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Asked and Answered: Game Day Week 4

Posted Oct 1, 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 today for the game against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.

TIM WHEELER FROM MELTON MOWBRAY, UK:
Given that Le’Veon Bell is shaking off rustiness from a lack of practice and preseason, which is evident in his performances to date, why would the Steelers give him Wednesday's practice off?

ANSWER: The rhythm you are describing has to happen over time. It’s not something that can be fast-tracked, and whether a player has taken part in training camp and the preseason or not, there is an amount of body maintenance that has to take place during the long grind of an NFL season. An NFL running back takes an incredible beating over the course of a regular season game – Jerome Bettis once described each carry as the equivalent of being involved in a car wreck – and so the idea behind Wednesday off is to give Bell’s body a little more time to heal. This is going to be a long season, and the Steelers are going to depend on Bell more and more as the season wears on and the running game finds its rhythm. This is likely one of the things Coach Mike Tomlin meant when he mentioned that there would be consequences for Bell’s absence, but what the Steelers are trying to avoid is having the worst consequence – Bell sustaining a soft-tissue injury, the kind of injuries that often occur when the muscles become overly fatigued. Rather than rush the process, the Steelers would rather bring Bell along in a way to have him for the long haul. After all, they’re paying him $12.1 million for the season whether he’s healthy or injured.

GEORGE CHOPYAK FROM BUCKHANNON, WV:
Regarding the infamous kick-block-run-fumble-penalty play at the end of the first half in Chicago, if the Steelers had landed on the ball instead of swiping it out of the end zone, would it be considered a safety or a touchback? Respect and possibly a free meal are riding on your answer.

ANSWER: A touchback. The reason it’s a touchback is that when the play started with the Steelers attempting a field goal, they were considered to be on offense. Once the kick was blocked and possession was gained by the Bears, the Steelers then were considered to be on defense. Therefore, had the Steelers recovered the ball in the end zone, it would have been a touchback. And remember, it’s not officially dinner until you order dessert.

JAMES BARR FROM ERIE, PA:
I am a little confused by the rule of illegal touching of the ball after the Bears player ran the blocked field goal attempt back and fell asleep at the 1-yard line. If the ball cannot be fumbled forward, then why was a penalty called against the Steelers? If the Bears would have recovered the ball in the end zone it would not have been a touchdown. So why the penalty?

ANSWER: It would have been a touchdown for the Bears if it was the guy who fumbled the ball was the guy who then recovered the fumble in the end zone. And the penalty was for illegally batting the ball out of the end zone, which Jordan Berry clearly did.

HOWARD ASHCRAFT FROM LANSING, MI:
Is there a chance that the Steelers would consider holding some offseason practices in other states like some teams do?

ANSWER: If you’re talking about a joint practice with another NFL team during the training camp period at that team’s site, then yes, that is a possibility. If you’re talking about a situation where the Steelers would hold their training camp somewhere other than Saint Vincent College, I would say no to that.

TIM KING FROM WILLOW GROVE, PA:
If Sean Davis and Mike Mitchell both cannot play today against the Ravens, where will J.J. Wilcox play? Strong safety or free safety?

ANSWER: The two backup safeties are J.J. Wilcox and Robert Golden. I would guess that Golden would be the strong safety and Wilcox would be the free safety.

STEVE MILLER FROM COPPELL, TX:
Are you really blaming the officiating as being incompetent as a reason we lose too many games to teams we shouldn’t? There are way too many losses that follow a similar pattern of underperformance. The most recent game against the Bears was on the players and coaches, for lack of a solid game plan, preparation and execution. Quit cuddling up to this team and call it as it needs to be said. “Awful day at the office.”

ANSWER: What in the wide, wide world of sports are you talking about? There were three submissions in the Sept. 28 edition of Asked and Answered that asked specific questions about the holding calls missed by the officials.

Joey Otero wrote, “On the two big running plays the Bears had during overtime there seemed to be two major holding calls missed. During overtime or potential game winning drives do the officials tend to let certain penalties slide if in their opinion it did not directly impact the play in order to keep the game moving?”

Mark Mendez wrote, “Did I miss it or not, on the long run by Chicago in overtime was there not a holding penalty missed that would have placed the ball on the 17-yard line?”

Steve Meredith wrote, “How is it possible to miss the offensive holding on the last play of the Bears game? It was abysmal. It's a scoring play that they review to see if the player gets into the end zone. Why don't they also review it do determine if they got in legally, especially if the penalty in question directly affects the result of the play?”

I never blamed the officiating for the Steelers loss. I simply labeled the officiating “awful,” which it was in the instances that were cited in those questions.

KEN WALDROP FROM ONTONAGON, MI:
Do you think the anthem issues are taking away from some seriously horrific officiating?

ANSWER: If I answer this, Steve Miller from Coppell, Texas, will accuse me of “cuddling,” which by the way is something I only do with my wife. Sorry, Ken.

RAY GRAY FROM VERMILION, OH:
When is the NFL going to fine or fire officials for missing and making bad calls too many times. Why are they allowed to control the outcome of a game?

ANSWER: Hey, Steve, you have anything for Ray?

DENNIS KREGEL FROM STERLING, VA:
This might be a silly question, but is there a size restriction either too large, or on the other hand too small, if for nothing more than player safety?

ANSWER: If you’re talking about players’ size, no. If you’re talking about egos, in some instances there should be.

KENNETH ADAMS FROM MEMPHIS, TN:
With all the flags being thrown so early in the year for taunting, shouldn't that have been taunting since the guy stopped 1 yard short of the goal line to profile?

ANSWER: Did he stop short of the goal line to profile, or was he just exhausted?




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