Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: May 31

Let's get to it:

JB BATULIS JR. FROM WETMORE, CO:
How do you see the running backs corps filling out after Le'Veon Bell and Le'Veon Bell?

ANSWER: Everything you are about to read concerning the depth chart at running back comes with the caveat: barring injury. So OK, the Steelers can be expected to keep four running backs on the roster, with one of those four spots being allocated to a fullback. After Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams on the depth chart, Fitzgerald Toussaint would seem to have the inside track to the No. 3 job based on the team turning to him in the playoffs to carry the running attack, but Josh Harris had come into the previous training camp in the exact same situation and was waived. The others currently on the roster competing with Toussaint are Cameron Stingily, Brandon Brown-Dukes, and Daryl Richardson. As of right now, I would list Roosevelt Nix as the leading candidate at fullback.

NICHOLAS COTNER FROM MILLTOWN, IN:
What is your favorite Steelers Super Bowl memory/play?

ANSWER: For me, this is an easy one. It is William Gay's 100-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. Watching that play live, from the press box at Raymond James Stadium, is something I'll never forget.

ANDREW WRIGHT FROM UPPER ST. CLAIR, PA:
I was just thinking, wouldn't it be smart to sign Anquan Boldin and/or Donte Whitner to one-year deals as a way to bolster two areas with some questions and concerns? They are both veterans who can still play as well as teach the young guys some things.

ANSWER: No, that wouldn't be smart, and I also disagree with your characterization of what Anquan Boldin and Donte Whitner would be contributing to the 2016 Steelers.

If any of the Steelers young receivers is looking for a player to emulate, he should look no farther than the guy already in their meeting room who wears jersey No. 84. In terms of work ethic, professionalism, and excellence on the field, Antonio Brown is so far above Boldin that it would be an insult to bring him, or any outsider, in to "teach the young guys some things." Brown has recorded at least 125 receptions in each of the previous two seasons – 129 in 2014 and 136 in 2015 – to become the first player in NFL history to accomplish that, and he also holds the NFL record for catches in three consecutive seasons, with 375. He was voted first-team All-Pro in both 2014 and 2015. As Hines Ward used to refer to the job description, Antonio Brown "is the leader of the wideouts."

**

As for Donte Whitner, who turns 31 on July 24, he is younger than Boldin, who will be 36 on Oct. 3, but it's worth noting that he has 11 career interceptions in a 10-year NFL career as a safety. What the Steelers need from their revamped secondary, in my opinion, are takeaways, and Whitner never has shown himself to be that kind of player. Also, I wouldn't be interested in adding a veteran who might end up taking playing time away from Sean Davis. Back in 1989, the Steelers' No. 2 draft pick was a promising safety named Carnell Lake, and on the eve of the regular season the team cut veteran starter Cornell Gowdy so as not to take playing time away from the rookie. Davis is part of the Steelers' future at the position.**

NORM COURY FROM LEIDEN, NETHERLANDS:
Isn't downing Fran Tarkenton in the end zone (in Super Bowl IX) a sack?

ANSWER: No. It's not, because the original play was not an attempted pass. The Minnesota possession began at the Vikings 7-yard line with 7:56 remaining in the second quarter following a Bobby Walden punt. It was scoreless at the time. Here is the description of what happened, from the official play-by-play from Super Bowl IX on the play listed as a second-and-7 from the Vikings 10-yard line: "Tarkenton pitches back to (RB Dave) Osborn poorly, fumbles, and recovers in the end zone for a safety." It's not a sack if the original play was an attempted run.

PAUL KAMMERMEIER FROM HONEOYE FALLS, NY:
In the May 26 Asked and Answered, you stated that the Steelers did not record a sack vs. the Vikings in Super Bowl IX. You also pointed out that the Steelers recorded a safety when Dwight White "downed Fran Tarkenton in the end zone." First, by the current rules if I'm not mistaken, that would be a sack, correct? Second, did the NFL even keep the sack statistic in 1974?

