Let’s get to it:
JANET SCHWARTZ FROM LUTZ, FL: Along with the rest of Steelers Nation, I’m terribly saddened by the news that Ben Roethlisberger will be out for the season following his injury. Wasn’t James Conner injured as well? One of his knees?
ANSWER: James Conner did sustain a knee injury at some point in the loss to Seattle last Sunday. He did not practice on Wednesday, but he was a full participant on both Thursday and Friday. When the team released its status report on Friday, Conner was not on it, which means he is probable for today’s game against the 49ers.
JEREMY FLYNN FROM HOMER CITY, PA: In a recent edition of Asked and Answered you wrote that you didn’t believe Bill Cowher should be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You pointed out that George Seifert, Jimmy Johnson,, and Tom Flores had two Super Bowl wins and weren’t elected. I totally agree with you on Cowher. Why is Tony Dungy in the Hall of Fame?
ANSWER: A point of clarification: I wrote that I didn’t think Bill Cowher would be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This issue of deserving never entered into the picture. As for Tony Dungy, I cannot speak definitively as to why the Board of Selectors decided to elect him, but my suspicion is that his qualifications were seen as being more than just one Super Bowl championship. Here are some of Dungy’s unique qualifications: Dungy was the first NFL coach to defeat all 32 NFL teams. He was the youngest assistant coach at age 25, and the youngest coordinator at age 28 in NFL history. Dungy also was the first African-American head coach to win the Super Bowl (when his Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI).
KRIS FOUTCH FROM DAVIDSON NC: Do you see any similarities or comparisons in playing style between Minkah Fitzpatrick and Rod Woodson? Do you feel he has the potential to be as impactful a player as Woodson was?
ANSWER: I’m not going to lay that kind of comparison on Minkah Fitzpatrick, because Rod Woodson was one of the great defensive backs in NFL history. Woodson played 17 seasons in the NFL, during which he had 71 interceptions, which is the third-highest total in NFL history, behind Paul Krause with 81 and Emlen Tunnell with 79. Woodson returned 12 of those interceptions for touchdowns, and he also finished his career with 32 fumble recoveries, which gave him 103 takeaways in his 238 career NFL games. Woodson was voted first-team All-Pro six times, and he was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first season of eligibility.
TOM QUINN FROM CARLISLE, PA: With the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick, do the Steelers remain high on Terrell Edmonds or was he playing out of position? Why the move when you drafted others previously?
ANSWER: Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds are two completely different players who play different positions and are likely to fill totally different roles for the Steelers over the course of their respective careers with the team. Both Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert are excited about the potential pairing of Fitzpatrick and Edmunds as the Steelers’ two safeties for years to come.
CHARLIE GETWOOD FROM LAKE CHARLES, LA: I loved the Minkah Fitzpatrick pickup for several reasons. He can flat-out play, he's 22, Sean Davis is hurt, and what we gave up and got in return was fair. Do you think Fitzpatrick will be moved around on the defense or bolted down at free safety?
ANSWER: Right now, in order to get him ready to play quickly, the Steelers plan to keep Minkah Fitzpatrick as a free safety. As he becomes more comfortable with the Steelers defense and his teammates, his versatility will become something the team plans to use to its advantage. But right now, and for the immediate future, Fitzpatrick will play free safety.
LEWIS FURR FROM WINSTON-SALEM, NC: Since Ben Roethlisberger has been placed on injured reserve and is out for the remainder of the season, does this season count towards his extension that he just signed?
ANSWER: Yes. Ben Roethlisberger will be paid a $2.5 million salary for this season, as stipulated in his contract, and he will have two years remaining on that deal when this season ends.
DEREK LAKE FROM BUSHNELL FL: Since Minkah Fitzpatrick was a first-round pick, do have the ability to exercise the fifth-year option on his contract even if we didn’t draft him?
ANSWER: Yes. In making the trade, the Steelers agreed to assume all of the terms and conditions of the contract he signed with the Miami Dolphins. That includes the fifth-year option.
HOWARD COOPER FROM WEST CHESTER, PA: Do you think the Steelers look properly conditioned? They look gassed by the fourth quarter.
ANSWER: One of the issues facing every NFL team at the start of the regular season is conditioning, but not in terms of being out of shape like normal people would be out of shape. Because teams rarely use their front-line players for much except token appearances in preseason games, players have to work up to playing four quarters of NFL football. The Steelers players are in shape, because someone who isn’t in shape never could survive an NFL training camp, but at the start of the regular season they have to get themselves acclimated to playing four quarters of NFL regular season football. And this is something that has become an issue league-wide.
CHRIS FARIS FROM CARMICHAELS, PA: Given that what the team gave up for Minkah Fitzpatrick is not that far from what Jacksonville is asking for Jalen Ramsey, was it a mistake pulling the trigger on a trade this early? Or is Fitzpatrick more valuable to the Steelers because he also excels at safety with Sean Davis hurt?
ANSWER: In fact, the cost for Minkah Fitzpatrick vs. what the Jacksonville Jaguars reportedly are seeking in any trade for Jalen Ramsey is significantly different. The Dolphins accepted a first-round draft pick for Fitzpatrick, plus the teams swapped positions at the end of rounds vs. the beginning of rounds to sweeten the pot for both sides. The Jaguars reportedly are seeking two first-round picks for Ramsey. That’s a big difference.
JD ROY FROM CLINTON, PA: Is it possible that Ben Roethlisberger may be eligible to play if Mason Rudolph were to get the Steelers into the playoffs?
ANSWER: Yes, it’s possible according to the rules, but the Steelers already have ruled it out by announcing Ben Roethlisberger will miss the rest of the season.
JIM MACPHERSON FROM BEACHWOOD, NJ: Offensive lines are referred to as a unit. Is it possible that the loss of Marcus Gilbert has been the underlying reason why our line has not been living up to its high standards?
ANSWER: The Steelers had been playing without Marcus Gilbert for a couple of seasons even before he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals. Because of injuries, Gilbert played only seven games in 2017 and five games in 2018. Already, the Cardinals have placed him on injured reserve for 2019.
ROY PERRIN FROM FUQUAY VARINA, NC: Besides Nick Foles and Jim Plunkett, are there any other backup quarterback who have won a Super Bowl?
ANSWER: Without doing any extensive research, I know that the New York Giants won Super Bowl XXV over the Buffalo Bills with Jeff Hostetler filling in for the injured Phil Simms.
RICK RALPH FROM ROANOKE, VA: Have the Steelers looked into picking up Manning if he decided to leave New York?
ANSWER: Peyton? I think Archie is too old.