Let's get to it:
JOHN CARLSON FROM WEST MIDDLESEX, PA: As we embark on the first season in 18 years without Ben Roethlisberger, I was wondering out of his 5,440 career completions, which receiver caught the majority of them? Even better, if you could provide the top five receivers.
ANSWER: I'll give you the top five in two different categories: number of catches and number of touchdown catches. In terms of touchdown catches, the top five are Antonio Brown with 72; Heath Miller and Hines Ward are tied with 41; Mike Wallace is fourth with 29; and JuJu Smith-Schuster is fifth with 19. When it comes to the number of receptions, Brown is first with 796; Miller is second with 540; Ward is third with 513; Le'Veon Bell is fourth with 283; and Smith-Schuster is fifth with 272.
KEVIN NEWBY FROM EMIGRANT, MT: When is a player like Ben Roethlisberger eligible to enter the Steelers Hall of Honor?
ANSWER: Here is the exact wording of the criteria required of a player for election to the Steelers Hall of Honor: Retired for at least three seasons; must have played for the Steelers for a minimum of three seasons; and should possess noteworthy career highlights, records, and achievements.
MIKE PAVLIK FROM LOWER BURRELL, PA: Do players on the practice squad count against the team's salary cap just the same as players on the 53-man roster?
ANSWER: Players on the practice squad, on the injured reserve list, and on the physically unable to perform list all count against a team's salary cap. That's why you should be wary of internet estimates of a team's available cap space, because those other charges rarely are included.
DALE GELLER FROM CAPE CORAL; FL: I commend Coach Mike Tomlin for not revealing his quarterback depth chart. That way, the Bengals don't really know who to prepare for, so they must prepare for all three of them. What are your feelings on the subject?
ANSWER: As soon as the Steelers preseason ended with that victory over Detroit on Sunday, Aug. 28, I guarantee you the Bengals staff had access to every snap of the Steelers three preseason games, all-22, sideline view, and high end zone view. The Bengals won the 2021 AFC Championship Game and represented the conference in the Super Bowl. The notion that their preparation for the Steelers had been paralyzed because Coach Mike Tomlin hadn't made a public announcement about his starting quarterback until Sept. 6 is naïve.
MATTHEW WINDER FROM WILLIAMSPORT, IN: I recently saw a video titled, "Pickett Has a Bodyguard." It showed a Steelers player wearing No. 40 who made a couple of key blocks to clear the way for Pickett. Do you know who this player was and if he is on the final 53-man roster?
ANSWER: That video was taken during the Steelers preseason opener, vs. the Seattle Seahawks on Aug. 13 at Acrisure Stadium. That player wearing No. 40 was Mataeo Durant, an undrafted free agent running back from Duke. During training camp at Saint Vincent College, it wasn't too long before Jaylen Warren, an undrafted free agent running back from Oklahoma State, began moving up the depth chart. Durant was waived by the Steelers on Aug. 23 and currently remains a free agent. Warren is on the team's 53-man roster and is listed on the regular season opening depth chart as the No. 2 running back behind Najee Harris.
BARB SCHLESSINGER FROM MESA, AZ: I was checking out the depth chart that was released on Sept. 5 and neither placekicker Chris Boswell nor punter Pressley Harvin III nor long-snapper Christian Kuntz have backups listed. In the event of an injury to either Boswell or Harvin (or heaven forbid to both of them) who would kick or punt in their place?
ANSWER: Coach Mike Tomlin has been asked a few times about the identity of a game day emergency specialist, and his answer has been that there is a plan in place but he has declined to reveal that plan because he doesn't want the individuals who would be called upon in the case of an emergency to have to answer questions about it before actually having to perform in an actual game situation.
EDWARD UMLAUF FROM WELLINGTON, OH: Do you know the status of Chris Oladokun? I understand he was waived, but I thought he would at least be signed to the practice squad, which hasn't happened. Is he currently out of football or was he claimed by another team?
