Let's get to it:
BOB KILBORN FROM YARMOUTHPORT, MA: Is there a set order in which the players and coaches emerge from the tunnel before the opening kickoff, or is it random? And does it tend to change from one game to the next? If there is a set order, what is the significance?
ANSWER: If you are referring to pregame introductions during home games at Acrisure Stadium, none of the coaches are introduced individually, and they simply will walk out onto the field before the players are introduced. For each home game, either the starting offense or defense will be introduced to the crowd. The introductions generally follow a position-by-position order, with the exception of the last player introduced, and that player is selected based on a deserved status. For years when the Steelers offense was introduced before a home game, Ben Roethlisberger was the final player to run out of the tunnel. As another example, during the 2022 season when the defense was introduced, Cam Heyward was the final player to run out of the tunnel. The typical procedure for pregame player announcements is to alternate offense and defense from one home game to the next. But nothing is etched in stone.
JOHN RECHEL FROM LEESPORT, PA: My family is heading to Latrobe. Is there a list of the Steelers legends, and the days they will be appearing at training camp?
ANSWER: Starting with today, Tuesday, Aug. 1, here is the schedule of Steelers legends appearing at Saint Vincent College during training camp:
• Tuesday, Aug. 1: Rocky Bleier
• Wednesday, Aug. 2: Bryant McFadden
• Thursday, Aug. 3: Shaun Suisham
• Saturday, Aug. 5: Vince Williams
• Sunday, Aug. 6: Santonio Holmes
• Tuesday, Aug. 8: Randy Grossman
• Wednesday, Aug. 9: Chris Hoke
• Sunday, Aug. 13: Roosevelt Nix and Dwayne Woodruff
• Tuesday, Aug. 15: John Banaszak
• Wednesday, Aug. 16: Mike Logan
• Thursday, Aug. 17: Max Starks
ISRAEL PICKHOLTZ FROM ASHKELON, ISRAEL: The Steelers have been trying to replace Ryan Shazier for several years now, without much success. I understand he was a special player, but they had some pretty good players before him. Yet he is spoken of as a unicorn. Was Shazier a significantly better player than James Farrior, Levon Kirkland, and other Pro-Bowl level inside linebackers?
ANSWER: The way football on the professional level is played has evolved and changed a lot recently, and maybe nowhere has it changed as much as it has for the position of inside linebacker. At the time the Steelers drafted Ryan Shazier with the 15th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, he most certainly was a unicorn for the way he had the skill-set to be an every-down, all-situations player who could provide the defense with an effective answer to whatever the offense was trying to do. James Farrior and Levon Kirkland were quality players for their time in the NFL and what the NFL required from their position, but by the time Shazier entered the NFL the position had changed, and he was one of the first and best to have changed with it.
DARRELL SAUNDERS FROM MIAMI BEACH, FL: Are all teams allowed to claim players from every other teams' practice squads without the consent from the team the practice squad player is on?
ANSWER: Once a particular team places a player on its practice squad, it has no control over that player's movement to another team outside of activating him to its 53-man roster. And if a particular team loses a player from its practice squad, there is no compensation for that loss.
DENNIS SLEEGER FROM YORK, PA: I know Joey Porter Jr. signed his contract, but I haven't seen any of the numbers. Is there a reason we haven't?
ANSWER: Maybe you haven't seen the numbers because you've been looking in the wrong place. According to overthecap.com, Joey Porter Jr.'s contract is a 4-year, $9.618 million deal that includes a $3.995 million signing bonus. The first three seasons of the contract are fully guaranteed. All in all, the contract is appropriate for Porter's slot in the draft, which was the first pick in the second round.
SAM CALENDA FROM ELIZABETHTOWN, PA: In the playoffs, if both teams are tied at the end of the game and they are still tied after a 10-minute overtime, what happens then?
ANSWER: Here is the procedure for overtime in the playoffs directly from Operations.nfl.com:
Unlike regular season games, postseason games cannot end in a tie, so the overtime rules change slightly for the playoffs.
• If the score is still tied at the end of an overtime period — or if the second team's initial possession has not ended — the teams will play another overtime period. Play will continue regardless of how many overtime periods are needed for a winner to be determined.
• There will be a two-minute intermission between each overtime period. There will not be a halftime intermission after the second period.
• The team captain who lost the first overtime coin toss will either choose to possess the ball or select which goal his team will defend, unless the team that won the coin toss deferred that choice.
