Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: April 4

Let's get to it:

Who is the best tight end in Steelers history? They all have been unheralded, but there have been some good ones.

ANSWER: Heath Miller. Not. Even. Close.

OK, now the wrapper (so to speak) is off and melting. How do you think the Steelers are going to react to Le'Veon Bell's threat to sit out the season rather than play under the franchise tag?

ANSWER: The following was posted on by Michael David Smith at 5 a.m. on April 2: "On April 1, Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell was threatening to sit out the season if the Steelers don't give him the long-term contract he's looking for. On April 2, he's not. After tweeting multiple times on April Fool's Day that he was serious about sitting out the season if that's what it takes, early in the morning on April 2 he tweeted that it was just an April Fool's joke."

April Fool's Day claims another fool (so to speak). Either check your calendar, or step away from Twitter. Sheesh. And remember to look both ways before crossing the street.

The Steelers bring a lot of players in for personal visits. Do they ever draft a player they haven't brought to Pittsburgh?

ANSWER: Quite often, as a matter of fact. Here are some recent statistics: In 2010, the Steelers had 34 pre-draft visitors – NFL rules allow for a maximum of 30, plus players from local programs – and they used three of their 10 picks on players they brought in for visits. In 2015, they had eight picks, brought in 28 visitors, and picked two of those guys; and in 2016, they had seven picks, brought in 32 visitors, and picked three of those guys. So as the numbers show, don't get overly excited about the pre-draft visits being a sure indicator that a particular player is going to get selected.

I noticed a small lime green dot on the back of several helmets. What was/is the reason for those?

ANSWER: The green dot on the back of a helmet indicates that helmet contains a receiver for coach-to-player communications. One player on offense – the quarterback – and one player on defense is permitted to wear a helmet containing a receiver that allows him to hear communications from the sideline. The green dot alerts the officials as to which players those are.

The Steelers need for a second cornerback is fairly obvious. Is it worth sending No. 2 and No. 4 draft picks to New England in a trade for Malcolm Butler?

ANSWER: There is no way the Patriots make that deal. Especially not where the Steelers will be picking in the second and fourth rounds.

I noticed in a recent answer to a question about the offensive line, you did not include Cody Wallace. I felt he did an outstanding job taking Maurkice Pouncey's place two years ago when Pouncey was out for the season. I know Wallace is recovering from an injury right now. What is his status with the Steelers?

ANSWER: Cody Wallace became an unrestricted free agent on March 9. He also will be 33 in November, and he missed all of 2016 with a knee injury that limited him to one appearance and then landed him on the injured reserve list. My belief is that B.J. Finney has usurped Wallace as the primary interior offensive line backup, and in my opinion Wallace will not be re-signed by the Steelers.

If and when Martavis Bryant is reinstated, do you see any scenario where the Steelers use him in a possible trade on draft day?

ANSWER: If and when Martavis Bryant is reinstated, the Steelers need him to be the kind of big-play receiver he has been for the team in the recent past. Yes, there is some risk involved in depending on Bryant based on his previous violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy, but that's also going to prevent another team from giving up much, if anything, in a trade. The bottom line is Bryant is more valuable to the Steelers right now that he would be to any other team.

Would it make sense to trade a high draft pick for Richard Sherman? Get a good coverage cornerback for the next two years at a price still reasonable instead of drafting a untested rookie cornerback.

ANSWER: Just putting numbers to your definition of reasonable, Richard Sherman is due $11.4 million in 2017 and $11 million in 2018. Beyond that, and I'm not implying he isn't worth the money, but I don't think the Seahawks have any real interest in trading him. I believe it was an attempt by management to get Sherman's attention. An attempt to get him to cut out some of the nonsense in which he got involved last season.

Let me begin by saying that I love the way you gently roast people who ask you silly questions in this segment. Unfortunately, I'm slightly terrified of suffering the same fate for my question. In your opinion, was the rule change regarding hurdling the center based entirely on player safety? Or did the fact that it is so difficult to accurately officiate that play in real time (due to penalties for lining up over the center, too many men on one side of the center, making contact on the attempted leap, etc.) also play a role?

ANSWER: It was player safety. The NFL wants to start being proactive instead of reactive with a lot of these potentially dangerous plays/tactics, and that's what I believe was at the heart of this particular issue.

Do you work for the Steeler organization, or are you part of the local media? Your insights are always very interesting and welcomed, but I've been curious about your relationship to the team.

ANSWER: I am an employee of the team.

Have the Steelers ever had a scenario where their starting running backs got injured, and they had to switch a wide receiver to running back, similar to what the Packers did with Ty Montgomery?

ANSWER: In the 1976 AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Steelers crushed the Colts in Baltimore, 40-14, for their 10th straight win, but in the process the team lost both Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier to injuries. Harris (1,128 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns) and Bleier (1,036 rushing yards and five touchdowns) were the strength of the Steelers offense during that 14-game regular season, and losing both of them just one week before having to go to Oakland for the AFC Championship Game was a difficult thing to overcome.

Chuck Noll's response at the time was to go with Reggie Harrison as the one back in a two-tight-end formation that was unique at the time in the NFL. In fact, Noll's idea became the foundation for the offense Joe Gibbs used with the Washington Redskins to win three Super Bowls in the 1980s and 1990s. But with just one week to prepare, and never having used this scheme before, the Steelers lost to the Raiders, 24-7, and the defeat ended their quest to become the first NFL team to win three Super Bowls in a row.

How would I be able to view the 1972 AFC Championship Game between the undefeated Miami Dolphins and the Steelers in Pittsburgh? From the score, it seemed to be a really competitive game.

ANSWER: Short of a time machine, I think you might be out of luck, in terms of being able to watch a complete broadcast of the game. There are some highlights packages available on YouTube, but I came up empty when looking for the whole game. I'm putting this out there in case any readers might have a suggestion.

I heard that at one time there was a merging of the Steelers and Eagles, and they were known as the "Steagles." Is there any truth to this?

ANSWER: Yes. In 1943, with most able-bodied men in the military during the height of World War II, the NFL had some issues with having enough players to field enough teams to have a season. So the Steelers and the Eagles combined forces in 1943, and the Steelers and Cardinals combined in 1944.

You've talked about how the Steelers' pass rush needs to improve. Do you know if the team is considering Elvis Dumervil for help in that area?

ANSWER: Elvis Dumervil? Only if Kevin Greene isn't available and LaMarr Woodley is still overweight.

I think I already know the answer to this, but I'm going to ask anyway. Would the Steelers consider trading for Jimmy Garoppolo?

ANSWER: Only in a sign-and-trade deal for Elvis Dumervil.

There's something I don't quite get. If the Patriots or Ravens had signed the league's best receiver to a five-year contract extension and then locked up the league's best running back for the 2017 season, and possibly longer, the fans would be saying what a brilliant offseason it was and that Bill Belichick or Ozzie Newsome are geniuses. But when the Steelers do that very same thing, the fans say the team didn't do anything this offseason and Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin should be fired.

ANSWER: Welcome to my world.

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