Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: May 24

Let's get to it:

PETE O'BRIEN FROM GEORGETOWN, SC:
If there were a Mount Rushmore for Steelers quarterbacks, who would be your No. 3 and No. 4 faces?

ANSWER: Bobby Layne and Jim Finks.

Layne is a Hall of Fame quarterback who won three NFL Championships as the starter for the Detroit Lions, and what he brought to the Steelers was a winning mind-set. Layne played five seasons in Pittsburgh – four in which he was the full-time starter and one in which his season was cut short because of injuries. In his four full seasons with the Steelers, Layne quarterbacked the team to a winning record each time, which was a significant change for a franchise that had posted just four winning seasons during its first 25 in the NFL. Layne also was voted to two Pro Bowls during his time with the Steelers.

*With Finks, it comes down to sheer numbers in statistical categories during an era when passing was not a big part of a team's offense. Finks played six seasons for the Steelers (1949-55), but in the first three of those he totaled only 104 attempts. Remembering that the NFL played 12-game seasons during that era, in three seasons, Finks accumulated the kinds of numbers that still have him ranked – on the Steelers all-time lists – seventh in passing yards, tied-for-fifth in 300-yard passing games, sixth in attempts, seventh in completions, 10th in completion percentage, sixth in touchdown passes, third in interceptions (behind Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger), and 10th in passer rating. *
HOWARD ASHCRAFT FROM LANSING, MI:
Does the scouting department ever look at reports from fans (volunteer scouts), and if so is there a address to submit them.

ANSWER: No. And with all due respect, based on some of the "suggestions" from fans for position switches, scheme changes, and play-calling that I wade through just for Asked and Answered, can you even imagine what the scouting department would receive from "volunteer scouts."

MATTHEW BOWYER FROM MOUNT HOPE, OH:
I read an article several days ago that Matthew Thomas had signed a three-year deal with the Steelers, but I have not seen it listed on Steelers.com. I realize he would still have to make the team, but did he actually sign a three-year deal? Also, is he listed as an inside linebacker or outside linebacker?

ANSWER: On July 29, the day after rounds 4-7 of the 2018 NFL Draft had concluded, the Steelers agreed to terms with 13 undrafted rookies, and Florida State linebacker Matthew Thomas was among those 13. And just to be clear, those names are still listed under transactions for April 29 on Steelers.com. Thomas' contract was for three years, and while he is listed as a linebacker (no inside or outside designation, as are all players at the position), I cannot imagine him playing anything but inside linebacker at first.

RICHARD MEAGHER FROM LAKE HAVASU CITY, AZ:
Do the Steelers scout Division II college programs? Also, do they scout the small black colleges? The Steelers built their 1970s Dynasty on athletes from small schools, so I am wondering if they still do this.

ANSWER: Yes, the Steelers still scout the HBCUs – the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In fact, Javon Hargrave, the team's third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, came from South Carolina State, which is Donnie Shell's alma mater. As for Division II, the Steelers will look for players wherever the players are. It's possible that prospects from the lower divisions might come across their radar via their college postseasons, or in a Division II all-star game, as examples, but all legitimate prospects, or suspected prospects, are researched.

DON GARY FROM MUSKEGON, MI:
I heard in Ben Roethlisberger's interview from the first day of OTAs that Ryan Shazier was there. How is he helping the defense with his input? I like the new 'look' of the website too.

ANSWER: While I cannot speak specifically as to what Ryan Shazier might be contributing during OTAs, he has been outfitted with a golf cart that he uses to make it easier to move from drill-to-drill. And from a vantage point along the sideline, observers can see Shazier out on the field interacting with the players.

LARRY HALL FROM AUSTIN, TX:
I don't recall seeing any news on Anthony Chickillo. I know he was a restricted free agent if I'm not mistaken?

ANSWER: The Steelers placed an original round tender on Anthony Chickillo as a restricted free agent, which meant the team would have received a sixth-round draft pick as compensation had another team signed Chickillo to an offer sheet the Steelers opted not to match. But on Friday, April 20, Chickillo signed the Steelers' tender, which means he is under contract to the Steelers for the 2018 season at a salary of $1.9 million.

TAYLOR LAIRD FROM WHEELING, WV:
I am curious what James Washington's role in the offense will pan out to be. His stature suggests an over-the-middle receiver, but I know at OSU he served as a deep threat.

ANSWER: I am curious about that as well, as are many other Steelers fans, I'm sure. OTAs just started earlier this week. Way too early even for the coaches to have that answer.

ROY PERRIN FROM MORRISVILLE, NC:
When the Steelers are on the road and are practicing at the host facility, are the practices open to the public? I'd love a chance to see them, but I'm obviously no where near Pittsburgh.

ANSWER: The Steelers don't practice at the host facility prior to road games, whether those road games be in the preseason, regular season, or postseason. And even if they did, I cannot imagine a realistic scenario in which those would be open to the public.

REILLY HERRERA FROM OXFORD, MS:
Will Terrell Edmunds play both linebacker and safety?

ANSWER: No. The Steelers may go to some personnel groupings where a safety could be aligned in a spot normally occupied by a linebacker, but I don't think that's what you're asking.

TONY AUSTIN FROM LITTLE ROCK, AR:
Will the Steelers have Family Fest? If so, what are the dates?

ANSWER: In answering a question in the May 22 installment, I pointed out that the complete training camp schedule would be announced on Steelers.com at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 6. The information also should include Family Fest.
JONATHAN GRANT FROM BALTIMORE, MD:
Is it too late for L.C. Greenwood and Donnie Shell to get into the Hall of Fame? I'm sorry, but there are some players who have been elected recently that I do not understand.

ANSWER: Because both L.C. Greenwood and Donnie Shell completed their playing careers more than 25 years ago, their only path into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is via the Senior Committee.

ROSSLEE MACKEY FROM LAGUNA, NM:
Can you promise me that you will delete/ban the next idiot who asks about Tim Tebow and Canadian football rules on this site?

ANSWER: I cannot. The judge who issued my sentence enjoys a good laugh, too.
DAN WRIGHT FROM ATLANTA, GA
In an answer to a question in a previous installment, you mentioned the Steelers minority owners have nothing to do with cuts, scouting, etc., but if I were to buy David Tepper's minority ownership (because I have extra millions of dollars laying around), what does that entail?

ANSWER: It's an investment in one of the NFL's storied franchises, and I imagine like all investments there is the likelihood of sharing in the profits and losses based on the financial performance of the company.

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