Let's get to it:
BRYAN HACKETT FROM BOULDER CREEK, CA: Great divisional win Sunday. Lots of guys stepped up and the physicality was evident. I was curious if you had thoughts (and/or stats) regarding Broderick Jones' start. I don't recall hearing his name called, which is probably a good thing, no?
ANSWER: I am similar to you when it comes to evaluating offensive linemen, which is to say I tend to believe it's a good thing when players at those positions get through a game without being noticed. Broderick Jones wasn't flagged for any penalties – although referee Carl Cheffers' crew called only five penalties on the two teams combined – and while I thought I noticed some periodic leakage coming up the middle of the offensive line, I really didn't notice Jones having issues on his end of the line of scrimmage. I'm sure more details will surface over the next few days about Jones' debut as an NFL starter, but I would caution you about putting too much faith in Pro Football Focus grades or in the opinions of those who cite Pro Football Focus grades. For me, I'm more likely to seek the opinions of guys who have a much better handle on both the team and offensive line play, such as Craig Wolfley and Max Starks.
KHARI CLEMMONS FROM MCALPIN, FL: In the Texans game there was a play, I believe a first down throw to George Pickens, during which Nate Herbig's helmet was pulled off and he continued blocking without his helmet and the play was allowed to continue through to completion. I thought that when a player's helmet comes off, the play is automatically blown dead. Does that only apply to ball carriers?
ANSWER: That helmet rule to which you refer is the one used in college football. There's no such NFL rule.
JAVIER MORI FROM LAS VEGAS, NV: Kenny Pickett is a first-round draft pick and is the intended quarterback of the future to replace Ben Roethlisberger. Was the situation similar when the team drafted Mark Malone? Was he the heir apparent to Terry Bradshaw?
ANSWER: The Steelers drafted Arizona State quarterback Mark Malone with the 28th and final pick in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft, and things were significantly different in that era. First of all, there was no free agency, and so there was no urgency in getting a No. 1 pick on the field in a timely manner, because there was no fear by the team of the player seeking greener pastures when his rookie contract expired. After spending the first overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft on Terry Bradshaw, the Steelers spent four draft picks on the position during the rest of the 1970s. Joe Gilliam was an 11th round pick (273rd overall) from Tennessee State in 1972; Frank Kolich was a 13th round pick (333rd overall) from Eastern Michigan in 1974; Mike Kruczek was a second-round pick (47th overall) from Boston College in 1976; and Cliff Stoudt was a fifth-round pick (121st overall) from Youngstown State in 1977. By the time the Steelers picked Malone, the only other quarterbacks on the roster were Bradshaw and Stoudt, and Malone was the clear No. 3. So when the Steelers were short of wide receivers in 1981, Malone volunteered to help out, and he was enough of an athlete to make an impact at the position. On Nov. 8, 1981, in Seattle, Malone played some wide receiver, and he was on the receiving end of a 90-yard catch-and-run from Terry Bradshaw for a touchdown in the 24-21 loss that day. The 90-yard reception was the longest in franchise history, and while it was tied in 2001 on a Kordell Stewart to Bobby Shaw pass in Baltimore on Dec. 16, the record was not broken until Dec. 7, 2014, when Ben Roethlisberger hooked up with Martavis Bryant for a 94-yard touchdown in Cincinnati. Back to Malone – during that game in Seattle while he was playing wide receiver, he sustained a serious knee injury and missed the entire 1982 season after having surgery. After Bradshaw retired, Noll first turned to Stoudt to replace him, and then after the 1983 season Noll traded for David Woodley to replace Stoudt. Malone eventually won the job from Woodley and quarterbacked the Steelers to the 1984 AFC Championship Game, where the Steelers lost in Miami to Dan Marino and the Dolphins. Malone started 43 games for the Steelers from 1983-87, but he missed games because of injuries in each of those seasons except 1986.
ANDREW ROWLEY FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: With the NFL issuing a fine to Jaylen Warren for an incident in a game against the Houston Texans that wasn't penalized, how long does the NFL have to review and issue a fine on a player/team after a perceived offense? And what would happen to a player if he was fined after the game but wasn't on the roster by the time the punishment came out (such as being traded or cut?)
ANSWER: The NFL issues fines on a week-by-week basis during the regular season, and that money is deducted from a player's game check before he ever receives it. There is no "collection" of fines; the amount is simply and quickly deducted from a game check. Then if a player chooses to appeal and either has the fine reduced or rescinded, he will get money back from the league.
MATTHEW CONFER FROM SALEM, OH: Would the Steelers be interested in bringing back Chase Claypool?
ANSWER: Bring him back from where? Miami?
JOSHUA JOHNSTON FROM SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: What is the Steelers philosophy for not having the captain's patch on their jerseys?
ANSWER: The Steelers underwent a jersey re-design for the 1997 season and that's when the logo was added to the front of every player's jersey, and that also was before the time when captains were designated with a "C" on the front of the jersey. Once that was implemented, the Steelers were not required to have the "C" on the front because they already had the logo on the front, and because they were given the option they decided for the less-cluttered version.
SHAWN BITTNER FROM JACKSONVILLE, NC: A lot of fans and media are calling for coaching changes. I believe that if a change is made, either at head coach or coordinator, the team would be limited to options on its current staff or someone not actively coaching with another team. What are the rules in that regard?
ANSWER: All NFL coaches on all teams are under contract, and those contracts bind those coaches to those teams during the course of a regular season. So there would be no movement allowed from one team to another.
NATE McSORLEY FROM CAMERON, MT: I constantly see players with mouth-guards dangling from their facemasks during play. Is it required by the NFL for players to use mouth-guards?
BRIAN HENDERSON FROM MURRELLS INLET, SC: Can you clarify what Steelers players and coaches are doing during the bye week?
ANSWER: The rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement mandate that all players on teams with a bye be given four consecutive days off – either Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday, or Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday – at the team's discretion. The Steelers will be off Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday and then return to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Monday to begin preparing for the following Sunday's game against the Rams in Los Angeles.
RYAN YEDLINSKY FROM LANSING, KS: My question is about a player removing his helmet intentionally on the field. T.J. Watt did it after his sack to ice the win over the Ravens and no one said anything. A Kansas City player did it during their game and it was noted as something that should have been a penalty by some news outlets. What is the actual rule regarding a player removing his helmet intentionally?
ANSWER: A player is not allowed to intentionally remove his helmet on the field as part of a celebration. Players who violate the rule are penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Watt was penalized. I have no knowledge of the incident with the Kansas City player.