LATROBE, Pa. – Let's get to it:
ERIC ASH FROM BEAVER FALLS, PA: I would assume the requirements for being the holder on field goals and PATs would be "sure-handedness" and having the confidence of the kicker. Like many teams, the Steelers use their punter as their holder. Far as I can tell, Jordan Berry does a fine job. However, one might think that a backup quarterback, running back, or wide receiver would likely be more naturally sure-handed than a punter, and in case of a fake field goal or flubbed snap, be better able to run or throw the ball than a punter. Also, should the punter get injured while holding, whoever would fill in for him mid-game would be a big downgrade. So why are so many punters also holders?
ANSWER: One of the reasons why many teams use punters as the holders for placement kicks has to do with getting the proper amount of work in on a daily basis at practice. If a team would employ a backup quarterback, running back, or wide receiver in that role, as you suggest, that individual would have to be taken away from practicing with the offense to work with the placekicker. Because at practice, the specialists often work together off to the side while the rest of the team – offense and defense – are on the field. Also, a typical game day roster includes just two quarterbacks, and so if the backup quarterback is injured while holding for a field goal, and then the starting quarterback gets injured on a sack, who is left to operate the offense?
MARK JAKABCSIN FROM JACKSONVILLE BEACH, FL: Normally when a player is cut he needs to clear waivers prior to becoming a free agent unless he is a vested veteran, and in that case would become an unrestricted free agent able to sign with any team. Is that still the case at the end of preseason? Seems like there is a big push to fill the practice squads, which waivers would slow down by 24 hours, so I am guessing these cuts do not go through the waiver system. Yes?
ANSWER: No. Bad guess. According to the NFL calendar for the days of the roster cut-down and signing of players to practice squads, here are the pertinent dates/times. Teams must reduce their rosters by 4 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Sept. 1. Waivers expire at noon EDT on Sunday, Sept. 2, and teams are permitted to begin signing players to their practice squads at 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Sept. 2. The waiver period is shortened to 13 hours in this situation, but players with fewer than four years of experience still must pass through waivers.
LOGAN SCHAFFER FROM BISMARCK, ND: On a free play, like the Landry Jones pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 71-yard touchdown in the preseason game against the Eagles, how would interference by the cornerback be handled? Would it be a spot foul or would the offside call negate that penalty?
ANSWER: If the Eagles cornerback had interfered with JuJu Smith-Schuster on the play you reference, one of two things would have been the outcome. If Smith-Schuster catches the ball anyway and runs into the end zone, the Steelers decline both penalties and take the score. If the cornerback interferes and Smith-Schuster doesn't catch the ball, the Steelers decline the offside penalty, accept the pass interference penalty, and the ball is placed at the spot of the foul with an automatic first down.
ROY PERRIN FROM FUQUAY VARINA, NC: Would Ryan Shazier have a shot at the Pro Football Hall of Fame with his career as it stands right now?
JORGE DE LA ROSA FROM MEXICALI, BC, MEXICO: I was worried that Chris Boswell might leave as a restricted free agent, and I was surprised to read about him getting only a one-year contract and possibly becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2019. Is this a normal procedure for kickers, or was it a salary cap issue? Why he did not get a longer contract?
ANSWER: The Steelers currently are in the process of negotiating a long-term contract with Chris Boswell, and they have until the day before the Sept. 9 regular season opener in Cleveland to reach an agreement. The Steelers like Boswell and want to keep him for the long term, and if nothing can be worked out before the start of this regular season, the franchise tag always is a possibility in 2019, because the number for placekickers is relatively reasonable compared to other positions.
BILL DOUGH FROM HAYDEN, ID: I like the Steelers' idea of employing an abundance of big, physical safeties on defense. Do you feel like changes to the kickoff rules factored into this thinking as well?
ANSWER: If anything, having more big, physical safeties who also are athletic and can make plays in space would be an added benefit. But I don't know that I would go so far as calling it a contributing factor.
PAUL FITZPATRICK FROM WILTON, IA: What is your opinion after the first preseason game about the new rule prohibiting players from leading with the head?
ANSWER: I understand the purpose of the rule, and I am a proponent of doing what's possible to enhance player safety. I just don't know if NFL officials are capable of calling the rule correctly in real time during games.
ERIC HENGER FROM JERSEY SHORE, PA: How's Tom Bradley doing?
ANSWER: Funny you should ask. I did a Q&A with him that debuted on Steelers.com on Aug. 13. It still can be found on the site.
BRYCE KYBURZ FROM AUSTIN, TX: I am wondering who came up with the opening music/theme for Steelers Live?
ANSWER: It was a collaborative effort among three people: Gerard Schaefer, Emile Khoury, and Jason Pischke.