Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 8.18.14

Poll Question: After watching Ryan Shazier against the Bills what are your expectations for him this season?Answer #1: Pro Bowl (6%) Answer #2: NFL rookie of the year (39%) Answer #3: Steelers rookie of the year (44%) Answer #4: Solid starter (11%)

Guest:What are the chances Zumwalt makes the 53 or would he be prime for practice squad?

Ray Fittipaldo: Zumwalt has been injured an awful lot during camp. He missed a bunch of practice time early in camp, but was able to play in the first preseason game against the Giants. But then he aggravated his groin injury and missed the Bills game. It's hard to make a 53-man roster when you can't practice. And what makes it doubly difficult for Zumwalt is the depth at ILB. It's going to be tough for him unless he really shows something over the next two weeks.

Dude_From_Cali: Ray: is Xtra pt at 15 yd line [ 32 yarder] temp or permanent rule proposal?

Ray Fittipaldo: That's up to the owners. Usually, when they experiment like this if things go over well they'll pass it in the spring and make it a rule. I'm not a fan of place kickers having more say in the game. I'd rather see teams go for 2 more. But that's up to the owners. They'll discuss it after the season and then make a call on it.

Billy Bob: Who do you think will be the biggest surprise cut and the biggest surprise making the 53 man roster?

Ray Fittipaldo: Would Will Allen be a surprise? Shamarko Thomas is playing pretty well and I'm not sure you need Allen any longer. Plus, Robert Golden is solid in his role in the secondary and especially on special teams. As far as making the roster, I'm not sure yet. It seems like at least one undrafted free agent makes it every year. Howard Jones is making a lot of plays for the Steelers. The key will be his special teams play. He had another special teams tackle Saturday. I think Jones has a chance because he has a lot of upside. But to keep him you probably have to cut Chris Carter, a four year vet who has some experience. We'll see if they go down that road.

Tom: Ray, Any chance Landry Jones gets cut?

Ray Fittipaldo: There is a chance. When you look at what the roster situation and the likelihood of keeping two long snappers to start the season, that roster spot has to come from somewhere. If you cut Jones and he clears waivers you can place him on the practice squad. Then if you need him during the season you can elevate him to the 53-man roster. They've kept three QBs in recent years, but this special circumstance could make this year different.

Touchdown Joey: This team suddenly looks mighty deep (and young) at ILB, but a little questionable at OLB. Do you think it it might make sense to move Timmons outside at some point? Especially with Worilds possibly leaving next year?

Ray Fittipaldo: Timmons is entering his eighth season. He's in great shape, but how much longer will he play? Two more years? Three? You don't make that move now. He's their most experienced ILB. He calls the plays and this year he might have a bounce-back season.

Dude_From_Cali: Mike Adams often get pushed back. Could strength be trained in the wt room or genetics?

Ray Fittipaldo: There is natural strength and then there is weight room strength. Mike is a tall guy and sometimes it's hard for taller guys to lift a lot because their arms are longer. To answer your question, I don't think he's one of the strongest players on the team, but he doesn't have to be to be effective. Technique is a big thing for him. He's getting a little better in that regard.

JamesinNYC: What team would actually put Jones on their 53 man roster? There have to be better backups out there.

Ray Fittipaldo: Because he has upside and 3-4 teams might pluck him and try to hide him on their roster. I'm not saying it will happen, but he is someone who might be good down the road. I was planning to write something on this in the blog later this week, but Chris Carter played only about 100 snaps all last season and 98 of them came in the final two games. So, if I remember correctly, he played 2 snaps in the first 14 games. If you are lucky with injuries not everyone on your 53-man roster has to play a role in the offense or defense. They can just be a reserve and be a factor on special teams. And one more note, Chris Carter has never really been a great special teams player. He doesn't offer you much there.

Big City: Heath Miller hasn't looked good this summer. Any concern that he has lost a step, or do you just chalk it up to pre-season?

Ray Fittipaldo: He's in his early 30s and everyone slows down around that age. I've noticed he doesn't break a lot of tackles anymore when Ben hits him in the flat. He almost always is tackled for a 2- or 3-yard gain. But it's only the preseason. Maybe he can pick it up in the regular season and get back to the way he was pre-knee injury.

