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Asked and Answered: Sept. 14

Posted Sep 14, 2017

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

Let’s get to it:

KEVIN BAILEY FROM ORANGEVILLE, ONTARIO, CANADA:
If the blocked punt in the game against the Browns was not recovered in the end zone and instead went out of the back of the end zone, where would they place the ball?

ANSWER: If the punt that was blocked by Tyler Matakevich had rolled out of the back of the end zone, it would have been a safety. In that case, the Steelers get two points, and then the Browns get to choose whether to punt or kick off from their own 20-yard line, and the Steelers get possession of the ball.

SAM CUNDIFF FROM CELEBRATION, FL:
What is the latest on safety J.J. Wilcox?

ANSWER: If you’re referring to his status following an injury in the game against the Browns, here is what Coach Mike Tomlin said about him at his news conference on Tuesday, “J.J. Wilcox came in on Monday expressing concussion-like symptoms. He has been in the protocol ever since. I don’t know where he is in that process, but we’ll err on the side of caution as we always do and do what’s appropriate from that standpoint.”

VALRICK MCMORRIS FROM TYLER, TX:
Have you heard the official Stephon Tuitt diagnosis? Left arm injury is vague.

ANSWER: Stephon Tuitt injured the biceps on his left arm, and again, I refer to Mike Tomlin’s news conference: “I guess you guys know about Stephon Tuitt’s situation. It’s really positive compared to what it could be. His injury to his biceps is not season-ending. He was evaluated yesterday, and we’re optimistic there. His short-term availability is in question. We’ll go through the week and see what he looks like day by day. See if he’s functional. See if he has strength. See if it’s safe. And if it is, we’ll let him play. That’ll be revealed to us as we get through the week.”

PAUL REICJART FROM RUVKERSVILLE, VA:
Did you notice that Cleveland called a timeout right before the two-minute warning in the second half and then challenged Antonio Brown’s catch? After it was ruled a catch, the Browns were charged with a timeout because they lost the challenge. Not the best time management? Or an NFL rule being misapplied?

ANSWER: Once the clock gets to the two-minute warning in either half, teams lose their right to challenge plays, with all replays designated from the booth. So to make sure they got to challenge the play, the Browns needed to stop the clock before it ticked down to the two-minute warning. Then once the Browns’ challenge was denied, the cost for having a challenge denied is a timeout, and so they went from two timeouts to none. That then allowed the Steelers to take a knee three times and run out the clock.

TJ VASQUEZ FROM LANCASTER, CA:
The season opener against the Browns was in Cleveland, so why did the Steelers wear their black jerseys?

ANSWER: The NFL allows the home team to pick which color jersey it wants to wear. The visiting team then is notified of that choice and outfits its players accordingly.

GEMETRIUS MCNEIL FROM INDIAN TRAIL, NC:
At one point Coty Sensabaugh was fighting for a starting job, but he didn't get many snaps on Sunday. Was he hurt, because I thought that he was going to be the third cornerback?

ANSWER: Things change, such as signing Joe Haden, as one example. Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Will Gay and Mike Hilton were interchangeable at slot cornerback, so at this time Coty Sensabaugh isn’t in the running for a lot of snaps there, either. But there’s a lot of football to be played, so don’t go making any assumptions about Sensabaugh not playing now, like you did earlier about Sensabaugh playing a lot.

ISAAC BUSSELMAN FROM RICHLAND, WA:
Does Antonio Brown work on one-handed catches at all at practice?

ANSWER: The short answer to this is that Antonio Brown works on everything at practice, and he does it every day. That’s not me kissing off your question. That’s me trying to provide you with an accurate picture of how he works and how diligently he works.

PAUL SMOLINSKY FROM LANSDALE, PA:
Against the Browns, Antonio Brown had 11 receptions from 11 targets. Does the 40 plus yards on the pass interference hit any statistics?

ANSWER: Pass interference penalties are not included in the receiver’s individual statistics.

