Let’s get to it:
RICHARD MATOR FROM CANAL WINCHESTER, OH: A morning show on NFL Network keeps talking about how the Steelers won’t have the ability to beat the Patriots because the Steelers don’t have the work ethic that the Patriots have. As the main example they spoke of the absence of players at OTAs and said that serious players would be working hard to get to the Super Bowl, but Ben Roethlisberger goes on vacation and Antonio Brown didn’t attend all of the sessions, either. Could there be any substance to their criticisms?
ANSWER: I long have maintained that those who watch the growing number of sports blab-fests are getting what they deserve – the opinions of largely uninformed people. As for this contention in particular – and I’ll have to take your word for what was said because I wouldn’t watch that stuff except under court order – allow me to inject a few facts: Both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski skipped OTAs this spring, and Bill Belichick, whose motto is No Days Off, cancelled the final two OTAs of the spring, which effectively should have changed his motto to Two Days Off. And lastly, the Patriots didn’t beat the Steelers last season; Al Riveron did.
BOB EAMON FROM MISSOULA, MT: How can I purchase a gold with black numbers "practice-jersey?”
ANSWER: The Steelers sell a limited number of those practice jerseys, and they do it only at selected sites. The primary location to purchase one of these practice jerseys is at the Steelers Official Merchandise tent that’s located on the Saint Vincent College campus during the time the team is there for training camp each summer.
TYLER DONATHAN FROM CRESTLINE, OH: Obviously Artie Burns has one cornerback position locked up, but who would man the other position?
ANSWER: Joe Haden is much more of a lock to start at cornerback than Artie Burns, who may find himself in a competition with Cam Sutton. I believe Burns is the better player and that he will prevail in the camp competition, but he’s going to have to prove that through the preseason.
NIC GRAHAM FROM COVINA, CA: Does a team trying to move up in the draft via trade have to disclose the player they are after to the team they are asking to trade with?
ANSWER: They don’t have to, but it might help facilitate the deal if the team did.
TRISH SCATTERGOOD FROM VERO BEACH, FL: Why has Troy Polamalu not been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame? He was one of the most outstanding players in the NFL and certainly was a star with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
ANSWER: The Pro Football Hall of Fame requires a five-year waiting period following a player’s retirement before he is eligible to be elected. Troy Polamalu retired in 2015, and so he is eligible to be a part of the Class of 2020.
AUSTIN VARNER FROM ASTORIA, OR: I read where Randy Fichtner said that Mason Rudolph “is everything we’ve asked for,” and that some writers are saying Rudolph has a great shot at becoming the backup quarterback. Have there been talks about Rudolph becoming the backup?
ANSWER: “Talk” isn’t going to be what sets the depth chart at quarterback. Those jobs and the roles that come with them will be decided on the field. What fans should understand is that offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner has a high level of confidence in Landry Jones as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup.
GERRY IABONI FROM VAUGHAN, ONTARIO, CANADA: My family and I are making our annual road trip through the USA, and this year it takes us through Pittsburgh. I am coming through on Friday, Aug. 3, and what are the chances of getting into Friday Night Lights at Latrobe Stadium?
ANSWER: Your chances are excellent. Simply purchase your tickets at the gate.
DOUG KELLAR FROM WARREN OH: How serious is JuJu Smith-Schuster’s knee injury?
ANSWER: By the end of minicamp, JuJu Smith-Schuster was participating in individual drills, so my guess is that the knee injury is not severe and that he should be ready for the start of training camp.
SCOTT GRANNAS FROM DUNCANSVILLE, PA: I believe Le’Veon Bell will play for the Steelers this year, but most likely under the franchise tag and not under a long-term deal. My question is would other teams pay him the $14.5 million per year he is asking for under a long-term deal? Basically, is there a market out there at that $14.5 million price range, or are the Steelers the only team who would pay him that, because the franchise tag sets the price?
ANSWER: For the answer to that question, you’ll have to wait until March 2019, unless the Steelers sign Le’Veon Bell to a long-term contract before the July 16 deadline.
CARL LEFTWICH FROM RALEIGH, NC: I keep seeing people compare Terrell Edmunds’ and Ryan Shazier’s measurements as “close” and then those people suggest moving Edmunds to inside linebacker. Am I the only one who saw them standing side by side at the draft? Shazier appeared much bigger in height, weight, width, etc. I’m all for moving around players for matchups and packages, but c’mon.
ANSWER: As they say in church basements, “Bingo.”
MATHEW TORRES FROM PANORAMA CITY, CA: A couple months ago there were many articles claiming the Steelers’ throwback uniform would be the “batman” ones from the 1966-67 season. Why did they change it to the 1970s jerseys instead?
ANSWER: I can tell you definitively that the choice of throwbacks for the upcoming season never changed. It always was going to be the 1970s version. Those articles you read were incorrect.