How did Kelvin Beachum do in his first start at left tackle
Very good (0%)
Brian: Aside from his TD, Emmanuel Sanders was largely absent again. Do you see him getting more involved if/when teams start focusing more on Antonio Brown?
Ray Fittipaldo: Once in a while it's OK to be largely absent when you catch the ONLY touchdown of a game the way Sanders did. Hey, at least he caught this one. He had a chance to make a big play in the opener against Tennessee and dropped it. The Steelers lost the game. If he drops that pass the game is very different. He hasn't had a great year, but he takes a back seat to Brown, who is clearly Ben's favorite target. But yes, to your main point it would be nice to get more production out of your No. 2 WR.
Ryan: Why are the Steelers not using Moye more often when down in the endzone. Great jump ball player. And why are the Steelers not playing Moye?
Ray Fittipaldo: That's been a mystery to me, too. I thought he made a nice play in the Cincinnati game and deserved to get a little longer look. I thought that look would come Sunday with Markus Wheaton out. I haven't seen s snap breakdown yet, but I would be surprised if Moye got 10 plays. Until the Steelers start to have more success in the red zone they're going to hear people second-guessing their decisions. It's not like Moye is some superstar that is going unused. He is a free agent who had a nice camp and is a fifth WR. But at the same time why not throw it up to him when nothing else seems to be working in the red zone. He is 6-5 and has a skill set the other WRs on the team do not.
Sam: Good Afternoon Ray, you've written a few times about concussions in the NFL. How are these new helmets working out? Will there ever be one that's 99% or more "safe"?
Ray Fittipaldo: The story I did last week focused on the retired players and their lawsuit vs. the NFL. I have not done extensive reporting on the new helmets and how much better they are than the older ones. I can tell you this: no helmets are 100 percent effective in a violent sport such as football. There always has been and always will be head injuries in football. It's a matter now of how well the NFL and the NFLPA deal with the issue for its players.
t: i didn't get to watch the game but heard about troy making plays on receivers. did they have him drop back more this game instead of playing more like a linebacker?
Ray Fittipaldo: He was playing deep on the final play of the first half before the Jets kicked the field goal. He made a nice clean hit on Stephen Hill, although one could ask why Hill was given the sideline in that situation when the Jets had no timeouts remaining. By and large, I think Polamalu has shown through the first five games that he has that burst back. Now, he still gets caught out of position on occasion, such as the deep ball Geno Smith missed yesterday that would have gone for a touchdown. But in terms of his explosiveness and athleticism he looks like the Polamalu of old, and that's a good sign for the Steelers.
Sam: Hi Ray, with the possible settlement of concussion lawsuits, what does that mean for future players? No one can ever sue again?
Ray Fittipaldo: Not at all. Players can continue to sue. I think that's why the NFL offered such a paltry sum of $765 million. I think they know they will be sued again and there will be more class-action lawsuits in the future. Even the players who are plaintiffs in this case can opt out if they don't like the terms of the final settlement. This is just the tip of the iceberg for the NFL and lawsuits regarding head injuries.
Brian: The way he has recovered from this injury at his age, and his immediate contributions to the offense already, even with all the praise and accolades he gets are we underrating Heath Miller's career as a Steeler?
Ray Fittipaldo: I don't think he is underrated. Locally at least I think everyone in the media and the fans who are paying attention know how valuable he is. He might get overlooked from a national perspective because some fans only pay attention to the fantasy football numbers from the likes of Gronk and Jimmy Graham. Miller is not the type of dynamic game-changers they are from a receiving perspective, but he is the total package that you want in a tight end. He can block and is a very good receiver.
Ken: I saw exactly what I wanted to see yesterday--I don't care if they go 6 and 10 if they get prodution and improvement from young players.
