Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Aug. 4

LATROBE, Pa. – Let's get to it:

CLINT LEDMAN FROM CLYDE, OH:
Isn't Dermontti Dawson in the Hall of Fame as well? In the last Asked and Answered, he was omitted from the answer to the questions about who presented each of the Steelers Hall of Famers.

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You are correct. I inadvertently skipped over Dermontti Dawson's name when typing in the list of people who presented former Steelers players for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Dawson, inducted in 2012, was presented by Steve Parker, his football coach at Bryan Station High School in Lexington, Kentucky. The story goes that Parker saw Dawson walking the halls of the high school, approached him and asked him to try out for football. Thanks for pointing out my omission.**

PHILLIP REID FROM NEW LONDON NC:
Does acquiring Brandon Boykin almost assure the secondary will play a cover-2 scheme?

It wasn't the acquisition of Brandon Boykin that convinced the Steelers to begin the process of implementing the cover-2 scheme to their defensive repertoire. That decision happened long before, likely back to the time when decisions were being made about moving on from Dick LeBeau as the coordinator and elevating Keith Butler into the position. Coach Mike Tomlin has been working with the defensive backs during the individual period of every practice of this training camp, and Boykin didn't arrive at Saint Vincent College until the Steelers already had six on-field sessions under their belts.

JASON NORTON FROM WINDBER, PA:
The cost to the Steelers for acquiring Brandon Boykin was described as a conditional fifth-round pick. What does that mean?

When trades are made in the NFL – which is rather rare on its own – the compensation to one of the teams often is a "conditional draft pick." That means the draft pick ultimately awarded can change based on whether or not certain conditions are met by the player for his new team at the other end of the deal. For example, a trade involving a player in exchange for a conditional sixth-round draft pick during the training camp/preseason phase might carry the condition that the player has to make his new team's 53-man roster in order for his original team to receive the draft-pick compensation. In this particular trade, the Steelers got Boykin, and the Philadelphia Eagles will get the Steelers' fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft unless Boykin plays 60 percent of the defensive snaps during the 2015 season. If Boykin plays at least 60 percent of the defensive snaps this season, the Eagles' compensation jumps to the Steelers' fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft.

KALANI NAZARRO FROM TEMPE, AZ:
With the recent pickup of Brandon Boykin, as much as the retirement of the legendary Troy Polamalu, will we see a defense as willing to blitz at any time as many Steeler fans had come to love during the tenure of Dick LeBeau, or will we see a defense more dedicated to defending passes?

One of the core principles of the zone-blitz scheme perfected by Dick LeBeau is that it didn't commit so many players to the pass rush that it left itself vulnerable in coverage. When LeBeau's defenses were at their best, it wasn't that a lot of players were rushing the passer, but the players who were rushing the passer were coming from places and in ways the offense didn't expect. That was designed to force the quarterback into making a quick decision on where to throw the football, and then maybe he ends up throwing the ball into coverage because the pressure hadn't been created by superior numbers. The all-time example for me is the final play of the first half of Super Bowl XLIII when Kurt Warner NEVER THOUGHT FOR A HEARTBEAT that James Harrison was going to drop into coverage. So anyway, I can tell you that a focus of the 2015 Steelers defense is putting pressure on the passer, but they don't want to accomplish that by having to outnumber the blockers all the time.

SCOTT SANSOM FROM WAYNE, WV:
Are you concerned about the backup quarterback situation? Bruce Gradkowski has been a non-participant for some time, right? Something needs to get taken care of soon. If someone else needs to be brought in, it should happen very soon. Landry Jones, Tajh Boyd, etc. are not viable options.

Bruce Gradkowski began training camp on the physically unable to perform list, and he also was held out of participating in some of the later OTAs plus minicamp. I don't believe the Steelers share your opinion that something needs to be done soon here. The Steelers haven't even opened their preseason, and this summer the Steelers' preseason is five games long. Training camp runs for another two-and-a-half weeks, and then there will be three preseason games after that. In the meantime, Landry Jones is getting a lot of work at Saint Vincent College, and he is getting better. I understand that this camp opened with Jones having to come a long way, but in fairness he is making steps in that direction. I believe at this point, the Steelers remain convinced Gradkowski will be back and able to give them what they're looking for in a veteran No. 2 quarterback. I don't believe the Steelers perceive the situation as one that needs to be addressed right now.

The Steelers Nation Unite tent was on site at Latrobe Memorial Stadium for Steelers Fest and Friday Night Lights.

PATRICK CASE FROM STATHAM, GA:
With Bruce Gradkowski starting off on the PUP list, and Tajh Boyd and Landry Jones inexperienced, do you think it would be a good idea for the team to look into signing a veteran quarterback like Michael Vick?

In the previous answer I addressed the situation in general, but as to your specific question about Michael Vick: If it's me, I'm not going down that road. Maybe never, but certainly not now. I really cannot envision a realistic scenario in which that move would pay the kind of dividends you would need from it if you made it.

JOSIAH PHILIPOSIAN FROM UNION CITY, OH:
Did Pittsburgh look into signing Darrelle Revis or Antonio Cromartie when they were still free agents, or did they want too much money?

The Steelers were one of a dozen or so teams that reached out to Darrelle Revis when he became an unrestricted free agent, but when it became clear the kind of contract Revis was expecting – the Jets signed Revis to a five-year deal including $39 million in guaranteed money and worth $70 million overall – the Steelers had to back away. They had Ben Roethlisberger to sign.

STEVE SIMONS FROM PHOENIX, AZ:
Who in the Steelers organization keeps pushing those "bumblebee" uniforms on us? Except for the Denver Broncos throwbacks, they have to be the ugliest ones out there. Why do we have to see them year after year?

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Photos from the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 8 game against the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field

The whole concept of throwback uniforms is to celebrate different eras in a franchise's history. For franchises such as the Steelers, history goes back 82 years, and a lot of what was considered fashionable over that long period of time is thought of as ugly today. Some franchise's throwbacks are virtually indistinguishable from their current uniforms, but others such as the Steelers and the Green Bay Packers – whose team colors actually started out as blue and gold because of Curly Lambeau's love for Notre Dame's football team – have some interesting choices available. The bumblebee jerseys are unique, and they are unique enough to elicit strong reactions, both pro and con, with segments of Steelers Nation. Believe it or don't, but people show up wearing them every day at training camp, and you can find them in the stands at every road game on the Steelers schedule. As long as there continue to be strong opinion about them, I believe they'll remain. The only thing capable of killing the bumblebees would be apathy.**

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