Let’s get to it:
DAVID LUPREK FROM JOHNSTOWN, PA: I was surprised and impressed to read recently on the Steelers website that Jack Lambert and Jack Ham had 28 and 32 career interceptions, respectively. Those numbers would be decent even for defensive backs. I was wondering if you had an idea of where they ranked among all-time interceptions for linebackers.
ANSWER: According to Pro Football Journal, here is a list of the all-time interception leaders among linebackers: 1. Don Shinnick (1957-69) 37; 2. Stan White (1972-82) 34; T-3. Jack Ham (1971-82) 32; T-3. Nick Buoniconti (1962-76) 32; T-3. Lee Roy Jordan (1963-76) 32; 6. Ray Lewis (1996-2012) 31; 7. Sam Huff (1956-69) 30; T-8. Jack Lambert (1974-84) 28; T-8. Chuck Allen (1961-72) 28; T-8. Donnie Edwards (1996-2008) 28; T-11. Bill Bergey (1969-80) 27; T-11. Willie Lanier (1967-77) 27; T-11. Dave Robinson (1963-74) 27; T-11. William Thomas (1991-2004) 27; T-15. Bobby Bell (1963-74) 26; T-15. Ted Hendricks (1969-83) 26.
ROB HARDY FROM SAN LUIS POTOSÍ, SLP, MÉXICO: It is a fact that just 15 takeaways is a pretty poor number for a contender's defense. In your opinion, what did the 2018 Steelers' defense fail to do? Was it coaching, playing, or both?
ANSWER: Few things in the NFL are cut-and-dried, and so just about any outcome happens as a result of a variety of factors. But in my mind, blaming coaching for the lack of interceptions in 2018 would mean it was coaching that resulted in Mel Blount finishing his Steelers career with 57 interceptions, or Troy Polamalu and Darren Perry finishing with 32 apiece. The outcome of games in the NFL often come down to the ability of the guys on the field to make plays, and the Steelers defense didn’t do enough of that in 2018 when it came to taking the ball away. If that doesn’t improve in 2019, contending for a championship will not be possible.
RAY MARSHALL FROM LANCASTER, PA: The greatest play in Pittsburgh Steelers history is the Jack Lambert hit out of bounds on Brian Sipe, because that was the moment I became a Steelers fan for life.
ANSWER: I would not agree with your assessment of that being the greatest play in franchise history, but here is a little anecdote attached to it. Jack Lambert was ejected from that game for hitting Browns quarterback Brian Sipe, but in all fairness my recollection of it was it happened close to the sideline but wasn’t out of bounds. Anyway, in the locker room following the game, Lambert was asked by reporters why he was ejected, and his answer was something to the effect: “(The referee) said I hit him too hard.” That brought this follow-up question: “Did you hit him too hard?” To which Lambert responded, “I hit him as hard as I could.”
CARLOS ARVIZU FROM MEXICO CITY, MEXICO: If training camp begins on July 25, will rookies and first-year players report on July 19?
ANSWER: Players are allowed to check into Rooney Hall as early as July 24 should they choose, but the official check-in day is Thursday, July 25 when all players are required to report for weigh-ins and to participate in the conditioning test, which is scheduled for 4 p.m.
TIMOTHY RICHARD FROM SULPHUR, LA: Have the Steelers ever had more than one first-round pick in a draft during the Mike Tomlin era? A lot of fans seem to forget how hard it is to rejuvenate a roster using late-in-the-round picks year in and year out.
ANSWER: The last time the Steelers had more than one first-round pick in any draft was in 1989 when they selected Georgia running back Tim Worley and Pitt offensive lineman Tom Ricketts.
ZACH SHUDER FROM CHANDLER, AZ: With all the talk about the depth chart at running back, inside linebacker, and wide receiver, who do you see ending up behind starters Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds at safety?
ANSWER: To a large degree I see that as being a wide-open competition, with injuries and special teams being huge factors. Here are some names to pay attention to once practices begin at Saint Vincent College and then once the preseason opens on Aug. 9 vs. Tampa Bay: P.J. Locke, Marcus Allen, Jordan Dangerfield, Kameron Kelly, and Dravon Askee-Henry. And then also remember that a guy such as Cam Sutton, currently listed at cornerback, also could find himself in the mix at safety depending upon how things unfold.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In response to the many questions from readers of Asked and Answered about the Steelers alumni who will be appearing at the meet-and-greet sessions during training camp, here is a list of the dates and which players will appear. Each session will be from 2-3 p.m. and will take place inside the FedEx Air and Ground activation area on campus. The only exceptions will be on Friday, Aug. 2, which is the date of the team’s annual night practice at Latrobe Stadium. Those two Aug. 2 sessions will be inside LatrobeFest, which will be located in the parking lot adjacent to Latrobe Stadium.
Friday, July 26: Merril Hoge
Saturday, July 27: Donnie Shell
Sunday, July 28: Charlie Batch
Monday, July 29: Rocky Bleier
Wednesday, July 31: Santonio Holmes
Thursday, Aug. 1: Greg Warren
Friday, Aug. 2 at 4 p.m.: Jon Kolb
Friday, Aug. 2 at 5 p.m.: Arthur Moats
Saturday, Aug. 3: Jason Gildon
Tuesday, Aug. 6: Mike Wagner
Wednesday, Aug. 7: Chris Hoke
Sunday, Aug. 11: Shaun Suisham
Monday, Aug. 12: John Banaszak
Wednesday, 14: Matt Spaeth
Thursday, Aug. 15: Randy Grossman