Let's get to it:
TIM DAVIS FROM MORGANTOWN, WV: Who calls the defense if guy wearing the green dot on his helmet goes out for a play?
ANSWER: The rule allows for one player per team to be wearing the green dot, which signifies which player has the radio receiver in his helmet that allows him to receive communication from his sideline. If the player with the radio receiver is not or cannot be on the field, it's fair and allowed for a different player to wear a helmet with the radio receiver in it. If it's only one play, and it's known that it only will be for one play, the call could be communicated from the sideline either directly or via hand signals, but teams and their equipment staffs are prepared to make a quick switch to keep the lines of communication open.
DAVID BEGGS FROM MASON, OH: With the Ravens returning rested from their bye this week, and with the way the second half ended up against the Titans, what do you think coaches and players will need to adjust for a victory in Baltimore?
ANSWER: Don't be a minus-3 in turnover ratio.
CHRIS TROMBETTA FROM PLUM, PA: How could the Steelers totally abandon a game plan in the second half that dominated the Titans in the first half? To go away from a run game that consumed so much time off the clock? I must be a dumber fan than I thought.
ANSWER: I wouldn't say you're a "dumb" fan, but you might want to check your arithmetic. In the first half against the Titans, the Steelers ran 39 offensive plays, and 14 of those were runs (35.9 percent). In the second half, the Steelers ran 35 offensive plays, and 11 of those were runs (31.4 percent). First of all, that's not a significant difference, certainly not enough to justify the charge of "totally abandoning" the run, and you also have to take into account that the offense converted 8-of-9 on third downs in the first half but only 5-of-9 in the second half, and that disparity cut down on the number of offensive plays they would have run in the second half, and with the lead it's a reasonable assumption that a number of those would have been running plays. And finally, in the first half, the Steelers 14 running plays gained 68 yards (4.9 average), while their 11 runs in the second half gained 26 yards (2.4 average). If you expect a team to keep running the football, it has to be effective when it runs the football. In the second half, the Steelers weren't effective, and so they tried to make first downs and possess the ball a different way.
LARRY JONES FROM BELPRE, OH: How does a one-year contract signed midseason work? Reportedly, Antonio Brown signed a one-year contract. I assume it doesn't expire next year at midseason?
ANSWER: Your assumption is correct. NFL contracts are based on the league calendar, not the Gregorian calendar. Here's an example of how an NFL contract signed midseason would work: Let's pretend Antonio Brown signed a one-year contract worth $1.7 million, which means he would receive 17 game checks worth $100,000 each over the course of a full NFL season (16 games plus the bye week). But if that contract is signed with a team that already has played eight games, or had played seven games and had its bye, then those eight checks would be deducted from the $1.7 million. That would leave him with nine checks at $100,000 apiece, or $900,000.
PAT HUTCHISON FROM VERO BEACH, FL: In all your time watching the Steelers, in your opinion, have they ever had four wide receivers of this quality?
ANSWER: You must be young, because I remember an era when the Steelers regularly started two Hall of Fame wide receivers at the same time. Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Add two other capable NFL players to two Hall of Famers, say Jim Smith and Theo Bell, and those are four of higher quality. I mean no disrespect to JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, and Chase Claypool, but Swann and Stallworth are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It's important to respect the rich history of a franchise as storied as the Pittsburgh Steelers.
CHUCK LONGAZEL FROM BOYNTON BEACH, FL: I always believed that Randy Grossman was one of the most underrated Steelers of their glorious 1970s team of the decade. Do you agree?
ANSWER: To start chronologically, Randy Grossman was the "other" undrafted rookie from the Class of 1974 to make the roster, with Hall of Fame safety Donnie Shell grabbing most of the attention there. That alone qualifies Grossman as underrated, but the other adjective I would use to describe him as a player is "dependable." In a different era, Grossman's skill-set might have been more valued, but in the 1970s, tight ends were supposed to be big and physical and their primary function was to serve as blockers. Grossman was smaller – he would be considered an H-back in today's NFL – and he caught anything and everything thrown near him. But again, two-tight-end sets weren't utilized that often, and when they were it wasn't because the ball was designed to be thrown to the second tight end. Still, Grossman played in 118 games over eight seasons – he missed only two – and finished with 119 catches for 1,514 yards and five touchdowns. In 15 playoff games, he caught another 15 passes, including one for a touchdown in Super Bowl X. After retiring from the NFL, Grossman became a certified financial planner.
RICHARD SNYDER FROM HOBOKEN, NJ: Listening to the Steelers-Titans broadcast on SNR last Sunday, Bill Hillgrove said Robert Spillane is wearing the same No. 41 as his grandfather did when he played for the Steelers back in the day. Can you please elaborate on this story?
ANSWER: Robert Spillane is the grandson of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lattner, who was the team's first-round pick of the 1954 NFL Draft. Lattner played college football at Notre Dame for Coach Frank Leahy, and he was a two-time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented annually "to the college football player judged by a panel of sportscasters, sportswriters, and NCAA head coaches and the membership of the Maxwell Football Club to be the best all-around in the United States," as well as the Heisman Trophy. In 1953, Lattner also appeared on the cover of Time Magazine.
The seventh overall pick in 1954, Lattner played only one season for the Steelers before being drafted to serve in the United States Air Force. During his stint in the military, Lattner injured a knee during a football game that ended his NFL career. During his one season with the Steelers, Lattner rushed for 237 yards and scored five touchdowns, caught 25 passes for 305 yards and two more touchdowns, returned 17 punts for 73 yards, and returned 16 kickoffs for 413 yards (25.8 average). Lattner was voted to the 1954 Pro Bowl.
Lattner attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois, and several of his 25 grandchildren attended the same school and played football while there. Robert Spillane would be considered the most famous football-playing descendent of Lattner based on his start at linebacker for the Steelers last weekend against the Titans.
JASON PURDUE FROM BERLIN CENTER, OH: When a veteran player is released during the season and signs with a new team, is the new team required to honor the player's prior contract terms, or is the contract terminated upon release?
ANSWER: When a player is cut, his contract is terminated and then he and his new team have to negotiate a new contract. If a player is waived and claimed on waivers, the team claiming him has to honor his existing contract.
TIM MAHAN FROM COLORADO SPRINGS, CO: Who is ultimately responsible for the spot of the football when it is punted out of bounds, and what angles are they viewing from?
ANSWER: The referee is standing behind the punter, and after he watches for running into/roughing the punter, he has a good angle to see where a punt goes out of bounds on the fly. One of the officials on the side of the field where the ball went out of bounds will come up the sideline with his arm raised. When he gets to the spot where the ball went out of bounds, the referee will make a chopping motion with his arm, and that's where the ball is spotted for the offense to begin its possession.