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Asked and Answered: Aug. 31

Posted Aug 31, 2017

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

Let’s get to it:

TOM WILHITE FROM NEWBURGH, IN:
Do you think the offensive line will be better than last year in protecting Ben Roethlisberger? How high up on their priority list is that to the Steelers compared to prioritizing other positions that have been weak spots on the team?

ANSWER: What are you talking about? The Steelers offensive line is made up of two No. 1 picks – Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro – and No. 2 pick Marcus Gilbert. Al Villanueva was just signed to a four-year contract even though he was only an exclusive rights free agent, and therefore had absolutely no bargaining power. Pouncey and DeCastro both have been voted All-Pro, and don’t mistake being an All-Pro with going to the Pro Bowl.

Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 17 times on 509 pass attempts last season, and the sack total was the lowest of his career. As a team, the Steelers allowed 21 sacks on 596 pass attempts, and those 21 sacks allowed were the second-fewest in the NFL last season, with only Oakland’s 18 sacks allowed being fewer.

If the Steelers were as good at every position as they are along the offensive line, they would win the Super Bowl.

ROB WEST FROM FOUR OAKS, NC:
It seemed to me that the Steelers were very aggressive-minded when it came to two-point conversions two seasons ago, and it served them well. Then last season, they took a more traditional approach. Any sense of what this season will bring in terms of the two-point conversion, and why would they change it up last year when it had worked so well before?

ANSWER: It was all about the available personnel, in my opinion. The season in which the Steelers attempted 11 two-point conversions, they had Martavis Bryant, a healthy Markus Wheaton, and Heath Miller at tight end. Last season, they had none of those components.

JOSEPH PORTER FROM NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ:
In an interview not too long ago, Jack Ham noted that having one really good defensive back (like Mel Blount) really helps a defense because that player can do special things and take pressure off the other defensive players. In looking back over the best Steelers defenses, they seem to coincide with the presence of Blount, Woodson, and Polamalu supporting Ham's view. Are there any current players who can fill this role for the 2017 Steelers?

ANSWER: In my opinion, the most dynamic defensive player the Steelers have currently is Ryan Shazier. I understand that Shazier is a linebacker and not a defensive back, but with the way the game is now played on the professional level, linebackers must have coverage ability to be among the elite at the position, and Shazier’s ability to roam the middle of the field and intercept passes is something fow ehich opposing offenses will have to account.

JODY MCMULLEN FROM HASTINGS, PA:
The original group to be inducted into the Hall of Honor is an amazing collection of players, coaches, and management. However, the omission of Troy Polamalu is going to upset many fans. Are you surprised he was not included?

ANSWER: Troy Polamalu is not yet eligible under the rules that players must be retired for three years. Polamalu retired in 2015, with his final NFL season being in 2014, and so he’s not yet eligible.

DAVID MAURO FROM LOVELLS, MI:
No question, just a comment: The video on the announcements of the inductees for the Hall of Honor is a must watch for every Steelers fan.

ANSWER: My contention is that the Hall of Honor serves many purposes, among those being recognizing players, coaches, and contributors from many eras of Steelers history, while also educating fans of all ages about those players, coaches, and contributors. The video does a very nice job of that.

DAVE HAUSER FROM PORT VUE, PA:
I thought the Steelers were inducting all of the Hall of Fame members into their first class of Hall of Honor. Why wasn't Dick LeBeau included, since he went into the Hall of Fame in 2010?

ANSWER: When Dick LeBeau was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was as a player. He played for the Detroit Lions.

ELLIE LAKE FROM LUSBY, MD:
What does the trade for Vance McDonald mean for Jesse James? Will he still be the starting tight end?

ANSWER: I don’t know that Vance McDonald was brought in to start at tight end, and asking him to do so right away would be unfair. McDonald was with the 49ers at the time of the trade, which meant he was on the West Coast. Because he had to travel, I doubt very strongly that McDonald would be able to practice even once before rosters have to be cut to 53 players by 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2. Still, the Steelers made the trade for a reason, and my guess is that the trade will turn out to be bad news for Jesse James, Xavier Grimble, or David Johnson unless they decide to keep four tight ends this time around. And even if the Steelers do keep four tight ends on the roster, somebody’s playing time will be impacted negatively.

ERIC SMITH FROM ORANGE, CT:
Which players on the roster are eligible for the practice squad?

ANSWER: A complete listing of the practice squad eligible players was included in the Aug. 10 installment of Asked and Answered. That installment is archived on Steelers.com, as are all installments of Asked and Answered.

PAUL DONEN FROM DEERFIELD BEACH, FL:
If the Steelers decide to sign one of their drafted or undrafted players who have participated in training camp and the preseason onto the practice squad, would the player have to clear waivers?

ANSWER: Yes.

DAVID PALMER FROM PITTSBURGH, PA:
I read where you mentioned that Senquez Golson has a chance to be designated to the practice squad. Given he is unlikely to be one of the six cornerbacks who make the team, why would the Steelers not put him on the practice squad? What do they stand to lose?

ANSWER: If Senquez Golson is injured and cannot practice, it makes no sense to put him on the practice squad..

ROBERT RICHARDSON FROM MODESTO, CA:
With the Steelers cuts coming up who in the organization tells the player the quest is over?

ANSWER: It’s usually either General Manager Kevin Colbert or Coach Mike Tomlin.

JIM WOLFE FROM ARLINGTON, TN:
If a player is cut by a team and he still has remaining years on an existing contract does a team that wants to pick him up have to use that existing contract like with a trade?

ANSWER: If the player in question is subject to waivers, and a team claims him off waivers, then that team must assume his contract. If the player is a vested veteran and is cut, his contract is voided, and he and teams are free to negotiate new terms. If you’re referring to Joe Haden, he is a vested veteran, and so his contract with the Browns was voided when he was cut by the Browns.

DAN GUTHRIE FROM UNION, OH:
In terms of the rule about the defense being able to contact receivers within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, does that mean 5 yards from the original line of scrimmage, or does that arbitrary line move with the offensive line?

ANSWER: It’s 5 yards beyond wherever the ball was snapped on that particular play.

BOB KELLY FROM KAILUA, HI:
I just moved to the island of Oahu from Ohio (how's that for a brag)? I'm having trouble finding a reliable list of Steelers bars out here. One list told me to go to a place that was actually a Raiders bar. Gross. Help?

ANSWER: Ohio to Hawaii is hitting the geographic lottery, for sure. I ran your question past Steelers Nation Unite and was told there is nothing on Oahu in the way of a Steelers bar. I’m putting this out there into cyberspace in case someone in Steelers Nation might have something to share that might help you out.

BILL DIIANNI FROM KERNERSVILLE, NC:
Last week’s game against the Colts seemed eerily similar to last year, with the offense moving into the red zone and then settling for field goals. Your thoughts?

ANSWER: The Steelers were 1-for-4 in the red zone against Indianapolis, which obviously isn’t good enough. But if they were 4-for-4 in the red zone against Indianapolis, I wouldn’t believe that all of their red zone issues had been resolved. My experience is that it’s foolish to get overly excited about what happens in the preseason, good or bad.

MARC BOOKER FROM EAST BRIDGEWATER, MA:
Do you think the Steelers should have signed Darrelle Revis since our secondary is still in question?

ANSWER: Whatever questions hover over the Steelers secondary are not going to be answered by Darrelle Revis.


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