Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: June 16

Let's get to it:

Will the Steelers EVER get another alternate uniform? A suggestion: Scrap the khaki-colored pants and go black, murder out the uniform outfit. That would be nice.

ANSWER: Part of your angst, I believe, comes from a misunderstanding of this concept. For the Steelers, it's not about an "alternate" uniform, but a "throwback" uniform. For a franchise with the long and storied history of the Steelers, the throwback uniform is to represent what the players wore during a specific season/era of that franchise. It is not, and never was, an attempt to create an alternate look that would take into consideration contemporary fashion sense. So get ready for a return of the bumblebees, with this year's game being the one against the New York Jets on Oct. 9 at Heinz Field. I have to admit, I'm thinking you could be right about how black pants would look with the bumblebee jerseys, but then it wouldn't be the colors and design the Steelers wore in 1934.

Why do the Steelers use the throwback jerseys year after year when 90 percent of the fan base hates them?

ANSWER: Just a bit of history as we begin: the Steelers have worn these particular throwbacks (replicas of the uniform the team wore for the 1934 NFL season and what have come to be known as the bumblebees) five times so far. They wore them twice in 2102, and once in each of the 2013, 2014, and 2015 seasons. Their record in these throwbacks is 3-2, with the highlight being the 51-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts in which Ben Roethlisberger passed for 522 yards and six touchdowns.

OK, with that out of the way, all I'm going to tell you is that 90 percent of Steelers Nation does not hate the Bumblebees, because there are a lot of them in circulation, especially on the road. In both Cincinnati and San Diego last year, I'm going to guess that half of the Steelers fans in attendance at those games – and there was a considerable number of them at both – were wearing bumblebee jerseys. Trust me, they're easy to pick out of a crowd. I understand your objection, and it's possible you know a lot of other Steelers fans who share your opinion, but globally your contention is just not true. Steelers fans buy bumblebees, and they are continuing to do so.

Check out photos of when the Steelers have worn their 1934 Throwback uniforms.

There seems to be a number of quality tight ends going into camp. Do you think Jesse James will make the 53-man roster?

ANSWER: I believe Jesse James will make the 53-man roster, because I believe Jesse James understands that he's going to have to earn it and he'll comport himself accordingly at training camp.

Would you consider Ryan Shazier to be a bust ?

ANSWER: I believe that story is still being written, and the 2016 season is going to provide a lot of ammunition for one side of that argument or the other.

Seems as though the Steelers now have all the pieces in place. Providing the players learn from the coaches and each other, this should be an interesting year. What do you think are the biggest concerns facing the team?

ANSWER: Injuries, and I don't say that as a way of ducking the question. As many deficiencies as their roster had in 2015, I believe that once the playoffs arrived, if the Steelers simply had all of the players on that roster available, they had as good a chance at winning the Super Bowl as any other team in the postseason, even with all of those other teams also at full strength physically.

You receive a lot of weird questions. Like in the last edition about drafting a kicker in the first or second rounds, or if the Steelers have any interest in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Do you see the Steelers getting a long-term deal done with David DeCastro before training camp? I see him as a vital piece of the offense.

ANSWER: I believe the Steelers will sign David DeCastro to a contract extension, but the timing of that is harder to pinpoint. And to clarify, the Steelers' deadline for contract extensions is the start of the regular season. My experience is that a lot of these kinds of deals get done during training camp.

Do allocations of snaps change as the Steelers move through training camp? What percent of the snaps will the second and third teams see during training camp? How do the Steeler's coaches uncover talent if they are looking at the same first- and second-team players all the time?


ANSWER: It really doesn't work that way. Yes, there are drills, and there are segments within drills where the first group or the second group or the third group on offense or defense takes the field as a unit, but so much of the practices at Saint Vincent College are run with guys at the various units sharing the repetitions. As one example, every time Ben Roethlisberger is at quarterback, the receivers aren't necessarily Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton or Sammie Coates. And those top-level receivers will take repetitions with Landry Jones and Bruce Gradkowski and Dustin Vaughan, too, just as the defensive backs will rotate through covering the receivers in a seven-on-seven drill, as one example. Then based on how guys on the lower levels of the depth chart perform in these kinds of situations, they can be given chances to move up and work with the varsity, so to speak. Believe me, there are enough repetitions during practice and there is enough time over the course of four preseason games that there shouldn't be any over-use of the front-line players, nor any instances of guys being overlooked.**

How many Steelers are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Compared to the other 32 teams, where do the Steelers rank?

ANSWER: The Pro Football Hall of Fame keeps a tally on this, and the criteria it uses in keeping score has to do with the number of "Hall of Famers who made the major part of their primary contribution for any one club." Based on that, the Steelers are third all-time with 21 enshrinees, behind only the Chicago Bears with 27 and the Green Bay Packers with 24. Right behind the Steelers are the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, each with 19, the Cleveland/Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams with 17, the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders with 16, and the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers with 15 apiece.

As a Steelers fan, I'm embarrassed to say I'm from Texas. It seems most of the, dare I say, idiotic questions come from Texas. A first- or second-round pick for a kicker? I mean, come on.

ANSWER: Don't beat yourself up too much, but lately it does seem to be an epidemic coming from Texas. It seems as though most of the Johnny Manziel craziness comes from Texas, too.

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