Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Nov. 17

Let's get to it:

BEN PARVA FROM HOUSTON, TX:
Chris Boswell has been nothing short of spectacular for us this year? What do the Steelers do with him upon the return of Suisham, assuming Boswell continues kicking as well as he has?

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To put a statistical slant on "nothing short of spectacular," Chris Boswell has made 13-of-14 field goal attempts so far. He is 4-for-4 from 20-29 yards, 5-for-5 from 30-39 yards, 3-for-4 from 40-49 yards, and 1-for-1 from 50-plus yards. When it comes to kickoffs, 11 of his 33 kickoffs have been touchbacks, and on the 21 that have been returned the opponents are averaging 21.6 yards per return. He also had one kickoff go out of bounds. If Boswell continues at this pace, and if this Steelers season includes a playoff run where Boswell is still continuing at this pace, I would surmise there at least would be a competition in 2016 between Boswell and Shaun Suisham for the job. There are few things an NFL team likes more than younger and cheaper, and Boswell is both of those things compared to Suisham. Because the Steelers want to compete for a championship every year, I don't believe they would sacrifice a lot of productivity and dependability for younger and cheaper, but if it's close I do believe it would be a consideration. According to spotrac.com, Suisham is to earn a $2.4 million salary in each of the next three seasons (2016-18), and his cap number in each of those years is $3.5 million. Boswell is signed for the 2016 season for a salary and cap hit of $600,000. Suisham will be 34 on Dec. 29, and Boswell will be 25 on March 16. Age and salary will be considered, but even to get to the consideration stage, Boswell will have to be money for the rest of 2015.**

ALAIN MICHAUD FROM ROBERVAL, QUEBEC:
Beside the injury to their quarterback, I am left with the impression that the most damaging injury for this year possibly will be the loss of Kevin Beachum at the left tackle position. I have read that Beachum's side and Steelers were not able to come to an agreement for next year. Could you comment on that point and the fact that the Steelers may have to select an offensive tackle in the first two rounds next year to replace Beachum.

It is correct that the Steelers and Kelvin Beachum did not come to an agreement on a contract extension beyond this current season, which means he theoretically could become an unrestricted free agent in March 2016. I use the word theoretically, because the Steelers and Beachum could come to an agreement before the start of free agency – because there is a possibility for a team to re-sign its own players between the end of the season and the start of free agency – and there also is the possibility Beachum could enter free agency and still re-sign with the Steelers. Let's just assume none of that happens and Beachum leaves, there is the chance the team could be sufficiently impressed with Alejandro Villanueva to go with him as the starting left tackle in 2016 and maybe even beyond that. There are still way too many moving parts and unknowns in play to make any definitive statement about the need to draft an offensive tackle in 2016 with the idea of him having to play right away.

LORI VERNA FROM NORTH HUNTINGDON, PA:
I love Asked and Answered. I noticed the Steelers do not have the "C" on their jerseys like other teams to distinguish their team captains. Is this because the Steelers feel it is a team game?

No. Actually is has more to do with rules for NFL uniforms. The front of the Steelers game jersey already has an emblem on the front – the Steelers logo – and so for teams that already have an emblem on the front of their jerseys it's not required that those teams also put the "C" on the front as well. That's the reason the Steelers don't do it. It has more to do with slopping up the front of the jersey more than anything else.

MICHELE DAUGHERTY FROM DENVER, CO:
It seems to me that the Steelers' bye week always comes later in the season. I'm sure it's just my perception. Does the NFL schedule the bye or do teams have a say in when their bye is scheduled?

Actually, the timing of a team's bye week is somewhat cyclical. Right now, the Steelers seem to be in a cycle where their bye week is late in the year: it's Nov. 22 this year, and it was Nov. 23 in 2014. In 2013, it was Oct. 6; and in 2012, it was Sept. 30. In 2011, it was Nov. 20; and in 2010, it was Oct. 10. In 2009, it was on Nov. 1; and in 2008 it was on Oct. 12. The NFL has complete control of the schedule, and while it will accept requests from teams, there are no guarantees.

KHARI CLEMMONS FROM TALLAHASSEE, FL:
I have two Landry Jones questions: First, do you think Landry Jones has shown enough that he should be the No. 2 quarterback even when Bruce Gradkowski returns? And second, has he shown enough that we (yes, I speak of the Steelers as "we") should be grooming him to be the long term answer for "life after Ben"?

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Steelers fans who donated to the Central Blood Bank were rewarded with a ticket to have Breakfast with the Bus at Heinz Field.

One of the things that reflects sound management in the NFL is never making a decision until it's time to make the decision. In this case, it only is prudent to let this 2015 season run its course before deciding whether to make Landry Jones the backup quarterback in 2016 and beyond. Bruce Gradkowski is on the injured reserve list, and he could become an unrestricted free agent in March 2016 when he will be 33 years old. This is a similar discussion to the one about Chris Boswell and Shaun Suisham, in that while there is an attraction for younger and cheaper, it's usually not wise to pinch pennies when it comes to a reliable placekicker and a capable backup quarterback. I believe the final decision in each of these cases will be more about Boswell and Jones than it is about Suisham and Gradkowski.**

DANIEL MOON FROM PLANO, TX:
On reserve/injured section of the roster, I see some familiar names such as Jordan Zumwalt, Rob Blanchflower among others. Does this mean they are still on the Steelers roster and that they will be with Steelers next year?

Players who were waived-injured are a part of the team until they are healthy, or unless another team claims them via the waiver process. The Steelers list 14 players on their reserve/injured list, and seven of those – Rob Blanchflower, Micah Hatchie, David Nelson, Kevin Palmer, Eli Rogers, Mitchell Van Dyk, and Jordan Zumwalt all were waived/injured. It's not impossible that those players would be back with the Steelers starting in the 2016 offseason, but most likely they won't be. The other seven – Cortez Allen, Kelvin Beachum, Le'Veon Bell, Clifton Geathers, Senquez Golson, Bruce Gradkowski, and Shaun Suisham were placed on injured reserve, which indicates a higher level of interest from the Steelers.

BOB WILLIAMS FROM ALIQUIPPA, PA:
Do you see any chance that the Steelers will try Ryan Shazier at strong safety next summer?

I thought I was finished with these, but it's turning out to be the gift that keeps on giving. No, no, 1,000 times no.

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