Let’s get to it:
CHRIS GARCIA FROM HOUSTON, TX: Is Christian Scotland-Williamson still on the Steelers practice squad? Do they plan on using him this upcoming season?
ANSWER: Christian Scotland-Williamson again will be with the Steelers during this offseason program and then through training camp and the preseason as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway. The Steelers get a roster exemption so that they can keep him on the roster until the final cuts and then another exemption to keep him on the practice squad without him counting against their limit of players. What fans need to understand, and what many seem incapable of understanding, is that Scotland-Williamson, who will turn 26 in early July, lived the first 25 years of his life with no real exposure to American football as a player. Yes, he qualifies as a world class athlete, but his sport was rugby, which does not have as many similarities to football as some might believe. And Scotland-Williamson is attempting to break into his new sport at the highest level in the world. Scotland-Williamson has shown a tremendous amount of improvement over the course of the time he has spent with the Steelers, but it’s neither fair nor realistic to expect him to be able to earn a spot on an NFL active roster and then see playing time in a regular season game in a sport that’s quite dissimilar to the one he had been playing throughout his life. My guess right now would be that he spends another season on the practice squad.
CHRIS BLIEM FROM VIENNA, AUSTRIA: Do you think that the tight end position is set, or is there a legitimate chance a trade could happen in the upcoming months?
ANSWER: There could be additions and/or subtractions to different positions right up until the team reports to training camp, but I can tell you that right now the Steelers have six tight ends on their roster, and last year they brought six tight ends to training camp. Also, there’s always the possibility that there could be additions during camp if the unit is hit with a rash of injuries.
MIKE REIBMAN FROM MERRICK, NY: I saw that Ryan Shazier was placed on PUP this week. I have also seen announced that his salary was "tolled" for 2019. In layman's terms, what does this mean for both the Steelers and Ryan Shazier for the 2019 season?
ANSWER: What it means for Ryan Shazier is that he is out for the entire 2019 season, but he will be paid a salary as a player, which entitles him to the health care and benefits available to all NFL players, and he will be a part of the team on a daily basis even though not s an on-field participant.
TONY LIPINSKI FROM CLARKSVILLE, TN: I don’t know what I am missing here. Throughout the draft, the “experts” said we needed an edge rusher. Don’t we have Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt? What’s wrong with those guys?
ANSWER: There is nothing wrong with Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, but the reference to “edge rushers” points more to the positions played by T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree.
LOU BOLOGNIA FROM HERMITAGE, PA: Have you heard anything about Matt Galambos being in the mix as a sub-package linebacker? I remembered thinking that he reminded me of a safety.
ANSWER: The Steelers waived Matt Galambos on Sept. 1, 2018, and he hasn’t been a part of the Steelers in any capacity since then.
BRIAN VASILISIN FROM ORLANDO, FL: With draft and free agency over, I was thinking about all the new players coming to Pittsburgh. Do the Steelers offer any kind of living arrangements for new players while they get acclimated to the area, or are players totally on their own to find a place to stay?
ANSWER: The players to whom you are referring are housed in a Pittsburgh area hotel. Once the final cuts are made – this year it will be on Aug. 31 – all the players who make the 53-man roster or the practice squad then are free to set up their own living arrangements.
CHIS GALLOWAY FROM FATE, TX: What is the difference between releasing a player and having the contract terminated?
ANSWER: If we’re talking about players with four or more accrued seasons in the NFL, there is no practical difference.
JORGE FERNANDO PAZ FROM MÉXICO CITY, MÉXICO: Who will coach the outside linebackers?
ANSWER: In addition to being the defensive coordinator, Keith Butler also will be the outside linebackers coach.
CRAIG BRYAN FROM BURNHAM, PA: Have the Steelers ever kept six receivers on the 53-man roster? My other question: can JuJu Smith-Schuster handle outside responsibilities full-time?
ANSWER: Throughout last season, the Steelers had six wide receivers on the 53-man roster. When the season began, the six were Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ryan Switzer, Justin Hunter, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Ryan Switzer. When Hunter was injured and went on injured reserve, Eli Rogers took his spot on the roster. As for your other question, don’t spend too much time worrying about whether Smith-Schuster can “handle outside responsibilities,” because he will be lined up at different spots within the formation based on the play that is called. The Steelers are not like the Peyton Manning Indianapolis Colts, who always broke the huddle with Marvin Harrison split to one side of the formation and Reggie Wayne split to the other side of the formation. It’s more multiple in Pittsburgh, and players are asked to learn multiple positions because on offense responsibilities can change based on things such as a man in motion, as just one example.
MICHAEL ANDREWS FROM CHICAGO, IL: If Devin Bush wins a starting job in training camp this year, will it most likely be over Vince Williams or Mark Barron?
ANSWER: Devin Bush hasn’t even been fitted for a helmet yet.
ROY PERRIN FROM FUQUAY VARINA, NC: When will the players’ jersey numbers be issued and settled? I was looking at the roster and several players have no numbers yet, or they have the same number as another player. Will that be settled on the field or are there occasions when two players keep the same number?
ANSWER: The rookies will be assigned jersey numbers next weekend in advance of rookie minicamp, and the only player whose number will not change is Devin Bush’s. He will wear No. 55. As for the others, some will be issued a duplicate number, meaning they’ll be sharing it with another player. Once the final cut-down is made to 53 on Aug. 31, there could be some switching of numbers because players aren’t permitted to have duplicate numbers come the regular season.
GEORG HACKMACK FROM KARLSRUHE, GERMANY: On Steelers.com, there are 94 players listed on the current roster, but the team is not allowed to have more than 90. So who is not actually on the roster but is listed anyway?
ANSWER: Of those 94 names, there are two who will not count against the 90-player limit. Those two players are Ryan Shazier, who has been placed on the physically unable to perform list, which means he does not count as he continues his rehabilitation; and the other player is Christian Scotland-Williamson, the tight end from the United Kingdom who is part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway. Also, all of the nine draft choices the Steelers added last weekend currently do not count against the 90-player limit because they have yet to sign a contract. When they do sign, if their additions to the roster would put the Steelers over the 90-player limit, then somebody would have to be cut in order to make room for them.
JOHN MATTHEWS FROM PARKER, PA: How do the AAF players the Steelers signed stack up against the draft picks? Do any of them have a shot at the 53-man roster?
ANSWER: Too soon.
TIM RYAN FROM NEW CASTLE, DE: Do draft picks have to show up at OTAs if they are not signed yet?
ANSWER: Let me approach this question from a different direction. Rookie draft picks are permitted to attend OTAs if they have yet to sign their contracts, and any draft picks who wouldn’t attend OTAs would not be doing themselves any favors in terms of giving themselves a decent chance to show what they can do once training camp begins.
TIM SIVERD FROM SOUTH HILL, VA: Prior to The Chuck Noll era what was the Steelers best season?
ANSWER: Chuck Noll’s inaugural season was in 1969, and prior to that the Steelers had two seasons in which they finished four games over .500. Those came in 1947 when they were 8-4 under Coach Jock Sutherland, and then in 1962 when they were 9-5 under Coach Buddy Parker.