Let’s get to it:
EVAN HOLLIDAY FROM SYRACUSE, NY: Does Ola Adeniyi have a chance at being a starting outside linebacker when he comes off the injured reserve list?
ANSWER: My opinion on the matter is that unless there is a significant injury at the position, and by significant I mean an injury that would sideline one of the three outside linebackers currently on the 53-man roster – T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and Anthony Chickillo – for multiple weeks, Ola Adeniyi will not be added to the active roster this season. Granted, Adeniyi flashed during training camp and had some impressive moments during the preseason, but the guys against whom he had success in those preseason games either are on practice squads or have been waived. In that sense, Adeniyi has yet to play a single snap of real NFL football. And then to expect, or even to believe it would be possible for him to join the team around Thanksgiving and be a productive starter at an important position is unreasonable. Besides, Watt, Dupree, and Chickillo all have been contributing to an improving defense, and none of them would deserve to have his playing time reduced.
MIKE JONES FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: What is the latest status of Eli Rogers? Should we expect to see him splitting some time in the slot sometime soon?
ANSWER: This situation is somewhat similar to the one I just described with respect to Ola Adeniyi, with the difference being Eli Rogers has a track record as an NFL player. Rogers continues to rehabilitate the ACL he tore in the playoff loss to Jacksonville in mid-January, and there really isn’t a glaring need for him in the Steelers offense right now. JuJu Smith-Schuster is capable of being an effective receiver in the middle areas of the field, and James Washington seems to be coming around after a slow start as a rookie. And Ryan Switzer has shown the ability to make some catches that convert third downs, and what Switzer also has going for him is that as the primary return guy he allows Coach Mike Tomlin to save a game day roster spot by filling multiple roles. Again, to repeat the sentiment expressed in the answer to the Adeniyi question, I don’t see the Steelers making a move with Rogers unless there are injuries at the wide receiver position.
JOHN BRAGG FROM FAIRMONT, WV: I saw some questions about "flexing" games in your Nov. 13 edition of Asked and Answered. Are Monday Night games not eligible for flexing? I can't remember ever seeing a Monday Night game being flexed out.
ANSWER: The flex-scheduling system only involves the changing of kickoff times, not the dates of the games. That’s why Monday night games and Thursday night games never are flexed.
JEFF ENOS FROM ORLANDO, FL: I heard one of the talking heads on the NFL Network say that Bruce Irvin signed with the Falcons in spite of a higher offer from the Steelers. Did the Steelers really offer him, and if so, was it for more money?
ANSWER: The Steelers in fact were interested in Bruce Irvin and made a serious effort to sign him. I cannot say whether the money was more than Irvin got from the Falcons, but based on the way the Steelers typically prefer to do business, I would guess their offer was for more than one year and as such it would have been for more money than the one-year deal from the Falcons.
AMY NICOLAZZO FROM AKRON, OH: The Steelers scoring 52 points against the Panthers was a record-setting high total at Heinz Field. What is the Steelers all-time highest score, and who did they play?
ANSWER: On Nov. 30, 1952, the Steelers defeated the New York Giants, 63-7.
JIM VEREB FROM LAS VEGAS, NV: Last Thursday’s 52 point output vs. the Panthers was the most points scored by the Steelers at Heinz Field. What was the most points scored by the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium?
ANSWER: On Nov. 25, 1984, the Steelers defeated the San Diego Chargers, 52-24.
JORDAN WELLINGS FROM SAVANNAH, GA: I was wondering who you think is the Steelers’ No. 3 receiver. I thought it would be James Washington, but I don’t know how well he has been playing. I also know this is his rookie year, but we need someone who can have that immediate impact.
ANSWER: I asked Coach Mike Tomlin this question in late October, and this is what he said, “The No. 3 wideout can simply mean the first guy off the bench. It can also mean the guy who plays inside specifically, the guy who plays in the slot. Or it can simply mean situational. When you think about our third receiver, you think situational. That’s because we’re flexible, we’ve always been position flexible in terms of having the ability to move people around as we saw fit. And Hines Ward set that standard here years ago, because Hines Ward was a Z-receiver, but Hines Ward was a guy who played inside on possession downs like a third receiver even though he was not. So we’ve always had that mentality of movable or exchangeable parts. You’ll see Antonio Brown inside some, you’ll see JuJu Smith-Schuster inside some, you’ll see us bring in Ryan Switzer some and play him inside. We have a lot of flexibility in terms of that ‘third wide receiver.’ It could be a myriad of people. Sometimes in our vertical passing game it could be Darrius Heyward-Bey. We’ve always taken a situational approach to that, and I think it lends itself to us being less predictable and being more inclusive in terms of utilizing all of our guys.”
DAVID MAYLE FROM MANAGUA, NICARAGUA: I was thinking about the incredible job Mike Munchak has done turning out offensive lineman, and the first question that came to mind: Are assistant coaches eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame? The next thing that popped into my head is can a person be inducted into the Hall of Fame twice?
ANSWER: Assistant coaches are eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame under the “contributor” category. As for an individual being elected in two separate categories, I don’t know if there’s a specific rule prohibiting that, but after talking to someone on the Board of Selectors, I don’t believe that would be considered. Once a guy is in, he’s in, and rather than waste time debating the same guy in a different category, or wasting a spot in a particular class on a guy who’s already inducted, the Selectors would simply move on to someone else.
JOE JOHNSON FROM ASHEBORO, NC: Will the Steelers get a compensatory pick for Le’Veon Bell in 2019?
ANSWER: Compensatory draft picks are awarded the year after the activity in free agency. In other words, if Le’Veon Bell leaves the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent in 2019, the Steelers would be eligible for a compensatory pick based on his departure in 2020.
JARED MCCLARY FROM CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA: Antonio Brown currently has 790 catches, 10,600 yards, and 69 touchdowns to this point in his in his eight-plus year career. The Steelers have Brown signed through the 2021 season. Would it possible for him to surpass 1,000 receptions, 15,000 yards, and 100 touchdowns for his career. I didn’t know if there was a calculation method the league uses to predict a players stats by a certain period of time?
ANSWER: Here’s a predictor for Antonio Brown’s career statistics: how long will Ben Roethlisberger play?
MARK CUSICK FROM PARADISE VALLEY, CA: Marcus Gilbert is still out with a knee injury. Why are the Steelers being so secretive about when and how he injured the knee?
ANSWER: Regarding Marcus Gilbert’s knee injury, the Steelers have been in complete compliance with the NFL rules regarding his practice participation and availability for the upcoming game. If you perceive that information to be inadequate, that’s your issue.
GUILLERMO FRANCO FROM ROCHESTER, NY: When preparing for their next opponent, do the Steelers review game tape from other teams that have defeated that upcoming opponent ?
ANSWER: Such a strategy isn’t necessarily a good usage of time, because what another team did in defeating an opponent might not be possible for your team, based on schemes and personnel. For example, Jacksonville couldn’t attempt to game plan for the Steelers defense the same way the Patriots might game plan for the Steelers defense, because the Jaguars have Blake Bortles as their quarterback while the Patriots have Tom Brady as their quarterback, as just one example.