Let's get to it:
JERRY STUPNICKI FROM GARFIELD HEIGHTS, OH: When do single-game tickets for home games go on sale? And how do you purchase them?
ANSWER: Single-game tickets for the Steelers entire 2023 home schedule – one preseason game and 9 regular season games are on sale now. Just go to Steelers.com and scroll down on the home page until you see a large photo of Kenny Pickett and George Pickens that's headlined, "Get In The Game." Within that image is a box to click "BUY TICKETS." Click on that, and you will be taken to the appropriate page where you can place your order. Good luck.
PATRICK BILLINGS FROM TUCSON, AZ: This might be a silly question but what are your thoughts on the block jersey numbers vs. the current numbers? I really wish the Steelers would bring back the classic block numbers, but that's just me.
ANSWER: I learned a long, long time ago, the only thing that matters is the players in the jerseys, not the jerseys on the players.
JEFF LINTON FROM MORRISVILLE, PA: I've been watching football for close to 50 years now and "first down" always have been the words used to indicate a first down. But in the last few years I've noticed the phrase "line to gain" is being used instead. Is there a reason why, or is the NFL just trying to change things up?
ANSWER: "Line to gain" refers to the spot on the field the offense must get beyond to get a first down and the spot on the field the defense must prevent the offense from reaching in order to force a punt or a turnover on downs. It's a relatively new phrase, but it is rather simple to understand.
MICHAEL TORSIELLO FROM SUMMIT, NJ: It has been reported that a number of teams made offers in order to get the Steelers' first pick in the second round of this year's draft. Any insight into which teams they were and what they were offering?
ANSWER: What I can tell you for certain is that whatever the Steelers were offered to trade the 32nd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, it wasn't sufficient to convince them to change their mind about picking cornerback Joey Porter Jr.
GEORGE THOMAS FROM OCALA, FL: What is meant by the position "off-ball linebacker."
ANSWER: In an effort to keep this as simple as possible, an off-ball linebacker is a linebacker who lines up behind the line of scrimmage. That could be referring to inside linebackers in the Steelers 3-4 base alignment, or a middle linebacker in a 4-3 alignment, but players such as T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith who typically align on either end of the line of scrimmage would be referred to as "edge rushers." That's the basic definition.
ERIK FELDMAN FROM LAKE WORTH BEACH, FL: How is the salary cap adjusted during the offseason/training camp? Can teams bring in players (undrafted free agents, draft picks, unrestricted free agents and others) and go above the salary cap, or do they just have to meet the cap by certain dates?
ANSWER: First of all, there is no going over the salary cap allowed at any point of the NFL calendar. What's different at this time of that calendar is the offseason salary cap only considers the top 51 contracts (in terms of amount) on the roster as counting against the total. So there can be a number of players on the 90-man offseason roster who don't count on the cap because they're not earning enough to be among the top 51 contracts. Once final cuts are made and rosters are reduced to 53 players, then all 53 of those players, plus practice squad guys, must fit under the cap.
BENJAMIN MOORE FROM BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: This year the Steelers don't play the Eagles during the preseason. Maybe I've missed or forgotten some of the recent previous preseasons, but isn't it tradition that those teams play in the preseason unless they play during the regular season? What changed this year?
ANSWER: It's accurate to say the Steelers and the Eagles "often" play in the preseason, but it's not a situation where the teams do that every year in which they do not meet in the regular season. Since 1992, the Steelers and Eagles have met in the preseason 17 times and have played in the regular season 9 times, so there have been years when the teams did not meet at all. From a business perspective, the Steelers and Eagles make for attractive preseason opponents, because it's a short trip for whichever team is the visitor, and before the NFL began pooling all preseason ticket revenue and dividing it equally among the league's teams, it was a lucrative matchup because both franchises included preseason games in the packages sold to season ticket holders. But it never has been a "tradition" that they play in the preseason.
JAN STEUBER FROM LEHIGH ACRES, FL: Realistically, what are the chances of having all three Watt brothers under contract this season?
