ARLEY EARLS FROM LINDALE, TX: I heard that Jack Ham never played football in high school. Is it true?
ANSWER: This is not true. In the 1966 Bishop McCort yearbook, there is a photo of Jack Ham in his uniform. In the photo, he wears the No.66 jersey. After high school, Ham attended the preparatory school at Massanutten in Woodstock, Va., Where he played football but didn’t play much or very well either. Ham left Massanutten without any scholarship offer, but he had a teammate named Steve Smear, a defensive lineman who had secured a football scholarship at Penn State. When one of the Penn State rookies gave up his appointment and signed with Iowa, there was a vacancy, and Smear pressured the coaches to give Ham that scholarship. Penn State coaching staff ended up contacting Ham with an offer in late spring before his freshman year at college.
DON MARSHALL FROM CINCINNATI, OH: How did Slippery Rock quarterback Roland Rivers III fare in Rookie Minicamp, and offered himself a contract?
ANSWER: I have no details to offer regarding quarterback Roland Rivers III’s individual performance during Rookie Minicamp, but I can tell you that the Steelers have not offered any contracts to any of the five players, including Rivers, who participated this weekend in a test base.
TOM RYAN FROM SAN DIEGO, CA: I know the Steelers are facing the salary cap, but I would love to see them bring in a veteran like Adrian Peterson. It wouldn’t cost that much at this point and still has gasoline in the tank. You need to have another professional running to lighten the load and still have a productive attack.
ANSWER: I disagree with your assessment that Adrian Peterson is someone with “a little gasoline in the tank” and that “it wouldn’t cost that much”, because if both of those things were true, I think he would have signed with a team by now. Additionally, I think teams should be light-hearted when signing a proven veteran who has previously been the star of the series in an effort to accept a supporting role behind a young and often unproven player. The Steelers were lucky in that regard when they signed DeAngelo Williams, then 32, in 2015 to serve as Le’Veon Bell’s replacement. Coach Mike Tomlin and Randy Fichtner both knew Williams personally, and they decided he would come into the squad and be happy with his supporting role, and Williams turned out to be a great addition. But the year before, the Steelers had tried something similar with LeGarrette Blount, who was 28 when the Steelers signed him in 2014. Perhaps Blount didn’t believe Bell, a second-year pro at the time. he had signed with the Steelers, would be as good as he ended up being, and when Blount’s playing time didn’t live up to his expectations, he became a discontent who left the team in a Monday night win over the Titans in Tennessee. My opinion is that before the Steelers choose to add a proven veteran to the roster, they’ll see what they have in Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland and even Kalen Ballage, who entered the NFL in the fourth round pick. Miami Dolphins in 2018 after measuring 6-foot-2, 228 pounds and using a 4.46 at that year’s NFL Combine.
KEN WALDROP FROM ONTONAGON, MI: It’s hard to ask that question without being a little critical. David DeCastro seemed to be a bit behind on his timing last season, especially when it comes to the draw (which before that I thought he was one of the best in the league to do). Was this attributed to injury or perhaps the chemistry of the line as a whole?
ANSWER: David DeCastro missed part of training camp and then three games during the regular season with knee and abdominal injuries.
DAVID MARCOU DE DANVERS, MA: I was going through the current Steelers roster, and trying to figure out who are the best candidates for the first outside linebacker off the bench? Other than the rookies, do you know which guys were competing for that job at training camp?
ANSWER: Rookies aside, I would keep an eye out for Cassius Marsh, who has 14 sacks in 92 career NFL games. Marsh will be 29 on July 7.
JC CHUTA FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: In response to a question in a previous episode of Q&A regarding a drafted player who does not sign a rookie contract: “If a drafted player does not sign a contact, he should return to the following year’s draftâ¦ âWould the NFL team that was unable to sign him be compensated for losing a draft pick?
ANSWER: No. There would be no compensation to a team that did not sign one of its drafted players who would then enter next year’s draft.
CHRIS SAQQAL FROM ALLENTOWN, PA: How do you feel about the change in the jersey number policy? I know most Steelers players haven’t changed their jersey numbers, but personally, I’m not looking forward to seeing wide receivers and cornerbacks wearing single-digit numbers on the pitch.
ANSWER: I’m sure there are things I care less about, but none immediately come to mind.
LARRY LANDSPERGER OF DOUGLASVILLE, GA: Although there were plenty of quarterbacks in the draft, I was surprised Cole Kelley of the University of Southeast Louisiana didn’t see. Big like Ben Roethlisberger. Good numbers. Can we assume the Steelers just weren’t interested in new quarterbacks to work with for the 2021 season?
ANSWER: Cole Kelley, the southeastern Louisiana quarterback, will be draft-eligible in 2022.
ED SWARTZ FROM NORWICH, OH: Two years ago the Steelers drafted Justin Layne in the third round and I thought he was a great choice. Some project analysts made him leave earlier than that. He will be entering his third year in the NFL, is he progressing as the team hoped and what do you think the team expects for him?
ANSWER: In my opinion, Justin Layne needs to take a big step forward this summer, especially in training camp and during the preseason. By the end of 2020, he had been passed on the depth card by undrafted rookie James Pierre. Layne may end up being lucky that the Steelers’ depth at the cornerback isn’t great, as it could help him maintain a spot on the 53-man roster, but coach Mike Tomlin’s patience is not no longer unlimited.
DENNIS SLEEGER FROM YORK, PA: How long can a rookie contract last? What’s the most a first-round pick can get? And are the last years of the contract an option year?
ANSWER: All drafted rookies sign four-year contracts, and a team never would, but they could give one person their entire rookie pool below the salary cap. Only first-round draft picks have an option on their contracts for a fifth year.
SCOTT COLLINS DE GAMBRILLS, MD: Can you see James Harrison making a comeback as a long snapper?
ANSWER: I think there is a better chance that James Harrison will return as the Media Relations Liaison.
JOE KALDON OF ALIQUIPPA, PA: Are NFL head coaches allowed to wear a suit and tie on the sidelines, or do they have to wear corporate sponsor gear? Will we ever see people like Tom Landry with a suit, tie and fedora again?
ANSWER: The NFL “encourages” coaches to wear the secondary equipment that is part of the league sponsorship with Nike, and I firmly believe that there is more point in maintaining this healthy relationship than there is. has it in the sartorial splendor of a fedora. Besides, how many NFL coaches even know how to tie a tie today?
BOBBY KNIGHT FROM RESTON, VA: With the retirement of Maurkice Pouncey and the immobility of Ben Roethlisberger, has the team ever considered the possibility of moving David DeCastro to center and starting Kendrick Green at guard?
ANSWER: I certainly hope that this possibility was never considered. How does moving an All-Pro guard who is entering his 10th season in the NFL to a position he hasn’t played since high school, and he graduated from high school in 2008, help anything?
RON HOBBS FROM ORLANDO, FL: Finally, a smart and informative article from you. The one on running back Najee Harris and the outside zone blocking patterns. My question is when are you going to write more informative articles?
ANSWER: After a long introspection, I decided to devote my professional life to living up to your expectations. Say hello to your cousin Roy.