JamesinNYC: Sorry I meant Laundry Jones...arrggg my fault..I agree 100% on HoJo.

Ray Fittipaldo: There really isn't any reason to keep Landry Jones unless you are worried about an injury to Ben. If there is a longer-term injury to Ben, Jones is elevated to backup status and I guess you'd want someone in that role who knows the system. But other than that there really isn't a reason in my mind.

Dave: For a league that is at the top right now as far as popularity and money making ....why are they trying to change the game so much in terms of new rules and the way the game is officiated.the game is being ruined.

Ray Fittipaldo: I hope they're just working the bugs out as far as the defensive penalties go. I don't want to see all these ticky-tack calls during the regular season. That being said, it's an emphasis for the officials because the owners asked them to make it an emphasis. The officials just don;t decide these things on their own. There is a reason behind it.

Big City: I've read that Lance Moore and Justin Brown have lined up exclusively in the slot so far. Does that make M. Bryant the top back-up outside and if so, is he ready to step on the field if called on?

Ray Fittipaldo: Bryant is not ready to play in the regular offense right now. I'm writing something about that for tomorrow's paper. Ben and Antonio Brown both said he has to pick it up in practice to earn first-team reps. Apparently, he doesn't practice hard all the time.

Bugchug: Good afternoon Ray. Do you think everyone is over reacting to Shaziers game Saturday or is that what we can expect from him throughout the season? I hope it's the latter.

Ray Fittipaldo: It certainly was a good first impression. He can run and he showed he has some good instincts. I think the biggest thing for him is knowing where to go. If he picks it up from a mental standpoint the sky is the limit.

Tony B: Do you have any idea why the Steelers won't give Ben his new contract?

Ray Fittipaldo: They only have $5 million or so in cap space and they want to get Marcus Gilbert done because Gilbert can become a free agent after the season.

Q: In regards to run defense, does our DT position seem in good hands with McClendon and Cam Thomas?

Ray Fittipaldo: The run defense doesn't seem in good position at all. McLendon and Thomas have something to do with it but it takes all 11 guys to make it happen. The Bills ran pretty well against the first-team defense. That's not a good sign for the Steelers, who struggled stopping the run last year.

JamesinNYC: Does Mauro make the 53 man roster looks pretty good. Big and Little Mac, Heyward, Tuitt, Thomas and ???

Ray Fittipaldo: Mauro is playing well. He has a pretty good chance. Probably comes down to Mauro or Arnfelt.

INT Joey: Corner depth was a top concern coming into camp. Are they satisfied with the performance of guys like Antown Blake and John McCain?

Ray Fittipaldo: John McCain? I think you mean Brice McCain. I guess he's the fourth corner right now. He or Blake. It would not be an ideal situation if either had to play a lot of snaps.

Guest: Do you think Timmons can regain his 2012 form? If he can then him and Shazier will be quite the duo this year

Ray Fittipaldo: I agree. Timmons might not have the stats this year because he's playing buck LB this year so he'll be taking on more blockers at the LOS. Shazier is the guy they are freeing up to run and make the plays.

Dave: How is Archer doing on punt return training? It seems like with the new rules we may not get to see him return many kicks.

Ray Fittipaldo: He's OK at it in practice. I'd like to see him do it more in games.

Austin: Thoughts on Shaun Suisham contract? Should we of waited?

Ray Fittipaldo: It's the preseason, but missing two kicks of 40 yards or fewer is not a good sign.

INT Joey: Brad Wing has been underwhelming in the preseason. Does he still have the inside track to the punting gig, or will they look elsewhere before the season?

Ray Fittipaldo: They didn't like either of the two guys they had in camp last year and signed Zoltan Mesko after he was cut by the Patriots. They could do the same thing again this year. Wing was better against the Bills, though, so maybe he can convince them in the next two weeks to keep him.

Ray Fittipaldo: OK, thanks for all the great questions this week. I have to get ready to go out to practice. We'll do it again next week at the same time.

First Published August 18, 2014 12:00 AM

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