Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Aug: 27

Let's get to it:

CARROLL DEATON FROM ERWIN, TN:
Why isn't Dan McCullers getting more playing time at nose tackle?

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During the offseason, Dan McCullers went from 365 pounds to 350 simply by cutting out the late-night snack food binges while playing video games that were a part of his life in high school and college. That said, losing weight is only one part of it, and it also should be explained that playing time is given to those who have shown the coaches they deserve it. Earning playing time comes from displaying a consistency of effort, by handling yourself as a professional with regards to meetings and assignments, and all of the mental aspects of the game. A player's second season is when most show the most significant improvement, and in fact it's when the most significant improvement is expected. Coach Mike Tomlin is on record as being someone who expects that, and it's very possible the Steelers just aren't seeing the things from McCullers they need to see from him in terms of the commitment and dedication necessary to succeed in the NFL. McCullers certainly has the ability, and the Steelers recognize that, but when you realize he was a 6-foot-7, 360-pound defensive lineman who didn't get selected until the sixth round of the 2014 draft, there had to be some things preventing NFL teams from picking him a lot earlier than that. McCullers is talented to the degree that he could make a lot of money as a professional football player, but there is some sense he's going to need to understand that it indeed is a profession and then embrace doing all of the things required of the profession.**

MICHAEL ROBERTS FROM CECILIA, KY:
In your opinion, who has been the most surprising player so far this training camp/preseason?

I'm going to go with Tyler Murphy. This is a guy who has switched back-and-forth from quarterback to wide receiver, and I never have seen him look like he didn't belong. When the Steelers have needed his arm, he has worked at quarterback and given them quality reps in practice, and the same can be said for the time he has spent at wide receiver. While Murphy hasn't taken any snaps as a quarterback during the preseason game, he does have six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown as a receiver, with four of those receptions for 61 yards and a 22-yard touchdown coming last Sunday against the Packers. It seems like a long-shot for Murphy to make the final 53-man roster, because his two positions are stocked with veteran talent ahead of him on the depth chart. But Murphy definitely earned his room and board at Saint Vincent College.

RIVAZ REED FROM LAWTON, OK:
Why is everybody satisfied with Landry Jones? I think that during his three training camps he hasn't proven to be a quality backup. Why didn't we look at what Tajh Boyd could have done in preseason games before releasing him?

I'm not sure to whom you're referring when you state that everybody is satisfied with Landry Jones. When asked, Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and Todd Haley all separately have said Jones has made some improvements and that he has done some good things with the playing time he has received. That certainly doesn't imply satisfaction. As for Tajh Boyd, I addressed this in a previous Asked and Answered, but I'll do it one more time: After coming from Clemson where the offense was no-huddle, hurry-up, shotgun formation all the time, Boyd never learned to receive a play call from the sideline and communicate it in a huddle and then get the team to the line of scrimmage, shift the formation if necessary, start a man in motion if that's what the play required, and then take the snap from under center without fumbling before the play-clock expires. All of that is required to play quarterback in the NFL. Boyd couldn't execute all of those fundamentals consistently enough to earn playing time in the preseason games. Boyd was a sixth-round pick of the New York Jets in 2014 and was cut without playing in a preseason game, and then he came to the Steelers and was cut again without playing in a preseason game. NFL teams don't just discard quarterback prospects for no reason.

CLARENCE TUNSTALL FROM REISTERSTOWN, MD
This may seem far-fetched, but I've watched Mike Glennon play well yet continue to get overlooked. Is there any chance Pittsburgh could see him come this way as a backup if Bruce Gradkowski proves unable to continue as the Steelers backup?

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers apparently like Mike Glennon enough to hold onto him as a backup, but not enough to actually start him, which is why they spent the first overall pick of the 2015 draft on Jameis Winston. And because Glennon has two more years on a contract he signed as a rookie – that includes the minimum annual salary – Glennon isn't a burden on the Buccaneers' salary cap. If I'm Tampa Bay, I'm keeping Glennon unless another team offers me something ridiculous in a trade, and the only kind of team that would do that is if it saw Glennon as a potential starter. Finally, I don't believe Glennon is yet at the point in his career where he's mentally ready to accept a role as a backup, and the Steelers recently went through something like that with Brian Hoyer. Besides, all of that became a moot point when the Steeler signed Mike Vick.**

DON STOLL FROM FORT PIERCE, FL:
I'm sure you will think this to be a stupid question but here goes: Do the players on the practice squad actually practice every day? Do they get paid, and how much if they do?

The players on the practice squad practice every day there is a scheduled workout, and some of them do extra work in the weight room or on their conditioning on normal days off for the rest of the team. The minimum salary in 2015 for a player on the practice squad is $6,600 a week, and that's paid for each of the 17 weeks of the regular season – 16 games plus the bye – for a total of $112,200. Teams can pay their players on the practice squad more than $6,600 per week, with the understanding the final totals fit under the salary cap for that year.

TIM CONNOR FROM CROFTON, MD:
I'm born and raised in Pittsburgh, but lived most of my life in the Washington, D.C., area. I'm always amazed at how Steelers Nation travels to visiting sites. What's your take on this?

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Steelers Nation Unite met up with fans in Jacksonville on Thursday and Friday night before the Steelers preseason game against the Jaguars.

Let's start with you going back and re-reading the first sentence of your question. How many other people do you think fall into the same category? There are thousands and thousands of people like you who were born in Pittsburgh or Western Pennsylvania and moved to another part of the country for various reasons, and there's a high probability their favorite NFL football team is the Steelers. Also, football fans of a certain age likely grew up watching one or another successful era of Steelers football, either the 1970s or the decade between 2000-10, and that also can lead to out-of-market fans becoming hooked on the Steelers. But even though there are a number of plausible explanations, experiencing it first-hand is eye-opening. There was 2004 when Steelers fans took over Texas Stadium, or in 2008 when Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell had to go to a silent count during a Monday night game at FedEx Field, or any of the last three Super Bowls when Terrible Towels ruled in Ford Field, Raymond James Stadium, and AT&T Stadium. It's a phenomenon, no doubt.**

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