Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: July 13

Let's get to it:

PAUL BAIRD FROM MORGANTOWN, WV: Dan Moore Jr. had no time to sit back and learn before being thrown onto the field as the starting left tackle as a rookie. Do you think that Broderick Jones needs to sit and learn for at least five or six games, or should he be thrown into the fire?
ANSWER: One of the things I have learned when it comes to how decisions are made in the NFL is that they often come down to options. When Dan Moore Jr. came to the Steelers as a rookie in 2021, Alejandro Villanueva had left as an unrestricted free agent and Zach Banner was trying to fight his way back from a season-ending knee injury sustained in the 2020 regular season opener. That really didn't leave Coach Mike Tomlin with a lot of options at left tackle, and Ben Roethlisberger was going to return for his 18th and final season as the Steelers' starting quarterback. As training camp unfolded, the realistic options at offensive tackle boiled down to Moore, Chuks Okorafor, Joe Haeg, Chaz Green, and Banner, who obviously was limited physically by his knee. Shortly into the process, it became apparent that the only real decision came down to which ends of the line of scrimmage were going to be best for Moore and Okorafor. The situation this summer is completely different, because in Moore and Okorafor, the Steelers have two tackles with 33 and 52 regular season starts, respectively, on their NFL resumes. Granted, Broderick Jones was a first-round pick, and a first-round pick the Steelers moved up to draft, but because there are viable options it's not mandatory the team throws him onto the field as the starting left tackle for the regular season opener.

ALEX AUKSCUNAS FROM FORT EDWARD, NY: On the July 5 Asked and Answered podcast, you mentioned the Sunday, July 30 as a padded practice, with possibly backs-on-backers so I secured tickets. On it lists the practice as being "helmets only." Which is correct?

ANSWER: I was wrong. I was operating under the impression that there were three "acclimation days," or non-padded practices, at the start of training camp, but that was incorrect. Here is the accurate schedule: July 26: conditioning test (acclimation day 1) closed to the public; July 27: practice No. 1 (acclimation day 2 – helmets only) open to the public; July 28: practice No. 3 (acclimation day 4 – helmets/spider pads – not game-like pads) open to the public; July 30: practice No. 4 (acclimation day 5 – helmets/spider pads – not game-like pads) open to the public; July 31: players' day off; Aug. 1 – first practice in full pads, open to the public. I regret my mistake.

CONNIE L. LEWIS FROM SANDY LAKE, PA: Can you explain the new rules pertaining to quarterbacks? Will the Steelers dress three quarterbacks on game day and keep a fourth on the practice squad?
ANSWER: During the NFL Owners Meetings back in March, a rule was approved that allows teams to designate an emergency quarterback on game day. That emergency quarterback rule applies only to quarterbacks who are on a team's 53-man roster. Practice squad players are not eligible to be emergency quarterbacks, not even if they are elevated for that week's game. But the rule does allow a team to avoid counting the emergency quarterback as one of its active players on game day. The emergency quarterback would be eligible for in-game activation if the rest of a team's quarterbacks are unable to participate due to injury or ejection, but not as a result of a benching for poor performance. If one of the other quarterbacks is cleared to return to the game, the emergency quarterback must be removed at that time and can return only if there is once again no other option.

The following is the full language of the updated bylaw: "One hour and 30 minutes prior to kickoff, each club is required to establish its Active List for the game by notifying the Referee of the players on its Inactive List for that game. Each club may also designate one emergency third quarterback from its 53-player Active/Inactive List (i.e., elevated players are not eligible for designation) who will be eligible to be activated during the game, if the club's first two quarterbacks on its game day Active List are not able to participate in the game due to injury or disqualification (activation cannot be a result of a head coach's in-game decision to remove a player from the game due to performance or conduct). If either of the injured quarterbacks is cleared by the medical staff to return to play, the emergency third quarterback must be removed from the game and is not permitted to continue to play quarterback or any other position but is eligible to return to the game to play quarterback if another emergency third quarterback situation arises. A club is not eligible to use these procedures if it carries three quarterbacks on its game day Active List [47- or 48-players in 2023]."

Based on this emergency quarterback rule, I would expect the Steelers to approach a regular season game with Kenny Pickett as the starter, Mitch Trubisky as the backup, and Mason Rudolph as the emergency quarterback. As of this posting, I really don't see any advantage to keeping a fourth quarterback on the practice squad.

