Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: May 25

Let's get to it:

Any chance at all that one day we will see the NFL taking training camps, OTAs, or rookie minicamps to other cities like they do in Major League Baseball? I live in Florida and would love to see some OTA or rookie minicamp action from my Steelers.

ANSWER: I would have to say there's no chance. Baseball teams go to Florida or Arizona, because February in the Northeast is not conducive to playing/practicing baseball, while football training camps are held during the summer, when it actually can be too hot in Florida and Arizona for what teams want to get accomplished. And for the record, rookie minicamp and OTAs are closed to the public, anyway.

If the Steelers had a Monday night game on the West Coast, do they ever spend the night after the game and then fly home in the morning? Or do they leave right after the game and get home at like 4 a.m.?

ANSWER: The team's policy is to fly home as soon as possible after a game, regardless of where the game is played or what time that game began. London, Seattle, San Francisco, Mexico City. Doesn't matter. In San Diego, there is a curfew after which planes are prohibited from taking off, and so once after a Monday night game there the Steelers traveled to a military base close by and left from there, because there is no curfew for takeoff from military bases. And 4 a.m. isn't even that bad of an arrival time, because I have walked off the plane after a Monday night kickoff on the West Coast at 7 a.m., and it's Tuesday.

If somewhere down the line Ladarius Green gets healthy, can the Steelers pick him back up?

ANSWER: It is not against the rules.

The Steelers drafted a long-snapper in the sixth round, Colin Holba. How did they decide that he was a better long-snapper than anyone else? How does one scout a long-snapper?

ANSWER: Long-snappers are timed from snap-to-kick, and in their business tenths of a second can be the difference between a career in the NFL and a career working the night shift at a convenience store. The better long-snappers also put the correct spin on the ball so that when it hits the holder's hands there's not a lot involved in getting it on the ground with the laces facing the goalposts, which is the way kickers prefer it. Long-snappers also better be able to hit the holder, or the punter, in the hands with the ball, and they better be able to hit those hands close to 100 percent of the time. Speed, spin, location are three important factors, and to work in the NFL you better be very close to perfect in all three of those categories close to every single time, regardless of weather conditions.

Then, General Manager Kevin Colbert offered this at the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft: "In college football, most long-snappers are walk-ons. And because of (college football) rules — there are different rules as to how you can defend them or block them after they snap — they have a lot more (protection) than we do in the NFL. So a lot of the college long-snappers are these 6-foot-1, 215-220 pound guys, who really would have a hard time snapping and blocking in our league. Colin is really 6-3, 248 and he has some coverage ability. Not that he will be the first line of defense, but he has the size to go along with the snapping. Again, not many (long-snappers) come along who are that size who are competent snappers. It's really a supply and demand issue."

Who will the Steelers hold joint practices with this year?

ANSWER: The Steelers have no joint practices scheduled with any team during this upcoming training camp.

This may be a year or two before your time but I remember when my father came home from World War II he took me to a Steelers game at Forbes Field. I remember they played a team called the New York Bulldogs, and I believe the Steelers won the game and also that Bill Dudley played in that game. I was about 6 years old. Am I correct on any of the above?

ANSWER: Bill Dudley played for the Steelers for three seasons – in 1942, in 1945 for four games after the end of World War II, and then in 1946. The Steelers played their home games at Forbes Field at that time, but here's where the story unravels a bit: the New York Bulldogs were in existence only in 1949 and 1950, and Dudley no longer was with the Steelers at that time. In 1946, the franchise that would become the New York Bulldogs was then known as the Boston Yanks, and in 1946 the Steelers defeated the Boston Yanks, 16-7, at Forbes Field. In 1949, the Steelers defeated the New York Bulldogs, 24-13, at Forbes Field but without Bill Dudley; and in 1950, the Steelers didn't play the Bulldogs at all.

With Ladarius Green gone can you tell me if the 6-foot-8 rookie Phazahn Odom has a chance to not only make the team but also the starting roster? Also, please give us some information about him please!

ANSWER: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Dial back the hysteria, and try to keep the expectations for Phazahn Odom at a realistic level. The release of Ladarius Green with a failed physical designation is an unfortunate development, but it doesn't deserve to be portrayed as totally unexpected based on his unavailability for the bulk of the 2016 season. As for Phazahn Odom, the first thing to understand is that he wasn't drafted, nor was he signed as an undrafted rookie after the draft by any of the 32 teams. He attended Steelers rookie minicamp on a tryout basis and was offered a contract at the end of the weekend.

In his five years at Fordham, Odom played in 23 games and finished with 56 catches for 740 yards (13.2 average) and nine touchdowns. My personal opinion is that the most realistic outcome for Odom would be to show enough during training camp and the preseason to earn a spot on the practice squad. That way he could continue the process of developing from the basketball player he was entering college to the football player he want to be now that he's out of college.

Do the coaches still have any faith in Sammie Coates? Or will he be forgotten with Martavis Bryant coming back and the new draft pick JuJu Smith-Schuster. I like Sammie Coates. I hope he can rebound from last year.

ANSWER: Sammie Coates is in complete control of his fate with the Steelers. How he performs at training camp and through the preseason is what will determine whether "the coaches still have any faith" in him. There are no preconceived notions.

The three Pittsburgh professional sport teams share the same colors. What is the origin of the colors used?

ANSWER: The official colors of the City of Pittsburgh are black and gold.

William Gay or Greg Lloyd, Aaron Smith or Brett Keisel?

ANSWER: First, all four of the guys you mention were very good players for a franchise that has had a lot of very good players in its history. But you asked me to pick, and so I will:

James Harrison for his combination of production and longevity. Harrison is in the process of playing in his 15th NFL season, and he is the all-time franchise leader in sacks with 81.5. In the playoffs, Harrison has another 11 sacks, and there also was that 100-yard pick-six in Super Bowl XLIII.

The choice between Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel is more difficult to make, because while Harrison and Greg Lloyd both played right outside linebacker, Smith and Keisel were more complementary in the roles they filled on the defensive line. Despite both being 3-4 defensive ends, Smith played on the left side of the defense, which required him to be strong against the run. Holding the point of attack, occupying blockers were things Dick LeBeau once said Aaron Smith did better than any other 3-4 end in NFL history. Keisel played on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage, and while he had similarly important responsibilities against the run, Keisel also was coming off the line of scrimmage on the quarterback's blind side most of the time, which made pass-rushing a bigger part of his job description. Each man filled his role quite well, but forced to choose I'll go with Smith because he was the senior leader of the unit.

Any chance Missi Matthews switches to defensive coordinator? She's kinda sassy.

ANSWER: Not until she's been completely vetted on her opinion of moving Ryan Shazier to safety and Sammie Coates to cornerback.

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