Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: May 20

Let's get to it:

SCOTT SWEENEY FROM HICKORY, NC: The Steelers made a move to trade into the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft to select Isaiahh Loudermilk, and I am not questioning the move. I am assuming the Steelers staff knows more than "the expert" talking heads. Do you know if the Steelers made the move because someone in the organization got some intel that another team ahead of them was interested in him? Is there information like that floating around the draft room?
ANSWER: What typically happens in instances such as this is that the Steelers had a grade on Isaiahh Loudermilk, and it got to a point in the draft where the team viewed him as a value that couldn't be ignored. I'm not going to discount the possibility that there might have been some chatter about another team(s) having interest in Loudermilk, but if a team(s) did have interest in him, why would they leak that information? NFL teams are notoriously proprietary about their draft information, and leaking that information can and has cost people their jobs. The Steelers very well may have believed another team(s) was on the verge of picking Loudermilk, but there is a big difference between believing and knowing. There is a lot of misinformation floating around at draft time, and not all of that is coming from the talking heads.

MARK PRICE FROM SANDUSKY, OH: I understand that long-snapping in today's NFL is a specialized skill. Do I remember correctly that Mike Webster handled all of the center responsibilities, even long-snapping?
ANSWER: Yes, that's true. But toward the end of his Hall of Fame career, Mike Webster's long-snapping was so inconsistent that it had started to cost the Steelers games. In 1988, the Steelers had six punts blocked over the course of the season, and two bad snaps by Webster in Cleveland cost the Steelers 17 points in a loss that dropped the team's record to 2-10.

JEFF REINKE FROM GOLD CANYON, AZ: Is Ben Roethlisberger required by the team to participate in any offseason conditioning program?
ANSWER: According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the only mandatory portion of the offseason program is a three-day minicamp. For the Steelers, that takes place on June 15-16-17 this year.

JONATHAN ANDERSON FROM COLUMBUS, OH: Everyone is still talking about depth at the outside linebacker position behind Alex Highsmith, but why aren't we focused on a free agent cornerback so Cam Sutton at least has to compete for the starting spot opposite Joe Haden? And if he loses that competition, he can fill the void created by Mike Hilton leaving as an unrestricted free agent? Richard Sherman?
ANSWER: Based on the way the offseason unfolded, in terms of re-signing Cam Sutton and releasing Steven Nelson, I believe the Steelers made a decision that Sutton was ready to be the starter in the secondary opposite Joe Haden. Then during the draft, the Steelers didn't select a cornerback, and the one they signed as an undrafted rookie – Shakur Brown – is best suited to the slot position in the NFL. Richard Sherman is not a realistic option for the Steelers.

KEVIN BURNS FROM LAVALLETTE, NJ: How come Dwayne Haskins didn't participate in Rookie Minicamp that took place last weekend?
ANSWER: Dwayne Haskins was not eligible to participate in Rookie Minicamp, because he is neither a rookie nor a player participating on a tryout basis. That's the rule.

RUSSELL LINDERMAN FROM NATRONA HEIGHTS, PA: With Matt Canada as the new offensive coordinator, I believe Dwayne Haskins becomes the new "slash" in Steelers offense. In your opinion do you believe the Steelers signed him to be next Kordell Stewart?
ANSWER: Absolutely, positively NOT.

TIM GOLDSMITH FROM SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Pressley Harvin III has a big leg, which could play a massive role in flipping the field for the Steelers. Is there a particular reason why punters must also be the holder for the placekicker? Is it likely that they could give the job to someone else if Pressley proves able to kick at a similar level in the NFL?
ANSWER: I've answered this questions a bunch of times already, but I'll cut you a break because of the possibility news travels slowly to the Land Down Under. Punters hold for placekickers, because during practice – especially during the season – coaches want position players to be working with their units and then with the whole offense or defense instead of being off to the side working with the specialists. The reality is that an NFL punter needs to be able to hold for the placekicker, and if a punter cannot do that he probably won't become a punter in the NFL.

