Let’s get to it:
TAYA REYES FROM ELKO, NV:
I’m very excited to see what the future holds for Josh Dobbs. When the Steelers draft a developmental quarterback, who works with him on his mechanics? Since he’s not getting that many reps in practice now, does he stay after or before practice to get work in?
ANSWER: Once the regular season starts, each NFL team’s focus shifts from development to preparing for the upcoming opponent to put the team in its best position to win that week’s game. That’s because the NFL is all about wins and losses, and coaches who might consider spending time on development instead of planning and practicing to defeat that week’s opponent would find themselves fired before the players they had spent time developing had developed enough to help them win. That’s why Mike Tomlin believes in training camp and keeping the preseason at four games per team, because that’s the time when a player such as Josh Dobbs can get work on his mechanics and then get the repetitions in practices and game situations to hone those mechanics. And for the Steelers, the man working with Dobbs on his mechanics is quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner.
MIKE HENRY FROM HAGERSTOWN, MD:
Is Cam Sutton on the injured reserve list for the year, or can he come off in eight weeks?
ANSWER: Each team is now permitted to have two designated-to-return players come off their injured reserve list, and Cam Sutton would qualify because he was on the original 53-man roster before the Steelers put him on injured reserve. If all goes well, Sutton would be eligible to return to practice after six weeks on IR, and then he could return to the field for the Steelers after eight weeks, which would make him eligible for the game against Indianapolis on Nov. 12.
STEVE RANDALL FROM TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA:
The Steelers placed Cam Sutton on the reserve/injured list. Sutton can be designated to return to the 53-man roster after eight weeks. While he's inactive, is he still allowed to practice with the team during that time?
ANSWER: During the first six weeks that he’s on injured reserve, Cam Sutton would be able to attend meetings and rehabilitate his injury. He is not allowed to practice. After he has been on the injured reserve list for six weeks, then Sutton could return to practice for two weeks before the Steelers would have to make a decision on whether to bring him back to the 53-man roster.
MARK GOLDMAN FROM MOUNT KISCO, NY:
Did William Gay play at all vs. the Browns?
ANSWER: James Harrison was on the field for four defensive snaps in Cleveland. He was not credited with any statistics.
KEN WALDROP FROM ONTONAGON, MI:
A very noticeable lack of offense throughout the NFL in week one (more than normal). The rules certainly favor the offense. Do you attribute this to anything aside from the usual rust?
ANSWER: Because of the fear of injuries, teams don’t allow their top players to see much action in preseason games, and practice alone isn’t necessarily enough to prepare a unit for what it will need to be efficient in a regular season game. Timing and rhythm take time to establish, and because it’s rare for the No. 1 offense to spend a lot of time on the field together during the preseason, the start of regular season football will contain more ugly offense than at other times over the course of the schedule. That’s my theory, anyway.
KYLE GARTENSLEBEN FROM RICHMOND, VA:
How come the Steelers captains don't wear the captains patch on their jerseys? I know every player in the locker room knows who the captains are, but I never knew why the Steelers captains never wore the patch. Could you explain please?
ANSWER: Because the front of the Steelers jersey already contains a patch – the team’s logo – they are not mandated to designate their captains with the a “C” patch on the front of the jersey. And in the case of 2017, the front of the Steelers jersey also will have the commemorative “DMR” patch in honor of Dan Rooney, and so having a “C” on the front as well would make it look like a NASCAR event.
DAVID MORRIS FROM ALEXANDRIA, VA:
With players being cut and signed to opposing teams, such as Joe Haden coming to the Steelers from the Browns, are there any official rules or unspoken agreements to protect the playbook?
ANSWER: There are not. Here’s what Mike Tomlin told me about the issue of espionage: “To be quite honest with you, there’s nothing that Joe Haden can tell us about Cleveland that we don’t already know, and I’m sure they feel the same way about the information Sammie Coates could bring to them. That’s just the nature of this business when it comes to divisional football and the nature of these rivalries.”
DEWAYNE SAMPLES FROM BOLT, WV:
I have noticed that the Steelers offense lets Ramon Foster use hand signals to notify Maurkice Pouncey when to snap the football to Ben Roethlisberger when he’s in the shotgun. Doesn't this give the defense an advantage so that they can time their rush based off his hand signals?
ANSWER: This happens only when the Steelers are using a silent count. Ramon Foster taps Maurkice Pouncey, which starts everyone’s mental clock ticking. If the ball is to be snapped on two, it’s snapped two beats after Foster slaps Pouncey. If it’s to be snapped on one, it’s one beat after the slap, and so on. There’s no way for the defense to know exactly how many beats the ball is to be snapped after the slap, and so there’s still an amount of unknown involved.
DENNIS LONGAZEL FROM BOCA RATON, FL:
This is the fifth time I am writing to you so please respond because I like and respect your work. What can Steelers Nation do to help get Donnie Shell elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Thanks for your input.
ANSWER: Nothing. There is nothing to do.
DEE ALBERTS FROM DESOTO, TX:
During which week of the 2017 season will the Steelers wear their bumblebee uniforms?
ANSWER: The Steelers will not wear throwback jerseys in 2017. They will wear their color rush uniforms for the Thursday night game against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 16 at Heinz Field.
ANSWER: I saw this stat on ESPN: That during the 2015-16 seasons combined, those players were on the field together for a combined 21 minutes of game time.
JOHNNY JOHNSON FROM STAFFORD, TX:
How late during a game week can teams activate a practice squad player onto the 53-man roster for a game?
ANSWER: That kind of move has to be made by 4 p.m. the day before the game.