Let's get to it:
JERSEY UPDATE: The Steelers will be wearing their black jerseys in the game against the Miami Dolphins today.
GUSTAVO BURGUETE FROM QUERETARO, MÉXICO:
I would like to know if Troy Polamalu's No. 43 jersey was retired? I became a Steelers fan when I saw him play. He was a unique player, just saying.
ANSWER: The Steelers have retired only two jerseys: Ernie Stautner's No. 70, and that was done in 1964, and Joe Greene's No. 75, and that was done in 2014. I can tell you that since he retired in 2015, no player has been issued Polamalu's No. 43, and I don't expect that number to be returned to circulation anytime soon.
JOSEF HOELSCHEIDT FROM DORTMUND, GERMANY:
Thanks for the great insight you share, despite so many weird questions. I hope mine does not fall in that category. I read on Steelers.com an article about the upcoming game in Miami, where players like Antonio Brown and Eli Rodgers ask teammates for tickets to give to friends and family. Does every player on both teams get a certain amount of tickets to give away? And is this number the same for every game?
ANSWER: Every player receives two complimentary tickets to each home game, and for each Steelers players there is an option to buy six more. Generally speaking, players are accommodated when it comes to tickets at home games. The situation on the road is different. Each visiting NFL team receives an allotment of tickets from the home team that can be sold to players. There are no comp tickets for road games. As far as who gets what for road games, the players generally have an understanding among themselves as to who has family in which parts of the country, and so guys from the South get taken care of when the Steelers play in the South, and the guys from Texas get taken care of when the Steelers play in Texas, etc. And to be clear, tickets to road games must be purchased at face value.
ELLIOTT JACOBSON FROM BISMARCK, ND:
It has always been my opinion that had Mike Merriweather spent his whole career with the Steelers he'd be in the Hall of Fame now. Holding out like he did sort of derailed what was shaping up to be a very promising career with the Steelers. What's your opinion on this?
ANSWER: I think you're looking back on Mike Merriweather's career with rose-tinted glasses. Let's look at the statistics: In six seasons with the Steelers – 85 total games – Merriweather had 31 sacks, 11 interceptions, and nine fumble recoveries. He had one defining season – 1984 – when he posted 15 sacks, but then he never finished any other season during his 11-year NFL career with more than six. It is true that Merriweather was more productive during his time with the Steelers than he was with either the Minnesota Vikings or the New York Jets, but induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame never was a realistic outcome for him. That's my opinion, since you asked.
ED GEORGE FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX:
Do you think Mike Tomlin will pay attention to Ben Roethlisberger's suggestion that they cut down on the amount of hard practices so as to reduce soft tissue injuries?
ANSWER: I believe that if there was any solid medical evidence that physical practices during training camp led to sprained ligaments and high ankle sprains and dislocated joints and broken bones in October, then Mike Tomlin would have been made aware of that and adjusted his training camp schedule accordingly. The Steelers ran a physical training camp, yes, but Tomlin also took care of many of his veteran players, his star players, even his up-and-coming star players by giving them periodic days off during those August workouts. In-season practices are NOTHING like those were in terms of the hitting, and so the physical practices – by NFL standards – ended with the preseason.
The best photos of CB Artie Burns from the 2016 season.
JOHN FLETCHER FROM PALM SPRINGS, CA:
Wouldn't it be invaluable to hire Marc Trestman in some capacity, any capacity for his wealth of inside information on the Ravens? I'm just saying.
ANSWER: The way I see it is that if Marc Trestman actually knew anything about the Ravens, he'd still be working there.
CRAIG REILLY FROM AKRON, OH:
Bruce Gradkowski doesn't show on the injured reserve list, and there is no transaction listing for him. Can you give us an update on his status?
ANSWER: Bruce Gradkowski was released from injured reserve on Oct. 7.
MATT MCKENNA FROM BROOK PARK, OH:
Want to say thank you for doing this. When I was deployed to the sandbox, reading Asked and Answered helped get me by. My question: I know the Steelers are going to win the Super Bowl, but who do you think will be the challenger they humiliate?
ANSWER: I believe the best team in the NFC right now is the Minnesota Vikings, and their defense should keep them among the teams fighting for homefield advantage in the playoffs. The Seattle Seahawks are pretty good, too. And in any game that ends with a trophy presentation, a 1-point victory is sufficient.
MARK GOLDMAN FROM MT. KISCO, NY:
When a player is on IR or suspended, does his salary come off the cap and become available in order to sign a replacement player?
ANSWER: Players under suspension are not paid and do not have their salary count against the team's cap for the duration of the suspension. Players on injured reserve are paid the salaries stipulated in their contracts and count against their team's cap. That's why teams like to keep a cushion on their cap, so that there can be some flexibility to replace injured players over the course of a season.
JEN CROSBY FROM GEORGETOWN, CANADA:
When do you think Karlos Williams will make the active roster? I think we can agree he is not a practice squad-type player.
ANSWER: I'm neither agreeing nor disagreeing with your assessment of Karlos Williams, even though his nine touchdowns as a rookie last season in Buffalo would help your argument. Also, I don't know Karlos Williams nor mean him any disrespect, but I'd be willing to bet you a lot of chocolate-covered pretzels that if there are no injuries at the running back position that he spends the year on the practice squad.**
NICK COALS FROM EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA:
I just want to make it clear I am not arguing with the decision, but I am curious how it is made. During the Chiefs game, in the fourth quarter Ben Roethlisberger was replaced by Landry Jones to get some snaps. Who makes the call to bring in the backups and any insight as to why it wouldn't happen earlier?
ANSWER: For the kind of substitution you're describing – as opposed to rotating outside linebackers or defensive linemen, as examples – that is Mike Tomlin's call, and you can be sure Tomlin is more interested in winning the game than getting Landry Jones any snaps. Why didn't it happen earlier? How much earlier would you have liked to see it happen? How big of a lead is a safe lead? In the NFL, it's often the trailing team that dictates such things by its approach to the game. Is the opponent continuing to attack in an effort to mount a comeback?
ZARED HOLLABAUGH FROM JESSUP, MD:
Not a question, but actually an answer. A reader asked the worst regular season loss by an eventual Super Bowl winner. That belongs to the 1994 San Francisco 49ers who lost to Philadelphia, 40-8, in Week 5.
ANSWER: I love it when people do my work for me.
KIT WILSON FROM GULF BREEZE, FL:
Is there any way the Steelers can give contracts to both Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell and not go over the salary cap?