INDIANAPOLIS – Lets get to it:
TJ MOORE FROM OLIVE BRANCH, MS:
With Joe Haden, Artie Burns, and Cam Sutton set on the roster, could you see the Steelers going with the best player available and drafting a cornerback in the first round if one were to fall through the cracks?
ANSWER: On defense, the Steelers primary areas of need are at safety and linebacker. When examining the depth chart at cornerback, the team has – as you mentioned – Joe Haden, Artie Burns, and Cam Sutton – and I also would add Brian Allen and Mike Hilton to the list of up-and-coming young cornerbacks who would appear to have a bright future with the Steelers. That’s five cornerbacks right there, and those guys represent the top portion of the depth chart. And so, unless the decision is made to move one of those cornerbacks to safety, I don’t believe the position is thin enough to warrant using a No. 1 pick in this draft to add another cornerback to the mix.
CHARLES HUFFMAN FROM POTTSVILLE, PA:
Could the Steelers move Bud Dupree to inside linebacker? It could save his career in Pittsburgh.
ANSWER: If there is going to be any moving of Bud Dupree, it would be more along the lines of switching him from left outside linebacker to right outside linebacker where he would be able to spend more time – but not all of his time – rushing the passer.
MARSHA SALZMAN FROM LOUISVILLE, KY
Can fans go to watch the Steelers at Saint Vincent College? When does training camp begin?
ANSWER: Every afternoon practice at Saint Vincent College is open to the public, and admission and parking are free. The schedule won’t be released for some time, but typically training camp opens in late July. When the opening date is determined and the practice schedule is set, all of that information will be on Steelers.com.
MIKE RIGGLEMAN FROM CUMBERLAND, MD:
I know social media is everywhere these days, but as professionals, shouldn't these guys just focus on doing their jobs? Also, don’t you think they should scale down the end zone celebrations? I think maybe they could spend more time practicing football and studying film, rather than trying to choreograph a new celebration. I'm curious as to what your thoughts are on this?
ANSWER: My thoughts on celebrations are similar to my thoughts on instant replay: I’m not a fan, but I also have come to accept that it’s here to stay. During the NFL Honors, a show that annually airs the night before the Super Bowl on NFL Network, which is the league’s own television station, an award was given for Best Celebration. That proves to me that the celebration ship has sailed, and whether any of us like it or not, celebrations are not going anywhere, and the more detailed the choreography the more publicity the NFL itself is willing to provide.
As for social media, I again will refer you to what Steelers President Art Rooney II said following the season: “I think you have to be realistic about the world we live in. Whether you like it or not, social media is here to stay. It’s a mixed blessing. On the good side of it, our fans love to engage with our players, and players enjoy engaging with the fans. From that standpoint it’s just another way for the fans to enjoy being part of the team. Here and there you are going to have something that maybe you wish didn’t get out there, but that’s life in 2018. It’s something you have to be aware of. There are going to be occasions where you have to call a guy in and have a conversation about it, and we do that. It’s a mixed blessing, but probably more of a blessing than a curse.”
And this is what General Manager Kevin Colbert said about the same issue yesterday at the NFL Combine: “I think the world has changed on social media. (Media) sessions like this are now sessions a player can hold in his room at night. We try to manage that. We try to educate them, that when you push that button, it’s out there. Sometimes we get that message across, and unfortunately sometimes you don’t. But I never question their intent, their focus. Were they perfect? No. Were we perfect? No. So you try to get through that, and you just try to educate the guys as best you can as to the possible ramifications of some things we can’t personally control on a day to day basis. To think that people can control that, I think it’s a misnomer.”
ESTUARDO BERMAN FROM MANZANILLO, MEXICO:
Do you know if the team will be wearing the bumblebee jerseys next season?
ANSWER: The Steelers will wear a throwback jersey, but the bumblebees have been retired.
MARK BRUMBAUGH FROM CLIFTON PARK, NY:
When do you feel is the appropriate time to evaluate a draft class? Many publications rate drafts immediately after the draft or after the first year, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I would think at the end of the rookie contract would be more reasonable, with player developmental time taken into consideration.
ANSWER: I was going to say after three years, but your idea might be better. The only issue I would have with your idea is that after rookie contracts have expired, it’s possible for some players to leave via free agency. That could make it a bit more complicated to gauge a player’s contribution to his original team if he had left via free agency.
ANDY TAKACH FROM OOLTEWAH, TN:
In response to the Steelers’ outside linebackers dropping into coverage so much, I seem to recall a certain No. 92 dropping into coverage during a Super Bowl and returning the interception 100 yards. Rather have the touchdown than the sack.
ANSWER: And I also remember that after Super Bowl XLIII, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner said he didn’t expect James Harrison to drop into coverage, that he was “supposed” to be rushing.
BOB MCCLELLAND FROM BELLE PLAINE, MN:
With the lingering question of how soon Ben Roethlisberger might decide to retire, do you see the Steelers pursuing someone like Case Keenum during the upcoming free agency period?
ANSWER: Personally, I was hoping for a Johnny Manziel question today, but this is a first.
Case Keenum? And pay him with what? Chocolate chip cookies? The Steelers are not a team that’s going to have the kind of salary cap space to pursue a free agent such as Keenum, and Keenum in fact may never reach free agency if the Vikings decide to apply the franchise tag or re-sign him before March 14. I don’t know that there’s much of a lingering question of how soon Ben Roethlisberger might decide to retire since he said at the end of the season that he’d like to play for three more years, which would mean Keenum would be coming to the Steelers to be a backup. No way that happens. None.
BRIAN MIKULSKI FROM MATAMORAS, PA
What brand of Scotch do you use to get through the Asked and Answered segment each week?
ANSWER: I understand that there are many lovers of Scotch whiskey, but I cannot say I’ve ever been one of them. My taste typically runs more toward the clear as opposed to the amber. And then there’s always my grand plan, which is to move to Denver and write Asked and Answered from there.