Let’s get to it:
CHARLES MAKRUCKI FROM HINCKLEY, OH: Since B.J. Finney is normally the backup at center and both guard positions, who will be the backup for those positions during Maurkice Pouncey's suspension?
ANSWER: Earlier in the week, the Steelers signed Patrick Morris off their practice squad, and he would be B.J. Finney’s backup at center. Should the Steelers need to make a move at guard, my belief is that they would move Matt Feiler inside and then have Zach Banner or Chuks Okorafor step in at tackle.
TODD EARHART FROM FRENCHTOWN, NJ: In the Browns game our offensive tackles were routinely getting beat or just driven back. But I did not see the backs or tight ends helping out to block or chip. Why would we not do this in order to give the quarterback more time because he had very little?
ANSWER: Keeping extra guys in to block may have provided Mason Rudolph with more time to throw, but the receivers weren’t able to win their one-on-one matchups consistently, which meant there weren’t guys open down the field. Committing more people to pass block would’ve meant fewer people in the pattern, and the receivers weren’t winning matchups either. Just as it’s reasonable to expect the receivers to do a better job of winning their matchups, it’s also reasonable for the offensive linemen to do the same in pass protection. Neither the receivers nor the offensive linemen distinguished themselves vs. the Browns.
RICHARD ROMERO FROM FRESNO, CA: I have noticed that when Mason Rudolph drops back into the pocket and throws a pass his arm’s forward motion is hindered by the offensive linemen, and he ends up throwing floaters. Is the offensive line getting pushed back or is Rudolph not dropping back far enough?
ANSWER: I recently asked Coach Mike Tomlin about what constituted good pass protection, and this is what he said: “A clean pocket affects accuracy. Forget whether or not (the quarterback) gets sacked, if he has the ability to step to throws and follow through throws, his accuracy goes way up. If the quarterback is being moved off the spot, if he’s having to retreat or escape laterally, either to the right or to the left, it affects his ability to function in a very big way … if you’re looking for some things that are required for good pass protection – you have to be stout up front so that the quarterback can have that space for his follow-through that creates accuracy and that he’s not moved off the spot, and then for protection of the football the tackles have to be good on the edge in terms of running people by.” So far this season, the pass protection has done a nice job of preventing sacks, but not so much when it comes to keeping a clean pocket consistently.
CORY TSCHIDERER FROM PERRY, NY: Did the Steelers find a replacement for Rosie Nix not named Dan McCullers or Zach Banner?
ANSWER: If you’re referring to signing someone from another team, no.
JASON PRASTER FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX: If Mason Rudolph has another sub-par performance this week, do you think Devlin Hodges will get a shot either during the game or the following week?
ANSWER: If Mason Rudolph turns the ball over multiple times in today’s game vs. the Bengals, I believe Coach Mike Tomlin would make the change to Devlin Hodges. But I also think it would have to be turnovers that would spur him to make the change.
RAJ PANDEY FROM IRVINE, CA: When a player is moved up from the practice squad to the active roster, how is the player's salary determined for the time he is on the roster? Is it the same as what he was making on the practice squad?
ANSWER: For the most part, players in the situation you describe would be paid the league minimum based on the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. That would mean as a practice squad player, he would be making $8,000 per week. On an active roster, a first-year NFL player makes $28,235.29 per week.
DAVID HALL FROM WOLFVILLE, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA: Been a Steelers fan since the advent of cable television in the 1970s. During the Thursday night Cleveland game, there was a Steelers promotional piece, a part of which was a steelworker on an I-beam kicking a football. Was this image a logo at some point previous to the 1970s?
ANSWER: Yes, the image of the steelworker on the I-beam kicking a football served as the Steelers’ primary logo from 1962-68. Dan Rooney was very involved in creating that logo.
FREDERICK ELLIS FROM BOSSIER CITY, LA: I asked a serious question about whether the Steelers should go after Marcus Mariota, only to be hit with a sarcastic non-response. Which is fine, I have a sense of humor, but all bull aside, what if Ben Roethlisberger returns next year and performs poorly? Then what?
ANSWER: So, your serious question is whether the Steelers should pursue a quarterback who has gone from being the second overall pick in the draft to a guy who lost his job to Ryan Tannehill because of poor performance? My serious answer to that is, no.
EVAN SEBIO FROM READING, PA: Players don’t get paid by the league during suspensions, but would they continue to make sponsorship money? Or does the league have some rule against them trying to recoup the lost salary from games?
ANSWER: There is nothing preventing players under NFL suspensions from collecting endorsement revenue, but my guess is that a company wouldn’t be interested in having an individual under NFL suspension representing it.
CHUCK MULLEN FROM FORT COLLINS, CO: Is it possible for two Wild Card teams to have the same record going into the playoffs and require a tiebreaker game? Understanding that this would require all of the other tiebreakers rules being equal.
ANSWER: It would never come to this, because the last tiebreaker is a coin flip, and there can be no ties in a coin flip.
EOIN KENNY FROM FLORENCE, KY: I’ve heard that Terrelle Pryor wants to sign with the Steelers. Are we at least going to give him a chance?
PETER HOFFMAN FROM PHILADELPHIA, PA: The fines being assessed for last week's melee brought up a question. How is the fine amount calculated? They seem both very specific and totally random. Is there a formula or does Roger Goodell just throw a dart at a board?
ANSWER: Fine amounts for the various infractions are collectively bargained between the NFL and the NFLPA. There is some formula that’s based on not fining a player more than a specific percentage of a weekly game check, but the process does not involve a dart board.