Ed Bouchette: Good afternoon. Let's begin.
Dude_From_Cali: Ed: currently it's 16 game season, what's the next amount of games propo$$ed? 18 or 20?
Ed Bouchette: Roger Goodell has proposed 18. The union has resisted and they would have to give approval. At one point, it seemed a fait accompli. Now it is more like simply a faint idea that has regressed to the background, replaced by the drive to add teams to the playoffs. The union is raising issues with that, too, but there is some question whether the players can stop it.
I have an idea. Why don't they just have an open tournament at the end of the season, like basically the NHL has?
Go Steelers!: Do you think we will see two extra teams in the playoffs this year?
Ed Bouchette: I don't think it will happen this year. It will happen eventually, though.
John: Is it ridiculous to suggest that LB could become a strength on the Steelers in a year or 2. They currently have 3 1st round picks and a 2nd round pick invested into that group
Ed Bouchette: They have two first-round picksat ILB in Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons, so, yes, it could be a strength, as it was when they had James Farrior and Larry Foote in their primes. As long as Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds live up to their billing and Worilds sticks around, it could become another good era for Steelers LBs.
Anferny: Can you tell us your thoughts on the Redskins naming issue?
Ed Bouchette: I understand building brand names and the value that goes with that for an old franchise like that. On the other hand, that nickname has always troubled me. If someone in a modern film or TV show called Native Americans "redskins" they would be cited for being racist.
I believe Daniel Snyder is a smart businessman and he could turn this thing into a profitable business proposition by changing the name, as long as he picks a smart one.
Fury 1: Ed, Do you think the Steelers will look for a Free Agent CB after June 1st? If so who would they look at? How about Drayton Florence if available.
Ed Bouchette: No, I think they'll go with what they have. They also signed a veteran free agent cornerback who was cut, Brice McDain.
Anferny: Okay, what are your ideas as to some 'smart' names?
Ed Bouchette: Hey, I charge for that kind of stuff. Have Mr. Snyder get in touch with me.
WhiteDeebo: With Archer being designated as a WR, how does that affect LeBackfield and the competition at WR?
Ed Bouchette: He is not designated as a wide receiver. He is a slash -- RB/WR/KR/PR
T-Dogg: Is there any bad blood remaining between Hines and the organization? I just don't feel like he left on the best of terms
Ed Bouchette: I think there is no bad blood and, in fact, the Steelers hosted his retirement announcement at their facility.
Andy: Ed, if they were to move Jarvis to inside linebacker (where he is a more natural fit), would we see Shazier at OLB?
Ed Bouchette: So, you draft a first-round OLB and want to move him inside and a guy you want to play ILB but move him outside? Maybe they should not stop there. They could move Le'Veon Bell to H-back and have Markus Wheaton play RB. I have more ideas like that, but let's get to some more questions.
Guest: Ed why is there someone on a chat every week who suggests that they move Jarvis to ILB? That's absolutely ridiculous
Ed Bouchette: You won't have to worry about those anymore.
TFY in DC: Ed: With you, Ray and Gerry all doing individual chats, and with very little news to report and with highly repetitive questions from fans, isn't the chatting being done to excess? Why not scale back the chats to when they're really something to talk about rather than endless unanswerable questions over whether Sean Spence can play or if rookies will make the team?
Ed Bouchette: I'm with you, but these chats remain popular and if you think we are beating a dead horse, well then, WHOMP, WHOMP, WHOMP.
Rich Erenbergh: Well if they remove the Redskins name, don't they have to do the same to the Vikings?
Ed Bouchette: Maybe Steelers too.
Rich Erenbergh: Glad I made it this time! Ed, Will they keep 4 TE's this season? Cheers Steeler nation from mexico City. Dang I could not think of a smarter question.
Ed Bouchette: That's OK, it already puts you in the top 10 percent. I always thought 4 was overdoing it, but I can see 4 again, especially for an offense which sometimes lines up 3 at once.
TNTMW: Ed, would the Steelers ever consider resigning Santonio Holmes, or that ship has already for good?
Ed Bouchette: I see what that other fellow meant about repetitive questions in our chats. Yes, Sean Spence will get a chance to show he can play. The 3,000 additional seats at Heinz Field will be installed for the 2015 season. And, Jarvis Jones is staying on the outside.
rob: Do you think that Keisel will announce his retirement this year if nobody signs him (and it appears as if nobody will)
Ed Bouchette: I believe there is a good chance of that, yes. I'm not saying he won't play somewhere, though. Injuries can bring back the dead.
