Let's get to it:
NATHAN THADEN FROM EL PASO, TX: Do you think there is a current defensive back on the Steelers roster or in the upcoming draft that the Steelers could go after, who could develop into a defensive playmaker like Troy Polamalu?
ANSWER: There will be playmakers among the defensive backs available in the 2019 NFL Draft, but by and large defensive playmakers are born and not developed. For a guy to be a defensive playmaker in the NFL, he will have been a defensive playmaker in college, and likely a defensive playmaker in high school. It's a fallacy that a coach or coaches can take a player lacking the ball skills and/or instincts required to be an NFL playmaker and turn him into one. And in the last decade of draft classes, playmaking defensive backs like Troy Polamalu are top 15 picks in the first round.
DAN CLARKE FROM STRABANE, PA: What is the rule when penalizing half the distance to the goal when the distance away from the goal allows the full penalty yardage to be marked off? A 10-yard penalty that occurs when the line of scrimmage is the 12-yard line is marked off half the distance to the goal.
ANSWER: When the ball is inside the 20-yard line, all 10-yard penalties are half-the-distance; and when the ball is inside the 10-yard line, all 5-yard penalties are half-the-distance.
GEOFFREY JONES FROM PALM BAY, FL: Do you think that the Steelers are going to make a play to keep Le'Veon Bell, or do you think it's time to give up on that and just get the draft pick?
ANSWER: I really have no idea what the Steelers plan to do with Le'Veon Bell once the 2018 season is over, and I don't even know that they know at this point. But what I would do is let him go to free agency, use the extra salary cap space to extend some current players, and take the compensatory pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
JON SWEETEN FROM CHESAPEAKE, VA: In looking at the Emmanuel Sanders catch with about five minutes left in the third quarter that moved the ball to the Steelers 5-yard line, the ball came out of his hands after his body hit the ground. Clearly the ball did not "survive the ground." Why was that ruled a catch?
ANSWER: The "survive the ground" component of the catch rule was eliminated last offseason. Now, it's possession of the ball, down inbounds, make a football move. That's what is necessary to qualify as a catch now. I'm not saying that Emmanuel Sanders did all of those things; I'm just explaining the rule
BOB RUSSAK FROM HASTINGS, NY: Why are the Steelers so hesitant to activate Ola Adeniyi? With the lack of depth at outside linebacker and injuries, it would seem logical to bring him up for at least a try. Do they think he is not ready yet?
ANSWER: It's obvious the Steelers haven't believed Ola Adeniyi was ready to be thrown onto the field during December of a regular season with the Steelers fighting for a spot and seeding in the playoffs, and with their schedule containing three teams – the Chargers, Patriots, and Saints – that are a combined 26-5 as of this posting. While Adeniyi impressed during the preseason, it should be remembered that he didn't get a lot of playing time against guys who are starters in the NFL during that phase of the process, and so the belief that he's somehow going to be capable to do against seasoned NFL starters on playoff-caliber teams what he did against down-on-the-depth-chart players during the preseason is very unrealistic and unfair to him. But as I've responded to other such submissions, if the Steelers got hit with injuries at the position, then things could change with Adeniyi, and that's exactly what has happened. With Bud Dupree saying he sustained a torn pectoral, Adeniyi was added to the 53-man roster yesterday, and Matthew Thomas was waived to open a spot for him. But I caution fans to be patient with Adeniyi, because he's still very much a developing prospect.
STEVE SHANTA FROM AYR, SCOTLAND: I travelled from Scotland in September for a family reunion in Pittsburgh where my brothers and I attended the Steelers home game vs. the Chiefs. During that weekend we enjoyed some of the Pittsburgh's best known local "traditional' eateries in the Strip including Primanti Bros. and DeLuca's Diner. During the season, do the Steelers get to enjoy these feast-treats, or are their team meals restricted to a "training table" formula?
ANSWER: The food the Steelers provide to their players is coordinated and overseen by nutritionists and dieticians, but players also have free time and have the ability to eat meals off campus, so to speak.
ROY PERRIN FROM FUQUAY VARINA, NC: The Steelers appear to me to have the toughest schedule remaining in the division. Does the strength of schedule play into the playoff or seeding picture at all like it does in college?
ANSWER: The only places where strength of schedule plays a role in the NFL are in the tiebreaker system and in determining draft order. Strength of schedule is ranked either fifth or sixth on the list of NFL tiebreakers, and it routinely is used to place teams with the same record in an order for the NFL draft.
JON SWEETEN FROM CHESAPEAKE, VA: Bravo on the 40th Anniversary series on the 1978 Steelers. Very enjoyable reads, excellent work.
ANSWER: Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you are enjoying it. The final of the four parts appears on Steelers.com at 10 a.m. today.