Let's get to it:
ANDREW KERR FROM GRASS VALLEY, CA:
It seems to me that with the new rule of placing the ball at the 25-yard line after a touchback on kickoffs in order to limit the number of returns is backfiring. It seems teams are kicking it to the 1-yard line in order to force a return and then tackle the returner inside the 25-yard line. Instead of creating more touchbacks, it seems to me there are more returns this season than ever. Do you think they will continue this rule, or was it a fun experiment?
ANSWER: This rule was adopted on a one-year trial basis when it was voted on by the 32 NFL owners during the league meetings last March, and so it's going to stay a rule until it comes up for another vote in March 2017. I agree with your observation about the number of kickoff returns actually increasing, but let's also wait until a full season is completed, because strategy could change once the weather turns colder in the Northeast and Midwest.
But the procedure being followed for this rule change is the same procedure that was utilized for the change to the point-after-touchdown. That was adopted on a one-year trial basis for the 2015 season, and then in March 2016 it was voted in as a permanent rule change. March 2017 will be D-Day for the new kickoff/touchback rule.
CARRIE TAYLOR FROM SPRINGFIELD, OH:
Living in Ohio our television stations will usually air Bengals or Browns games instead of the Steelers if they all happen to be playing at the same time. I would like to be able to hear the Steelers game. How can I listen to the game?
ANSWER: On game day, go to Steelers.com, and there will be a link that will take you to the Steelers Radio Network broadcast of the game, which will allow you to hear Mike Prisuta, Gerry Dulac, and me do the Pregame Show, which goes on the air two hours before kickoff, and then you will be able to hear Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin, and Craig Wolfley take over from there and call all of the action.
Take a look at the best photos from regular season Week 5 game. The Steelers defeated the Jets 31-13.
ROBERT RAUCH FROM JOPLIN, MO:
What does the move to IR do to the possible return of Senquez Golson this year?
ANSWER: A player must be on injured reserve for at least eight weeks before being eligible to come back under the designated-to-return provision. Since Golson went on IR after week 4, he would be eligible to come off after week 12, if he in fact is the guy designated-to-return. That's all I have for you on that issue right now.
ERIC SCHENK FROM LAS VEGAS, NV:
Are the Steelers still able to pick up the fifth-year option on Ryan Shazier' rookie contract, or is that against the CBA rules?
ANSWER: The deadline for making that decision has passed – I believe it was sometime in May – and the Steelers elected not to pick up that option.
STEVE WILLIAMS FROM COOPERSBURG, PA:
In the Chiefs game, the Steelers lined up for a traditional PAT, but Chiefs were offside, which was a 5-yard penalty and allowed placekicker Chris Boswell a closer try. Could the Steelers then have opted to try for two-point conversion instead?
ANSWER: Yes, and if they had chosen that option the two-point attempt would have been from the 1-yard line, because the offside penalty would have been assessed as half-the-distance to the goal line from the original line of scrimmage for such an attempt, which is the 2-yard line.
THAD SPREG FROM MAKAKILO, HI:
I love this column and read it as religiously as I can. Is there a way to get it emailed to me whenever there is a new issue so I never miss one again?
ANSWER: Sorry, but this isn't Domino's. We don't deliver. But Asked and Answered appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and then whichever day is a game day for the Steelers that week. It shouldn't be that difficult to remember.
JERMAINE JACKSON FROM DAVENPORT, IA:
Do you know when Roosevelt Nix will be back in uniform at all?
ANSWER: No, I don't.
LOGAN BAIN FROM CHESAPEAKE, VA :
With all the success from Sammie Coates lately, do you personally see Martavis Bryant taking his job back as the No. 2 wide receiver? I like the idea of keeping Coates on the outside.
ANSWER: Understand this: Martavis Bryant was suspended for a minimum of one calendar year last March 16, not a season, which means he is out until at least March 16, 2017 when he can petition Commissioner Roger Goodell for reinstatement. And that's not a process that is usually completed in 15 minutes. There is so much time between now and then, and there are so many things that can happen between now and then that it makes absolutely no sense to be pondering the possibilities at this stage. March 16, 2017 is more than five months from now.**
ROB MELLEN FROM HAYDEN, ID:
In the Cincinnati game, Jesse James and Xavier Grimble caught touchdown passes. I have been a fan of the Steelers since 1972, and I can't recall any other games where the Steelers had two different tight ends catch touchdown passes in the same game. I'm sure it has happened. When was the last time it happened?
ANSWER: Full disclosure: This is not the first time you have submitted this question, and while I admire your tenacity in seeking the answer I saw it as something that would take way too much time to research. But when you sent it in again, I figured you deserved at least a minimal effort from me. So I walked into the common area of the PR/Digital Media/SNU wing of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex – it's the wing that's ringed with floodlights and razor wire to keep us inside – and announced your question to the group.
Two guys – Ryan Scarpino and Mike Hustava – had the answer immediately. And they started firing details about it to complete the total picture, and you are the beneficiary of their frightening recall. It was the game against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 28, 2012. The Steelers won, 27-12, and in that game, Leonard Pope, Heath Miller, and Will Johnson each caught a touchdown pass. If you consider Will Johnson a part of the tight end group, which he often was during that time, that would make three tight ends catching touchdown passes in a game; and if you consider Johnson a fullback, well then things still work out because your question was about the last time two tight ends caught touchdown passes in the same game.
Then it was Hustava who threw the cherry on top of the Sunday with this: That marked the first time the Steelers ever wore their bumblebee throwbacks, and just to bring everything full circle, last Sunday's game against the Jets was the final time they'll wear the bumblebee throwbacks.