DENNIS NEVINSKY FROM ERIE, PA: How often do the Steelers keep 4 offensive tackles on the 53-man roster? I was wondering about Le'Raven Clark's chances of making the final roster.
ANSWER: I don't know if this has anything to do with Le'Raven Clark's chances of making the 53-man roster, but in 2022 the Steelers had Dan Moore Jr., Chuks Okorafor, Jesse Davis, and Trent Scott at offensive tackle on the depth chart heading into the regular season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

PAUL GRAFTON FROM LOWER BURRELL, PA: I have a small collection of Steelers jerseys and there is one I cannot remember purchasing or anything about the player. I have a No. 80 jersey with "Burress" on the back, but I can't remember why I bought it or anything about the player. I have been following the Steelers for many years, and my first season tickets were from 1969 when they finished 1-13, and a lot of players have come and gone. But I just cannot bring back any memory of a Burress.
ANSWER: Plaxico Burress was the Steelers' first round pick (8th overall) in the 2000 NFL Draft, which was the first of the Colbert-Cowher era. The 6-foot-5, 232-pound wide receiver from Michigan State played 6 seasons with the Steelers over two spans of his career – 2000-04, 2012 – and in Pittsburgh he finished with 264 catches for 4,206 yards (15.9) average and 23 touchdowns. All but 3 catches for 42 yards and 1 touchdown came during his first stint with the team. Burress really blossomed as a down-the-field weapon once the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger, and during Roethlisberger's rookie year Burress averaged 19.9 yards per reception, with Hines Ward (12.6 yards per catch) worked the underneath areas as part of the same offense. While Burress made some big plays for the Steelers, the biggest play of his 11-season NFL career came after he signed with the New York Giants as an unrestricted free agent. Heading into Super Bowl XLII, New England needed just that win to complete a 19-0 season, but Burress caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning with 35 seconds left to provide the Giants with the 17-14 victory that was the streak-breaker. You probably bought the No. 80 jersey based on the plays down-the-field Burress made for Tommy Maddox and then Roethlisberger, but I would've been more likely to purchase that No. 80 after he prevented the Patriots from completing that perfect season.

RICK JONES FROM CABOT, AR: With training camp about to start, and excitement almost at a feverish pitch, do you think that training camp could/would ever be televised for Steelers fans who can't be there?
ANSWER: It would be way too much of a competitive disadvantage for a team to televise its training camp practices. Yes, the Steelers allow fans and the media to watch every padded practice during their training camp at Saint Vincent College, but to allow opponents to have the ability to DVR those practices and archive them for the upcoming season would have to be something done over the head coach's dead body.

ED LAFLEUR FROM COURTENAY, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA: Will the Steelers wear a 90th-year patch?
ANSWER: When the Steelers have worn patches to commemorate those kinds of milestones it has been in conjunction with the franchise's number of seasons in the NFL. The Steelers' 90th Season as an NFL franchise was in 2022. If you recognize their 1933 season as No. 1, you'll come to understand that the 2022 season was their 90th.

RICHARD LADESIC FROM ACWORTH, GA: Very long-time Steeler fan. Where do we stand with the signing of our recent draft choices?
ANSWER: As of July 6, the only unsigned rookie is second-round pick Joey Porter Jr. Players are due to report to Saint Vincent College on Wednesday, July 26, and unsigned players are not permitted to participate at training camp.

DAN SUTTON FROM CARMEL, IN: Just a continuation of previous comments regarding the Hall of Honor Museum. I finally had the opportunity to visit the Museum recently, and one cannot say enough about it. While an absolute must for all Steeler fans, I think all fans of football, regardless of their favorite team, would enjoy a tour. I was fortunate enough to visit on a Tuesday afternoon in the offseason, so the group of people touring was small, and we were given all the time we wanted as we worked our way through. One of the gentlemen working that day convinced me to do the Broadcast Booth and call a play of my choosing, Afterward I found him and told him he was right – it was an unexpected blast. When exiting, the people who checked us in asked us how it was, and my answer says all one needs to know about the tour: "I can't wipe the smile off my face." Like all things related to the Steelers organization, the museum is very well done.
ANSWER: Thanks for the kind words. Very pleased you enjoyed yourself.

GENE GREY FROM MORENO VALLEY, CA: The Steelers colors are called black and gold. The 49ers colors are called cherry and gold. Whose gold is correct?
ANSWER: Fort Knox's gold is correct.