Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 20

Let's get to it:

JASON ROSE FROM FORT WAYNE, IN: Do you think the Steelers should make Benny Snell the primary running back with James Conner's constant nagging injuries?
ANSWER: James Conner was a full participant in practice on both Thursday and Friday, and because he was not listed on Friday's Status Report, that means he is probable for today's game vs. the Broncos at Heinz Field. Based on that, I have to assume Conner is healthy enough to play, and I don't believe Coach Mike Tomlin will give up on him after just one week. But I also believe that what Benny Snell has been showing since training camp opened in late July has made a sufficient impression that there won't be any hesitation to go to Snell if Conner isn't productive.

This is what Tomlin recently said about Snell: "I think (Snell) has stated a solid case for himself not only on Monday night but throughout this whole process. Any of us who had the opportunity to watch team development at Heinz Field, and I know it wasn't open to the public, what he did Monday night was very reminiscent of how he's been throughout this entire process. We are cognizant of his capabilities, and we do plan to utilize him, but we still have a "bell cow" mentality. We acknowledge, like it was on Monday night, that it could be him on any given week."

RUSSELL INGRAM FROM RIVERSIDE, OH: I was wondering about the Steelers' official/unofficial policy about retiring jersey numbers. They have only officially retired two, but they haven't issued some numbers since some big names who wore them have retired. Is it the organization that doesn't issue these numbers, or is it possibly the players themselves not taking them as a sign of respect?
ANSWER: The jerseys and which numbers are not issued used to be a decision made by Dan Rooney and now I feel confident it's made by Art Rooney II. Some numbers have to be issued because of the NFL rules governing which players have to wear which numbers, but as for the rest, I will offer you this story to explain my point: During the 1994 offseason, the Steelers signed unrestricted free agent John L. Williams, a veteran fullback who had spent the first eight years of his NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks, and he wore No. 32 during his time there. When he got to the Steelers, Williams told the equipment manager he wanted No. 32, and Williams was told that number wasn't available. Williams took his case to Coach Bill Cowher, and when Cowher couldn't get anywhere with the equipment manager he took the issue to Dan Rooney. Williams wore No. 22 during his two seasons in Pittsburgh.

BOB WATSON FROM NEWELL, WV: I feel the Terrell Edmonds experiment has gone on long enough. Do you think Sean Davis eventually will replace him?
ANSWER: Didn't you once submit a question about Bud Dupree early in his third NFL season that expressed the same sentiment? And if not, I would've hoped the Dupree lesson might have shown why it's often foolish to give up on a young player too early.

BEN FIELY FROM MEADVILLE, PA: Do you think the Steelers will bring back James Conner for the 2021 season, or will they release him and have Benny Snell be the starter?
ANSWER: There's still a lot of the 2020 season left before such a decision has to be made, but if the Steelers do decide to move on from James Conner either because of performance issues or salary cap restrictions, they won't release Conner. His rookie contract is set to expire at the end of the 2020 season and he would become an unrestricted free agent.

RICK ALTER FROM LYNNWOOD, NY: Will there be inductees to the Steelers Hall of Honor this year?
ANSWER: Yes, and before the end of this week you will know which players make up the Class of 2020. Stay tuned to Steelers.com.

FRANK PIENKOSKY FROM AMBRIDGE, PA: Is there any chance of working in Josh Dobbs as a "slash" type player? He's a talented guy who ought to be on the field more often.
ANSWER: Any chance? I sure hope not. Josh Dobbs isn't as talented as Ben Roethlisberger, who completed 65.6 percent of his passes last Monday night during a game in which the Steelers were 3-for-4 in the red zone. And allow me to throw out this stat again in the hopes enough people will see it and quit with these kinds of questions: In 2018, which was the most recent time the Steelers had Roethlisberger for the whole season, the Steelers led the NFL in red zone offense, and their touchdown percentage in doing so was the highest in the NFL since 2003. I'm not benching the guy who was the triggerman of that for gadget plays.

