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Asked and Answered: Jan. 21

Posted Jan 21, 2016

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

Let’s get to it:

D. RAFFAELI FROM ABINGDON, MD:
I'm curious as to why some players who have been injured travel with the team and are on the sidelines during road games – Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski – while there are others in the same situation you don’t see – Maurkice Pouncey, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown?

I asked Coach Mike Tomlin this question for one of the Q&As that regularly appeared on Steelers.com on the day of a game, and this was his answer: “(Decisions are made) on a case-by-case basis, if their presence can be helpful to us in terms of winning the game, I’m a supporter of them coming. If they add no value, then I’m probably not. And I deal with it all on a case-by-case basis. There have been times this year, for example, Kelvin Beachum has traveled with us, maybe because of some of the obscure fronts and things we see in situational ball, so he could be an extra set of eyes for Al Villanueva because Beachum takes a good, professional above-the-neck approach to the game. Shaun Suisham has traveled some this year to be a stabilizing force in assisting some of our young specialists if the environment dictates. The bottom line for me is they have to be useful to us in some form or fashion.”

Another consideration is the nature of the individual’s injury and whether that injury permits travel and an extended time standing around. Maurkice Pouncey and Le’Veon Bell both had surgery on knees/ankles, and Antonio Brown was still in the concussion protocol, and three hours on an airplane isn’t necessarily advisable for people in that situation.

RON TAYLOR FROM WEST POINT, IN:
How long after a playoff loss is it before you can wake up without the painful feeling that they won't win the Super Bowl this year, and you can seriously start wondering what the chances are next year?

Thinking about next year, for me, will come gradually as the process of the offseason gets underway. Once the NFL calendar turns to the Scouting Combine, and then free agency, and then during the whole run-up to the NFL Draft, that’s when I turn the page and start looking seriously at how the roster/team is shaping up for the next season. What always gets to me whenever a season ends – especially in the manner in which 2015 ended – is the realization of how long it’s going to be and how many things will have to happen before the Steelers even can get back to being where they were at the end of the previous season. There are a lot of things on the calendar, and I’m not only referring to the NFL calendar, between now and then.

MIKE GEISSLER FROM ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.:
Is it true that Chris Boswell (a great find) is instructed on most kickoffs to kick the ball as high as possible with the idea that the ball comes down close to the goal line allowing the coverage team to make a play? If so, this appears risky especially given the fact that he has a strong enough leg to kick it out of the end zone. (Off the record: I know the kicker at Rice who came after Boswell who relayed this information.)

Rule No. 1 of Asked and Answered is there is no “off the record,” so I’m wondering if you’re trying to test me with this question, or whether you’re trying to test your anonymous source – who could be unmasked by a simple Google search, by the way. Just saying. Anyway, the Steelers ask for a variety of things on kickoffs, including directional placement of the ball, and getting hang time on kicks to allow the coverage unit the opportunity to make a play. According to VisitAlbuquerque.org, you don’t experience winter as we do up here in the Northeast, and weather conditions are a factor in how far a football travels. The colder it gets, the harder the balls are, the more difficult they are to drive. And there are wind considerations as well. There is no NFL kicker who kicks the ball through the end zone every time – don’t forget, there can be penalties that move the spot of the kickoff back, too. The Steelers don’t instruct Boswell to go for hang-time every time, but if he wants a career in the NFL, he better not be a one-trick pony.

MICHAEL CARLSON FROM BRNO-KRÁLOVO POLE, CZECH REPUBLIC:
Love Asked and Answered and read it faithfully over here. It seems to me that it's not terribly difficult to draft good, not great, wide receivers out of college these days, but there still seem to be a dearth of good cornerbacks in the NFL. Do you think it’s reasonable to turn some of these low-round receivers into cornerbacks? I seem to recall guys like Troy Brown and Julian Edelman playing some cornerback, so I'm guessing the transition isn't out of the question.

Out of the question? No. But not the ideal way to go about it, either. The Patriots used Troy Brown and Julian Edelman as cornerbacks in situations that were close to emergencies. Such a transition for a player could take a couple, three years, especially if the guy has no background playing defense, and a coach who thinks he can depend upon that strategy to build a roster is going to be fired before he is around to reap the fruits of the labor – unless he’s in a situation like Bill Belichick. My personal opinion is that if I needed a cornerback and it was in the sixth round of an NFL Draft, I would pick the best cornerback remaining. I believe I’d have a better shot of him developing into a contributing player than I would of a receiver making the transition. What if the guy doesn’t want to switch from offense to defense?

DELL GRAY FROM UPPER MARLBORO, MD:
If a team lines up to kick an extra point but something happens, like a bad snap, and they get the ball across the goal line, do they still get two points?

Yes. Still two points.

DANIEL TROMBETTA FROM CAMPO GRANDE, BRAZIL:
Love Asked and Answered. I was just wondering how is it going to be with this feature in the offseason? Will it take a break? Thanks a lot for your contribution. Also, I would also like to know where can I buy a 'Salute to Service' jersey of Alejandro Villanueva? I'm in the military and would love to honor him.

The judge was very specific when issuing my sentence: it’s twice a week for Asked and Answered, except when I’m on vacation. Here’s the situation with the ‘Salute to Service’ jerseys: First of all, the promotion is over for the 2015 season. Nike only manufactures a limited number of those style of jerseys for each team, and no blanks are made. That means buyers have to take the numbered jerseys that Nike chooses for each team, and usually Nike chooses the numbers of each team’s more famous/marketable players. Understand that I’m not judging who should be considered famous/marketable for the Steelers, but expect Nike to pick No. 7, No. 84, No. 26, maybe No. 83 for the Steelers. And because Nike won’t manufacture any blank jerseys, those being ones without numbers already stitched on, the Steelers Pro Shop cannot custom-make jerseys for fans. Maybe this changes, but it’s unlikely. My advice would be to check Shop.Steelers.com in late October 2016 for the availability of ‘Salute to Service’ jerseys, because November is ‘Salute to Service’ month. Good luck.

BRIAN ROACH FROM BLACKWOOD, N.J.:
I look forward to these columns each week. My question this time around has to do with the Men's Fantasy Camp the Steelers hold each year. I want to try to go, and so far have not been successful in that attempt. Do you have any knowledge of when the team will make announcements about this year’s camp? Thanks as always for an enjoyable and entertaining read.

Men’s Fantasy Camp will be held from Friday, June 3-Sunday June 5 at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. Registration begins on Tuesday, March 1. Information will be posted on Steelers.com next week, and fans also can call, 412-697-7713, for more information.

MIKE NEWCOMB FROM LUFKIN, TX:
My question comes in the form of a favor that I'm asking of you. Would you please say, ‘Thank You’ to the players, coaches, and everyone associated with the Steelers? I have been a life-long fan of the team and would like them to know their efforts are enjoyed and appreciated. The Steelers have brought my family and me much enjoyment through the years. I'm sorry to bother you as I know you're a busy man, but I know I'll never have the chance to tell the team personally what they have meant to my family and me. Their resilience and character are unmatched in the NFL. Thank you.

I don’t have to do it. You just did it yourself.

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