Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Nov. 24

Let's get to it:

KATE BORTHWICK FROM GUELPH, ONTARIO, CANADA:
I have been enjoying reading Asked & Answered. I have learned so much about football and the Steelers. Can you share what the players do when they suffer a season-ending injury and are placed on injured reserve? Are there team-specific requirements they need to fulfill? Do they return home for treatment and rehab or stay close by in Pittsburgh? It must be challenging to watch the team play and not be part of the action after preparing all year to play. I hope the recovery for all of the injured players is going well.

**

Once a player is placed on the injured reserve list, he no longer has any team-specific requirements, and the emphasis shifts to rehabilitating his injury. Depending upon when the surgery was performed, where the surgery was performed, where the surgeon is located, etc., the individual could find that staying in Pittsburgh is best, or maybe it could be better for him to be in his hometown based on the same set of circumstances. There is no hard-and-fast set of rules. Because players on injured reserve are permitted to take part in every team activity except practice and playing in games, there have been cases where guys on IR have continued to travel with the team throughout the remainder of a particular season, but those who cannot sometimes have expressed some feelings of being isolated from their teammates, which I would imagine is natural.**

RUSSELL WALKER FROM BALTIMORE, MD:
Is it just me, or does Lawrence Timmons handle most of the coverage on tight ends? Shouldn't we use Ryan Shazier's speed to cover them? Is it a size thing?

It's not simply a size thing, nor is it a race. There is a particular drill during training camp that's held several times over the course of the annual stay at Saint Vincent College that is a stark illustration of how difficult it is to cover tight ends or running backs in the NFL. I have referred to it as the passing-game version of backs-on-backers, which is a drill weighted in favor of the defense during which a stationary blocker must deal with an on-rushing linebacker without cutting him at the knees, a tactic that would be allowed if it was a game and not a practice. In this passing game version, a linebacker is matched up either with a tight end or a running back, and he has to cover him all over the field, with no pass rush on the quarterback. In this situation – which mimics what happens in games – size alone isn't enough because it's not a wrestling match, and speed alone isn't enough because it's not a race.

KENNON LEWIS FROM METAIRIE, LA:
I am just wondering what the timeline is for Landry Jones' ankle injury to heal? I personally think he is the best option for the role Ben's backup.

After the game against the Browns, it was revealed that Landry Jones could have gone back into that game if needed. Coach Mike Tomlin will include an injury update during his news conference today – which can be seen live on Steelers.com starting at noon – and so I anticipate an update on Jones' availability. But I agree with you that he is the best option the Steelers currently have for the role of backup quarterback.

Take a look back at some Steelers when they played in college.

LES CLEMENS FROM AZLE, TX:
The current regular season consists of 16 games, eight of which are home games for every team. How are teams compensated for the loss of a home game when they play outside the country? Removing a home game opportunity for the local fans and season ticket holders doesn't seem like a good thing. Loss of revenue for that stadium and or city would be significant as well.

There is some make-good by the NFL in the situation you describe in your question, because an NFL game is a significant revenue-generator for a city, for a tax base, etc. Because there are some franchises, such as the Packers, Steelers, Patriots, etc., that either will not or cannot give up a home game because of stadium lease requirements, and because the NFL is ultra-interested in expanding the number of regular season games played outside the United States, there is some belief an expansion of the regular season to 17 games could happen, especially if accompanied by some reduction of the preseason and the possible inclusion of a second bye week. If that would be approved by the NFLPA, teams still could fulfill the requirements of their leases and be within the pool of teams available for a game in Europe.

According to a recent story on ProFootballTalk.com, the NFLPA at least is willing to listen to a proposal of an expanded regular season if it also includes a reduction in the preseason.

"As far as expanding regular season games, I just don't see what the use is at this point," said NFLPA President Eric Winston, currently a tackle for the Bengals. "We've got a great game. Sixteen games is plenty. . . . I don't think there's a lot of guys around the league that are interested in playing more games. I don't know how it makes sense.

"I never say never about anything. . . . To me it just doesn't seem to make sense, but you never know what comes down in the future."

CARLOS POWELL FROM RESTON, VA:
I liked the sarcasm in the last question of the Nov. 19 edition of Asked and Answered about the Steelers reaching out to Ray Rice, but for real, what veteran running back who's available now would you sign for depth in case DeAngelo Williams goes down?

**

Check out the top 10 moments from the 2015 season so far.

For real, there aren't any. For real, I cannot come to understand why fans believe there is some endless supply of NFL-capable players just sitting at home waiting to get a telephone call from some needy team. I went back and looked at the available veteran running backs, for real, and these are the names on the board: Pierre Thomas, Trent Richardson, Edwin Baker, and Jalen Parmele. For real.**

ARTHUR C. KELLUM FROM WOOD RIVER, IL:
Please tell me what value the Steelers got for dumping Dri Archer in favor of Jacoby Jones? He is older, costs more and doesn't perform any better. Am I missing something?

Yes. What you are missing is the half-dozen times I have typed the quote from Coach Mike Tomlin when he was asked to explain the move. I'll boil it down to this: Jacoby Jones has nine career touchdowns on returns, and Dri Archer has none. What I seem to be missing is where all of this love for Dri Archer has been ever since, I don't know, maybe the day after he was drafted. I spent too much of my time throughout the training camp and the preseason trying to defend allocating a roster spot for Archer, and now there seems to be an equal number of people who cannot believe he wasn't retained and why he wasn't given an increased role in the offense.

GLENN DEL FAVERO FROM COLUMBIA, MD:
Why does Mike Tomlin prefer to give most of the carries to one running back vs. using a committee approach or change-of-pace back?

When Le'Veon Bell was healthy, and it was at an early stage of the season, why would you use a back-by-committee approach with him? Did Dallas do that last year with DeMarco Murray? What team with a top running back uses a by-committee approach? Top running backs typically like to get into a rhythm, and that can take 15-20 carries to achieve, and the other issue is that – using the Steelers as an example – with a first-team All-Pro running back in Bell, you're just not going to allocate another high draft pick, or significant free agent dollars, to add another one to the roster. Those guys don't like sharing time, and so having two on a roster might seem to fans to be a good thing, but the reality often is different. One final point on this issue: In the NFL, coaches have to win, and in order to win, they know they have to play the best players. It's very, very rare for an NFL team to have more than one dynamic running back on a roster at a time.

DANIEL RAUSCHER FROM PINEHURST, N.C.:
Having been to most if not all NFL stadiums, do all teams have their own version of "Renegade"? And if so which one would you consider the best?

The Steelers' use of "Renegade," in my experience, is rather unique. All teams make use of music as part of their in-game entertainment, and certain teams might develop what could be called a theme song, but in terms of using music in a specific situation to get a certain reaction from the crowd, Renegade is one of a kind.

JEREMY JAMES FROM CARY, N.C.:
I know we are super early, but I wanted to ask you to look in your crystal ball. What are some of our biggest concerns going into the offseason? What position(s) do you see us focusing on in the draft or free agency? Lastly do you think Todd Haley is going to leave for a head coaching job elsewhere?

You are absolutely, positively correct. It is super early for those kinds of questions. Too early to consider any of them, in fact.

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