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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Oct. 4

Let's get to it:

RON CIMBALA FROM VIRGINIA BEACH, VA: Everything I read and heard this summer was that Isaiahh Loudermilk had a great training camp and took a step forward, yet every game day he's inactive in favor of rookie DeMarvin Leal. Any insight as to why?
ANSWER: Isaiahh Loudermilk indeed took a step forward from his rookie season of 2021 to his second season, but DeMarvin Leal has been and continues to be a better, more versatile player. Leal is a defensive lineman with size and athleticism, and when T.J. Watt was injured, he showed the ability to step up and play the rush-end position. Leal is the third of a trio of players from the early rounds of the 2022 Draft class who have been showing a lot of promise for the immediate future, with the other two being quarterback Kenny Pickett and wide receiver George Pickens. Loudermilk being inactive in place of Leal says more about the rookie's quick development than anything negative about Loudermilk, because the Steelers still think highly of him. And remember, it's a long season.

WILLIAM SCHMITT FROM BELLAIRE, OH: Isaiahh Loudermilk never gets a helmet on game day and is listed as No. 2 on the depth chart ahead of DeMarvin Leal. He doesn't appear on any injury reports. Can you clarify this for me?
ANSWER: The only clarification I can provide is to advise you not to pay such strict attention to depth charts, especially when it comes to the backups at the various positions. As I explained in the answer to the previous question, DeMarvin Leal has shown enough quick development in some areas to be able to contribute to the team in T.J. Watt's absence, but don't take that to mean there is any dissatisfaction necessarily with Isaiahh Loudermilk.

SABINE KAPPEL FROM FLUORN-WINZELN, GERMANY: How would you rate the performance of the wide receivers' so far this season? My impression is that they are not living up to expectations.
ANSWER: I would agree with your assessment. It seems to me that there are plays that can, or should, be made in every game that aren't, and with an offense that's struggling to score and create chunk plays down the field, that's a significant issue.

MATTHEW POWNALL FROM LEHIGH ACRES, FL: Greetings from Lee County, where Hurricane Ian won't stop me from watching football. During the occasional times I've been able to connect to media lately I've seen mentions of Cam Heyward's Kindness Week. He does so much for the community. Are there other players who have done so much for the city or is Cam one of a kind?
ANSWER: There have been many Steelers over the years who have been very active and generous in giving their time to causes within the community, but I am willing to say that Cam Heyward has been and continues to be one of the most consistently active in this area. I won't even attempt to list the many causes that Heyward has supported for fear of forgetting one or more but let me conclude with this: The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award is presented annually by the National Football League to honor a player's commitment to philanthropy and community impact, as well as his excellence on the field. Cam Heyward has been the Steelers' nominee for this award several times, and it's high time he won it.

GUILLERMO LUJAN FROM CHIHUAHUA, CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO: It was a parade of feelings seeing the change at quarterback, because Mitch Trubisky is a good guy and a good player. The Steelers' 1-3 record (as we can see now) are not only because of the quarterback, but it was good to see the change because Kenny Picket has "it." Do you think a "spark" was the only reason for Coach Mike Tomlin to pull the trigger on the change?
ANSWER: I believe Coach Mike Tomlin when he said he made the change to Kenny Pickett in search of a spark, because it was becoming clear that things were stagnating on offense and despite working on things weekly in practice the fruits of that work weren't showing up in games. What I am most confident in saying is that Tomlin didn't bow to pressure from the fans or the media. That's not how he conducts his business.

JUSTIN STOVER FROM MORGANTOWN, WV: Do you see the Steelers sticking with Kenny Pickett?
ANSWER: I do, because even though I made the case that the Steelers' current three-game losing streak has to do with more than simply quarterback play, Kenny Pickett showed himself capable of handling the moment during the second half against the Jets. He made some mistakes and throwing three interceptions in a half simply cannot happen, but Pickett also energized his teammates and got them playing with an energy they hadn't otherwise shown to that point in the regular season.

PATRICK CHARLES FROM GILLETTE, WY: Can you please explain the difference between a guaranteed contract vs. a regular contract? For example, if I sign a contract for 5 years and $15 million with $8 million guaranteed, and if I play out the contract don't I get the entire $15 million anyway? Why does it need to be guaranteed?
ANSWER: Yes, if you play out the length of the contract, you would receive the full amount. But let's say you sign that 5-year, $15 million contract with $8 million guaranteed, and after the second of those 5 years you get cut. In that event, you wouldn't receive the entire $15 million total, but if all $15 million had been guaranteed you would receive all of the money regardless.

JOSHUA KARPER FROM DELAWARE, OH: I know T.J. Watt is eligible to return to action for the Week 6 game against Tampa Bay, but are there any updates on when he will be ready to return?
ANSWER: No, and you're not going to get those kinds of updates. Teams are not required to provide updates on players who are on the injured reserve list, and so most teams don't.

BRANDON SOBAT-SENN FROM WESTFIELD, IN: I know Calvin Austin III was placed on injured reserve, but I haven't heard any update on him. Is there any news on how he is doing and when is he eligible to return?
ANSWER: Calvin Austin III is eligible to return to practice this week and then play in Sunday's game in Buffalo. Whenever Austin is healthy enough to return to practice, there will be a move made and an announcement that accompanies that move.

STEVE SUSEMICHEL FROM BROWNSBURG, IN: The Steelers never having had a losing season under Coach Mike Tomlin results in the team consistently picking farther down in the draft order. What is the best position the Steelers have had in the draft under Tomlin?
ANSWER: Not including the 2019 NFL Draft when the Steelers traded up from No. 20 overall to No. 10 overall to select Devin Bush, the highest draft position the team has had during the Mike Tomlin era was 15th overall in both 2007 and 2014. In 2007 the Steelers selected Lawrence Timmons, and in 2014 they selected Ryan Shazier.