ANSWER: You are mistaken. It's not a sack (See the question/answer above.) It was a running play by design, and the fumble came as a result of a lateral. Tarkenton never showed any intent to pass. Also, sacks became an official NFL statistic in 1982, but until then the way "sacks" were designated was this way in the official play-by-play: "Times thrown and yards lost attempting to pass."

ROGER WHITE FROM MEDFORD, NJ:
I recently saw that Ladarius Green was not able to take part in OTAs due to an injury. What was his injury?

ANSWER: During the 2015 regular season, Ladarius Green injured an ankle. It caused him to miss a few games, and the decision was made to fix it with a surgical procedure, which was performed shortly after the Chargers' regular season ended. The Steelers apparently didn't view it as a significant situation, because they signed him as an unrestricted free agent early in March.

PETER KEHAYES FROM OLD BETHPAGE, NY:
I know it may be too early to predict, but which rookie do you feel will have the most impact in 2016.

ANSWER: You are absolutely correct. It is way too early.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 rookie class took a trip to visit the Mel Blount Youth Home.

LAUREN MCGEARY FROM ATLANTA, GA:
With changes to the roster, and sometimes to the coaching staff, how do teams prepare for an opponent at the beginning of the season as opposed to later in the season? Are the first few games a gamble with the type of lineup they will use?

ANSWER: Each team plays a minimum of four preseason games, and so there is that video to study to determine the offensive and defensive schemes and the utilization of personnel. If a team is going to be making drastic changes, it's going to have to work on it during the preseason. And just generally, there is so much familiarity now – among the players, who move from roster to roster during free agency, and among the assistant coaches, who can have close to a half-dozen stops around the league on their resumes. There is a lot of video out there.

ROBBIE BLACKBURN FROM MINGO JUNCTION, OH:
My cousins and I are going to be going to camp this summer, and we wanted to know how we could get field passes for practice. I have scoured the website and haven't seen anything except for access for charities.

ANSWER: Fans wanting to watch the Steelers practice at Saint Vincent College are able to park on campus for free, and then either watch from the stands at Chuck Noll Field or stake out a spot on the hillside. That's free, too. But field passes at training camp are not available to the general public.

ED SCHEIRER FROM HOOVER, AL:
I recently heard that the Steelers hold a record that will never be broken, i.e., the 1976 team that was made of up of players who all were drafted by the Steelers or signed by them as undrafted free agents. None of them had ever played on any other team. Is that true?

ANSWER: It's true, but you have the wrong year. It was the 1979 Steelers, and they became the first NFL team to win a championship with an entirely homegrown roster, as you described.

GREG BECK FROM BOCA RATON , FL:
I have always been curious about how the players get paid.

ANSWER: For NFL players, base salary is paid in equal installments during the applicable regular season, which is considered to last 17 weeks – 16 games and a bye. If a player is due to earn $510,000 as his base salary in 2016, he would be paid with 17 checks in the amount of $30,000, once a week from the start of the regular season.

JACK MATTHEWS FROM LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM:
Who would you prefer to be the Steelers' kicker next year, and why?

ANSWER: The one who isn't going to miss multiple field goals in an overtime loss to the Ravens at Heinz Field.

MICHAEL QUINONES FROM SUFFOLK, VA
Do you think that Donald Washington gives the Steelers a good bridge cornerback to Artie Burns until the coaches feel he's ready to start?

ANSWER: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Donald Washington was added to the roster after a tryout during rookie minicamp. That puts him barely on the roster, very likely on the bottom rung of the depth chart ladder. You're talking about Washington as a starter? That's not fair to put that level of expectation on Washington, and you must have no respect for Will Gay and Stephon Tuitt.

JAMES PRITCHETT FROM MASSILLON, OH:
I heard a rumor that Johnny Manziel was being looked at and had a possibility to try-out for Steelers. Is this true?

ANSWER: Hahahahahahahahahaha. No.


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