Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: August 2

LATROBE, Pa. – Let's get to it:

Do you think the Steelers will address the issue of Antonio Brown's contract to pay him his worth before the start of the regular season?


ANSWER: I believe the Steelers will stick to their policy of negotiating contract extensions for non-quarterbacks when the player is entering the final year of his existing deal. Antonio Brown was asked about his contract status after Sunday's afternoon practice here, and he said, "That's not my focus right now. It's certainly up to my agent. I'm confident in the Rooney family and the Pittsburgh Steelers getting something done. Right now, I'm just focused on the season, working on my game, and trying to get better."**

A few questions later, Brown was asked specifically if holding out during negotiations was a possibility. He said, "The Rooney family has really been first-class with me since I've been 21, 22 years old. I would never hold out. That's not a [way to earn a] good reputation."

I believe there could be a possibility the Steelers do something for Brown similar to what they did last year, i.e., moving money from his 2017 base salary into 2016. But I think that would be the extent of it.

Why is Antonio Brown speaking of his contract knowing that the Steelers do not negotiate non-quarterback contracts until they are fulfilled? To me it seems like Antonio loves being a Steelers player but is willing to move on.

ANSWER: You're mis-representing the situation. Players are expected to do interviews with the media during training camp, and Antonio Brown was requested by the media on Sunday. As I related in the previous question, he was asked specific questions about his contract situation, and I believe he handled those as well as it was possible to handle them. Re-read his answer to the question posed to him about becoming a holdout: "The Rooney family has really been first-class with me since I've been 21, 22 years old. I would never hold out. That's not a [way to earn a] good reputation."

I heard that the Steelers' night practice on Aug. 5 was going to be televised. Are you aware of this and, if so, do you know what network?

ANSWER: ESPN's SportsCenter On The Road will broadcast live from Latrobe Stadium from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 5. That coincides with most of the night practice, but I doubt ESPN will be televising practice in the way you mean, because I doubt Coach Mike Tomlin would allow it.

Do you think it's possible that Tyler Matakevich and Travis Feeney play on the defensive side of the ball this year at the same time?

ANSWER: Just to clarify, you're asking whether two rookies – one a sixth-round pick and the other the second pick of the seventh round – are going to be playing together on defense for the Steelers in 2016. If the question had been about their chances of both making the 53-man roster as rookies, I would've been dubious. For Feeney and Matakevich to be on the field on defense together for the Steelers this season, there would have to have been a serious injury epidemic hitting the linebacker position. No one wants that.

What is the Steelers' history on Monday Night Football, and Thursday Night Football?

ANSWER: On Monday Night Football, the Steelers' all-time record is 43-24. They are 25-5 at home, and 18-19 on the road. On Thursday nights – and the Steelers' first-ever game on a Thursday night was in Houston on Dec. 4, 1980 – they are 8-9. At home, they are 6-2, and on the road, they are 2-7.

Do you think David DeCastro has the potential to reach and possibly surpass the greatness of Alan Faneca?

ANSWER: Alan Faneca is a pretty high bar to set as a comparison. Faneca was a six-time first-team All-Pro, he played in nine Pro Bowls, and he was a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February. After his fifth NFL season, Faneca already had been voted first-team All-Pro twice and had played in two Pro Bowls. DeCastro is entering his fifth NFL season, and he has been voted to one Pro Bowl and was named first-team All-Pro for the first time in 2015. So, yes, there is a chance.

Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 4th training camp practice.

I am curious as to what a typical day at training camp is for the players. When does their day start and end? Meetings and such, just generalization of course. Are their days much the same in this regard, or does Coach Mike Tomlin like to keep them on their toes a bit?

ANSWER: On the practice schedule, yesterday – Monday, Aug. 1 – was a basically normal day, and this is how it broke down for the players. Breakfast was available in the cafeteria starting around 6:30 a.m. After that, but not immediately after, players broke up into position groups for meetings. Then came the morning walk-through, which ended around 11:30 a.m. Then lunch. Practice in the afternoon starts at 2:55 p.m., but before that players have to get dressed and taped in order to be on the field punctually. After practice, which can run as late as 5:30 p.m., comes dinner. Then there are more meetings, either as a whole team or in units, and those can last around 90 minutes. Team snack is after the meetings, and there are a number of healthy options available there. Curfew is at 11 p.m.

How secluded are players during training camp? Are they allowed to leave on their day off? Are family allowed to visit? Is there a "lock down" at night?

ANSWER: Players' families are permitted to visit training camp any and every day the players are here. They can attend practice and then have dinner in the cafeteria together. In addition, the Steelers always schedule a "family night" at camp, where watching practice and having dinner together is then supplemented by Mike Tomlin giving the players the night off from evening meetings so they can spend more time with their loved ones. Curfew, normally at 11 p.m., often is extended on "family night."

I've read about a couple of instances where drafted NFL players refused to sign with the teams that picked them. One player threatened to quit football forever in favor of playing baseball (John Elway), another refused to sign and was re-drafted the following year (Bo Jackson). What happens to the teams that drafted rookies who refuse to sign? Are they compensated the following year?


ANSWER: John Elway used the baseball threat to avoid playing for the Baltimore Colts, but before that ever became a contract issue, the Colts traded his rights to the Denver Broncos. Bo Jackson is the guy who refused to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was re-entered into the NFL Draft the following year. If a team drafts a player and doesn't sign him, that player is put back into the draft and the original team gets no compensation. In Jackson's case, the Raiders got Bo and Tampa Bay got nothing.**

Regarding the 1934 throwbacks. I know their popularity among Steelers fandom is a mixed bag (I personally like them) but I was wondering about their actual use during that season. I have a copy of the team photo showing the players wearing them along with matchbook covers showing photos of the players wearing them. The first football card set has painted pictures of the players wearing them. However a website I was reading researched all the archival newspapers they could find with photos from that season and couldn't find any showing that they were worn during an actual game. So do you know if they were worn in actual game or not?

ANSWER: No. I'm old. But not that old.

Training camp is a time when jobs can be won and lost, including yours. With that said, junior reporter Xiah Zepeda is coming on strong. Do you feel the pressure?

ANSWER: Based on the quality of questions I've been getting over the last week or so, I was thinking seriously about having Xiah submit some for Asked and Answered. Do you feel the pressure?

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