ANSWER: Chris Oladokun was waived by the Steelers, and he went unclaimed during the 24-waiver period. That allowed Oladokun to choose which team's practice squad he wanted to join, and he selected Kansas City's. Oladokun is on the Chiefs practice squad.
JASON PRASTER FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX: When was the last time the Steelers dressed three quarterbacks on the game day roster each week? The Bill Cowher days?
ANSWER: During the inactive list era, the only time the Steelers dressed three "quarterbacks" on a regular basis was when Kordell Stewart was at the height of his "Slash" powers. To put numbers to those years, they would be 1995 when the Steelers had Neil O'Donnell and Mike Tomczak as game day quarterbacks, Stewart listed as a QB/WR, and Jim Miller inactive. In 1996, all three quarterbacks on the roster – Tomczak, Miller, and Stewart – were in uniform on game days but Stewart played the Slash position.
KENNETH FLYNN FROM SHIRLEY, MA: Do you think George Pickens will start over Chase Claypool?
ANSWER: Because of the way NFL offenses routinely pass the football a lot during games from all locations on the field, and the multiple personnel groupings that come in and out of the game on a down-to-down basis, being a "starting" wide receiver doesn't carry the significance it once did. There will be packages where the Steelers deploy only two wide receivers where George Pickens is on the field and Chase Claypool is not, just as there will be two wide receivers on the field when Claypool is on the field and Pickens is not. But there will be many occasions when they're both on the field at the same time. It's not who starts, but which one ends up with more targets, and I believe that will come down to which one makes more plays to earn the confidence of the starting quarterback.
MICHAEL JOHNSON FROM HOUSTON, TX: In your opinion, what would have to happen to make a switch at starting quarterback, not including an injury?
ANSWER: The Steelers would have to be losing, and the determination would have to be made that the quarterback was uniquely responsible for the losing. Not solely responsible, but uniquely responsible.
ROBERT McSORLEY FROM BIG TIMBER, MT: Why do the offensive lineman not rotate out during games? It seems like every other position (besides quarterback) allows players to substitute in/out but offensive linemen stay on the field for the entire game.
ANSWER: That's because an effective offensive line is one where the five individuals operate in a coordinated and cohesive manner, and constantly changing personnel within the unit and expecting it to function as a unit is unrealistic.
DON EXUM FROM NEW LENOX , IL: I grew up with a physical education teacher by the name of Fran Rogel, who played for the Steelers. Any insight into his career and stats while a Steelers player?
ANSWER: An eighth-round draft pick in 1950, Fran Rogel was a 5-foot-11, 203-pound fullback, and he was one of the very toughest players on every field on which he played. In fact, after the Steelers acquired quarterback Bobby Layne from Detroit, the future Hall of Famer told his new teammates that Rogel was the toughest player he ever saw. In 96 games over eight seasons, Rogel carried 900 times for 3,271 yards (3.6 average) and 17 touchdowns to go along with 150 catches for another 1,087 yards (7.2 average) and two more touchdowns.
In addition to being tough and reliable as a player, Rogel also found himself at the center of a "controversy" during the 1956 season. Because Coach Walt Kiesling always, always, always called for a handoff to Rogel for the Steelers' first play of the game, the fans had begun to chant derisively, "Hey diddle diddle, Rogel up the middle." When reporters in the press box began teasing owner Art Rooney Sr. about the predictability of his coach's game-opening play. Rooney endured that for a while before he "suggested" or "ordered" Kiesling to begin the Steelers upcoming game at Forbes Field with a pass. Quarterback Jack Scarbath threw a touchdown pass to Goose McClairen on the first play. But the touchdown was nullified by an offside penalty against the Steelers. One of the reporters sitting near Rooney in the press box said, "You know, (Kiesling) had that guy jump offsides on purpose. He showed you." After the penalty was assessed, the Steelers next play was … Rogel taking the handoff and running up the middle.