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Asked and Answered: Nov. 8

Let’s get to it:

LEE JOHNSON FROM MIDLAND, VA: I know all of Ben Roethlisberger’s punts have been pooch kicks, but what are his stats on those?
ANSWER: Ben Roethlisberger has punted six times in his career, with an average of 31.3 yards. His longest punt traveled 39 yards, and it happened in 2005. That 2005 season also was the only one in which Roethlisberger punted more than once, and he did it twice.

DON GARY FROM MUSKEGON, MI: Since the Steelers game was flexed from Thursday night to Sunday at 1 p.m., are they still going to wear their color rush uniforms?
ANSWER: You’re confused. The Steelers game that has been flexed to a 1 p.m. kickoff is the one at Jacksonville vs. the Jaguars on Sunday, Nov. 18. That game originally was scheduled for an 8:20 p.m. kickoff. Tonight’s game against the Carolina Panthers is the one where the Steelers will wear their color rush uniforms.

JOSÉ NETO FROM SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL: Was the entry of Josh Dobbs into the Ravens game mandatory because of some rule regarding medical assistance, or was it only a decision of the coaches so that Ben Roethlisberger could recover from the tackle?
ANSWER: Whenever trainers and/or medical personnel come onto the field to attend to a player, that player must be removed from the game for at least one play.

JONATHAN MASON FROM RICHMOND, VA: It looks like Randy Fichtner is really coming into his own at this point in the season. I really like his aggressive, but smart, play-calling. Do you have the third down and red zone conversion percentages this year vs. last year at this point?
ANSWER: Through the first eight games of the 2017 season, the Steelers offense had converted 37.9 percent on third downs (39-of-103), and its red zone touchdown percentage was 41.4 percent (12 touchdowns in 29 trips into the red zone). Through the same number of games in 2018, the Steelers have converted 46.2 percent of their third downs (48-of-104), and the red zone touchdown percentage is 75 percent (18 touchdowns in 24 trips into the red zone).

ROBERT ANAVIAN FROM REDONDO BEACH, CA: What differences does the short week cause in preparation for game on Thursday? How hard is it for the players to get ready during a short week?
ANSWER: Here is what Ben Roethlisberger said about players getting ready during a short week: “I’m sure the fans like (Thursday night games); they like seeing football as often as they can. Players? It’s like, ‘Oh here we go, short week, especially after a Baltimore game where you’re physically beat up.’ I guess the only nice thing about it is you have the weekend off.”

This is what Coach Mike Tomlin said about preparation: “You know, you get to (everything), but the depths in which you get to it is debatable, and so I think having a perspective of dealing with it for a number of years, I think the things that you choose to push to the front of the line if time is limited. Where do you allocate your time? Not only from time spent with players, but I am talking about staff time. The allocation of time and focus I think is the critical element of short week prep.”

ROY PERRIN FROM FUQUAY-VARINA, NC: It seems like every week the Steelers and Mike Tomlin say they are going to take a hard look at penalties and try to clean them up. What do they do to try to reduce the number of penalties they get? Is that something that can be practiced?
ANSWER: Yes, it’s something that can be dealt with during on-field practices, as well as in meetings. Mike Tomlin also brings officials to practice on a regular basis to help with the on-field stuff. And these things had worked to some degree, because the number of penalties had been decreasing fairly regularly from the start of the regular season. But it spiked in the game vs. the Ravens, and sometimes it’s simply a case that the officials working the game stink. Did you watch that game? How about that call of an interception returned for a touchdown by the Ravens on that pass to Vance McDonald. With that zebra standing right there. An interception? Beyond the fact McDonald had caught the ball and was down by contact, the Ravens defender clearly picked the ball off the turf, and that official called it an interception? And the crew working that game has a history of calling more penalties on the visiting team. The referee in Baltimore was Craig Wrolstadt, and his crew has called twice as many penalties on visiting teams than home teams (78 vs. 39) so far this season. Instead of always assuming the problem is with the coaching or the players’ “discipline,” take a hard look at the guys in the striped shirts and their level of competency. Maybe more officials than that one down judge need to be fired during this season. Sorry for the rant.

GREG PATTON FROM CLEMMONS, NC: Is the distance between the long-snapper and the holder on field goal attempts established by NFL rules, or can a team choose to have their holder farther away from the snapper to lessen the probability of a field goal attempt being blocked? To me, this would make sense especially for potential game-winning field goal attempts from short to medium range.
ANSWER: The distance between the long-snapper and the holder on placement kicks is totally the discretion of the individual teams. But the one thing is that whatever distance a team decides upon will remain consistent regardless of the distance of the attempt. The idea is for the operation (snap-hold-kick) to come off smoothly and quickly, and varying the distance for the long-snapper wouldn’t necessarily contribute to the operation being smooth.

MIKE STUMP FROM NEWTOWN, PA: What happened to the Tuesday edition of Asked and Answered?
ANSWER: Jury duty.

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