Skip to main content

Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: June 9


Let's get to it:

If an extra point attempt gets botched, say by a bad snap, can the kicking team still try to get two points off the play?

Yes. In the event of a bad snap, or a mishandling of the ball by the holder, or anything that might upset the execution of a traditional PAT attempt, the players on the field can improvise. If successful, and within the rules, the play will count for two points for the offense.

I've noticed that players often refer to having to learn the playbook so that the "game slows down." Is the ability to learn and learn quickly an under-appreciated skill-set? Seems to me that great players have exceptional physical and mental skills.

I wouldn't refer to a player's ability to learn and learn quickly as an "under-appreciated skill-set." It's more of an expectation. Football, as it's played at the professional level today, is a game of instant recognition and split-second adjustments. Players have to know their assignments almost as an instinct, because everything is happening very fast. And when the threat of bodily harm is injected into it, a player who is out on the field doing a lot of thinking cannot be effective in a sport where aggressiveness is mandatory. Certainly part of this falls on the player, who must be diligent enough and professional enough to learn his assignments, but another part of this falls just as certainly on coaches who cannot over-complicate things and still expect guys to be able to process everything within a couple of seconds after the ball is snapped.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 rookie class took a trip to visit the Mel Blount Youth Home.

Do the Steeler/NFL players have to perform a minimum number of hours of community service as part of their employment contracts, or is that all strictly voluntary based on the willingness of each player to participate in such activities?

Giving back to the community is not a part of the standard NFL player's contract. In fact, the only entity of which I'm aware that can mandate community service is the judicial system. The Steelers long have had a legacy of players becoming involved in different charities, and that has come to be passed on from one generation of players to the next. As just one example, back when he was a Steelers player, Merril Hoge got involved in a celebrity golf tournament that benefitted The Highmark Caring Place, which provides care and support to children who have experienced the death of a loved one. Hoge's last season with the Steelers was in 1993, but that tournament continues, with the 2015 version held just several weeks ago to benefit that worthy charity. When he was hired in 2007, Mike Tomlin instituted something he called the Rookie Club, through which rookies are exposed to giving back to the community as a group. Some young players might be intimidated by the prospect of standing in front of 50 children if they have to do it alone, but there can be comfort found in doing it with a group of teammates. That gives the next generation of players an opportunity to experience giving back in a non-threatening way in order to make it easier to do it again. And again. And again, until it's not so intimidating to visit a hospital ward on your own. The most recent Rookie Club event was just last week when they traveled to the Mel Blount Yough Home to visit/interact/mentor the boys there. (Photo above)

Greetings from the other end of the St. Mary's River! I've been seeing lots of reports on the defensive rookies and hearing plenty of what I like to hear. Positive attitudes, great work ethic, eagerness to learn, and so on. I haven't heard anything about Jesse James. Giant beast of a local guy that he is, I thought he'd get a lot of press. How's he doing?

There aren't a lot of on-going updates at this point in the NFL calendar, and life for rookies generally is a roller-coaster ride. Good day, bad day. The particular reality for Jesse James is that, as a tight end, he's competing at a position where the Steelers typically keep three players on their opening 53-man roster, and two of the guys entrenched at the spot are Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth. Barring injury, it certainly seems as though James and Rob Blanchflower, plus undrafted rookie Cameron Clear and Michael Egnew, a No. 3 pick of the Miami Dolphins in the 2012 draft, all are competing for one roster spot. There's not a lot of media attention typically paid to No. 3 tight ends.

Top Ten Photographs of Brett Keisel.

Is there a realistic scenario the Steelers bring back Brett Keisel to play 10-20 snaps a game in 2015 if Clifton Geathers, Joe Kruger or L.T. Walton don't pan out? Thank you for making my work day better, twice a week!

Brett Keisel tore a triceps in a Nov. 30, 2014 game against the New Orleans Saints, and that's a significant injury, especially for a player who will be 37 years old in mid-September. I'm not even sure Keisel's rehabilitation from the injury is completed yet, let alone the issue of does he still want to play? There's that side of it. I also believe the Steelers truly want to move on from older players on defense, and Keisel playing 10-20 snaps a game would be taking time away from Stephon Tuitt, as an example. And Cam Heyward isn't coming off the field often, if ever, nor should he as a guy who just turned 26 in May. Unless the Steelers sustain a serious injury or two to a couple of their top-of-the-depth-chart defensive linemen, I think Brett Keisel's Steelers career has ended.

When the pads go on for full contact practice, what is the possibility of Gerod Holliman becoming a starter if he can show he's not afraid to tackle?

I've answered this question already, but in another way. When asked recently how many rookies I believed would start in 2015, my answer was: none. Not being afraid to tackle isn't enough for any safety trying to make an NFL roster; he also has to be a reliable tackler. Gerod Holliman has said a shoulder injury was at the root of his tackling problems in college, and so we'll see how he fares in that phase of the game at training camp and during the preseason. But there's also a lot of recognition that goes along with playing safety in the NFL, and it's a process to learn how professional teams attack defenses. Safeties in the NFL also can be charged with getting their teammates in the right spots based on the defense that was called and the formation the offense is in before the snap of the ball. Not only would Holliman have to show he's capable of all aspects of playing safety in the NFL, but he'd also have to show he can do it better than the veterans at the position. I don't think that's possible to accomplish within the span of a single training camp.

Did I see or hear somewhere that Le'Veon Bell will only have a one-game suspension?

I cannot speak to what you may have seen or heard somewhere, but I can tell you that is not true.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.