Ree Hines of Today.com, wrote this during the 2022 NFL season: Last Wednesday, Sept. 28, the Arizona Cardinals defensive end went into a type of heart arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation and later had his heart "shocked" back into normal rhythm. "I talked to cardiologists and electrophysiologists from all over the country," J.J. Watt told reporters after the Oct. 2 game vs. Carolina. "I was assured multiple times by multiple people that there was nothing else to do — go back and do like normal." Watt said that, in his case, the cause of the incident was unknown. "It could happen again the next day, or it could happen never again in 20 years," Watt said … Although he's feeling better, Watt confessed that the incident shook him. "I've had surgeries before. I've had injuries before, and I've never been nervous for any of them," Watt said. "I've never been scared of anesthesia. I've never been scared of surgery. I've never been scared of pain. But when they told me they were going to put me out and shock my heart, I was scared."
In addition, Watt and his wife, Kealia Ohai, welcomed their first child, a boy named Koa James on Oct. 24, 2022. According to Spotrac.com, Watt has earned just less than $131 million during his NFL career. A heart condition, a wife and newborn at home, and something in excess of $100 million "in the bank." That to me adds up to a big, fat zero chance that J.J. Watt, who has played 12 seasons and has nearly 8,400 NFL snaps on his 34-year-old body and will be wearing a Pro Football Hall of Fame gold jacket in the near future, will be putting that all on the line to play on the same NFL team as his two brothers. Just. Not. Worth. It.
Oh, and there's also the not insignificant matter of Derek Watt being an unrestricted free agent, and who would seem to be a player without an offensive position for the Steelers, what with the addition of fourth-round pick Darnell Washington and the emergence/development of Connor Heyward.
ADAM GREEN FROM VIRGINIA BEACH, VA: Of the 50-plus players attending rookie camp, outside of those drafted and signed UDFA's, how many do you expect in camp in July?
ANSWER: Last Sunday, which was the final day of the team's rookie minicamp, the Steelers had listed 85 players on their 90-man roster. That number included the unsigned draft picks, such as Broderick Jones and Joey Porter Jr., but that's just a formality. And since I have no doubt in my mind that the Steelers will report to Saint Vincent College in late July for the start of their training camp with the full complement of 90 players, there is room to add 5 more guys between now and then. Whether all of those 5 come from the rookie minicamp will be determined.
PAUL SOMERVILLE FROM HAMILTON, ONTARIO, CANADA: I have always wondered why the starting center on the offensive line cannot do the long-snapping on special teams, since they already handle shotgun snaps?
ANSWER: I have explained this many times, and I'll try once again. The skill-set required to be an NFL long-snapper is on a whole other level than being a center who is capable of executing a shotgun snap. A shotgun snap can float back to the quarterback and be outside of his imaginary "strike zone." A long-snapper has to get the ball back either to the punter or the holder on placement kicks in under 2 seconds and it has to be on target. Good long-snappers also have the ability to spin the football in such a way that the holder does not have to rotate it after catching it to face the laces toward the uprights, which is what placekickers prefer. A snap to a punter or a holder that is one-tenth of a second slow or a few inches offline can result in a blocked kick. Neither of those slight variances will have the same effect on a shotgun snap.
LAURANCE WOLF FROM ALBUQUERQUE, NM: Maverick Wolfley is listed in photos from this year's rookie minicamp. Is he any relation to former Steelers player/current broadcaster Craig Wolfley? And what is his collegiate football background that landed him at tryouts?
ANSWER: Maverick Wolfley's father is Dale Wolfley, who is Craig's brother, which makes Maverick Craig's nephew. He also is the grandson of former Steelers center Ray Mansfield. "I'm hoping to turn this into a family tradition," Wolfley (6-foot-3, 255 pounds) told Joe Rutter of Tribune-Review Sports during rookie minicamp. "Just to be here has been sweet, and it only will make it sweeter if I get a chance to go to camp and show what I can do. I never met my grandpa (Ray Mansfield died in 1996), but I know he's up there in heaven saying, 'Go Steelers.' If he had a Terrible Towel, he'd be up there with it." A tight end/fullback, Wolfley played his college football at Akron, West Virginia, and his final season was at West Florida in 2022.