Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Oct. 3

Let's get to it:

KEN WALDROP FROM ONTONAGON, MI: Teams in the NFL rarely are as bad as their last loss nor are they as good as their last win. We knew the Steelers would have to rely on the defense in many games. Are we going to see our edge rushers and defenders back this week?
ANSWER: T.J. Watt was a full participant in practice on both Thursday and Friday, and Alex Highsmith was a full participant on Friday. Neither Watt not Highsmith received a designation for the game, which means they both are assumed to be probable vs. the Packers. Reserve defensive lineman Carlos Davis was ruled out.

RONALD WINTERS FROM LEARY, TX: When scheme and personnel don't seem to match up, what do you think is the best course of action?
ANSWER: In my opinion, it's possible to win because of scheme in college football, but in the NFL, you win because of players. With the salary cap and with a limited number of draft picks, an NFL team cannot remake its roster quickly, and so schemes always have to be malleable to the personnel on the roster.

DOUG HORNEMAN FROM MESA, AZ: When are the Steelers going to start looking at their strength and conditioning program? Three season-ending ACL tears last year and four hamstring injuries in one game cannot be passed off as normal bumps and bruises of doing business.
ANSWER: First of all, ligaments tear sometimes, and it has nothing to do with conditioning. And if the Steelers should start looking at their conditioning program after ACL tears, I'm guessing you would suggest the Ravens fire everyone involved with their strength and conditioning program after losing running backs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill, plus starting cornerback Marcus Peters to ACL tears since the start of training camp in late July.

DAVID BYSTRY FROM MENTOR, OH: While I watched Pitt lose to Western Michigan, the announcers stated that Heinz Field had new turf installed that week. If I remember correctly, the Rooneys went with a "hybrid" type turf a few years ago. With several groin pulls and hamstrings this past 10 days, would the new turf be looked at as part of the reason?
ANSWER: The playing surface at Heinz Field is natural grass and has been for well over a decade. What the announcers of Pitt vs. Western Michigan should have said is that the field was re-sodded.

BRIAN FIORE FROM CRIVITZ, WI: Can you please clarify how bringing a player off injured reserve works? When a player is placed on IR, is there a limitation to the amount of time he can remain there without ruining the chances of returning to the 53-man roster? If Zach Banner waited another three or four weeks, would he still be eligible to return?
ANSWER: As long as a player is first on the 53-man roster and then placed on the injured reserve list, he is eligible to return at some point during the season. Players in that category must miss three regular season weeks before being eligible to come off IR, and the team can bring him back to practice at any time after those three weeks. Once the player returns to practice, he and the team have 21 days to make a decision, and that decision is either to return him to the 53-man roster, leave him on injured reserve (where he will have to remain for the rest of the season, including any playoff games), or cut him.

MICHAEL ARCELA FROM ELIZABETH, PA: Do the Steelers have scouts attend/watch every NFL game? If so, is that more for game planning against them or personnel reasons?
ANSWER: The Steelers have an advance scout at games involving the upcoming opponent, and if there is any interest in seeing other teams' games, that video is available from NFL Films.

TOM BRUZDA FROM WILDOMAR, CA: I'm still having trouble understanding how the game clock works after an incomplete pass or a player running out of bounds outside of the five-minute mark of each half. Most times I see the clock start when they spot the ball ready for play, but there are other times when the clock doesn't start until the next play is run. Please disregard timeouts and penalties in your answer.
ANSWER: Regardless of the time remaining at any point in the game, the clock stops after an incomplete pass. In the NFL, when a player is ruled out of bounds, the clock is re-started when the ball is spotted for play until the two-minute warning in the first half, and then at the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Inside two minutes in the second quarter and inside five minutes of the fourth quarter, the clock stops whenever a player is ruled out of bounds.

JASON PRASTER FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX: With T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith nursing groin injuries and a critical need for depth, can you explain why the Steelers promoted Derrek Tuszka to the active roster and waived Jamir Jones with the idea of putting him on the practice squad, which resulted in the Rams claiming Jones on waivers? I thought Coach Mike Tomlin and Keith Butler saw something in Jones to keep him after training camp and preseason?
ANSWER: It's really not that complicated. The Steelers liked Derrek Tuszka more than Jamir Jones after getting a look at both in the game against the Bengals. In that game, Tuszka played 27 snaps on defense and was in on two tackles, while Jones played 20 snaps on defense and did not record a statistic on defense but did make one tackle on special teams. Just because a coach or coaches like one player at one time doesn't mean they're never going to be on the lookout for an upgrade. Maybe Jones ends up back with the Steelers, and maybe the team finds someone they like better than Tuszka. That's life in the NFL

CHRISTOPHER MYRICK FROM LOS ANGELES, CA: Well, our team is not as good as I'd really like to see, but we have only completed three games. As a coach myself, and at the high school level I deal with new players having to get acclimated every season, I know there can be growing pains when a "new approach" is being taken. Do you continue to remain optimistic? Can you see this team pulling itself out of the funk?
ANSWER: I cannot say whether this team will bounce back and make a run at a playoff spot, but I was in this job in 1989 when the Steelers opened the regular season with a 51-0 loss to Cleveland in Three Rivers Stadium, and then followed that with a 42-10 loss to the Bengals at Riverfront Stadium. After losing their first two games by a combined 92-10 and at 0-2 in the AFC Central Division, the Steelers then won nine of their next 14 games, got into the playoffs, went to Houston and beat the Oilers in the Wild Card Round, and were a dropped pass by Mark Stock away from upsetting the Broncos in Denver and earning a spot in the AFC Championship Game. It sounds implausible, I understand, but I saw that happen.

PATRICK CHARLES FROM GILLETTE, WY: With Tyson Alualu on injured reserve and Stephon Tuitt out could/should the Steelers sign Geno Atkins? How about Olivier Vernon?
ANSWER: I'd rather have Joe Greene.

BENJAMIN KARP FROM MANHATTAN BEACH, CA: Do the Steelers employ an official Sports Psychologist on staff? If so, is this mandated by the league, and could you please shed light on his/her duties for the team?
ANSWER: There is not a sports psychologist listed among those on the team's medical staff. If there was one, I guarantee you I'd be the first one on the couch after an in-season week's worth of Asked and Answered.