Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: May 16

Let’s get to it:

DAVE O'BRIEN FROM BRADENTON, FL: Did you attend rookie minicamp? If so, do you have any thoughts about Devlin Hodges?
ANSWER: Yes, and what I can tell you about Devlin Hodges is that he showed up and won a roster spot over Brogan Roback, who was in an NFL training camp last summer with the Cleveland Browns. That’s not an easy task for a young player – to come into an NFL situation for the first time and in the course of a handful of practices be able to unseat a guy who knew what to expect because he had been through it before. A little background on Hodges: He was four-year starter at FCS school Samford, where he was voted Southern Conference Player of the Year three times. He finished his 45-game college career by completing 69.1 percent of his passes for an FCS record 14,584 yards and 111 touchdowns. Starting in 2016, Hodges threw 36, 31, and 32 touchdown passes in successive seasons. Right now, Hodges will go to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe as a fourth arm for training camp.

LANCE CONTRUCCI FROM NEW YORK, NY: Your assertion that Jack Lambert was not as vital to the 1970s Steelers as Joe Greene (April 30 Asked and Answered) is dubious. Lambert averaged 146 tackles a year from 1974 to 1983 and had 28 career interceptions. While Joe Greene was inarguably one of the best ever, his performance dropped off significantly due to injury in 1976. A case could definitely be made that Lambert was the more dominant force during their Super Bowl years.
ANSWER: You can make any case you like, but you would be wrong. One of the reasons Jack Lambert had all those tackles was because of Joe Greene occupying multiple offensive linemen to keep the middle linebacker clean and able to roam freely and find the ball carrier. Lambert was able to play in the middle of the field and be highly productive even though he typically weighed less than 220 pounds. Why do you think that was? Also, Greene was the guy who changed the culture within the Steelers franchise. Changed. The. Culture. Thirty-seven seasons of losing only began to change with the drafting of Greene. Lambert was a great, great player. No argument there, but he wasn’t even the best linebacker on those 1970s Steelers teams. Jack Ham was. When Dan Rooney and Art Rooney II decided to retire Greene’s No. 75, Ham, Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Mel Blount – all great players in their own rights – said publicly that it was fitting No. 75 was the first jersey to be retired from among the Hall of Fame players from the 1970s because Greene was the best of them all. I believe they know what they’re talking about, beyond simply reciting statistics.

JEFF WELLER FROM COLUMBUS, OH: The last bit of info I remember hearing about Keion Adams was positive. What happened or was this just a numbers issue?
ANSWER: In the NFL, players either are continuing to get better or they are in danger of getting bypassed. Evidently, Keion Adams wasn’t getting better, and the Steelers decided to go in another direction.

DEVIN PIERCE FROM ALTOONA, PA: I noticed rookie Justin Layne still hasn't signed with the team. Is there a reason his signing is taking so long?
ANSWER: As long as Justin Layne is signed before training camp opens, which will be some time in late July, he won’t miss any team activities, either on the field or in the classroom. Relax.

CHRISTIAN SEELEY FROM RAPID CITY, SD: Do you think the Steelers would really re-sign Martavis Bryant if/when he’s reinstated?
ANSWER: That ship has sailed. Thankfully.

GEORG HACKMACK FROM KARLSRUHE, GERMANY: Do you think any of the undrafted rookie free agents have a realistic chance of making the final roster as far of what you saw from them in rookie minicamp?
ANSWER: If any undrafted rookies are going to make a serious run at a spot on the 53-man roster, it’s going to happen based on what they do on the field when the full squad assembles at Saint Vincent College when the pads go on and the hitting begins. One of the most impressive showings at rookie minicamp in my recent memory was turned in by Dri Archer. Then in 20 games over two NFL seasons, he totaled 40 yards rushing, 23 yards receiving and also turned in one 2-yard punt return. Then he was cut.

JOE WERNER FROM WEST HENRIETTA, NY: In the May 14 installment of this column, you mentioned that the 1970s throwback uniforms will be back for one game in 2019. Do you know if the color rush uniforms will also be back in 2019?
ANSWER: I don’t know of any specific plans for color rush, one way or the other, but if I had to guess I would say I expect them to make an appearance in 2019, with a home game played in primetime being a realistic option.

MARK DAVISON FROM NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA: How many times have the Steelers beaten the Cincinnati Bengals in a row?
ANSWER: The Steelers currently have an eight-game winning streak over the Bengals, which ties for their longest in the history of the home-and-home series that began in 1970. The Steelers also won eight in a row over Cincinnati from 1991-94.

CAMERON MCCONNELL FROM CARNEGIE, PA: Do any of the 16 possible rule changes for 2019 sound appealing to you, or do you feel that the game is fine the way it is?
ANSWER: My opinion about the NFL is that there are too many rules changes. I just don’t see the other professional sports changing rules annually as the NFL does, and the constant tinkering can lead to confusion among players, coaches, and fans.

KEVIN STAATS FROM FREDERICKSBURG, VA: What happened to Jason Worilds? I know he retired early from football, but where is he now and what did he do after football?
ANSWER: I don’t know where Jason Worilds is, but he retired from football to work for his religion, the Jehovah's Witnesses.

GREG RIDNER FROM MONROE, MI: With the Steelers trading a 2020 third-round pick to Denver, if the Steelers end up with more than one third-round pick, which one does Denver get?
ANSWER: Since there was no way of knowing definitively whether the Steelers would end up with more than one third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft at the time of the trade, Denver gets what will be the Steelers original third-round pick, i.e., the third-round pick they earn based on their record in 2019.

NOAH RAINS FROM MUNCIE, IN: We know the Steelers are bringing Chris Boswell back, but do you know how his performance has been? Was there any consideration of trading him?
ANSWER: Chris Boswell will be fighting for his job in 2019, but rug-cutting time in that competition won’t be until the summer, with training camp being one part of it but the preseason games being a bigger part. And Boswell’s competition isn’t necessarily only a one-on-one situation with undrafted rookie Matthew Wright from Central Florida. The Steelers are going to expect a level of performance from Boswell, and if he’s unable to deliver that then there would be a real possibility the team could wait until final cuts are made on Aug. 31 to find its kicker for this upcoming regular season. As for a trade, if the Steelers don’t want to keep Boswell, I believe an interested team would rather wait for him to be released as opposed to making a trade and assuming his contract, which is due to pay him about $8.7 million over the next four seasons.

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