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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: June 2

Let's get to it:

Could you see Ross Ventrone playing any role other than just special teams? Does he have other skills to maybe play safety or cornerback?

On defense, Ross Ventrone would play safety, not cornerback, but if he continues to be the kind of special teams player he was during the 2014 season, that alone can be good enough to keep him on the 53-man roster. Ventrone had two special teams tackles in the 2014 preseason, which got him a spot on the practice squad. Then after getting added to the roster, he was in uniform for nine regular season games, during which he had seven special teams tackles. Ventrone actually had two special teams tackles in each of his first two regular season games in a Steelers uniform. In the Wild Card Round game vs. the Ravens he had two more special teams tackles to up his total to 11. Coach Mike Tomlin tells players that special teams is an important part of winning football, and he means what he says. If Ventrone continues to make an impact on special teams, there will be a roster spot for him just because of that.

G'day and thanks for keeping me up to date all the way Down Under. These segments are great. Obviously been a lot of talk about our defense over the offseason, but just wondering where you think our offense can rank this year? Ben, AB and Le'Veon are first class, however, I also was excited by what I saw of Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton towards year's end. DeAngelo Williams is saying all the right things, and I think he can give us a very solid start to the year. Is being the No. 1 ranked offense too much of a stretch for Todd Haley's men?

The thing about rankings in the NFL is that they often measure irrelevant things, in my opinion. For example, the NFL ranks its offenses based on yards gained, and its defenses on yards allowed. Rather than being ranked No. 1 among all offenses in 2015 – because that would be in terms of yards gained – I would rather have the Steelers offense become a unit capable of carrying the team. The statistical areas I will be watching are third-down conversion percentage, red zone efficiency, points per game, and turnover ratio per game. I believe the Steelers have the pieces in place to put a dominant offense on the field this season. Staying healthy always is a consideration, but I think this is a team that can win with offense the way past Steelers teams won with defense.

To piggy-back on position change crazy talk, who do you think are the top three Steelers who changed positions? An example would be Larry Brown, who switched from tight end to offensive tackle.

I am going to give you my three all-time Steelers position switches, and we're going to count down to No. 1 to build the suspense. Or not. Anyway, No. 3 is quarterback Kordell Stewart to wide receiver in 1995. This was only a temporary switch, but what Stewart did to become a playmaking wide receiver in a matter of a couple of months at the highest level of the sport is extraordinary, and he was running real routes and catching the ball in traffic over the middle. The No. 2 position switch was safety Carnell Lake to cornerback. Another example of a short-term switch, this happened in both 1995 and 1997 when the Steelers were desperate for a cornerback to stabilize the secondary, and Lake played it well enough to help the team advance to a Super Bowl in 1995 and to the AFC Championship Game in 1997. The No. 1 position switch is the one you list as your example – Larry Brown from tight end to offensive tackle. Brown earned two Super Bowl rings as a tight end – in fact catching the clinching touchdown pass in Super Bowl IX – and two more as an offensive tackle.

Do you think Antonio Brown will skip training camp because he wants a new contract?

In my mind, there is no realistic scenario that exists where Antonio Brown is a holdout. That was an example of an agent floating some stuff via leaks to the media in an effort to see if he could get more money for his client.

What with OTAs underway, training camp at Latrobe doesn't seem too far away. Who decides which players room together? Is it the players or the coaches who make the decision?

At Saint Vincent College, the Steelers players are housed in Rooney Hall throughout training camp. There are some single-room accommodations, and those go to players based on seniority. As for the rooms that are shared, or for the rooms where the bathroom is shared, seniority is the first factor there as well, and Terry Cousin also can become involved in matching up players. Cousin was hired to be the Steelers' Player Engagement Coordinator earlier this offseason after Ray Jackson took a job with another NFL team. Cousin's job includes assisting players with life skills on and off the field during their playing careers, and he will assist with a player's transition to life after football. If the team perceives an opportunity to help an individual via a roommate/mentor situation at training camp, Cousin would be the man executing the plan.

Doran Grant is the one player from this draft class I'm excited about. I've heard he could have been selected as early as late in the second round, but he slid to us in the fourth round. Do you see him playing cornerback at the next level or do you see him possibly moving to safety?


View photos of Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 4th Round Draft Pick, cornerback Doran Grant.

Doran Grant played cornerback primarily at Ohio State, and he had eight interceptions during the 2013-14 seasons. The Steelers need cornerbacks, and they especially could use some cornerbacks with ball skills. Grant will begin at cornerback and then be given every opportunity to succeed at that position. I don't believe the Steelers ever considered him a safety coming out of college.**

With the changes made to the Steelers defense, who has to step up to secure the return of The Steel Curtain? Is there enough there for a run for the title?

For the Steelers defense to be the kind of unit this team is going to need to contend for a championship in 2015, I believe the key players are Jarvis Jones, Shamarko Thomas, Ryan Shazier, and Cortez Allen. I identify those four as the key guys, because they are the ones whose production has to meet their potential.

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