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Asked and Answered: March 15

Posted Mar 15, 2016

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

Let’s get to it:

JOEL ZOOK FROM WYTHEVILLE, VA:
With the recent signing of tight end Ladarius Green, does that mean Jesse James will have to fight to win the starting job?

ANSWER: This may come off as a criticism of Jesse James, and that is not my intent. But what on earth do you think you saw from James during his rookie season that would compel you to see him as the automatic replacement for Heath Miller as the Steelers’ starting tight end? Does Jesse James have to fight to win the starting job? Jesse James is going to have to fight to win a roster spot, first, and then he’s going to have to fight to win a spot on the game day roster. He’s going to be a second-year pro who entered the league as a fifth-round pick following an OK college career, and there is no way in my mind that Coach Mike Tomlin anoints him a starter. And if the Steelers actually believed James was the present and future answer at the position, they wouldn’t have made signing Ladarius Green the priority it apparently was.

REED MANNING FROM TORRANCE, CA:
Sammie Coates has a lot of potential, but he's buried behind guys who are more useful right now. What do you see the Steelers doing with him in the future?

ANSWER: Based on yesterday’s news that Martavis Bryant was suspended for a year for violating the league’s drug policy, the Steelers aren’t overstocked with wide receivers, nor is Coates “buried” on the team’s depth chart. Fans have too much of a tendency to be impatient, to want to categorize things and people before it’s necessary to do either. In previous installments of Asked and Answered, I have dealt with suggestions to trade Markus Wheaton, to move Coates to tight end, to do all sorts of things in response to a fan’s perception that the Steelers have too many wide receivers. Just when you think you have too many of anything in the NFL, you find you don’t have enough. Feels pretty good now to have Coates on the roster, doesn’t it?

TONY BORRELLI FROM NEW CASTLE, PA:
Lots of great Steelers players are or are becoming eligible for Canton; L.C. Greenwood, Donnie Shell, Alan Faneca, Troy Polamalu, and Hines Ward. The backlog of receivers doesn't bode well for Ward, and the position he played doesn't bode well for Faneca. Undoubtedly, these guys were at the top of the NFL pyramid at their respective positions during their time. Based on your gut feeling, which Steelers player waiting for a bust in Canton will get his name called first?

ANSWER: I often have made the case that L.C. Greenwood deserves to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and so of the names you list I would pick him as the guy who should be elected first. In fact, Greenwood should be the next selection of the Senior Committee and should be elected as part of the Class of 2017. In terms of a guess as to the first among the modern era Steelers you list, my guess – and I emphasize that it’s only a guess – would be Troy Polamalu.

LEE PHILLIPS FROM KNOXVILLE TN:
I just want to start of by saying I love reading your articles. Always informative with just the right amount of sarcasm. My question: is there a limit to the number of times a team can wear they're alternate uniforms? And also something I've wondered is why do the away teams sometimes wear their home uniforms?

ANSWER: There is some leeway for teams pertaining to when they choose to wear their throwback jerseys, but twice per season is generally the maximum. Before the start of each season, the home team in each game is allowed to choose what color jersey it will wear in that game – either white or the approved team color – and then it notifies the visiting team so that it can pack accordingly. We have seen many times early in a season when teams from the South will choose to force the Steelers to wear black jerseys in an effort to make the players as overheated as possible. Dallas, for example, long has chosen to wear its white jerseys at home. It’s not so much a home and road designation as it is either a white jersey or the team’s color.

TIM RICOHERMOSO FROM CHESAPEAKE, VA:
What is your opinion of former USC linebacker Su'a Craven? The reason I ask is that while he played linebacker for the Trojans, many considered him to be a natural safety. If the Steelers draft him as a linebacker, then at some point during his first season, he could be moved to safety, thereby satisfying that segment of Steelers fans who seem convinced that all that separates the team from a seventh Lombardi Trophy is the number of players they believe are playing out of position.

