Asked and Answered
Let’s get to it:
KLINT SIMMEL FROM HOLT, MI: From what I saw on Sunday night against the Raiders, Keeanu Benton handled himself pretty well. Wondering if you have any insight into why he is not playing more?
ANSWER: Why? It’s because he is a rookie, and there is a transition going from college football to the NFL. Even though Keeanu Benton played at the University of Wisconsin, and we are told all the time that there are a lot of similarities between what the Badgers do on defense and what the Steelers want to do on defense, there still is a transition period in making the move from college football to the NFL. Benton will prove to be a good player but be patient.
STEPHEN SCHRADER FROM PORTLAND, OR: When do you think the Jets will contact the Steelers about Mason Rudolph? What are they waiting for?
ANSWER: If it’s you who’s waiting for the Jets to contact the Steelers about acquiring Mason Rudolph in a trade, I believe you’re going to have a long wait and end up being disappointed. My personal belief is that adding a quarterback to a roster once the regular season has begun is foolish and would end up being very nearly worthless, provided the team acquiring the new player has any hope for him to contribute soon and not simply be an add-on to the practice squad. The Steelers have been working cornerback Desmond King into the defense slowly to give him time to learn the terminology in Pittsburgh as well as become up-to-date on all of the on-field checks and audibles that get called after the offensive team breaks the huddle because he wasn’t added to the roster until late August. Imagine having to get a quarterback ready to play in a new system with new teammates on the fly after the regular season already started. It’s not realistic, and besides, Jets Coach Robert Saleh recently said this about starting quarterback Zach Wilson, “He’s our unquestioned quarterback. As long as he continues to show his preparation, the way he’s been practicing, and even in these games, he’s not the reason why we lost [Sunday]. It’s always a team effort. As long as he continues to show improvement, I know from a box score standpoint, it’s not showing, he’s going to be our quarterback.”
MATT WIBORG FROM WADSWORTH, OH: The Steelers have had two late night games in a row. Do the later games really change the routine of the players? I would think that most of them are creatures of habit and the 1 p.m. games are more routine. Do they have to change up their diet and sleep habits considerably?
ANSWER: Strangely enough, modern-day NFL players have grown up with 1 p.m. games on Sunday almost becoming a rarity, but there is no doubt that primetime games, and back-to-back primetime games at that, require an adjustment. Oftentimes you will hear players referring to “taking care of their bodies,” or the importance of learning to “take care of their bodies,” and the process of adjusting to the various kickoff times over the course of the season and getting ready for the next game is exactly what they mean. Massages, cold tubs, maybe acupuncture, etc., often become a part of players’ weekly routine over the course of an NFL season.
PAUL McELHANEY FROM GRAYTOWN, OH: Pressley Harvin III was booming his punts against the Raiders. For the most part, great hang time and distance. Is this what the Steelers saw in him when they picked him?
ANSWER: I’m sure that it was, because it’s not very often that the Steelers historically have used any draft pick on a punter. In fact, since Chuck Noll was hired in 1969, the Steelers have drafted a punter only 5 times – Craig Colquitt was a No. 3 pick in 1978; John Goodson was a No. 8 pick in 1982; Harry Newsome was a No. 8 pick in 1985; Daniel Sepulveda was a No. 4 pick in 2007; and Pressley Harvin III was a No. 7 pick in 2021.
KEN WALDROP FROM ONTONAGON, MI: Calvin Austin III scored on a pass reception from 70-plus yards out, but can you confirm that when the Steelers had the drive that ended with a Pat Freiermuth touchdown pass, was that their only drive into the red zone?
MEMET SRATT FROM NEW YORK, NY: How is it determined when a time out is a 30-second timeout? I think that if the network doesn’t have any commercials to air, it can be a 30-second timeout. If that is true, how does the network communicate that to the officials so quickly?
ANSWER: On the sideline of every NFL game, there are a couple of guys who actually control the pace of the game, and one of them is wearing a green cap. They are wearing headsets that put them in communication with an NFL representative as well as the individual in charge of the broadcast for the network televising the game. The on-field referee knows that in any situations where there is to be a stoppage of play, he looks towards the guy with the green hat who then signals how long or what kind of stoppage it’s to be.
