Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Nov. 26

Let's get to it:

STEVE TRAUTMAN FROM SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA:
How much does Ben Roethlisberger actually weigh? I believe he is listed at 245, and I have noticed that Cam Newton and Nick Foles are listed at about the same weight but Ben looks a lot bigger.

Don't know. Don't care. I was gonna ask why you care, but I don't care about that, either.

CARL TIMMERMEIER FROM ALTON, IL:
Why do people not give inside linebacker Sean Spence any recognition? I believe in certain situations, he's the second best inside linebacker on the team behind Lawrence Timmons.

I don't know which "people" you are referencing, but none of those "people" work here. I believe the Steelers illustrated definitively what they thought of Sean Spence as a player and person by holding onto him for the two full seasons he missed while rehabilitating that significant knee injury he sustained during the preseason of his rookie year, in 2012. Spence is a core special teams player and a valuable backup linebacker, and I believe the Steelers will be very interested in re-signing him this offseason when he can become an unrestricted free agent.

RAYMOND GATTER FROM ERIE TOWNSHIP, MI:
I've noticed Bruce Gradkowski not only travels with the team but often wears a headset on the sideline during games. Having his experienced eyes watching and giving input must be a huge comfort to the coaches and all of the other quarterbacks?

Having an extra set of veteran quarterback eyes certainly cannot hurt, but it's also important to understand that the coaches are doing the coaching and the play-calling. Again, there's nothing wrong with having a respected veteran player in the mix, but sometimes fans over-romanticize their influence and/or impact.

MICHAEL CAILLE FROM WINDSOR, ONTARIO, CANADA:
Always look forward to reading your column. This isn't a Steelers question specifically, but when a punt is shanked or deliberately angled towards the sideline and goes out of bounds while still in the air, one of the officials runs down the sideline and places the ball at the spot where he thinks, "Yeah, this looks about right." Who exactly determines where the ball actually crossed the sideline?

There are 1,000 smart-aleck things that ran through my head when I first read this question, and all of them had to do with the current "quality" of the officiating in the NFL. However, since we are approaching the holiday season, and I want to keep myself off Santa's "naughty" list, here is the actual procedure: When a team is punting, the referee – who is the guy wearing the white baseball cap – stations himself slightly behind the punter, and from there he would be the one to call "running into the kicker," which is a 5-yard penalty vs. "roughing the kicker," which is a 15-yard penalty. Then once the ball is kicked, the referee has a good angle to track the flight of the ball if it's headed toward a sideline, and his view allows him the ability to judge pretty accurately if the ball crosses the sideline and then where it crossed the sideline. So in the scenario you describe, the official running up the sideline with his arm in the air is actually looking back toward the punter and at the referee. When the official gets to the appropriate spot, the referee will bring his arm down in a slash-like movement, and then the other official stops coming up the sideline and spots the ball there.

RALPH BUFFO FROM SILVER SPRING, MD:
Why do they change the time on the game clock, and when do they do it?

The time-keeper is stationed in the press box, but the side judge is the backup to the time-keeper, and he also would take over the operation of the clock if there is a malfunction of the clock. So, the side judge – in theory, anyway – is the on-field official who is constantly monitoring the game clock to make sure it starts on time and stops when it's appropriate. Here is an example of why the on-field officials would adjust the time on the clock: let's say it's the end of a half, and one team is trying to preserve time on the clock by using its allotted timeouts. The coach of the team wanting to call a timeout, say, immediately after the next play, will alert the official closest to him that he's going to be calling a timeout immediately after the play. The play happens, and the coach calls the timeout with the official to whom he had given the heads-up. That could save a couple of seconds, because by the time the time-keeper up in the booth sees the timeout signal, some seconds will have run off the clock. That's an example of the referee then making the announcement to add however-many-seconds back onto the clock.

Many Steelers players get in the spirit of the holiday by providing a Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings to those in need.

JAMES MILLER FROM SINGER ISLAND, FL:
Are there any updates on Mike Adams? I really thought this was going to be his year.

Mike Adams was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp, and without getting into all of the details of that list and the rules associated with players being on that list, I can tell you that the deadline to activate Mike Adams for this season has passed. He will remain on the reserve-physically unable to perform list for the rest of this season. Adams can become an unrestricted free agent in March 2016.

JOHN MATTHEWS FROM GLEN ALLEN, VA:
Is Maurkice Pouncey going to come off IR-designated to return?

Cannot really answer this one definitively. Right now, it seems unlikely, and I base that opinion on there being virtually no buzz about Maurkice Pouncey getting closer to being able to return to the field. Maybe it happens, but if forced to make a guess right now, I would say he isn't going to be healthy enough to play again in 2015.

TIM KING FROM WILLOW GROVE, PA:
Do you like when the Steelers play a Thanksgiving Day game? Or, do you prefer to enjoy the turkey and games without the stress?

Working for the team, there is some degree of stress whenever games are played, regardless of day, time, and venue. The way the NFL schedules its Thanksgiving Day games – with Detroit and Dallas always getting home games, and the night game on a rotation – the only Thanksgiving Day games I ever have attended involving the Steelers have been on the road, which entails leaving the day before the game. That's a tough situation, but the bonus on the back end is having the weekend off.

JOHN GRESH FROM CINCINNATI, OH:
As someone who was born and raised in Pittsburgh I have, ever since I can remember, been a huge Steelers fan. Unfortunately, my in-laws are from Cincinnati, and my wife and I moved there to be closer to them. Do you have any advice on how I should continue to cheer for my Steelers while not being harassed as much by the Bengals fans here? There is only so many times I can be blamed for Carson Palmer's knee injury and "costing them a Super Bowl."

That whole Bengals fans' whine about "costing them a Super Bowl" in 2005 because Carson Palmer was injured is such a crock. First of all, the play on which Palmer was injured came on what was at the time a legal way to hit a quarterback – it didn't become a penalty to hit a quarterback below the waist until it happened to Tom Brady in the 2008 opener. Go figure. Anyway, that play happened in a 0-0 game that still had over 10 minutes remaining in the first quarter. How Bengals fans extrapolate that into their team posting victories over the Steelers – Pittsburgh already had won in Cincinnati that year, by 27-13 on Oct. 23 – and then a win over Peyton Manning and the Colts in Indianapolis, and then a win over the Broncos in Denver, and then a win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL – is beyond me. My advice to you – even though you might start a war with your in-laws – is to take a page from Bill Cowher's playbook. Whenever you hear a Bengals fan say, "Who-dey," you respond with "We-dey." You also can tell them I told you that six Lombardis lined up in a row look very impressive.

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