Let’s get to it:
JAYDEN DUNN FROM BOISE, ID: Will the Steelers wear their color rush jerseys on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers?
GARY O’DWYER FROM COBOURG, ONTARIO, CANADA: If, after a safety, the kicking team punts it out of bounds is there a penalty? If so what happens?
ANSWER: It’s treated just like a kick that goes out of bounds on a kickoff. It’s a penalty, and the receiving team is awarded the ball 25 yards from where it was kicked. In the case of a safety – since the ball is kicked from the 20-yard line – the receiving team would get the ball at the 45-yard line.
SCOTT SOKOLOWSKI FROM CLARKSVILLE, MD: I recall Al Villanueva being given an adjustment to his pay in a recent year because he performed at a level above his current salary - or something similar. Would James Conner be eligible for similar treatment?
ANSWER: Yes. And the program to which you’re referring is known as Performance Based Pay.
ANDREW KUNISAWA FROM VENTURA, CA: The Steelers seem to be most vulnerable on defense when there is a pass catching tight end (see Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski over the years). What can the Steelers do differently to slow down these type of players while maintaining balance for the rest of the defense?
ANSWER: Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski are two of the best receiving tight ends of their generation, and it’s not as though the Steelers are the only defense that has its hands full with these guys. Leading up to the loss to the Chiefs in the home opener this season, the Steelers had some decent success against Kelce – holding him to four catches for 31 yards in 2014, five catches for 23 yards in 2016, and four catches for 37 yards in 2017. Gronkowski is a problem for every defense he faces, and he also has the added advantage of having Tom Brady at quarterback, one of the most accurate passers this century. That said, the whole idea behind drafting Terrell Edmunds and signing Morgan Burnett was to be able to put defenders on the field with the combination of size and athletic ability to deal with these types of players. It’s a work in progress, but there is a plan in place.
MICHAEL RICKLEY FROM BRUNSWICK, MD: Is Landry Jones good enough to guide his team to a win against the Steelers? Provided that he plays, of course.
ANSWER: Blake Bortles was good enough to quarterback the Jaguars to two victories over the Steelers last season, and I’d rather have Landry Jones. And with Jacksonville, it’s really not all about the quarterback, as it is with teams such as New England and New Orleans and Green Bay, among others, and so if the Steelers allow Leonard Fournette to rush for 181 yards and two touchdowns as he did in the regular season game, or for 109 yards and three touchdowns as he did in the AFC Divisional Round Game, quarterback play isn’t going to all that significant.
JAKE SMITH FROM RIDGWAY, PA: Why do so many primetime games on Sunday and Monday nights have the same team two weeks in a row? For example, New England played last Monday against Buffalo, and this week the Patriots play on Sunday night against Green Bay. Does it make travel or anything like that easier?
ANSWER: It doesn’t make travel easier, but it gives the players a little bit of extra time to get their bodies ready for the next game. That’s what happened to the Steelers earlier this season, in fact, when they played in Tampa against the Buccaneers on a Monday night and then the following weekend hosted the Ravens on a Sunday night. The team’s charter flight from Tampa landed about 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, and so having the next weekend’s kickoff at 8:15 p.m. instead of 1 p.m. provides a little extra time between games.
SCOTT ROSCOVIUS FROM JACKSON, MS: I kinda miss the "gadget" plays from the Mike Mularkey days, like Antwaan Randle El throwing to Hines Ward. I know a lot of this has to do with personnel, but do you see these types of plays being developed for a possible postseason surprise?
ANSWER: It indeed has a lot to do with personnel, because when Mike Mularkey was the Steelers offensive coordinator the team’s starting quarterbacks were Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox. That position now is manned by Ben Roethlisberger, who has won two Super Bowls as a starter and is currently on pace to throw for 5,234 yards and 32 touchdowns this season. I’d rather have Roethlisberger throwing to Antonio Brown with everyone in the stadium knowing it’s coming instead of trying some gadget play.
NEIL GLASSER FROM MANALAPAN, NJ: What happens if a performance bonus that was not deemed “likely to be earned” is earned and then puts the team over the salary cap?
ANSWER: There is a period at the end of each season called salary cap reconciliation, and if there are instances like the one you describe, the money in the incentive is paid to the player, and then whatever overage there might be is deducted from the team’s cap for the next season. So if the player earned a $250,000 incentive that puts his team $150,000 over the cap, that $150,000 is deducted from his team’s cap number for the next season.
RODOLFO RAMÍREZ FROM GUADALAJARA, MÉXICO: Will Eli Rogers be eligible to play this season?
ANSWER: Since he was placed on the PUP list at the start of the regular season, Eli Rogers was eligible to come off that list and rejoin the team after the first six weeks of the season. That makes him eligible now. JuJu Smith-Schuster can handle the inside slot receiver position on third downs just fine, but Rogers could be a nice addition to the group if rookie James Washington needs more time to find his footing as an NFL receiver. Ultimately, Eli Rogers needs to be healthy before the Steelers make any move to add him to the 53-man roster.
MARK DIGIOVANNA FROM SAN JOSE, CA: What do you think about bringing in Brandon Marshall? He got released by the Seahawks. He would be inexpensive and has said that he "absolutely" wants to continue his career. He's a big guy and although he hasn't put together a season worth noting the past few years, he can't be any worse than Justin Hunter or James Washington. I think Washington will break out at some point, but he's obviously not ready yet.
ANSWER: What I find most amusing about this submission is your statement that “he hasn't put together a season worth noting the past few years.” Exactly. Based on that, what benefit is there in adding Brandon Marshall? You can’t use his highlights video and have that stand in for production now. I would rather work with James Washington and wait for him to develop, and add Eli Rogers to the group once he’s healthy. Because besides the fact Marshall “hasn't put together a season worth noting the past few years” he also would be held back by having to learn a new offense on the fly.
CHRIS BILGER FROM MARTINSBURG, PA: Is L. T. Walton hurt? I haven’t seen him on the field lately.
ANSWER: L.T. Walton is not injured, but he has lost his spot on the game day roster to Dan McCullers.