Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: June 16

Let's get to it:

GREG MARZOLF FROM PENDLETON, S.C.:
With all the potential starters at inside linebacker, what is the chance the Steelers explore trades for Sean Spence and Vince Williams, especially with Jordan Zumwalt and Anthony Chickillo waiting in the wings?

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Chris Combs and Jason Gavadza. Roger Knight. Matt Kranchick and Drew Caylor. Marvin Phillip. Mike Humpal. Keith Williams. Those names represent a group of players who came to the Steelers via the sixth rounds of different drafts, which is the same way Jordan Zumwalt and Anthony Chickillo came to the team over the past two years. My point is that sixth-round draft picks are hardly sure things, and so to assume that Zumwalt and Chickillo are players "waiting in the wings" instead of being players who have yet to show they even belong on an NFL roster isn't the way I would approach figuring out which 53 make up the best group to open the 2015 season. The way I see it, Spence and Williams clearly are going to be among the best 53 players who eventually assemble in Latrobe on July 25, and I want the best players. For me, it's foolish to look past players who have proven themselves to some degree in favor of the unknown.**

LARRY LANDRY FROM EDGEWATER, FL:
Love your column. So, let me ask this: What exactly is the difference between OTAs and minicamp?

According to Rams Coach Jeff Fisher, there is no difference, and that's why his team does not have a minicamp. The Rams' final OTA is set for June 18, the same day the Steelers end their offseason program with the final day of their minicamp. "I think when you look actually at the veteran minicamp, it's really no different than an OTA," said Fisher. "You're allowed to go on the field once. You get to have a walk-through. You get to keep them in the building for 12 hours rather than six. I personally think that's too much and too long during the offseason." As for the Steelers, minicamp starts today and runs through June 18, and it's close to a regular eight-hour day on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a shortened schedule for Thursday. Their time on the field each day is the same as it was for OTAs, but the session is scheduled for mid-afternoon – closer to the time when training camp practice begins. It's still football in shorts.

C.J. CAVEZZA FROM CHESAPEAKE, VA:
When we last won a Super Bowl, Lawrence Timmons floated around and saw a lot of time at outside linebacker. Last year when he pressured off the edge, he once again looked to be our best edge rusher. If Jarvis Jones proves again to be injury-prone, could you see Timmons moved to the outside since our most reliable depth is at inside linebacker?

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The top photos of LB Lawrence Timmons throughout 2014 season.

I will concede that in 2008, which was Lawrence Timmons' second NFL season, he was deployed as something other than a conventional inside linebacker because the Steelers had James Farrior and Larry Foote there. But one of the reasons Foote was not retained following Super Bowl XLIII was because the team saw Timmons as his replacement at inside linebacker. With the exception of a few desperate times created by a rash of injuries, Timmons has remained at that spot, and I dispute your contention that in 2014 "he once again looked to be our best edge rusher." James Harrison and Jason Worilds were the team's best edge rushers in 2014. One final disagreement: Jarvis Jones sustained a dislocated wrist last season, and that's not the type of injury typically associated with the term injury-prone. I am going to continue to stick up for Jarvis Jones because I believe he's going to be a player for this team, but as an answer to the question, I do not believe the coaching staff's response to a bad season from Jones would be to move Timmons to outside linebacker.**

TOM COOPER FROM CHOCTAW, OK:
As a life-long Steeler fan and a former U.S. Air Force Sergeant, I have seen Steeler fans in every state in the union and in many of the foreign nations I have visited over the years. I am very proud to display my Steelers gear everywhere I go. As I have traveled over the years, I am amazed at how many Steelers haters/jealous types there are in the world. I just chalk it up to what I like to call 'trophy' envy. Also, have you heard about the possibility of one of my favorite all-time favorite Steelers greats, Rod Woodson, getting into coaching, preferably with the Steelers, but anywhere would be a boon to the young men he could pass his knowledge onto.

From his retirement in 2003 to February 2011, Rod Woodson worked as an analyst for NFL Network and for the Big Ten Network. He spent the 2011 football season as the Oakland Raiders cornerbacks coach. He then returned to broadcasting in 2012-13 when he worked for Westwood One. Woodson currently is the Raiders assistant defensive backs coach. There seems to be little doubt that Woodson is interested in coaching, but I also believe he has a real interest in doing that close to where his family lives on the West Coast.

DONALD SNYDER FROM EFFORT, PA:
I am interested in learning the history of the Steelers from the 1930s to the 1960s. Is there a book or some other source like a DVD that would help me?

My suggestion would be a biography on Art Rooney Sr., titled "Rooney: A Sporting Life," written by Rob Ruck, Maggie Jones Patterson, and Michael P. Weber. It was published by University of Nebraska Press. It is a comprehensive biography on the Steelers founder, and therefore contains the most complete and detailed information I've ever come across on the era you mention. It's a 521-page book that grows to 604 pages with notes and bibliography. Well-researched.

DANIEL RUSSELL FROM RUTHERFORDTON, N.C.:
What is the real reason Dick LeBeau left to go to Tennessee? I just don't see a 78-year-old man packing up his bags to start anew somewhere else. Was there a conflict with Mike Tomlin in the direction the defense should take? Does Tomlin think the 3-4 is a thing of the past? If you don't know, can you speculate?

Your last sentence, to me, summarizes everything that's wrong with the Internet era in which we live. "If you don't know, can you speculate?" In other words, "If you don't know, make something up. Throw some stuff at the wall and see what sticks." If that's what you want, I suggest First Take on ESPN. That's not going to happen here.

JOE FANELLI FROM ALTOONA, PA:
Thank you for "Asked and Answered." Has there been any word on what game the Steelers will honor Jerome Bettis?

On Steelers.com, there is a Wednesday feature titled, "What's New on Wednesday." For example, last Wednesday, June 10, the training camp schedule was announced. The information you are seeking – the date of the Jerome Bettis Hall of Fame recognition and ring ceremony game – will be announced on Wednesday, June 24. The story will be posted by 9 a.m. EDT.

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