DETROIT – Let's get to it:
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Steelers will wear their white jerseys for tonight's game against the Detroit Lions.
PAUL BUREK FROM SAVANNAH, GA:
I have been wondering who Mike Tomlin talks to through his headset during a game? Does he have the freedom/ability to speak with the offensive and defensive line coaches? Does he just communicate with the booth? Also, how often does he talk with Ben Roethlisberger when the offense is on the field, as well as with Ryan Shazier when the defense is on the field?
ANSWER: As the head coach, Mike Tomlin, through his headset, is able to talk to anyone and everyone on his staff who's also wearing a headset. People on the sideline, people up in the booth, whomever and wherever. But he cannot talk to either Ben Roethlisberger or Ryan Shazier through his headset and into the receiver in their helmets. That ability is reserved for the play-callers, and in the case of the Steelers the play-callers are Todd Haley on offense and Keith Butler on defense. But as previously explained, Tomlin can hear everything Haley says to Roethlisberger and Butler says to Shazier, and he can speak to both Haley and Butler directly.
TOM WHITLEY FROM MANCHESTER, TN:
I definitely agree that Martavis Bryant should not be traded, but it seems that he gave up on some passes from Ben Roethlisberger. At what point does lack of production outweigh talent and adjust the depth chart? Additionally, who is most likely to fill the deep threat role when Bryant is out of the lineup?
ANSWER: Martavis Bryant is not the "give up on passes" kind of player. If you say he lost the ball, or made some mistake in running the route, I could accept that in some instances, but I just don't believe he's a quitter, even when it comes to an individual play in the larger context of a game. Also, don't eliminate the possibility that the ball was thrown to the wrong area, because nobody is perfect. As for Bryant's job and his role within the offense, that's something that will have to be taken from him by another receiver who earns the chance and then takes advantage of the opportunity by making plays. So far this season, I haven't seen anyone doing that. Justin Hunter figures to get a chance tonight when Bryant in inactive, and then we'll see from there.
GIL TROUTMAN FROM EDINBORO, PA:
Most players wear very tight jerseys. In an earlier Asked & Answered you indicated jerseys are washed and re-worn multiple times. What technique is used to have them stick so fast to their shoulder pads?
ANSWER: Double-sided tape. But keep that just between us.
JAY ALLEN FROM BUFFALO, NY:
Can you tell me why wide receivers get praise for blocking on a run play? Isn't it their job just as much as catching a pass? To me, it seems like praising a punter for catching a snap.
ANSWER: First off, receivers only get credit for blocking on a running play when they do it well and it leads to a bigger gain for the back. Running backs get praise for picking up the blitz. Safeties get praised for coming up and filling the hole to lay a hit on a running back. Defensive backs get praise for open-field tackles that prevent big gains. There are gritty, dirty parts of players' jobs that if done enthusiastically and well deserve praise. My opinion.
DENNIS PARSONSON FROM VANCOUVER, CANADA:
Curious to hear your take on Martavis Bryant not playing today with regards to how it won't hurt the team? Mike Tomlin said he wanted to "punish Martavis without punishing the team." Everybody said he had a great week of practice, and we all know what he can do.
ANSWER: There are some inaccuracies in your question that I must correct before we proceed. Mike Tomlin said that "punish the player without punishing the team" thing after Antonio Brown's Facebook Live incident after the win in Kansas City during the 2016 AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs, with the next game being the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots,. And I believe we all can agree that Brown is on a whole different level as a player/contributor than Martavis Bryant. Also, the references to Bryant's great week of practice had to do with his work leading up to the game in Cincinnati. Not that he didn't work hard in practice this past week, but I'm just clarifying.
We all may know what Bryant can contribute, but that hasn't happened yet this season. Against the Bengals, Bryant had one catch for 3 yards, and to this point in the season he is averaging 2.6 catches per game. What Bryant can be is vastly different than what he is now, and Tomlin clearly decided he had to do something to change Bryant's behavior.
VINCENT PIRAINO FROM STROUDSBURG, PA:
According to reports from around the league, Martavis Bryant has been demoted to the practice squad. Does that affect cap space, does his pay drop? And who got bumped from the practice squad to make room for him? Thanks. Always appreciate your info.
ANSWER: Again, let's clarify a few things. Martavis Bryant was "demoted" – if that's what you want to call it – to the scout team. All that means is that Bryant was helping the Steelers No. 1 defense prepare for the game against the Lions. In this role, Bryant remains on the 53-man roster, which means he gets paid his regular game check. There is no impact on the salary cap, and no roster move was necessary for this "change."
JOSEPH ZOOK FROM WYTHEVILLE, VA:
If a running back runs for positive yards, and then he fumbles, do those yards count?
ANSWER: Yes, but only to some degree. During the play, the officials will make a determination as to where the ball was fumbled, and based on that determination, the running back will be credited with a certain amount of yardage.
JIM ROSS FROM TAMPA, FL:
One of the classifications on the daily practice participation report is "not injury related." Other than illness, what circumstances are included here?
ANSWER: It could be a coach's decision, as in an excused absence. As an example, a player's wife goes into labor and is taken to the hospital to deliver a baby. The coach can give the player permission to be there for the birth of his child, and that would be registered as missing practice with the "not injury related" designation. It doesn't have to be something bad when a player misses practice with that designation, and it usually isn't.
ROBERT ELLIS FROM MEMPHIS, TN:
Your piece on "what makes a good receiver" is by far one of the best articles I have read in a long time. It clearly puts a perspective on this situation, with Martavis Bryant's current behavior clearly not being who he has been since he was drafted. With that said, do you think his agent or advisor(s) will have him sit out the remainder of his contract if he is not traded?
ANSWER: The way contracts work in the NFL, that would be extremely bad advice, because if a player does that his original team retains his rights in perpetuity unless that team would decide to release him, which wouldn't happen. A player cannot force his contract to expire by withholding his services.
MIKE HOSKAVICH FROM BROCKWAY, PA:
Regarding your piece on "What makes a good receiver", I must say it's the best read of all your pieces. It's extremely spot on. These types of articles are what I look for. Nothing crass, like I read in "Asked and Answered." I thank you and look forward to more.
ANSWER: I'll try my best.