• Each team will have an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime.
• Each team gets three timeouts during a half.
• The same (clock) timing rules that apply at the end of the second and fourth regulation periods also apply at the end of a second or fourth overtime period.
• If there is still no winner at the end of a fourth overtime period, there will be another coin toss, and play will continue until a winner is declared.
MICHAEL ANGELO FROM LAS VEGAS, NV: Do you think Ryan Shazier will someday be inducted into the Steelers Hall Of Honor? I have no doubt he was on the fast track to enshrinement in Canton had it not been for injury.
ANSWER: I'm sorry but being that I'm a member of the Hall of Honor Selection Committee, I don't believe it's appropriate for me to comment on an individual's prospects for being elected.
HÉCTOR CARRANZA FROM ZAPOPAN, MÉXICO: I saw in one of the videos of a training camp practice that Joey Porter Jr. lined up with the first-team defense, along with T.J. Watt, Larry Ogunjobi, and the rest of that unit. Does that mean the coaches consider him as a starting cornerback once the preseason games begin?
ANSWER: That snippet of what you saw in terms of Joey Porter Jr. lining up with the first-team defense doesn't mean anything when it comes to determining the starting cornerbacks once the preseason games begin. Coach Mike Tomlin explained the process of giving young players an opportunity with the first-team this way:
"Often times these guys are going through the learning process, but they don't get an opportunity or as many opportunities as they would like to display that learning. So some days we thoughtfully shorten the lines and increase their reps in an effort to gain exposure; they get an opportunity to put up or shut up; and then we plan the next week accordingly. If a (young) guy makes good use of those reps, then we'll continue to look at him and continue on with this developmental process."
To summarize, Joey Porter Jr. – and Broderick Jones and Nick Herbig as two other examples – have been given opportunities to line up with the first-team and compete against the other unit's first-team. If they do well with those opportunities, then they'll continue to get more of those kinds of opportunities. Any decision about their status, one way or another, only is made based on the whole body of work in those situations.
DUSTIN COVAULT FROM NORFOLK, VA: With yet another signing at inside linebacker, is this an indication that the Steelers are worried about Mark Robinson's development? He looked decent against the run late last year, and I was excited to see if he could continue to learn the position, but with all these signings does he even make the team?
ANSWER: The Steelers were not going to hand Mark Robinson a starting spot or a significant role within the defense in 2023 based on the fact he "looked decent against the run late last year," but the addition of Kwon Alexander to the mix doesn't necessarily mean Robinson is the odd man out in the quest for a spot on the initial 53-man roster, either. As Coach Mike Tomlin said after Kwon Alexander's first practice, "Really excited about adding Kwon Alexander to the group. He's a solid NFL player with a lot of in-game experience, but at the same time, he's still 28 years old, and I think competition is an awesome thing. We don't have any preconceived notions about a role for him. We've got some very capable guys at that position, so we'll put them in an environment like this and let them sort themselves out. Just really excited about the redevelopment of that positional room with Elandon Roberts, and Cole Holcomb, and now Kwon." And what fans should remember is that Robinson played offense for his entire college career before his final season, which was at Mississippi, when he played 13 games on defense. That's not much experience on defense to lead one to believe he should step right into a significant role on an NFL team with those 13 college games on defense and then 4 more as a rookie. But that also doesn't mean Robinson won't play himself into that job/role.
RAYNE KNIGHT FROM SHERIDAN, WY: How and when did the Friday Night Lights tradition begin for the Steelers?
ANSWER: In Bill Cowher's first season as the Steelers coach in 1992, he came up with the idea to have the team practice at different times during the day to simulate what a team must face during the regular season when games can be played during two different time slots during the afternoon and also at night. That was the original thinking behind it, and from there it blossomed into the event it has become.
KOLTEN CHOY FOO FROM HONOLULU, HI: I know the Steelers sometimes hold a camp in Mexico. Here in Hawaii there are so many Steelers fans, but the cost of living here makes it difficult for most people to travel to Pennsylvania to see our guys in action. Do you think Mr. Art Rooney II will ever bring the team over here for a special event?
ANSWER: If Steelers President Art Rooney II ever decides to bring the team to Hawaii for any kind of event, I will be the first one on the plane. My wife and I visited Hawaii for an eight-day vacation one year to celebrate her birthday, and we remember it as one of the best weeks ever.