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Asked and Answered: Game Day Week 3

Posted Sep 24, 2017

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

Let’s get to it:

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Steelers will be wearing their white jerseys for today’s game against the Chicago Bears.

JON EMEIGH FROM GILBERTSVILLE, KY
Will the Steelers ever consider wearing their white jerseys at home during the hot months to start the season?

ANSWER: I asked Coach Mike Tomlin the question this way: “Have you ever given any thought to wearing white jerseys for early season home games as a way to combat heat-related issues?”

He answered, “No. I tend to lean on conditioning as a way of combatting the weather. I tend to walk into those stadiums with a team that’s highly conditioned and let that be our defense. Regardless of your attire, in early September, teams are susceptible to heat-related illness and so forth. When I worked for the Buccaneers, we always used to laugh about teams having to come down and play in September, and I didn’t think it was quite as funny because often times we were the team that was dying as well. Weather conditions are like that. I think all of us are potentially susceptible to it. We just have to get ourselves in the best physical condition to combat it, and I’m comfortable with the conditioning of our group.”

MICHAEL LEE FROM MIAMI, FL:
When is Cam Sutton going to play?

ANSWER: Cam Sutton is on the injured reserve list, and if he is to be one of the team’s designated-to-return players, he would be eligible to return to practice after six weeks, and then he could play on Nov. 12 against Indianapolis. That’s the earliest he could return to the field.

BRIAN ELFORD FROM DELTONA, FL:
I haven’t seen much of Javon Hargrave in the first two games. Is he hurt, or are there other issues?

ANSWER: Javon Hargrave is not injured, and through the first two regular season games he has been credited with three tackles and one of the defense’s nine sacks. The other issues involved have to do with the amount of time the Steelers are in their nickel alignment, which usually sends Hargrave to the sideline since there are just two defensive linemen in that personnel grouping. To put it to numbers, Hargrave has participated in 48 of a possible 131 (37 percent) of the defensive snaps during the first two weeks of the regular season, and that percentage is in keeping with the amount of time the Steelers defense has been in its 3-4 alignment over the course of the past couple of seasons.

STEVEN UMPHREY FROM SKIATOOK, OK:
If a quarterback throws an interception during a 2-point conversion attempt, does it count towards any statistic, for the quarterback or defender?

ANSWER: No. Nothing that happens on a 2-point conversion attempt counts as a statistic, except for the guy who either catches the pass for the 2-point conversion or runs the ball across the goal line for the 2-point conversion. That player gets credit for 2 points scored.

DAVID FECICH FROM NORTH CANTON, OH:
How does Tyler Matakevich pronounce his last name?

ANSWER: Matt-uh-kev-ich

ADAM SHEFFLER FROM WASHINGTON, D.C.:
I have a question about how the game plan is developed and implemented. Do the coaches prepare a plan to highlight the strengths of the Steelers' players or more to exploit mismatches and weaknesses of the other team? How quickly can they make adjustments on the fly?

ANSWER: Game plans must be formulated based on what your own team can execute, because what good is identifying a potential mismatch if you cannot take advantage of it based on other personnel issues? And adjustments can be made and are made on the sideline between series. That’s why you see players and coaches looking at tablets, because those contain images of what the opponent has been doing on the previous series.

BRENDON FERNANDEZ FROM PURCELLVILLE, VA:
Justin Hunter did so well in the preseason. Why not put him at the No. 5 receiver?

ANSWER: Because the No. 5 wide receiver on game day has to contribute on special teams. Hunter does not.

CHARLIE GOLLMAR FROM KENNESAW, GA:
I'm reading about the status of T.J. Watt, Stephon Tuitt, and Bud Dupree and their chances of being ready to go against the Bears. With a non-conference opponent this week and a huge divisional rivalry on the horizon for next week (in Baltimore), how much do you think that figures into a team's decision on whether to dress someone? If it were me, I think I'd want the security of an extra week to heal for three of my defensive starters for the knock-down-drag-out coming up on the road in Baltimore rather than for a (relatively) less important challenge this week.

ANSWER: Right, and then you’d be the first one ripping the Steelers for losing on the road to an inferior opponent. If players are healthy, they play. If they’re not, they don’t. That’s because all games really are important. What if the Steelers finish 12-4 with a regular season win over New England but a loss to the Bears because they were saving T.J. Watt, Stephon Tuitt, and Bud Dupree, and the Patriots finish 13-3? That sends the Steelers to Gillette Stadium for the playoffs as opposed to the Patriots having to come to Heinz Field.

SCOTT SWEENEY FROM HICKORY, NC:
Setting the way-back machine to 1974, the Steelers picked four Hall of Fame players in one draft. Have any other teams done that, or even come close?

ANSWER: No team has been able to match or better the Steelers’ haul of four Hall of Fame players in one draft. There have been teams that drafted two Hall of Fame players in the same draft, and one of them was today’s opponent. The Bears drafted both Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus in the first round in 1965, and one of those first-round picks was acquired in a trade with the Steelers.

MARTY SCHATZ FROM CULVER CITY, CA:
Last week we saw that Ryan Shazier was fined $25,000 for his late hit on DeShone Kizer. Since most players who get fined by the league are defensive players, do teams pay off their fines, or is that something that's part of contract negotiations?

ANSWER: Players are responsible for paying their own fines, and in fact the NFL has the money deducted directly from their paychecks. And I’ve never heard of a player negotiating potential fine payments into a contract, nor would I expect any team to agree to that stipulation.

JEREMY BETZ FROM PENSACOLA, FL:
On Nov. 11, 2016, my fiancée, who is a Browns fan, ordered me a pair of Antonio Brown socks for my birthday. I did not get them in time for the Steelers vs. Cowboys game on Nov. 13, and we lost. However, I did get them in time for the Steelers vs. Browns game on Nov. 20. Since that time, I have worn those socks every game day, and the Steelers have been undefeated. Except for one game. You see, I forgot to wash my Antonio Brown socks before the AFC Championship Game. I still wore them, but we stunk just like my socks. So, it's my fault. I just want to apologize to Steelers Nation for my oversight.

ANSWER: Don’t let it happen again.




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