Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 18

Let's get to it:

RICHARD KOVAL FROM BRUCETON MILLS, WV: The Steelers signed David Anenih off Tennessee's practice squad. What is this going to cost the Steelers, and what prevents a team from taking that same player back?
ANSWER: In terms of player compensation, signing a player off another team's practice squad costs nothing. And when a team signs a player off another team's practice squad, that team must put that player on its 53-man roster and keep him there for at least three games. When a player is on a team's 53-man roster, another team cannot simply "take that same player back."

CHRISTOPHER DeMAIO FROM PHILADELPHIA, PA: With T.J. Watt being out for at least half the season, do you think the Steelers should look towards the free agent market to fill that hole, and if so, who?
ANSWER: First of all, I believe your estimate of the time T.J. Watt is going to miss because of his pectoral injury is overly pessimistic. Initial projections have him missing 4-to-6 weeks, and there is no free agent market at this point in the NFL calendar. Anyone worthy of being on an NFL roster, and certainly anyone worthy of being considered a a replacement for the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is not on the street without a contract.

JOHN FURJANIC FROM LITTLETON, CO: Mitch Trubisky's contract has incentives for playing 60 percent of the offensive plays. Are field goal and/or punt snaps part of the equation?
ANSWER: Field goals and punts are special teams plays and therefore do not count against a team's total of offensive plays.

BRIAN MORELLA FROM POLAND, OH: Any word on the progress of Calvin Austin III's foot injury?
ANSWER: Calvin Austin III was placed on the injured reserve list after the Steelers cut their roster to 53 players, which means he must miss the first four games of the regular season. There are no injury updates provided for players on injured reserve at least until they are eligible to come off injured reserve. You've got three weeks to wait, at least.

MICHELE ELLIS FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: With T.J. Watt going on injured reserve, why not bring back someone familiar with the system, such as Quincy Roche from the Giants practice squad instead of someone from outside the system altogether? And as a follow-up, why not let Christian Kuntz play in relief? He first made the team as an outside linebacker OLB from Duquesne and has suited up as such in the regular season.
ANSWER: One of the reasons the Steelers waived Quincy Roche as a rookie, and quite possibly why he's on a practice squad instead of a 53-man roster is that he is not an asset on special teams. Special teams coordinator Danny Smith always tells the rookies at the start of the offseason program that if they aren't a starter on offense or defense, they better be a starter on special teams. Roche never made himself an asset on special teams, and he wasn't, and isn't, good enough of a defensive player to be carried on a roster just to play defense. And as to your follow-up, Christian Kuntz never made the Steelers roster as a linebacker, and he never was in uniform for a game to play linebacker. And what happens if you put your long-snapper in the game on defense, and he gets injured. Who does that job? And the Bengals showed how integral that job is last week in that 23-20 overtime loss to the Steelers when they had the potential game-winning extra point blocked and a potential game-winning 29-yard field goal in overtime get sabotaged by a high snap.

DONNIE BROWN FROM VAN BUREN, ME: There's been talk about the importance of long-snappers, you know the whole "laces out" thing. I seem to remember the Steelers using outside linebacker James Harrison at long-snapper. Whose idea was that?
ANSWER: That actually was a case of James Harrison volunteering for a job he never had done before. The situation was a regular season game on Oct. 26, 2008, against the New York Giants at Heinz Field. The Steelers' long-snapper, Greg Warren, injured his knee during the game, and Coach Mike Tomlin talked to the guys who had done some practicing as the emergency long-snapper to gauge their respective levels of confidence/interest in doing it in a game situation. Harrison showed the most confidence and enthusiasm and so he was given the opportunity. Harrison promptly snapped the ball out of the end zone for a safety.

WILLIAM SCHMITT FROM BELLAIRE, OH: Who wore the green dot in Cincinnati?
ANSWER: Myles Jack.

TIM GAYDOSH FROM MOUNT AIRY, MD: The question about "short-term injured reserve" brought to mind another question on terminology. Why does the official always say, "This will be a 30 second timeout" when announcing a timeout? Was there ever any other type of timeout that a team could take?
ANSWER: A team decides whether to utilize one of its timeouts, but the length of the break in the action is determined by the amount of time the network needs to work in the allotted number of commercials over the course of a broadcast. If there have been enough natural breaks in the action to allow the network broadcasting the game to get in the commercials, then a timeout can be designated as 30 seconds, but if the game has been more free-flowing to that point and the network needs to get some commercials in then the break could be longer. Television pays the bills, and therefore has a significant say in the length of the breaks in the action.

PAUL SHARENKO FROM GLENMONT, NY: During sessions when the media is interviewing Coach Mike Tomlin, it is often difficult to hear the questions from the media. Recently, I heard the same complaint from another NFL team's fans concerning the same topic. Is this by design?
ANSWER: Sometimes, as in the case of a post-game presser, the coach might be interviewed in a corner of the locker room, or in a room adjacent to the locker room in the bowels of a stadium and that area might not be equipped to handle something like that. Other times, as in the case of a session that's scheduled to be televised, it's often carelessness or an oversight on the part of the entity that's televising the session. Either way, I agree with you that it's frustrating not to be able to hear the questions that the coach is answering.

DAVID EMERY FROM DUNWOODY, GA: I keep a pretty keen eye on Devin Bush, and it seemed to this untrained eye that he contributed well against the Bengals. I see the arrow moving up with him. Have not seen any mentions in the media yet. Can you comment?
ANSWER: In the game against the Bengals, the Steelers' run defense was far from flawless, but I also believe it's fair to make the point that it didn't play to the level of being the worst in the league – as was the case in 2021. Sometimes when the facts don't support the narrative that certain members of the media have been expressing things don't get mentioned or they're mentioned but attributed to another factor – such as the Bengals offensive line didn't play well. The ineffectiveness of the Cincinnati offensive line in the game as a determining factor could be true, which is why I view it via the lens of the statistics, which tell the story that in the two games last year Joe Mixon averaged 5.5 yards a carry, and last Sunday he averaged 3.0 yards per carry.

JOHN THOMPSON FROM CONNEAUT, OH: Does the Steelers offense include deep crossing patterns? All I see are these 3-yard routes, go-patterns down the sideline and a few seam routes by the tight ends.
ANSWER: Every offense contains deep crossing routes, but those take time to develop, which means the quarterback has to hold the football until they do develop. I don't believe there's a lot of confidence in the pass protection to keep the rush at bay long enough for those routes to develop.

DENNIS LIABENOW FROM LAYTON, UT: It used to be that games against division opponents were played later in the season (which I preferred because of the importance of division games). Was this a formal rule before that has changed?
ANSWER: The Steelers play six division games as part of the four-team AFC North, and half of those are scheduled over the season's final five weeks, with the schedule ending with back-to-back games against division opponents. In terms of scheduling division games at the end of the season, the league does that to try to avoid as many situations of teams playing meaningless games as possible. But there is no formal rule, and there never was a formal rule.

RODNEY GRAMLING FROM GOLDSBORO, NC: Any rumors of Mason Rudolph going to Cowboys?
ANSWER: Not unless you're trying to start one here.

DAVID BURKLEY FROM GARFIELD HEIGHTS, OH: Why do people ask you such dumb questions, especially about Kenny Pickett?
ANSWER: I have given up trying to explain that phenomenon and just accept its existence. Sort of like Stonehenge.