Let's get to it:
CINDY POORE FROM GLADE SPRING, VA:
I have been a Steelers fan for over 42 years. What dream team would you put together from the past and present for this season?
The issues with picking any Steelers' all-star team are that there have been 82 seasons in their history – which translates into a lot of players – and the 15 Hall of Famers who spent the bulk of their careers with the franchise almost represent a complete team on their own. And with 82 seasons from which to choose, it's extremely difficult to translate one era into another, for no other reason than human beings are bigger and faster now than they were 50 years ago. Currently appearing on Steelers.com is a series on my selections for what I've christened an All-Modern Era team. It spans 1992-present, and to make it as exclusive as possible, I chose 11 players on offense, 11 players on defense, and four specialists. Check it out as it's revealed over the next couple of weeks. The guys on that team – for the most part – would be the guys I would choose in answering your question, and that's because you specify "for this season." And by "for this season," I'm taking that to mean a team to compete for the Super Bowl 50 championship. Still, I'd probably find places for Joe Greene and Mel Blount on defense, somewhere.
Check out photos of offensive tackle Mike Adams from the 2013 season.
JEFF WHITE FROM SILVER SPRING, MD:
I am puzzled as to how Mike Adams seems to be assured a roster spot, between his off-the-field issues and poor play on the field, why does he seem to get a pass? This appears to be a similar situation to Ricardo Colclough, a second-round pick where it doesn't take a veteran scout to see their game isn't suited for the NFL. Do you get the suspicion that the front office may be a bit stubborn to cut their losses on Adams due to his draft status? Seems a shame to waste a roster spot because of hard-headedness.
Ah, an example of one of my favorite techniques: make statements that aren't facts and then pose a question off the inaccuracy. Which off-the-field issues are you referencing? Since coming to the Steelers, Mike Adams has had no issues with the league's drug policy, and since he tested positive at the NFL Scouting Combine he is subject to a lot of random tests. He cannot have failed any, because he hasn't been suspended. Adams got stabbed, but I don't believe it's the victim of a crime who's supposed to get punished. His most recent "poor play on the field" came in London in 2013 when Adams was embarrassed by Jared Allen, but since then he has made some positive contributions. Adams was benched after that, and he deserved to be, but he has progressed under the coaching of Mike Munchak. In 2014 – Munchak's first season with the Steelers – Adams started four games at right tackle – which is going to have to be his primary position as an NFL player moving forward – and the Steelers were 3-1 in those games with Ben Roethlisberger passing for 11 touchdowns and two interceptions while being sacked twice. Maybe Mike Adams isn't a starter in 2015, but he can be a valuable component on the unit as a whole. His contract is extremely salary-cap friendly. It will be his second summer with Munchak. And to be clear, Adams hasn't been "assured of anything." People ask for predictions. An attempt is made to accommodate. I predict Mike Adams will make the team and at some point be asked to play significant snaps, and there are a whole bunch of other things that scare me more.
NOEL LENT FROM MESA, AZ:
With Kelvin Beachum entering the final year of his contract, I would think the Steelers would want to re-sign him, but is this a case of "you can't pay everybody?"
Pittsburgh Steelers Kelvin Beachum hosts a football camp in Mexia, Texas.
In terms of contracts, Cam Heyward is first in line, and he deserves to be first in line. After that, I believe the Steelers will assess things – everything from cap room to salary demands – and then proceed. Kelvin Beachum is the team's best left tackle, and left tackle is a critical position on the team. Beachum also cannot hit the open market until March 2016. That's a long way away. For both sides.**
JASON NORTON FROM WINDBER, PA:
When teams play the Hall of Fame Game, do they have an extra week to prepare for it in camp?
Absolutely. Based on the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, training camps may open up to 15 days before the date of the team's preseason opener. With the Steelers' preseason beginning in Canton with the Hall of Fame Game (vs. the Minnesota Vikings) on Sunday, Aug. 9, the Steelers are permitted to open training camp on July 25, which is the day players are to report to Saint Vincent College. Had the Steelers not been slotted for the Hall of Fame Game, and their preseason opened the following weekend – on a Saturday, say – training camp could have opened no earlier than July 31.
DAVID VONDRAN FROM ARVADA, CO:
How has it been bringing back Ike Taylor as a coach instead of a player?
Just to clarify, Ike Taylor was permitted to be a part of the offseason program as a way of determining whether pursuing a coaching career is something in which he might be interested. In that role, he attended meetings and was a part of the on-field workouts. Carnell Lake is the defensive backs coach.
PAUL CRASKA FROM ST. LOUIS, MO:
Why would the Steelers not consider a kickoff specialist who consistently puts the ball through the end zone?
For the roster spot it would use. Evidently, Coach Mike Tomlin believes a roster spot for a kickoff specialists is better used on someone at a different position. And I also believe using a roster spot on a kickoff specialist for a team that plays a lot of games in outdoor stadiums in cities where there is real winter is an iffy proposition. Old Man Winter is undefeated. And covering kickoffs need not be an adventure.**
BRETT BILLEC FROM CAMPBELL, OH:
Considering the difference between where an extra point kick will be attempted and the line of scrimmage from where a two-point conversion occurs, could a team attempt a drop-kick from the 2-yard line?
No. All placement attempts will come with the line of scrimmage being the 15-yard line. Straight-on, soccer-style, drop-kick, whatever. If you wanna kick it, the line of scrimmage is the 15-yard line.
GUY BRETON FROM QUÉBEC, QC, CANADA:
When a player is signing a contract and there is a signing bonus, is the signing bonus given on the first contract year? I know that for the salary cap, the signing bonus is divided by the number of years the contract last, but in reality, does the team pay the bonus in one payment?
Yes, unless some other arrangement is mutually agreed-upon. I have heard of contracts reported as having a signing bonus with some of the money deferred, but usually that's specified. Based on the typical execution of a signing bonus, the check is presented at the time the contract is signed.
DAVID HARDY FROM TROTWOOD, OH:
What's the chance of Devin Gardner playing cornerback? He has the size, speed, athletic ability, versatility, and knows offensive schemes. Another Richard Sherman.
The same as my chance to win a Pulitzer Prize.