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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Aug. 19

Let's get to it:

JOHN VINCENT FROM CONNEAUT, OH: With Kendrick Green's struggles at center, why didn't the Steelers move him to guard, which was his position in college? Why did they thrust him into the starting lineup as a center?
ANSWER: Several things combined to create a situation for the Steelers that led the team to draft Kendrick Green and thrust him into the starting lineup at center during his rookie season. Maurkice Pouncey surprised the team by retiring on Feb. 12, 2021, and because the salary cap actually dipped for the 2021 season as a result of the ramifications of teams having to play in empty stadiums during the COVID pandemic of 2020, the Steelers found themselves in a dire salary cap situation during the 2021 offseason. So the Steelers were faced with an unexpected need at center during an offseason where they were in salary cap jail and unable even to keep their own free agents let alone sign any from the outside. Hindsight might indicate the Steelers' maybe reached for Kendrick Green in the third round, or maybe they should've used their second-round pick in that draft on Creed Humphrey than Pat Freiermuth, but that combination of events is why they drafted Kendrick Green in the third round, and he immediately became a starter.

RICHARD KASAY FROM AKRON, OH: Is Kendrick Green worth keeping as a fullback in spite of his documented shortcomings at center? In a short-yardage situation or inside the 10-yard line, I think he could be a force leading the ball carrier or as the ball carrier.
ANSWER: Right now, I believe Kendrick Green is the best and maybe only realistic option for the role of backup center at the start of the regular season. Nate Herbig has played some center, and while that has happened mostly in the preseason but never for the Steelers, now he has an injured shoulder that has kept him out of practice and most likely the second preseason game. Rookie Spencer Anderson has college experience there, but he's a rookie fighting for a roster spot and his best position is tackle. It has been said that maybe James Daniels could play there, but he's the starting right guard and he has had no appreciable practice time at center since signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2022. The Steelers open their regular season against a very good San Francisco team on Sept. 10, and they cannot afford to go into that game without a realistic plan at backup center. There don't seem to be a lot of options other than Green right now, and praying that Mason Cole starts all 17 games of the regular season and misses only 46 offensive snaps along the way is the worst option.

CARLOS ARVIZU FROM CDMX, MÉXICO: From the roster that won Super Bowl XL, how many players, so far, have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
ANSWER: Jerome Bettis was inducted as part of the Class of 2015, Troy Polamalu was inducted as part of the Class of 2020, and Alan Faneca was inducted as part of the Class of 2021. I know your question referred specifically to players, but just as another bit of information, assistant coaches Russ Grimm and Dick LeBeau both were inducted as players as members of the Class of 2010, and Bill Cowher was inducted as a coach as part of the Class of 2020.

MARK WAKELEY FROM DENTON, TX : Have you stopped doing the Asked and Answered podcasts? I love listening to it but haven't gotten a new one on Spotify since July 25.
ANSWER: The Asked and Answered podcast was put on hiatus during training camp, because Tom Opferman and I were doing The Training Camp Report from 8-9 a.m. every day of training camp. The next Asked and Answered podcast will be done on Tuesday, Aug. 22.

TOM DELATTRE FROM ORLANDO, FL: I found it interesting that in 1974 Chuck Noll let Joe Gilliam call his own plays, and then apparently Noll benched Gilliam for calling too many passing plays yet the Steelers still rushed for over 2,400 yards that season and we all know how the 1974 season ended. Was it a technology issue or just Noll's way of calling plays back then? What was the role of the offensive coordinator, and did Terry Bradshaw call his own plays for all four of Steelers' Super Bowl wins during the 1970s.
ANSWER: Chuck Noll believed in having the quarterbacks call their own plays, and the Steelers didn't even have an offensive coordinator on staff until Tom Moore was elevated to that position from wide receivers coach for the 1983 season. Before then, Noll worked with the quarterbacks personally and from that relationship game plans were formed. And during the four Super Bowl wins during the 1970s, Terry Bradshaw called all of the plays.

MICHAEL WALTER FROM BUTLER, PA: It seems that a lot more teams are having joint practices with other teams and then not having to play their star players in preseason games. I know Bill Cowher seemed to have a lot of joint practices with Washington over his time. Why do you think Mike Tomlin doesn't do that?
ANSWER: The best way to get work done during the run-up to a regular season is in preseason games, because those are worked by NFL officials, and that provides a reasonable expectation for the rules to be enforced and fighting and scuffles to be kept to an absolute minimum. Often, joint practices descend into a series of fights and other non-productive behavior between the teams, and I believe that's a reason why the usage of joint practices has declined in recent summers. With the preseason schedule having been reduced to three games, there is less of a need for taking the risk associated with joint practices and simply depending on preseason games to get players the repetitions they will need to be prepared for the regular season.

MIKE DEHEER FROM SURREY, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA: At this point, I see two players on the injured reserve list and four others were waived injured. How do the salaries and bonuses of these injured players count against the salary cap? Does waiving them before the first season game mean nothing counts against the cap?
ANSWER: The general rule of thumb is this: All player costs count on the salary cap. Players on the injured reserve list are paid the salary called for in their contracts, and that counts on the salary cap. When players are waived injured, whatever settlement is reached between the player's agent and the team counts on the salary cap. When a team puts a player on the injured reserve list or reaches an injury settlement with a player, the guys signed to replace those guys on the roster have to be paid at least the NFL minimum salary, and that counts on the salary cap. That's why it's so important for teams to carry a salary cap cushion for cases like this.

RAYMOND CHASON FROM CONNEAUTVILLE, PA: With the Steelers having three preseason games this summer, will the defensive starters play this week?
ANSWER: This is what Coach Mike Tomlin said about that at his news conference on Thursday, "I am excited about seeing some guys play this year for the first time, guys we held out last week (in Tampa), guys like Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick and Patrick Peterson and Joey Porter Jr. and Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee are some of the guys who didn't play last week who were scheduled to play. I'm looking forward to watching those guys, particularly the guys who are new to the NFL, like Joey, or new to us, like Keanu and Pat."

HAROLD JETER FROM UPPER MARLBORO, MD: Is Santonio Holmes in the Hall of Honor?
ANSWER: He is not.

MIKE CALLENDER FROM MOORESVILLE, IN: Do you know if Derek Watt has signed with another team?
ANSWER: He has not. He remains an unrestricted free agent.

LEE PETTIGREW FROM CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA: Too late to ask a relevant question about Jory Porter Jr. since he plays before your next edition. Perhaps I should have written 6 questions about Cory Trice Jr., which the most passive of NFL fans could have answered. So maybe I will ask an irrelevant question from 50 years ago.
ANSWER: Maybe news travels slowly to Western Canada, but there has been a game day installment of Asked and Answered that has been appearing on for several years now. And so such a weak attempt by you at being a smart aleck goes wasted.