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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 21

Let's get to it:

EDITOR'S NOTE: I made a mistake in Tuesday's edition of Asked and Answered. In response to Elijah Fisher's question about the clock not stopping when a runner or receiver went out of bounds, I said that the clock only stops when a runner or receiver goes out of bounds in the final five minutes of each half. The correct answer is that the clock only stops in the final two minutes of the first half and in the final five minutes of the second half. Sorry for the error.

Will Mike Hilton start every game? He has impressed me so far, but I have questions about him being an every game starter.

ANSWER: Mike Hilton isn't a starter, per se. He's a slot cornerback, who could start a game if the Steelers defense opens in the nickel. Anyway, Mike Tomlin has said that he sees Hilton and Will Gay as interchangeable at the slot corner position, and he has used them that way through the first two weeks of the season. In Cleveland, Hilton played 34 defensive snaps and Gay played 26; against the Vikings, Hilton played 55 snaps and Gay played 20. This is what Tomlin said about Hilton at his most recent news conference when asked about his amount of playing time: "He's made plays. We don't try to overanalyze it. We try to put guys in a position to make plays and when we do and when they do, we acknowledge it. That's what we've done throughout this process with him in particular. We've given him an opportunity to make plays. He's largely made those plays, and he's ascending in his role within our group because of it."

A correction to your answer about the Steelers' field goal attempt in the game against the Vikings with the 10:08 left in the fourth quarter. You said the line of scrimmage was the 29-yard line, but that is incorrect. The line of scrimmage after the 5-yard penalty would have been the 24-yard line in which the field goal attempt would have been a 42-yard attempt. Or am I wrong?

ANSWER: OK, I'll cop to the mistake I made on the rule about when the clock stops at the end of each half when a runner or receiver goes out of bounds, but not this time. I have copied and pasted the appropriate line from the NFL official play-by-play from the game: "4-2-MIN 29 (10:08) (Field Goal formation) PENALTY on PIT-57-K.Canaday, Illegal snap, 5 yards, enforced at MIN 29 - No Play." Fourth-and-2 from the Minnesota 29-yard line. Then the 5-yard penalty for the illegal snap on the Steelers moved the ball back to the 34-yard line, and then if the Steelers had accepted the 5-yard penalty for running into the kicker on Jordan Berry's punt, the line of scrimmage would have moved back to the 29-yard line. Also, the Steelers typically align Chris Boswell 8 yards behind the line of scrimmage for a field goal attempt, which means that since the line of scrimmage was the 29-yard line, the original field goal attempt would have been from 47 yards out.

Do the Steelers fly to all the away games?

ANSWER: The Steelers travel by air to all road games except for Cleveland. The team rides buses there.

Who is showing the Mike Tomlin press conference? I can't seem to find it.

ANSWER: I've answered this before, and so this is the last time. Mike Tomlin's news conference is no longer televised. It can be watched live on on Tuesdays at noon.

With the production of the running game, are the Steelers happy with the progress of Le'Veon Bell from last week in Cleveland to this week against the Vikings?

ANSWER: This is what Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday about the progress of the running game: "I thought we took a significant step in terms of our run game. Not being highly penalized or not being as highly penalized like we were in Cleveland, it allowed us to maintain more balance in terms of the number of runs that we were able to call. We were able to get Le'Veon [Bell] a number of touches. I thought the only thing that our run game lacked was the splash play – the 25-yard run or the 35-yard run. That turns an 80-something-yard day for him to a 120-something-yard day for him. So, we'll continue to work, and I'm sure that will come not only for him but for us. A large element of that is continuing to ensure our blocking on the perimeter. We're doing a great job of getting hats on hats with our big people. We need to continue to grow in terms of identifying the people that we need to get blocked based on schemes on the perimeter and doing a good job of making sure that we have hats on hats so that the 6 and 8-yard runs have potential to be a 35-yard run and so forth."

I was at the game last Sunday at Heinz Field but couldn't find any place in the stadium where they show timeouts left.  Is that true?

ANSWER: The information is still there. You just have to know where to look for it. When you watch games on television these days, there are bars above or below the teams' names on the info box in the corner of the screen. Those designate timeouts remaining for each team, and the number of bars decreases as teams use their timeouts. At Heinz Field, next to the words "Steelers" and "Vikings" on the info boxes ringing the stadium there were three red boxes that designated timeouts remaining. As the teams used their timeouts, the number of red boxes decreased.

The play of Vince Williams should be commended. The Steelers inside linebacker play has been solid to this point. This was thought to be a weakness by the fans leading up to the season. Your thoughts?

ANSWER: My thoughts are that fans overreact and form an opinion too quickly without waiting for things to play out, which often prevents them from offering an informed opinion. Kinda like some members of the media. Also, fans don't know as much as they think they know. Again, kinda like some members of the media.

Was Al Villanueva dehydrated? I know he came off the field for a while and then went back in when Marcus Gilbert came off with cramps.  Is there any concern about either of these guys physically? Is this a conditioning issue with them?

ANSWER: Mike Tomlin said during his Tuesday news conference that Marcus Gilbert injured a hamstring against the Vikings. Al Villanueva had the flu in the days leading up to the game, and it weakened him and caused him to lose a bunch of weight in the days leading up to the game against Minnesota. He played the game in this weakened state and suffered some more because of the heat.

Is there anywhere that Steelers Nation from around the world can watch the video tribute to Dan Rooney?

ANSWER: All of these kinds of things are on, for future reference, and so always check the website if you're looking for something in particular. To watch the video tribute to Dan Rooney, click the link.

From what I understand practice squad players aren't even allowed to be on the sidelines during games. Do they have any duties on game day? Or is this just a day off for them?

ANSWER: That is incorrect. I saw some of the practice squad guys on the sideline during the game against the Vikings at Heinz Field. The NFL does impose some restrictions on the number of people who can be in the bench area, but there is no specific restriction on players on the practice squad.

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