Let’s get to it:
ROBERT LONG FROM CLEARFIELD, PA: Having spent a couple of years on an NFL roster, what conditions must a player such a Paxton Lynch meet in order to become practice squad eligible?
ANSWER: It’s not so much that an NFL player earns practice squad eligibility as much as he maintains practice squad eligibility. Here is some official verbiage: “A player cannot participate on the practice squad for more than three seasons; he is eligible for a third season only if the team has at least 53 players on its active/inactive list for the duration of that player's employment, or have no prior accrued seasons in the NFL (an accrued season is six or more games on the active roster); or if he has accrued a year of NFL experience on a club's 53-man active roster. If the player was on the active list for fewer than nine games during their “only accrued season(s)", he maintains his eligibility for the practice squad. Games in which a player is listed as the third-string quarterback do not count as being on the active list. Former quarterback Mike Quinn, who was listed as the third-string quarterback for several teams throughout his career, is a notable example, being practice squad eligible during his 8th NFL season.” Not knowing the specifics of Paxton Lynch’s time with Denver, I would surmise the fact he was only active for five games in his two seasons with the Broncos is a primary reason why he still has practice squad eligibility.
JOHNATHAN WARDER FROM RANDLEMAN, NC: Say Ben Roethlisberger decides to retire at the end of the season, would the Steelers have a dead cap hit because of it?
ANSWER: Ben Roethlisberger already has issued a statement declaring his intention to come back and fulfill the rest of his contract after undergoing elbow surgery. The statement: “I’ve been informed that I need season ending surgery on my elbow to continue playing football at the level I expect. This is shocking and heartbreaking for me, to miss this much of a season and feel like I am letting down so many people. I can only trust God’s plan, but I am completely determined to battle through this challenge and come back stronger than ever next season. The Steelers committed three years to me this offseason and I fully intend to honor my contract and reward them with championship level play. I will do all I can to support Mason and the team this season to help win games. I love this game, my teammates, the Steelers organization and fans, and I feel in my heart I have a lot left to give.” And so in the spirit of Roethlisberger’s statement, I have decided to follow Bill Cowher’s lead on this issue and not play the “what if” game.
ZACK FARNSWORTH FROM NEWPORT, OH: With the rash of injuries lately, I haven’t heard any word on Ola Adeniyi. I know he had surgery but is he back, is he practicing? I have not seen him on any weekly game injury reports.
ANSWER: Yes, Ola Adeniyi had surgery to repair a meniscus during the preseason, and since he was able to be a full participant in the first practice of the regular season, which is when NFL teams begin to be required to report injuries that limit practice participation, and because he has been a full participant in every practice since, Adeniyi didn’t appear on any practice reports. In the opener against New England, Adeniyi played 13 snaps on special teams; against Seattle, he played four snaps on defense and 17 snaps on special teams. Clearly, the Steelers are working Adeniyi back in stages as his knee continues to get better. With Anthony Chickillo dealing with a foot injury this week, it would seem as though Adeniyi would be in line for even more playing time this weekend vs. San Francisco.
PETE FERRARI FROM WILMINGTON, DE: How many picks do the Steelers have left in the 2020 NFL Draft?
ANSWER: They currently have six picks: one in the second round, two in the fourth round, and one each in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. And that does not take into account whatever compensatory picks they may be awarded.
RAY PRISCO FROM PLEASANT MOUNT, PA: Seattle challenged a no-call on pass interference, won the challenge, and I believe that gave them momentum to win the game. In the Steelers vs. Patriots game we had a no-call on pass interference and Mike Tomlin didn't challenge. Do you feel this is yet another example of bad coaching?
ANSWER: I believe this is yet another in the unending series of horrible officiating decisions and an example of what happens every time New York gets involved in a such a decision. I also believe it’s an example of horrible eye sight by you if you actually believe that challenge by Seattle should have been upheld.
DANTE SABATUCCI FROM STOW, OH: When I watched the slide that Russell Wilson made on that third down scramble late in the fourth quarter last Sunday at Heinz Field, my immediate thought was, the ball should be spotted about 3 or 4 yards short of the first down. My understanding of the quarterback slide rule is the ball is spotted where the ball is when the quarterback starts his slide, not where he finishes the slide. When I went back and watched it again, I saw that he started his slide at about the 36-yard line, but they spotted it at the 33-yard line. Do I have the wrong understanding of the rule, or did the officials and coaches miss that?
ANSWER: You understand the rule correctly, but again, what’s with the blaming of the coaches? How is that possibly the coaches’ fault? How many times have you seen Mike Tomlin challenge the spotting of the ball only to have the challenge denied? It’s the officials’ fault for not spotting the ball correctly, and I would’ve bet you any amount of money at the time of the play that any challenge to the spot would have been denied.
RANDY SIZEMORE FROM ISLAMORADA, FL: What impact do you think Mike Munchak leaving has had in our offensive line play, particularly our inability to run the ball?
ANSWER: For the life of me, I cannot understand fans’ obsession with blaming absolutely everything that goes wrong on a coach. If that is true, then everything that goes right deserves to be credited to a coach. That would mean Tom Brady is a product of Josh McDaniel, and not the best quarterback in the league based on his accuracy, quick release, and understanding of football. And if it’s a coach’s fault for the Steelers’ inability to run the football, why is it the offensive line coach’s fault and not the running back coach’s fault? Third-and-1 against New England, and James Conner gets stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Is that a coach’s fault, or did the offensive line fail to come off the ball and knock those Patriots defenders off the line of scrimmage?
JOHN BRAGG FROM FAIRMONT, WV: With Ben Roethlisberger injured and Eli Manning getting benched, the end of the quarterback class of 2004 is closer than maybe we thought. I have heard "experts" discussing the three big-time quarterbacks’ chances for the Hall of Fame. The popular thinking seems to be: Manning may or may not make it and certainly not on the first ballot. Roethlisberger will be elected, but maybe not on the first ballot. Phillip Rivers is a sure-shot first-ballot Hall of Fame selection. I'm not sure why “they” think Rivers has a lock on first ballot while Ben “might” be first ballot. Do you have a view on this?
ANSWER: My view on this is that by and large, the people predicting these kinds of things are not on the Hall of Fame Board of Selectors, which means they don’t have a vote, which means their opinion doesn’t matter, which means who cares what they think? I certainly don’t.