Let’s get to it:
TIM SIVERD FROM SOUTH HILL, VA: Who will be Maurkice Pouncey's replacement during his suspension?
ANSWER: B.J. Finney.
DENNIS NEVINSKY FROM ERIE, PA: If Maurkice Pouncey’s suspension is upheld, do you think that the Steelers will call up Patrick Morris from their practice squad, or sign a center in free agency? I don't know who is out there who might be a better option.
ANSWER: If you’re talking about having a backup center on the 53-man roster, bringing Patrick Morris up from the practice squad certainly would be a possibility if the three-game suspension is upheld. As noted in the previous answer, though, B.J. Finney will be the starter at the position for the duration of any suspension. Because if you’re referring to finding someone capable of starting at the position, I can tell you that Finney is better and more capable than anyone the Steelers have on their roster or their practice squad, and he’s much better than anyone they could realistically acquire.
NICK PITNER FROM RUSSELL, PA: With all of the recent talk about rules and fines, I noticed there is a violation titled “football in stands.” Does that mean any player who puts any football into the stands in any way gets a fine? Over the weekend, Bengals running back Joe Mixon scored his first touchdown of the season and handed the ball to his mother in the stands. Does he get a fine for that?
ANSWER: I cannot speak specifically to the situation you describe regarding Joe Mixon, but the NFL does not fine players for handing the football to fans in the stands, but what can draw a fine is if a player throws or kicks the ball into the stands. Part of the reason for the distinction is the safety issue that can be created by having fans fighting for a loose football that suddenly comes into the stands.
PETE FERRARI FROM WILMINGTON, DE: Is Mason Rudolph in the concussion protocol?
ANSWER: No. Mason Rudolph did not sustain a concussion in the game against the Browns.
RICH WAWRZENIAK FROM NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC: Notwithstanding the end of the game in Cleveland, I question if there was some targeting with respect to the number of helmet-to-helmet hits going on in the game. On the play where Mason Rudolph was hit late, a penalty was called for roughing the passer, but no flags were thrown when JuJu Smith-Schuster was hit in the head twice on that same play. Does the NFL review all the games for these type of hits and fine the people who appear to be doing it, even if a flag was not thrown.
ANSWER: Yes, there are examples every week of players being fined for on-field actions that were not penalized.
HAL TROTTER FROM ROCKY HILLS, VA: What is the advantage of having a No. 3 quarterback if he on the inactive list for the games? Wouldn’t it be better to have him on the practice squad and call up when needed?
ANSWER: Two things: Players on the practice squad can be signed by other teams with no compensation to the team that had him on its practice squad, and so if a team likes its No. 3 quarterback and wants to keep him, then the practice squad is a gamble. Secondly, let’s pretend that on Sunday morning, which is the day of the game that week, the starting quarterback wakes up with a fever of 103-degrees and cannot play. By having the No. 3 quarterback on the active roster, the team would be able to dress two quarterbacks for the game. If the No. 3 quarterback was on the practice squad, the team would have only one quarterback available for that game, because teams cannot sign guys from the practice squad after 4 p.m. on the day before a game.
STEPHEN ALLEN FROM DEXTER, IA: With the speculation that Sean Davis won’t be getting his job at free safety back in 2020, what would his chances be of being re-signed as a cornerback, considering his experience there at the University of Maryland and as a rookie in the NFL? Has the staff indicated any possibility of this?
ANSWER: First of all, I would feel totally comfortable in guaranteeing you that at this point in 2019, the Steelers have not spent 10 seconds thinking about what Sean Davis’ best position might be in 2020. And as a point of clarification, Sean Davis played cornerback for only one season at Maryland, and so I would surmise he believes his best position at the NFL level would be safety. But with Minkah Fitzpatrick here for the foreseeable future, and with Terrell Edmunds going into his third NFL season in 2020 as a former No. 1 draft pick, it would appear as though the Steelers are set at the starting safety positions. Couple that with the fact Davis can become an unrestricted free agent next March, and I would not be surprised if he would choose to test free agency and see what other opportunities might be there for him with a different team. As Coach Mike Tomlin always says about free agency, it’s free for the players and free for the teams.
RICHARD PUGLIESE FROM PALMYRA, PA: The running game has been less than anticipated. In your opinion, do the Steelers need to look for a running back in the draft or has the offensive line underperformed?
CRAIG OGLE FROM BELLEVILLE, ONTARIO, CANADA: Have you heard anything about a possible suspension for Damarious Randall for the blatant helmet-to-helmet hit on Diontae Johnson in the third quarter of that Thursday night game in Cleveland? Randall was ejected from the game, but, with the NFL trying to crackdown on these types of hits, I think a suspension is warranted.
ANSWER: Damarious Randall was ejected from the game after the play, and ejections come with an automatic fine, which this season is $36,935, and so unless Randall has a history of violating the player safety code, I wouldn’t expect a suspension for him. Besides, in this specific incident, I believe the NFL would announce all of the suspensions at one time, and since Randall wasn’t included with Myles Garrett, Maurkice Pouncey, and Larry Ogunjobi, my feeling is he won’t be suspended.
TODD MCCANDLESS FROM WILDWOOD, MO: I keep hearing our running game isn't as good this year because we don't have a fullback. Is Roosevelt Nix the only person capable of playing that position? Dan McCullers doesn't get a lot of playing time. I don't think he’s going to lead a back around the edge, but at 6-foot-7, 352 pounds, do you think he could lead a running back up the middle on a third-and-1 or a third-and-2?
ANSWER: Yes, Rosie Nix was the only person on the Steelers roster capable of playing fullback, and now he is on the injured reserve list.
RODNEY JENKINS FROM BROOKLYN, MD: Since Zach Banner is used as an extra tight end on running plays, is there any chance they line him up as a fullback on short-yardage plays?
ANSWER: What, and take away playing time from Dan McCullers?
FREDERICK ELLIS FROM BOSSIER CITY, LA: With Mason Rudolph not showing much progress during his "audition," and with Ben Roethlisberger set to return next year even though he wasn't playing great to begin with this season, should the Steelers go after Marcus Mariota?
ANSWER: Did you come up with this all by yourself, or did you have some “help?”