CHUCK CARTER FROM MESA, AZ: Have any conclusions been drawn from COVID-19 testing following the Week 1 NFL games?
ANSWER: This appeared on NFL.com on Wednesday, Sept. 16, and is the most recent information regarding the testing for COVID-19: "In the latest weekly update on NFL-NFL Players Association testing results, there were seven confirmed positives, including two players, out of 40,479 tests from Sept. 6 through Saturday, Sept. 12. It's one fewer positive test than the previous week's results. Of important note for the latest testing results is that they were taken through Saturday and therefore before the majority of the Week 1 NFL games, excluding the season opener featuring the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Houston Texans. As pointed out by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, no players have been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list across the previous three days. NFL clubs began padded practices in mid-August. The NFL administered 80,017 COVID-19 tests to players between Aug. 12 through Saturday, and there have been seven confirmed tests."

NATHAN GEISLER FROM BOISE, ID: Following the Steelers' opening game win last Monday against the New York Giants, what do you think are the top five games played on Monday Night Football in Steelers history?
ANSWER: This is a list done more off the top of my head than as a result of in-depth research, so just keep that in mind as you read it. In chronological order:

Nov. 24, 1975, a 32-9 victory over the Oilers in Houston: It was the 8-1 Steelers vs. the 7-2 Oilers, and the sports world was centered on the Astrodome to see which team was going to establish itself as the power in the AFC Central Division. The Steelers beat the snot out of the Oilers, a physical pounding from start to finish, and as bad as the final score was it would've been a lot worse had Pittsburgh not turned the ball over five times. Imagine being so good to be able to dominate a 7-2 rival throughout a Monday night game on the road while turning the ball over five times. That's how good the 1975 Steelers were.

Nov. 15, 1993, a 23-0 victory over the Bills at Three Rivers Stadium: The three-time defending AFC Champions brought a 7-1 record to Three Rivers Stadium and took a 60-minute physical pounding from the 5-3 Steelers. By the end of the game, the Steelers held statistical advantages in first downs, 26-9; rushing yards, 227-47; total yards, 400-157; and time of possession: 44:51-15:09. Jim Kelly's passer rating was 53.2, and Frank Reich came on in relief and his rating was 58.1.

Nov. 28, 2005, a 26-7 loss to the Colts in Indianapolis: At the time it seemed to be a deflating defeat, but this game actually showed the Steelers they could hang with the powerful Colts and provided the outline for the game plan they would use to upset Indianapolis in the RCA Dome in the AFC Divisional Round on the way to a victory in Super Bowl XL.

Nov. 5, 2007, a 38-7 victory over the Baltimore Ravens: This was James Harrison's coming out party, and it validated rookie head coach Mike Tomlin's belief that Harrison would be a suitable replacement for Joey Porter, who was released by the team in March 2007. Against the Ravens on that Monday night at Heinz Field, Harrison finished with 10 tackles, an interception, 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.

Sept. 28, 2008, a 23-20 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens: The Steelers would end the 2008 season as Super Bowl Champions, but at this point they were just a 2-1 team coming off a decisive defeat in Philadelphia. These teams were the NFL's two best this season, and this was the first of three close physical wars that all were won by the Steelers.

JARED HONAKER FROM AFTON, VA: I saw Heath Miller on the list of players who are first-year Hall of Fame eligible. I was surprised, but pleasantly so. How did he make the list? I read that even fans can nominate players by sending an email, but at this point is some kind of vote required?
ANSWER: At this initial nomination stage, there is no vote, and you are correct when you say even fans can nominate players, coaches, and contributors to be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Moving forward is when the voting comes into play, and the Board of Selectors will start trimming the list in subsequent votes until the Class of 2021 is determined on the day before the Super Bowl.

CHRIS JASTAK FROM KINGSTON, ONTARIO, CANADA: Your answers to some of these really dumb questions are the best. Keep up that great humor.
ANSWER: Thanks. The aim of Asked and Answered always has been to be both informative and entertaining. I'm happy you're entertained.

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