Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: May 14

Let's get to it:

H.C. PETLEY FROM CORTEZ, CO:
You keep touting Senquez Golson at cornerback, yet you never have seen him play. Look at the top cornerbacks in the league, and Golson does not match up. Richard Sherman is 6-foot-3, and all the top cornerbacks are far taller and heavier. Mel Blount was 6-3 and over 200 pounds. Cornerbacks have to stop the run as well as break-up or intercept passes. Can Golson stop Marshawn Lynch? How do you figure Senquez Golson is a major player?

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I happen to like watching SEC football, there is an SEC game on every Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EST, and Mississippi was on a bunch of times last season by virtue of a 9-4 record that included a victory over Alabama, a victory that was clinched via an interception by Senquez Golson. I did see Golson play in college, but I'm not going to claim I studied him on video, or anything. Then, "all of the top cornerbacks are far taller and heavier," you state. The following is a complete list of every defensive back who received even one vote for the 2014 Associated Press NFL All-Pro team, along with their heights: Sherman is 6-3, Darrelle Revis is 5-11, Earl Thomas is 5-10, Eric Weddle is 5-11, Chris Harris is 5-10, Brent Grimes is 5-10, Vontae Davis is 5-11, Aqib Talib is 6-1, and Joe Haden is 5-11. So in fact, NOT every top cornerback or safety is "far taller" than Golson's 5-9. Can Golson stop Marshawn Lynch? Don't know? Could Sherman? Which defensive back on any NFL team is going to have an easy time of it trying to tackle Marshawn Lynch? I get it, you're not interested in a membership to the Senquez Golson Fan Club, but the animosity toward a player before he's so much as lined up for a single training camp practice is difficult to understand. As for me, I want to wait and watch him play in pads a little bit before making a judgment one way or the other, and in advance of some actual visual evidence I'm willing to be open to the possibility that height isn't the single most important characteristic for a cornerback to have. Based on your question/statement, you are not so willing. By the way, Troy Polamalu is 5-10.

JIM ZAWATSKI FROM PITTSBURGH, PA:
Seems like there's healthy competition for backup/practice squad spots at most positions with the influx of draft picks and undrafted free agents, but not so much so at running back and along the defensive line. Do you get the sense that management is comfortable with using a Dri Archer/Will Johnson emergency tailback combo, or having Cam Thomas and either Clifton Geathers or L.T. Walton taking the field at the same time if necessary?

What I don't think is that management is finished tinkering with the roster. I don't believe the Steelers necessarily are content to pick their 53 from the pool of players currently on the roster, even though there is an understanding that at this point – following the draft, the signing of around a dozen undrafted free agents per team, and rookie/tryout minicamp – the available talent largely has been picked over. Specifically at running back, my guess is the Steelers first will see what Josh Harris, Ross Scheuerman, and Cameron Stingily have going for them in the battle for the No. 3 job behind Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams. Maybe they like what they see from one of them, and if they don't there's always the waiver wire when all of the other 31 teams have to cut their rosters down to 53. As for the situation along the defensive line, there are four spots taken by Steve McLendon, Daniel McCullers, Stephon Tuitt, and Cam Heyward. If the Steelers open the 2015 season as they did in 2014 – with six defensive linemen – that would mean Cam Thomas, Clifton Geathers, Ethan Hemer, L.T. Walton, Mike Thornton, Joe Kruger, Niko Davis, and Matt Conrath would be competing for the final two spots. Neither situation might be considered ideal, but every team has concerns along the lower rungs of its depth chart.

ZACHARY KELSEY FROM CRAFTON, PA:
Even with drafting Senquez Golson, Doran Grant, and Gerod Holliman, do you still see the secondary as being the biggest question mark? Can you see taking a flier on D.J. Swearinger to see if a change of system and coaching would help him, or even trying to make a move to sign Kyle Arrington to fortify the secondary? Or in your opinion should they throw the rookies onto the field and let them sink or swim, so to speak?

The secondary remains a question mark, not only for the unknown surrounding the three rookie draft picks you mention, but also because Shamarko Thomas and Cortez Allen have to considered question marks as well. I can tell you the Steelers monitor the waiver wire daily and make decisions on every name appearing on it. D.J. Swearinger was a No. 2 draft pick by the Houston Texans in 2013, the 57th overall pick, and he had been a starter in 2014. Swearinger is a tough, in-the-box safety who has a bit of a reputation as being mouthy and likely wore out his welcome with Coach Bill O'Brien, who hadn't drafted Swearinger. But because Swearinger isn't a vested veteran yet, he was subject to a waiver claim, and since the time you submitted your question he was claimed by Tampa Bay, which has first choice on all waiver claims by virtue of its 2-14 record last season. Kyle Arrington is an older defensive back who doesn't run well anymore, and the Steelers are looking to get younger and faster in the secondary. It's unlikely any good defensive backs will be coming free at this stage of an offseason, but the Steelers will remain open-minded.

BILL PRESTON FROM SPRING HILL, FL:
Now that Ed Reed has retired do you think he will be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame before Troy Polamalu? Selection of two safeties in the same year would surely never happen even though they are probably the two best safeties in the past decade.

To me, it's going to be very interesting to see how the Hall of Fame Board of Selectors handles these two players once they become eligible. The last pure safety to be enshrined in Canton was Paul Krause, still the NFL's all-time leader in interceptions with 81. Krause became eligible in 1985 and was inducted in 1998. It's rare for the voters to include two players from the same position in any class, and so I agree with your assessment that Reed and Polamalu being elected in the same year is remote.

DEVON MAIDA FROM WALDWICK, NJ:
Will Le'Veon Bell's suspension be shortened by at least a game?

No idea. And it certainly has taken a long time for the appeal process to conclude. Why it's taking so long is a mystery.

SEAN ECKENROD FROM FROSTBURG, MD:
Another day, another question but I'm feeling confident this one makes it. Why wasn't last year's draft pick Jordan Zumwalt at rookie minicamp? I saw that Rob Blanchflower was there.

According to the way the NFL defines accrued seasons, Jordan Zumwalt – as someone who was placed on injured reserve as a rookie – is categorized differently than Rob Blanchflower, a rookie who spent the season on the practice squad. Based on that, Zumwalt earned an accrued season toward free agency and his pension, while Blanchflower did not. That's why Blanchflower was eligible for rookie minicamp but Zumwalt was not.

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