Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: March 22

Let's get to it:

JACOB ANDREWS FROM INDIANAPOLIS, IN:
Last year, Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and Joey Porter all showed up to Wisconsin's Pro Day. How big of a significance is it when Tomlin, Colbert, and position coaches show up to a Pro Day?

ANSWER: General Manager Kevin Colbert typically attends about a dozen Pro Days each year, and Coach Mike Tomlin is there with him for most of those. While it's true that the Steelers typically spend their No. 1 draft pick on a player they have visited with and interviewed, it's also true that they visit with and interview a number of prospects over the course of the pre-draft process, more players than they have draft picks.

KEN IRONSIDE FROM BALTIMORE, MD:
This past season, on more than one occasion, I have seen a defensive back break up a pass by placing himself, with his back to the passer, in the area where the receiver seemed to be expecting to catch the ball. Long ago this was explained to me as a type of pass interference. The defensive back needed to be playing the ball in some meaningful sense. Nothing was called in the instances I saw. Has the rule changed or am I looking at bad officiating?

ANSWER: What you describe used to be known as face-guarding, and there was a time when that tactic was illegal. But now, as long as the defensive player makes no contact with the receiver before the ball arrives, he is legally allowed to break up the pass with any part of his body that he can get in the way of the football.

JOHN WEBER FROM INMAN, SC:
Great Asked and Answered Live yesterday. The "elephant in the room" question ... Le'Veon Bell .... what exactly is preventing the Steelers from signing him to a long-term deal?

ANSWER: As it always is in these kinds of situations, it's about the money. Nothing more complicated than that.

PETER HAMMERER FROM BALTIMORE, MD:
I just recently read that Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward will be playing major roles in the formation of Brian Ebersol's Alliance of American Football that is supposed to begin after Super Bowl LIII. Your thoughts on this?

ANSWER: No thoughts. Based on the success rate of rival football leagues, though, I just hope their checks don't bounce.

JAMES MULLINS FROM WORCESTER, UK:
What are your thoughts on Artie Burns? Do you think he has what it takes to become a No. 1 starting cornerback?

ANSWER: The first thing to understand about Artie Burns is that even though he will be entering his third professional season, he won't turn 23 until early May. Yes, Burns has made some mistakes that have led to big plays, but I see that more as a result of inexperience than lack of ability. Artie Burns will be fine, even though I must admit to not really knowing what a No. 1 cornerback is since teams have to play at least two at a time.

JEFF DARONE FROM SONORA, CA:
With the signing of Morgan Burnett, will the Steelers even look at bringing Mike Mitchell back into the fold ?

ANSWER: I would consider it unlikely that Mike Mitchell will be playing for the Steelers in 2018, and I don't know that Mitchell would have any interest in that even if the Steelers did.

RICHARD THOMAS FROM WILKES BARRE, PA:
With the recent signings of Jonathan Bostic and Morgan Burnett, what are the league rules as to when they meet coaches and coordinators, so they can get acclimated with the new system and schemes they will be using?

ANSWER: Meeting the coaches is different from engaging with the coaches to learn the offensive or defensive system. The meeting of the coaches already has happened, but as far as getting together with a position coach to start football activities that cannot happen until the start of the offseason program. For the Steelers, I believe that begins on April 16.

DENNIS NEVINSKY FROM ERIE, PA:
I have read several times that the Steelers have to make room under the salary cap for their practice squad. I have also read that only the top 53 players count toward the cap. What is the true answer?

ANSWER: Your question pertains to the regular season. During the regular season, every team must count all of its 53 players against its salary cap. Plus, any players on injured reserve also count on the salary cap, and all players on the practice squad also have to fit under the salary cap.

DARNELL NELSON FROM LOS ANGELES, CA:
Any chance the Steelers do what they did during the drafts when they ended up with Troy Polamalu and Santonio Holmes, as in trading up in the first round to claim a top-tier safety or inside linebacker?

ANSWER: It's possible the Steelers could trade up a few spots in the first round if there is a player there they really like, but trading up, say, more than 10 spots could be seen as too expensive for a team with no picks in the fourth round.

PAUL DONEN FROM DEERFIELD BEACH, FL:
Bob what happens to the money teams do not use against their salary cap?

ANSWER: It carries over to the following season.

JACK HARTLEY FROM ORLANDO, FL:
Games are won in the trenches. Jacksonville mauled our defensive line. Don't we need to fix that with the best defensive lineman available at No. 28 in the first round?

ANSWER: The Steelers have invested enough in players for the defensive line. Those guys have to pick up their play, both as individuals and as a unit. Cam Heyward and Tyson Alualu both entered the NFL as No. 1 picks, Stephon Tuitt was a second-round pick, and Javon Hargrave was a No. 3 pick.

JACK MATTHEWS FROM LIVERPOOL, UK:
Would you regard James Farrior as the best free agent signing the Steelers have ever made?

ANSWER: I would.

LOUIS HANSEN FROM GRANITE CITY, IL:
What round do you see the Steelers taking a quarterback, and who do you think it will be?

ANSWER: My hope is that the Steelers do not draft a quarterback in April.


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