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Asked and Answered: May 23
May 23, 2017 10:00 AM | Bob Labriola
Let's get to it:

FRANK MCINTYRE FROM ONTARIO, NY:
I was wondering why that while all the rookies were issued jersey numbers, T.J. Watts is the only player whose number is set, but all of the others are subject to change? If the number is changed, is it the team's decision or the player's decision?

ANSWER: As is the case with way too many things pertaining to the NFL these days, the situation you describe has to do with marketing. Nike, the official apparel provider for the NFL, manufactures only a limited number of jerseys per team, and one of the jerseys Nike will make for every team is that of the No. 1 draft pick. Because of a desire to get jerseys to market as quickly as possible, first-round draft picks are locked in to the jersey number they choose in the days immediately following the draft. All other rookies can change their jersey numbers right up until the initial 53-man rosters are set in early September. These switches are at the player's discretion, based on the availability of jersey numbers with their new team and the NFL rules governing which position players can wear which jersey numbers.

WILLIAM CALVIN FROM SAIGON, VIETNAM:
I notice that T.J. Watt has already earned his helmet numbers. What are the guidelines for when each new player earns his numbers?

ANSWER: I'm assuming you are referring to the photo gallery on Steelers.com that contained a series of shots of T.J. Watt in his full uniform. Because those were photos of Watt in his full uniform, his helmet in those photos had his No. 90 on both the front and the back of the helmet. But if you would check one of the photo galleries from rookie minicamp, you will find photos of Watt wearing a helmet in those with no number on the front of his helmet. The Steelers have a long-held tradition of not putting numbers on the front of the players' helmets until the final cut-down date just before the start of the regular season. My assumption is that tradition will continue, and so T.J. Watt and the rest will be wearing helmets with no numbers on the front through training camp and the preseason.

ROBB BAKER FROM INDIANAPOLIS, IN:
Two players (Ladarius Green and Greg Warren) were released based on a failed physical designation. Are there a set of standards that a player must meet or does a team make a subjective evaluation of a physical in regards to then deciding to release a player?

ANSWER: The complete answer is that it's a little bit of both. There is a standard physical examination given by every NFL team, but then the individual teams have the ability to set guidelines for what is considered passing and what is below the line.

DAN MONAHAN FROM ROCHESTER, NY:
Do practice squad players have a choice to remain with their current team if another team wants to sign them? Could Travis Feeney have said thanks, but no thanks when the Saints came calling?

ANSWER: Practice squad players are not required to leave their current team should another team present them with an offer, but it would be extremely foolish to do so. The difference in pay is in the neighborhood of $20,000 per week, and the way players earn credit toward free agency and a pension is by being on an active roster. Plus, with the provision that a player signed from another team's practice squad must be kept on an active roster for a minimum of three weeks, it really makes little sense to decline such an offer.

BRIAN BOXLER FROM HANOVER, PA:
Went to Steelers training camp for first time last year and loved it. Can you possibly help me with the days that training camp will be this year?

ANSWER: The Steelers complete day-to-day training camp schedule will be announced on Steelers.com on Wednesday, May 31.

ANDY ROY FROM MISSOULA, MT:
With the issue of extending Alejandro Villanueva to what I believe is a deserved contract, is there the possibility that the Steelers are waiting to see what Jerald Hawkins can do before giving Villanueva a big contract?

ANSWER: If I had to guess, mine would be that the issue has to do with each side's definition of "big." The Steelers obviously believe Alejandro Villanueva has earned something more than the veteran minimum tender that's defined by his status as an exclusive rights free agent, but then it comes down to how much is going to be enough to get him signed. Villanueva is a solid but not Pro Bowl caliber left tackle, and the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement mandate that the team has the upper hand in 2017 - when he's an exclusive rights free agent - and then again in 2018 when he would be a restricted free agent.

Another potential fly in the ointment is that Villanueva is part of an offensive line that also contains Maurkice Pouncey, a two-time first-team All-Pro who has been voted to five Pro Bowls, and David DeCastro, a one-time first-team All-Pro who has been voted to two Pro Bowls. Based on the Steelers' unofficial salary structure, Villanueva won't make as much as either of those guys make, and he also should expect less than what Marcus Gilbert earns because Villanueva still is under team control for two more seasons before being eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Kelvin Beachum's agent made the mistake of believing his client deserved to be paid like Pouncey and/or DeCastro, and if Villanueva's agent believes the same thing that also would be a mistake.

CHRISTOPHER FRANK FROM AVON LAKE, OH:
I was wondering how two players are wearing No. 45: Rosie Nix and Matt Galombos? Is this just because roster not trimmed yet?

ANSWER: With 90 players on the roster, and with two jerseys retired - No. 70 and No. 75 - and with a bunch of others removed from service, it's inevitable that duplicate numbers have to be issued at this time of the year. There will be no duplicate numbers during the regular season.

SCOTT FLYNN FROM HORSEHEADS, NY:
Joshua Dobbs looks like he could have a similar skill set to Kordell Stewart. Assuming he makes the roster as the No. 3 quarterback, could you see him being used as a "slash" player to add another dimension to the offense like Stewart did early in his career?

ANSWER: If you recall, that Steelers team was quarterbacked by Neil O'Donnell. This one is quarterbacked by Ben Roethlisberger. See where I'm going with this? If these Steelers have their full complement of weapons available - Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Sammie Coates - Roethlisberger is a much more significant threat to the opposing defense than a rookie deployed to run a gadget play.

WILLIAM DYKSTRA FROM ROCHESTER, NY:
I thought the Steelers would have Colin Holba learn from Greg Warren and gain experience this year before taking over. Does a failed physical require a team to cut the person?

ANSWER: There was never any chance the Steelers were going to keep two long-snappers. And a failed physical means the individual is not cleared medically for football activity. If a guy is prohibited from football activity, what would you have him do for a professional football team?

STEVE RANDALL FROM HAMILTON, ONTARIO, CANADA:
How many times can a team use the franchise tag on the same player?

ANSWER: A player can be tagged up to three times by his team, with a bump in pay each time.

THOMAS BRUNDAGE FROM TAYLORSVILLE, UT:
That is my father in the first picture of the photo gallery titled, "What's in a number? No. 83." His name is Dewey Brundage, and he played for the Steelers in 1954. I was wondering if you could find any stats on his season with Pittsburgh?

ANSWER: Jean Dewey Brundage played his college football at Brigham Young University, and he entered the NFL in 1954 as a 22nd-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions. He was listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, and he played defensive end. I'm not certain how he got to Pittsburgh from the Lions, but he played in 11 games for a Steelers team that finished 5-7 under Coach Walt Kiesling. Tackles were not a recorded statistic in those days, but Brundage was credited with three fumble recoveries. His NFL career ended after that 1954 season when he was inducted into the Army.

BEN TAGA FROM HONOLULU, HI:
Any chance Ryan Shazier will move to outside linebacker to take advantage of his speed and extend his career from less contact than he gets at inside linebacker?

ANSWER: The chances of Ryan Shazier being moved to outside linebacker are as good as the chances I stop getting these kinds of inane questions.

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