KEN MAULDIN FROM CLYDE, TX: The swim move for a sack by Keeanu Benton was the best play of the win over the Raiders in my opinion, but I would love to see Montravius Adams get some credit. This guy has improved so much. I think he has come of age and is going to play for someone for years to come. Do you see Montravius Adams as a legitimate starting nose tackle?
ANSWER: Let’s start with this: Montravius Adams deserves credit for making the Steelers 53-man roster at a position of strength coming out of the training camp/preseason process. If anything holds him back in terms of living up to the prediction you made for him is the fact not a lot of teams use a “nose tackle” all that much anymore. So that means Adams is going to have to develop his game to be able to contribute in other areas from the interior of the defensive line.
PAUL BUREK FROM GAINESVILLE GA: Who is Coach Tomlin conversing with on his headset? Can he speak with anyone in the booth or on his sideline?
ANSWER: As the head coach, Mike Tomlin is able to communicate with anyone who also is wearing a headset, either on the sideline or up in the coaches’ booth.
JOE ASHER FROM TAMPA, FL: The Steelers play their second road game in a row this Sunday. You’ve explained before that the team must be in the host city the day before, and also that the little blue bags players are seen carrying onto the plane contain. Once in the city and at the hotel, what is the food plan? Are the players on a per diem? Can they order room service or are all the meals communal?
ANSWER: For the purposes of this answer, let’s assume the road trip is one with a 1 p.m. kickoff on Sunday. In that case, there is food available for the players before they board the plane. Once checked into the hotel, there will be another extensive buffet spread in a ballroom that will be available usually around 7-8 p.m. following meetings. Then the next day there will be an extensive buffet spread in the same ballroom, and that feeding is referred to as the pregame meal, and that’s usually served starting about 4 hours before kickoff. Players in the traveling party also receive a per diem as outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and anyone who chooses to order room service can do so, charge it to his room, and then pay for that upon checkout.
KHARI CLEMMONS FROM MCALPIN, FL: I’d like to understand the play-calling process for the Steelers offense. The offensive coordinator is calling the plays. When he calls the play, is Coach Mike Tomlin aware of the play that’s called (via headset) before the play is executed? Or does he just give whatever his input is prior to, and wait to see whatever call the offensive coordinator makes?
ANSWER: You do understand there is a play clock involved in this, and it would take almost as long to read your question as an NFL team has to get the play called, then get that call to the quarterback on the field, who then communicates it to the players in the huddle; then the offense breaks the huddle and lines up, and the quarterback may look over the defense briefly, before having to start a process that could involve shifts and players in motion before he takes the snap. There is no time for the head coach to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on every single play-call. If there is some general direction the head coach might want the possession to go, that could be communicated during the timeout that usually precedes every possession. I’m not saying the head coach might never exercise a veto, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.
BETH MAPPES FROM EATONTON, GA: On tonight’s game (Pittsburgh/Las Vegas) when team members where announcing what college they attended, George Pickens said Hoover High School and not University of Georgia. What gives?
ANSWER: A Georgia alumna, are you? It’s an assumption by you that the players are to announce the college they attended, but that’s not a restriction placed on the players by the network. For a long time, players have chosen to use that brief time in the spotlight to give a shoutout to their hometown, which for Pickens is Hoover, Alabama. During his career, Jack Lambert made light of the whole procedure when he used that time to introduce himself and “claim” to be from Buzzard’s Breath, Wyoming. In reality, Lambert is from Mantua, Ohio, and played his college football at Kent State.
MATT MONTS FROM BELGRADE, MT: In the Sept. 24 Asked and Answered, I read a small segment about players visiting patients in UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. My daughter, wife, and I will be heading to Denver on Sept. 27 because my daughter has a rare condition that we are hoping to get some answers to. She is a fighter and loves her “football guys”, a.k.a., the Steelers. We will definitely have a Terrible Towel and be rooting for our team along our journey. All I will ask is that our brothers and sisters in Steelers Nation send her a prayer.
ANSWER: I included your submission as a way to try to make that happen. Good luck, and God bless.
MATHEW McKENNA from Brook Park, OH: Do NFL officials suffer any kind of penalty when they make horrible calls?
ANSWER: My suggestion would be a sentence of wading through Asked and Answered submissions after a Steelers loss.
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