Guest: Ed,do you anticipate any more free agent signings post June 1st or will they only add another free agent in an emergency situation
Ed Bouchette: I thought Fernando Velasco might have been one but it no longer looks that way. They will keep their eyes open for someone they believe might help them but it's hard to predict who that might be right now.
Dude_From_Cali: Ed: do you often get recognized by fans in the supermarket, do they accost you much or they quiet?
Ed Bouchette: I have someone shop for me to avoid such confrontations.
Steel Forever: The Famous Mr. Ed, who are your projected starting LBs for the first game for the Steelers?
Ed Bouchette: I had all of that in my slog blog this morning. That one is easy. The 3 from last year -- Jarvis Jones, Jason Worilds and Lawrence Timmons -- plus Ryan Shazier.
Bahama John: So Vegas has Steelers win total for this coming season at 8.5 wins....you taking the over or under on this one?
Ed Bouchette: Does 8 with a tie count as even-money?
TNTMW: Hi Ed, given the amount of players on the offensive line, is this some of the best depth the Steelers have had? Thank you.
Ed Bouchette: No, I thought they had good depth there in 1978.
Ed Bouchette: Sorry, I could not help myself. They've had decent depth at times, but that depth was tested because of all the injuries. I'm not so sure they have great depth, but their starters are more settled this year.
Go Steelers!: Ed, do you see the Steelers having a much better pass rush this year?
Ed Bouchette: If it gets any worse, they're in big trouble. We still do not know enough about Jarvis Jones, who had 1 sack last year, or even about Jason Worilds, who opened last season on the bench. I'm not sure replacing Brett Keisel is going to give them a better pass rush either. They need these young players to come on quickly for them to improve their pass rush, and not just the rookies.
Miller: With kickoff returns occurring less and less each year, was taking Dri Archer in the third round a little too soon? Or do you see that aspect of his ability to be less of the reason they drafted him than his running/receiving ability?
Ed Bouchette: I do not think they drafted Archer in the third round to return kickoffs. They like other things he can do on offense, and also hope he can return punts.
Steeler_Bubba: Ed, With the difficulty Jarvis Jones had staying in the starting lineup as a rookie based on adjusting to the strength demands of the NFL, is there any reason to think that Shazier and Tuitt would fair better in their rookie seasons?
Ed Bouchette: They may not fair better, but they have a clearer path to playing.
Dude_From_Cali: Ed: regarding Jarvis Jones' off season lifting program, voluntary or supervised by coaches with expressed goals?
Ed Bouchette: He did not train in Pittsburgh and NFL rules prevented any players from being supervised until April.
Joe Deeeeeeeeee: Unsure where to start, the speculation or degradation.....Will we be more than 8-8 next year with this new crop or are we three years away????
Ed Bouchette: You mean, three years away from 8-8? The Steelers of the past two years could have been 10-6 or 6-10. Instead, they were 8-8. I'd predict the same range for them in 2014, but then I predicted 11-5 for them last season.
Tship: Ed, Althought it's football in shorts anything stand out about any of the rookies over the weekend?
Ed Bouchette: I did not see anything in the 2 of 5 practices we were permitted to watch. Ryan Shazier is fast, though. And Daniel McCullers is real big. And I think Jordan Zumwalt is more athletic than some of the pre-draft analyses I read on him.
Dude_From_Cali: are UDFA based on bidding system?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, the team's make the offers and the players/agents pick the ones they want.
Kaelan: Will Dri Archer take over punt return so the steelers can keep Antonio Brown from being injured I think Antonio should still do it.
Ed Bouchette: That is the plan, provided Archer can handle it.
chicago_steelers_fan: what do you think fans should expect from wheaton this year? seems like he needs to step up for the offense to click like it did in the last half of the year
Ed Bouchette: A lot of people need to take that step. Right now, I'm projecting Wheaton to start at split end with Antonio Brown on the other side and Lance Moore in the slot.
Rich Erenbergh: one more question Ed, do you really still see "tape" what happened to your film project?
Ed Bouchette: I know not what you speak of, but that question reminds me that we've been here long enough. Thank you for your questions and your time. We'll see you on the first day of spring practice, next Tuesday.