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Asked and Answered: Game Day Week 14

Posted Dec 10, 2017

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

Let’s get to it:

EDITOR’S NOTE: To the many, many fans who asked for guidance in sending get well wishes to Ryan Shazier, here is the address to do that: 3400 S. Water Street; Pittsburgh, PA, 15203.

ISMAEL GUZMAN FROM SUSANVILLE, CA:
I noticed the varsity jackets worn by the Hall of Honor inductees at halftime of the game against the Packers, and they were awesome. Any way they'll produce replicas and be sold to the general public?

ANSWER: Because those jackets were presented to those who were inducted, my guess would be that those jackets would not be sold.

TATIANA VERGIEURO FROM DAYTONA BEACH, FL:
Shouldn't there be an "unabated to the kicker" penalty that helps protect the placekicker from the obvious offside where the defensive player gets a free run at the kicker, potentially injuring him, thus gaining the advantage of the kicking team not having a backup to make the winning kick?

ANSWER: I suggested this to Mike Tomlin, and he said the rule already exists. Tomlin, a member of the NFL’s Competition Committee, said a rule already is on the books where if a player on the kick-block team is “unabated to the kicker,” the referee is to throw his penalty flag and whistle the play dead, and if the guy on the kick-block team even touches the kicker it’s an automatic 15-yard penalty. If handled correctly by the officials, the kicker would be able to stop and not expose himself to the oncoming player, and if that player so much as touches the kicker that would tack on an addition 15 yards to the offside penalty. In the case of Chris Boswell’s first attempt at the game-winning kick in Cincinnati, that would have turned it from a 43-yard attempt to a 23-yard attempt. However, the play wasn’t officiated correctly in that instance.

ALLAN ALVAREZ FROM LEXINGTON, KY:
With so many legends in Steelers history to choose from, I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for the HOH committee to come up with that inaugural group. I was surprised however to not see Troy Polamalu among that first group. Was there certain criteria the committee was looking at that Troy did not meet?

ANSWER: Yes. To be eligible for the Hall of Honor, players must be retired for at least three years. At the time of the voting for the inaugural class, Troy Polamalu had not yet been retired for a full three years.

JONATHAN MASON FROM RICHMOND, VA:
I noticed Vince Williams wearing practice jersey No. 50 this week in practice. Is he going to wear that number in games to honor Ryan Shazier?

ANSWER: No, he cannot. It’s against the rules. Players are not permitted to change jersey numbers without approval from the NFL.

CHARLIE MELTON FROM NEW BOSTON, TX
Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith was suspended for four games for PED use and then was put on injured reserve. Does he serve the suspension while on IR or after he comes back from IR?

ANSWER: He serves the suspension while on injured reserve, but because he’s on suspension while on injured reserve he will not be paid for the duration of the suspension.

WILLIAM HEISE JR. FROM SUMTER, SC:
I remember the Steelers being 14-2 one year, but I don't remember what year. How far did they go that year?

ANSWER: That was in 1978, and the Steelers capped the season by defeating Dallas in Super Bowl XIII.

AUSTIN VARNER FROM ASTORIA, OR:
So, what happened to James Harrison? I thought he was going to be put in for “big plays,” but now it seems like he’s not at the stadium. What is the deal with that? There’s been a couple times where the camera showed he was suited up, but never played.

ANSWER: What has happened to James Harrison is that the job description for a Steelers outside linebacker has evolved, and the skill-set required is not a skill-set that he has anymore. This is how Mike Tomlin described it:

“And it’s evolved within the last decade, since I’ve been here. Outside linebacker was a rush-man’s position in the early part of my tenure. Guys like LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison were defensive-end-like. They rushed the vast majority of the time. With the evolution of spread football, read-option football, RPOs as the college guys call it – run-pass options – and all the empty backfield stuff, it has become a hybrid position, where they’re asked to do a lot of things: rush, drop in zone, play man-to-man. I just think it’s part of the evolution of football, and I think (outside linebackers) are the most significant components to the adjustments that defenses have made.”

RYAN SMITH FROM PITTSBURGH, PA:
Thoughts on Bud Dupree this year? Is he our long-term answer to playing opposite T.J. Watt?

ANSWER: Re-read the above answer from Mike Tomlin, and as a follow-up to that, I asked, “Within that answer, did you just explain to Steelers Nation why James Harrison isn’t playing a lot of snaps?” And he said:

“Or also why Bud Dupree doesn’t have 12 sacks or why T.J. Watt doesn’t have 12 sacks. That position probably is being redefined in a lot of ways by the game. Some of the plays we’ve seen T.J. Watt make in the passing game this year – the big-time interception in Cleveland in his first NFL game, the big-time breakup he had against Jordy Nelson in the Green Bay game a few weeks back – and 10 years ago you never would’ve seen LaMarr Woodley even in a position to make those plays. That’s just the evolution of football. I laugh a lot of times when people ask me, what’s wrong with the production of our outside linebackers? It lets me know these people don’t understand the evolution of the game of football, and I politely answer in some way.”

DAN MORGAN FROM WAMPUM, PA:
Could you please provide contact information for the NFL offices and specifically Commissioner Roger Goodell. I am completely offended by the suspension of JuJu Smith-Schuster and would like to express it personally.

ANSWER: The address for the NFL offices in New York is: 345 Park Avenue, New York, NY, 10065.

MICHAEL KASPER FROM HIGHLAND LAKES, NJ:
Since Ryan Shazier is injured and so is Tyler Matakevich, and the Steelers just signed Sean Spence, would there ever be any consideration of putting T.J. Watt at inside linebacker.

ANSWER: Judging by the number of these suggestions that have been submitted, apparently a lot of fans would consider that, but nobody on the coaching staff would.




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