ED SWARTZ FROM NORWICH, OH:
I saw L.J. Fort had his contract terminated on Tuesday. Is there a difference between being released and having your contract terminated?

ANSWER: That language is just meant to reflect that L.J. Fort is a vested NFL veteran and does not have to go through the waiver system. Players with fewer than four years of NFL service have to go through waivers at this time of the year, which means that the player is subject to be claimed by any team interested, and then the player is awarded to whichever claiming team had the worst record in the previous season, and the claiming team must assume the player’s old contract. Because Fort is a vested veteran, he is an unrestricted free agent able to sign with any team for any salary the sides negotiate, as long as it’s in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

MAX MCCALL FROM ALLISON PARK, PA:
NFL.com is not showing a link for the NFL gamebook pdf-file for the Steelers game in Cleveland. Do you know if there is anywhere else to get that?

ANSWER: When I checked NFL.com after receiving this question, the gamebook pdf-file didn’t exist. Then when I re-checked it yesterday morning, it was there and available for download. I don’t know if NFL.com is delaying this on purpose, or if it was an oversight on opening weekend. But you can access it now.

DARNELL FRANKLIN FROM ALEXANDRIA, LA:
What time do the Steelers report to the facility? What time do they leave for the day?

ANSWER: The schedule varies slightly by day, and some players might come in earlier and others may leave later, but in general terms it’s before 9 a.m. reporting and after 4 p.m. leaving.

VICKI RIZZO FROM ST. CHARLES, MO:
If a player receives a contract extension in the last year of his current contract, does he play under his current contract or does the new contract start the day that it is signed? Such as in Stephon Tuitt's case.

ANSWER: Generally, the contract signed is a new contract and the player begins playing under the terms of that contract on the day it’s signed.

ALAN EMMER FROM FLUSHING, NY:
Steelers Digest said that 570 teams won on Opening Day, while 571 lost. How is that possible?

ANSWER: A slight clarification: Steelers Digest carried a chart provided by the NFL that said 570 teams won on opening day while 571 teams lost. That’s possible because starting in 1999 when the Cleveland Browns rejoined the NFL and the 2002 season when the Houston Texans joined the NFL as an expansion team, the NFL had 31 teams, which created an odd number for the total number of results.

JEFF HEJDAK FROM BARABOO, WI:
Who calls the plays on offense and defense?

ANSWER: The coordinators. Todd Haley on offense and Keith Butler on defense.

DAVID DUNN FROM SWARTHMORE, PA:
A question on offensive play-calling: Who decides which play to call for the situation? Does the head coach need to approve, or have the option to change it?

ANSWER: As stated in the previous answer, Todd Haley, as offensive coordinator, calls the plays. Mike Tomlin is on the same headset frequency as the offense when the Steelers have the ball, and so he hears everything that’s being said, but in terms of approving a play don’t forget that the play-clock is running and time is a factor. In terms of approval, it probably happens more like this, as an example: Tomlin would tell Haley either to just call running plays to drain the clock and/or force the opponent to use its timeouts, or he might tell him to call plays to try to make a first down.

JOHN SHERMAN FROM ERIE, PA:
How would you assess Joe Haden’s play last week? It seems to me he was a little slow on coverages. Do you think this is from not being familiar with the defense? I like the move to sign him and, hoping we have to shut-down cornerbacks.

ANSWER: I don’t feel qualified to assess Joe Haden’s play, but what I can tell you is that teams are going to complete passes to his side of the field, most likely in every game. Based on your submission, I also get the inkling that you believe there is some way for a cornerback to prevent a receiver from catching any passes during the course of a game – shut-down cornerback – and that’s a myth.

NIKOLA BUTIRIĆ FROM BELGRADE, SERBIA:
I noticed that some quarterbacks are using the same words when they are going through the snap-count: Green 18, Omaha, etc. Do those words have any meaning, or they are completely random?

ANSWER: My feeling is that if they’re using the same words all the time, then they don’t have any meaning.




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