Let’s get to it:
DAVID WOOD FROM AVONDALE, PA: Could the Chargers have claimed Paxton Lynch off the Steelers practice squad in anticipation of Mason Rudolph being unavailable and Lynch being Devlin Hodges’ backup? Are there rules against this, or is the reward not worth having to release one of the players on their 53-man roster?
ANSWER: As you certainly know by now, the Steelers added Paxton Lynch and running back Trey Edmunds from the practice sqaud to the 53-man roster on Friday, but I’ll still address your question, albeit in a hypothetical way. From the standpoint of the players, guys on the practice squad are not required to sign with another team even should that team offer a spot on its 53-man roster. Now it would be unlikely that a player would refuse, because the difference in pay is significant – tens of thousands of dollare per week in most cases – and being on an active roster also allows the player to accrue time towards free agency and his pension. But still, it’s not mandatory to go. From the team’s perspective, if it takes a player off another team’s practice squad to add to its 53-man roster, it is required to keep that player on its active roster for a minimum of three weeks of the regular season. Since Lynch is a quarterback, and unless the Chargers actually had a need for a quarterback, tying up a spot on the active roster for three weeks is a high price to maybe mess with an opponent’s plan for a backup quarterback.
ROBERT LONG FROM CLEARFIELD, PA: Given the rash of injuries the Steelers are experiencing, are there any limits as to the number of players they can bring off the practice squad at a given time?
ANSWER: There is no limit, but the team must create space on its 53-man roster for every guy it brings up from the practice squad. .
BOB MOOREY FROM IRMO, SC: Regarding JuJu Smith-Schuster’s fumble in overtime of the game against the Ravens, it appeared to come out immediately, making it incomplete. Could the catch have been challenged by Mike Tomlin and ultimately ruled incomplete? Also, it looked so close to going out of bounds, and had it gone out of bounds, would the Steelers have retained possession if it was a completion?
ANSWER: All scoring plays and all turnovers are automatically reviewed by New York, and so there are no challenges on those types of plays. Since the play was ruled on the field as a completed pass, if JuJu Smith-Schuster had fumbled the ball and it went out of bounds before the Ravens gained possession, the Steelers would have kept possession of the ball at the spot it went out of bounds. Unless it was fumbled forward out of bounds, and then the Steelers would have retained possession at the spot of the fumble.
STOUGHTON BAILIE FROM TACOMA, WA: When the team decides to put players on waivers, why do they not immediately sign them to the practice squad to protect them from being swooped up by another team as has happened in the past?
ANSWER: When a player is waived, he must stay on waivers for 24 hours and that process is referred to as clearing waivers. So if the Steelers, as an example, waive a player with the intention of signing him to the practice squad, they must wait 24 hours to give the other 31 teams in the league a chance to claim him. If no team does, then the player is a free agent and able to sign with any team that wants him.
THOMAS MALIK FROM MAINZ, GERMANY: With Jaylen Samuels out for roughly the next four weeks, do you expect Benny Snell to get an increased number of touches in the weeks to come?
ANSWER: With Jaylen Samuels out for the next four weeks or so, James Conner’s backup will be Benny Snell. That moves him up in the rotation at least, and then it will come down to game circumstances and then how well Snell does if and when he gets an opportunity.
NICK WARREN FROM TOLEDO, OH: Are the Steelers going to bring back Eli Rogers with the injury to James Washington and with Donte Moncrief having trouble catching the football?
ANSWER: If the Steelers were interested in exchanging Donte Moncrief for Eli Rogers, they didn’t have to wait until James Washington sustained an injury. Because they didn’t choose to make the move then, I’m guessing it won’t be made unless there are additional injuries or Moncrief fails miserably today.
BRIAN BOYCE FROM SPRINGBORO, PA: It appeared last Sunday against the Ravens that when Devlin Hodges came into the game there were no handcuffs on him. He threw the ball down the field. It seemed that Mason Rudolph has been handcuffed and only throws short. My question is has Mason really been that restricted, or is he just not as comfortable throwing down the field as Hodges?
ANSWER: The way it was explained to me is that on most pass plays, there are receivers running routes at different depths on the field, and then it’s up to the quarterback where he wants to go with the football. It’s likely that Mike Tomlin has emphasized to Mason Rudolph how important it is to protect the football, because as we all know turnovers can kill a team’s chances to win a game, but I can guarantee you that Devlin Hodges will hear the same thing from him.
STONEY CAMP FROM WIESBADEN, GERMANY: I know complaining about the officiating is like beating a dead horse, but when the officials make a call that clearly wasn't a penalty, and it ends up changing the outcome of the game, like the NFC Championship Game between the Saints and the Rams, and the recent call against Ola Adeniyi in the game vs. the Ravens. Can or do the teams have the option of not choosing those officials in future games.
ANSWER: Officials are assigned to games by the NFL office. Teams have no input into which officials are assigned to their games.
KEN STERN FROM SAHUARITA, AZ: Can the team receiving an onside kick call a fair catch?
ANSWER: Yes, as long as the ball doesn’t hit the ground.
VICKI RIZZO FROM ST. CHARLES, MO: Can you tell us how long Mike Tomlin is under contract to the Steelers since his contract was not extended this year?
ANSWER: In fact, Mike Tomlin did sign a contract extension this year, just before the start of training camp at Saint Vincent College. He is under contract to the Steelers through the 2021 season, with an option for 2022.