Ray Fittipaldo: I'd say you're in the minority, Ken, but if they go 6-10 it means they're basically a .500 team if you erase the 0-4 start. That's probably what a lot of people thought they were before the season. I don't know how much improvement I saw from younger players yesterday. What I took away from the game was the Steelers finally executed the formula that worked for them for so many years. They got a lead, turned the defense loose and put the opponent in some bad situations that led to turnovers. They couldn't play that way in the first four games before they almost never had a lead and never held a two-score lead until yesterday.
JAMESH: Ray - Moye was in on 5 Offensive plays and no ST plays.
Ray Fittipaldo: Thanks, James. You reference special teams. That's why he wasn't dressing in those other games. If he's not being used on offense there's really no reason to dress him. That tells me he'll be back to being inactive as soon as Wheaton is cleared to play again. I talked to Wheaton last week, and he told me he wanted to play this week, but the doctors said it was too soon. He sees the doctor today, so we'll know more about his status for the Ravens game tomorrow at Tomlin's news conference.
Sam: Hello Ray, I don't want to see the NFL expand to 18 regular season games. Do you think the players will give into this (like in the next CBA) or do you think they will hold firm with 16 games?
Ray Fittipaldo: I don't think the NFL will push 18 games as long as concussions and player safety are in the headlines. It's not smart PR to pursue that agenda. The only way I see the player agreeing to an 18-game schedule is if they get back a bigger slice of the revenue they gave away in the last CBA.
JAMESH: Something about the Brown/Sanders incessant showboating annoys me. I guess the coaches are okay with it?
Ray Fittipaldo: I don't think you're the only one who is annoyed by that, but as a coach you have to be careful. You don't want to take away their enthusiasm for the game. So as long as they're not drawing penalties and hurting the team I assume Tomlin is fine with it. I just don't understand the purpose of a celebration where you land hard on one of the most fragile parts of your body. Someone has to explain to me how that somersault is somehow viewed as "cool" in their world.
JAMESH: Update on Levi Brown's status? Out for the season?
Ray Fittipaldo: Tomlin referred to both Brown's and David Johnson's injuries as "potentially major" after the game yesterday. They're being evaluated today and I don't have an update now.
Ryan: What's the word on Sean Spence? Is he working out or just rehabbing? Any plans to see him this season?
Ray Fittipaldo: Gerry Dulac reported last night he will be taken off the PUP list and practice with the team this week for the first time since the injury. He had been working on the side with strength and conditioning coaches until this point. It's still the longest of long shots that he makes it back to a point where he is playing for the Steelers, but it's a nice story that he's even able to practice at this point after such a major injury.
Bill L: What do we know about Vince Williams and his potential? To me, Steeler linebacking is the key to our success over the last 41 years and you're not a potential pro bowler, then you should be a reserve and a special teamer. Which is he?
Ray Fittipaldo: I thought he had some rough moments in the Vikings game. I thought he flashed a lot more versus the Jets. He made a couple of really nice plays. I don't know if he is the long-term answer for them, but he is filling in nicely in the wake of Larry Foote's injury.
Phil: The Ravens aren't as good as they were last year and we beat them in December with Batch. Just get a pass rush against Flacco and don't turn the ball over in Oakland and it'll be like the banner says--The Amazing Steelers.
Ray Fittipaldo: The Ravens might not be Super Bowl contenders this season, but they still have Flacco, who has been known to dissect the Steelers defense as well as any quarterback in recent years. I know there is some reason for optimism after yesterday, but I don't know if I'd be making any plans for January just yet.
Jon: Ray, what is the team's long term views on Mike Adams? Is this a guy that has the talent to be a good left tackle in the league, or is he lacking the work ethic to hone his craft? Frankly, it looks to me that he his feet are two slow for LT
Ray Fittipaldo: The problem is the Steelers used two second-round draft picks on right tackles. Neither Mike Adams or Marcus Gilbert is a left tackle. We could just as easily be talking about Marcus Gilbert right now if the coaches didn't make the leap of faith and make the switch in training camp. In the long run, one of them won't be with the team. I'm not willing to say Adams will be that guy just yet. The coaches will be watching him closely the rest of the season to see how he responds.
