Let’s get to it:
RONALD VASS FROM TOLEDO, OH: Last summer it seemed the Steelers would bring a former player to training camp each day. Santonio Holmes, Rocky Bleier, and others were there last year. Is there a schedule that tells what day of training camp which former player will be there?
ANSWER: What I can tell you now is that the Steelers again will be bringing former players to Saint Vincent College to meet and interact with fans. As for which players will be attending camp on which days, a schedule is being finalized and will be made available on Steelers.com in early July. Stay tuned.
CARLOS SALAS FROM GUADALAJARA, MEXICO: Do you know when/where the Steelers Camp will be held in Mexico this year? Sadly, it is always announced only a few weeks in advance, and that really complicates travel arrangments for many of us who have to travel there by airplane.
ANSWER: The Steelers football camp this year will be in Mexico City from Friday through Sunday, June 21-23.
PETE GAYDOSZ FROM SCOTT DEPOT, WV: Now that we have a proven running back in Benny Snell Jr., and running back Jaylen Samuels’ forte in college was pass catching, plus our need for tight end talent, what are your thoughts on utilizing Samuels more in that area maybe as a second tight end in certain formations?
ANSWER: I’m not going to say that Jaylen Samuels occasionally might not be deployed on the wings of the offensive formation, but so often a second tight end is utilized as an extra blocker on the perimeter. In the recent past, the Steelers have utilized Chris Hubbard and Chuks Okorafor in that role, and before them Matt Spaeth contributed in that way. Each one of those players is/was significantly bigger and more physical as an in-line blocker than Samuels has shown himself to be to this point in his career. That doesn’t sound to me as though it would be taking advantage of Samuels’ skill-set to ask him to do a lot of that.
ZELO NETO FROM SÃO PAULO-SP, BRAZIL: In your story headlined, “Labriola on instant draft grades, remaking the LBs,” you referred to grading a team’s draft class immediately as being on the list of Top 10 Colossal Wastes of Time, Sports Division. I'm curious about your complete list of Top 10 Colossal Wastes of Time, Sports Division. Could you complete it?
ANSWER: I’m only doing this for you because you seem like a nice person. Plus, I have space to fill in this installment of Asked and Answered. But in no particular order, here we go: Immediately grading a team’s draft class; Mock Drafts (all 20 versions); Power Polls (all 50 versions); Predicting which team will win the championship before the start of the regular season; Trying to answer any question asking, “What are the odds …” or “What are the chances …”; Carefully watching a replay and expecting to be able to predict the outcome of a challenge based on what you saw; Reading a sport’s rule book and expecting it to make sense in a common sense kind of way; ESPN’s “First Take”; any opinions Shannon Sharpe offers on the Steelers; and trying to figure out the compensatory draft pick formula instead of just waiting for the league to announce which teams get which extra picks.
DANIEL PIERRE FROM LEXINGTON, KY: Is Marcus Allen poised to get more playing time in this his second year? Did he make the normal expected progress last year despite little to no game time?
ANSWER: Playing time has to be earned by the player, and if an individual isn’t active on game days or isn’t on the field when he is active on game days it’s simply because others have been judged to be better options in helping the team win. If Marcus Allen gets more playing time in 2019, it will be because he has earned it based on his performance during training camp and the preseason games.
MARCK LEWIS FROM AMITY, OR: I saw photos on Steelers.com of the rookies drawing equipment. Do they get to pick their type of helmet and facemask, or is it issued to them?
ANSWER: The players get to choose within reason. For example, helmets have to be models approved by the NFL in terms of safety requirements.
JEFF RUSSEL FROM SAULT STE. MARIE, MI: Is it common for the first round pick to get his jersey number assigned early? Why is that and why can't Devin Bush change it?
ANSWER: It all has to do with selling merchandise. The NFL wants to get a jump on selling jerseys, and so all first-round draft picks are required to pick a jersey number very soon after the draft, and then the NFL gets a start on manufacturing and selling those jerseys. And once that manufacturing process begins, players only can change their number if they agree to purchase ALL of the jerseys the league already has manufactured with the old number on them, and that can get to be a lot of $$$$$.
AARON CONYERS FROM NASHVILLE, TN: How would you feel if the team picked up Dez Bryant? Do you think he would fit well with the team on and off the field? Would he help the offensive production?
ANSWER: If this is an attempt at a joke, be advised that you missed April Fool’s Day by about six weeks.
MICHAEL WELLS FROM DELAWARE, OH: Do you think the Steelers would consider signing Dez Bryant?
ANSWER: Do you really think that’s a good idea, a couple of months after trading Antonio Brown, to add a receiver who has shown me-first tendencies to this point in his career? Really?
TIMOTHY PREGANA FROM MILILANI, HI: In a recent Asked and Answered you talked about jersey numbers that were retired and other jersey numbers that weren't retired but not in service. What is your take on No. 92, when it was reissued this past season? Lastly, your what is opinion on No. 26 and No. 84?
ANSWER: My take on No. 92 is that the previous wearer forced his way off the team with what could be considered conduct unbecoming and then signed with the New England Patriots. As for the others, Mark Barron will wear No. 26, and I’m thinking No. 84 also might end up in use in 2019 because it’s difficult to keep jersey numbers in the 80s out of circulation because of the number of tight ends and wide receivers on a typical NFL roster.
DAVID PERKINS FROM NEWPORT, UNITED KINGDOM: Will we see the alternate jerseys again this season? I think the team looked great in the block numbers.
ANSWER: Yes, the Steelers will wear their 1970s throwbacks in one home game in 2019. Which game will be announced at a later date.
JEFFERY WILLIS FROM PLANO, TX: With all the hype surrounding the young quarterbacks in Cleveland and Baltimore, do you think the Steelers still have the best offense in the AFC North division with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback?
ANSWER: What I think is that the best quarterbacks, the championship winning quarterbacks, in the NFL are pocket passers – Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Roethlisberger. And even guys who utilize mobility as a weapon – Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott – have learned there is a distinct difference between a running quarterback and a mobile quarterback. Which team has the best offense in the AFC North will be determined over the course of the season, but for me Roethlisberger remains the best quarterback in the division.
DENNIS LONGAZEL FROM BOCA RATON, FL: Can Andy Russell still be a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the Seniors Committee nomination? How about the late L.C. Greenwood?
ANSWER: Yes, to both.
JEFF DELONG FROM BOWLING GREEN, OH: Can we expect to see you at the head of the line when the new Steel Curtain coaster opens at Kennywood this summer? I see you as the thrill-seeking type, and I'm pretty sure you can see Erie from the top of that thing.
ANSWER: For me, living on the edge entails expanding the number of installments of Asked and Answered to three per week during the regular season. I am sure roller coaster fans will love the newest attraction at Kennywood Park, but I’ve never been one of those fans.
JAMES BENCH FROM ALBUQUERQUE, NM: Of all the numbers to assign Diontae Johnson, why would the Steelers choose the "cursed" No. 18?
ANSWER: Jersey numbers are not assigned unilaterally be the team, but rather in a way where there is some compromise between what the player wants and what is available based on the NFL rules regarding which numbers players at certain position are allowed to wear. And I have to admit, I don’t get the “cursed No. 18” reference. Zach Mettenberger? Mike Tomczak? Harry Newsome? Cliff Stoudt? Unless you were referring to Sammie Coates and Limas Sweed, and in that case both of those players wore No. 14.