ANSWER: And I get emails accusing me of being a sarcastic wisenheimer.

JAKE RABATIN FROM CHARLES TOWN, WV:
How many chances are the Steelers willing to give Martavis Bryant? Considering the fact that they are fairly flush at the wide receiver position, and that there are quite a few teams that would be willing to take a chance on a proven NFL receiver, why not trade him for perhaps one or two draft picks? Both teams should consider that a win.

ANSWER: If your favorite NFL team traded a draft pick, or two, for a wide receiver who would have failed multiple drug tests and was facing a one-year suspension that will require reinstatement by the Commissioner, you would consider that a win? That’s not true, and you know it. Martavis Bryant is not tradable.

ELIJAH JONES FROM DOVER, DE:
Will the Steelers select a wide receiver or running back in this year’s draft?

ANSWER: I hope not. In my opinion, drafting a player at either of those positions, given the current state of the depth chart at those two positions, would be drafting a guy to cut him.

JUSTIN RYAN FROM DENVER, CO:
I will be the first to admit that I have been critical of General Manager Kevin Colbert's decisions and the Steelers’ philosophy of not going after high-profile free agents, but after watching what is going on with the Denver Broncos, I have a new respect for Colbert the Steelers way of doing business.

ANSWER: It’s hard to be a Steelers fan in March, which generally is the start of the silly season known as free agency.

DENNIS BYERS from LAKE WORTH, FL:
A 40-plus year high school football coach here. I do enjoy your knowledge and the way you express it.  It is always interesting to me how fans do not understand that the Steelers have a plan, and it works most of the time.  No plan works all of the time.  Look at the Browns if you want to see no plan.  I don't love the Patriots, but they have a plan.  The reason the Steelers are successful is ownership, management, and the coaching is consistent and steady.  Be thankful you are a Steelers fan! Thanks for your articles.

ANSWER: And it all starts with the Rooney family.

JOHN DENNING FROM WEST MILFORD, NJ:
Do you think the Steelers could get a fifth-round draft choice in exchange for three seventh-round choices?

ANSWER: No. As a rule when it comes to draft picks, quality trumps quantity, and the difference between fifth-round talent and seventh-round talent is significant.

MATT HOVEY FROM ST. CLOUD, MN:
Would the Steelers consider taking Paxton Lynch in the first round? He would have the size and athletic ability of a Ben Roethlisberger, then the Steelers could sit him for three years so he could learn the position from Roethlisberger, and then I think we would have another franchise quarterback for 10-plus years.

ANSWER: There are so many ways to shoot down your scenario, but I’m going to go with just this one: All NFL draft choices sign four-year contracts, with first-round picks subjected to a fifth-year option that costs A LOT OF MONEY if a team chooses to exercise it, and so the Steelers would be in a situation of having to make a multi-million dollar decision on a quarterback they haven’t seen play except for maybe some preseason games and mop-up duty. A drafted “quarterback of the future” nowadays has to be on the field by his second NFL season because of the rules of the current CBA. That’s why IT’S NOT TIME TO BE THINKING ABOUT A SUCCESSOR TO ROETHLISBERGER YET.

ELMER BAUERS III FROM NAPLES, FL:
The Steelers have failed to draft several great local players, who played at Pitt.  The names Danny Marino, Larry Fitzgerald, and Aaron Donald come to mind. They have a chance to draft another one this year. That player is Tyler Boyd, who should be drafted in the second round. Do you think the Steelers will consider drafting him in the second round, if available?

ANSWER: The Steelers had a chance to draft Dan Marino in 1983 but selected Gabe Rivera instead. Larry Fitzgerald and Aaron Donald both were picked long before the Steelers’ turn in those respective drafts, so lumping them all together creates a false impression. Picking a wide receiver on the second round of the upcoming draft – given the current strengths and weaknesses of their roster, and even in light of Martavis Bryant’s one-year suspension – in my opinion would be a big mistake by the Steelers.




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