked up.

ANSWER: So you don’t “think” Joshua Dobbs would be “in any danger of being picked up” from waivers? What if you’re wrong? What if he is claimed? Then what if one of your top two quarterbacks is injured in the opener, or during a game in September and he’s going to be out several weeks? Are you willing to go through an important stretch of regular season games with only one quarterback on the roster? And if you go out and sign a quarterback after the regular season is underway, you think he’s going to know the offense? The personnel? Football may be the ultimate team sport, but the quarterback is the one player singularly capable of losing the game for his team.

ROBERT RICHARDSON FROM MODESTO, CA:
Do players get free tickets for their friends and family? And if so, how many?

ANSWER: The Collective Bargaining Agreement provides each player on a team’s roster with two complimentary tickets to every home game, plus two complimentary tickets to the Super Bowl. Who gets those tickets is up to the individual player.

JIM WOLFE FROM ARLINGTON, TN:
You answered a recent submission by pointing out that if Le’Veon Bell were to get hurt before he signed his tender that the Steelers could withdraw their offer and would not owe him anything. Would that make him a free agent that any team could sign at any time?

ANSWER: Yes. The same situation – in the form of withdrawing the franchise tender, but not because of injury – happened with Josh Norman, and he left the Carolina Panthers to sign with the Washington Redskins.

MATTHEW POWNALL FROM FORT MYERS, FL:
If a punter kicks the ball and the ball gets tipped by a defender and lands in the hands of the kicking team past the first down marker, does the kicking team get to stay on offense?

ANSWER: When you say the punt is “tipped by a defender,” I’m assuming you mean the punt is partially blocked. Unless a player on the punt return unit touches the ball after it has passed the line of scrimmage, the “recovery” by the kicking team would be the same thing as downing the punt. The receiving team would take over at that spot, with a first-and-10.

DARRAN BOYER FROM BROOKLYN, NY:
Given the recent concussion awareness wave sweeping through the NFL, why do players continually head-butt each other after successful plays as a form of celebration? Shouldn't the players take more responsibility for their own health? Also, shouldn't this be the one celebration the NFL actually outlaws rather than focusing on pretending to shoot a bow-and-arrow or pelvic thrusts?

ANSWER: Pay the man. You make a lot of good points.

HUNTER SHARPE FROM CULLMAN, AL:
How many numbers have been retired in Steelers history? And what number would you retire that hasn't been?

ANSWER: In chronological order, the jersey numbers retired by the Steelers are Ernie Stautner’s No. 70, and Joe Greene’s No. 75. If it were up to me – which it decidedly is not – the next jersey number I would retire is Franco Harris’ No. 32.

DONALD STOLL FROM FORT PIERCE, FL:
The rooms at Saint Vincent College look little better than prison cells. Do students actually live in these rooms?

ANSWER: Comparing them to prison cells is a bit over the top, and there are two students in each of those rooms when school is in session.




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