AUTUMN BAKER FROM TULSA, OK: In the May 18 episode of Asked and Answered, you were asked about punters who won Super Bowls with the Steelers, and I was wondering why you left Daniel Sepulveda out? Wasn't he part of our 2008 Super Bowl team?
ANSWER: I can assure you the Steelers punter in Super Bowl XLIII was Mitch Berger. In that game, Berger punted three times for 139 yards (46.3 average) with one kick inside the 20-yard line. His net average for the game was 35.0. As for Daniel Sepulveda, on July 29, 2008, he tore the ACL in his right leg for the second time. He had surgery to repair the ligament and was placed on injured reserve, which ended his season.

MICHAEL PRESSMAN FROM BARBERTON, OH: How do you think the NFL is going to handle the situation with many records being broken just by the fact that players will now have an extra week to do it? Getting 2,000 yards in a season won't be the same, from here on out.
ANSWER: I fully anticipate the NFL handling this the same way it handled it when the regular season expanded from 14 games to 16 games for the 1978 regular season. In other words, it won't handle it at all. It will fall to those interpreting records to take that into consideration.

STEVE YOUNG FROM ST. DAVID, AZ: I keep seeing articles that make the point about how the Steelers "must" or "will" be signing one of the available veteran free agent edge rushers (i.e. Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram, etc.). Apparently, the Steelers were "hot on" Ryan Kerrigan before he signed with the Eagles. Is this kind of move even possible with the team's current financial situation?
ANSWER: It's possible if the player is willing to accept the kind of contract the Steelers are able to afford.

BEN COTTAM FROM BEND, OR: Do you think the Steelers have a real chance of making it past the first round of the playoffs this year?
ANSWER: Training camp is set to open in late July, which is still a couple of months away.

KENNETH SCOTTSBURY FROM DELTA, PA: I realize we cannot predict what a coach will call on the field, but perhaps you know something about what type of style Matt Canada likes? Do you believe he will make a concerted effort towards running the football?
ANSWER: There are a couple of things I believe: the first is that there is going to be a concerted effort put into running the football this season, because it would be career suicide for Matt Canada to incorporate a style that ignored the running game after what President Art Rooney II said back in January, what Coach Mike Tomlin has said a couple of times this offseason, and after the team spent its No. 1 pick in the recent draft on Najee Harris. The other thing I believe is that if a first-year NFL offensive coordinator doesn't accept the reality that his "style" has to be catered to the team's available talent, he won't end up being a veteran NFL offensive coordinator.

ADRIAN CORDOVA FROM MESA, AZ: Do you think they will ever bring back the throwback gold helmets? Maybe wear them with the color rush uniforms?
ANSWER: When it comes to helmets in the NFL these days, it's more about protecting players' heads than it is about aesthetics or fashion. Once players are fitted properly with an approved helmet, that's the helmet they will wear throughout the season. Based on that procedure, I would anticipate we have seen the last of the gold helmets unless gold helmets are the ones worn throughout the entire season.

EDWARD CHARNEY FROM FORTY FORT, PA: If a team is unable to sign a draft pick prior to the season starting, are they able to trade that drafted player to another team? If not, what happens to the player if they do not sign?
ANSWER: A team cannot trade a player who is not under contract, and that applies not only to rookies but also to players under the franchise tag who have not signed the tender. If a drafted player does not sign a contact, he would have to go back into the following year's draft if he wants to have a career in the NFL.

RICH SKILES FROM DAVENPORT, IA: When will we know who the starting running back is?
ANSWER: I cannot say when an official announcement might be made, but I can tell you right now that the starting running back for the Steelers in 2021 will be Najee Harris.

GIO CALABRO FROM EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, NJ: You answered a question last installment regarding what films does Ben Roethlisberger watch during the offseason and your answer about watching the movie "Frozen" with his daughter made me laugh so hard I spit out my coffee all over my desk with my coworkers thinking I was having a seizure. I just wanted to express my gratitude for both the team insight/knowledge and humor you provide 2-3 times a week. I hope you never retire.
ANSWER: Thanks for the kind words. I hope you didn't get any of that coffee into your keyboard, because my experience is that the guys in the IT Department have a tendency to frown on that.

LOU MANN FROM ASHKELON, ISRAEL: Is there any truth to the rumor that the Pittsburgh Steelers plan to retire jersey No. 28 in honor of the great defensive back Guadalupe Ledezma "Lupe" Sanchez?
ANSWER: I don't know anything about that, but in my mind you deserve to have your jersey retired for knowing Lupe Sanchez's full name.

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