Rich: This team might have a chip on their shoulder. Who would have thought that the screen to Brown on third and 15 early yesterday would have worked? Like the attitude.
Ray Fittipaldo: Brown is their best play maker and made a nice run after the catch there. If you haven't noticed, the running game is still well below the line so all of those short, quick passes to Brown and Sanders are basically the Steelers running game. It just appears as passing yardage in the stats at the end of the game.
Guest: There was a lot of talk post game about Roethlisberger communicating often and effectively. Has that been a concern?
Ray Fittipaldo: I was at Tomlin's postgame news conference and heard him reference that once, but I didn't take it like it had been a major problem in previous weeks. I just thought he threw a compliment the way of his quarterback. I didn't read anything else into it.
Tom: The Steelers were basically as good as they were in the first 4 games except they connected on the deep ball and their defense didn't drop the interceptions. The really aren't that bad and the AFC is crazy weak this year. Your thoughts on them getting to the playoffs with 8 more wins?
Ray Fittipaldo: I think you are right, but after the 0-4 start I think it's far-fetched to think this team can get to the playoffs. A lot would have to go right for them the rest of the way and they'd have to catch a lot of breaks.
Guest: Got an email from Steelers of tickets available for the Ravens game. How many Ravens fans will infiltrate the stadium Sunday considering the Steelers fans recent poor showing?
Ray Fittipaldo: Might have been a different story if the Steelers had lost yesterday. Getting a win might have changed the outlook of some fans who were thinking about selling,
Guest: How does the Steelers organization feel about Ryan Clark's big mouth?
Ray Fittipaldo: I'm thinking there are some players in that locker room who are more upset with him than the front office at this point.
Guest: How is Ziggy taking his demotion? He seemed to play tough yesterday.
Ray Fittipaldo: Ziggy got a sack in the second half after Brett Keisel exited the game with a rib injury. For the most part, I thought everyone on the defense played pretty darn well. That's not an offensive juggernaut in New York, but it is the same offense that scored 30 points against the Falcons seven days ago.
Ken: Are Gay and Cortez platooning at this point like Gay and McFadden did in 2008?
Ray Fittipaldo: They both played a lot yesterday. Cortez played in the nickel package. I think the coaches were looking for consistency and they had a veteran in Gay to turn to. It doesn't mean they're down on Allen, just that they valued a little more consistency that they weren't getting out of Allen, who by the way has been hampered with an ankle injury. It's tough to play corner in that league when you're not 100 percent.
Guest: Most improved player week 4-6?
Ray Fittipaldo: I thought Vince Williams was much better vs. the Jets than he was vs. the Vikings.
Phil: We didn't hear Wilkerson's name alot except for a late sack. Are the guards and center actually underrated, being ripped unfairly?
Ray Fittipaldo: David DeCastro rebounded well after a couple of tough games to start the season and Foster played well through an injury yesterday. I think Foster gave up one of the sacks, but overall your point is well-received. The interior of the line has not been as much of a problem as the tackles.
Guest: Can the Steelers make the playoffs at 9-7? Year of NFL mediocrity.
Ray Fittipaldo: I think they would have to get to 9-7 and I don't think that's going to happen. They'd have to go 8-5 the rest of the way and they have the Ravens twice, the Patriots and the Bengals still on the schedule.
Guest: Changes affecting players have been very public, what coaches has Tomlin taken to task and how?
Ray Fittipaldo: He makes Haley runs wind sprints after practice.
Jack Splat: Max Starks back on the team? Sounds like Levi Brown on IR.
Ray Fittipaldo: Nothing would surprise me regarding the Steelers and Max. One of the reasons you heard for him not coming back this summer was the zone blocking scheme, but they barely use that. Max knows the system. The only concern is two teams have already cut him this year. He might have finally come to the end. We shall see.
Dave: You are wrong about the ability for the current players to continue to sue. They gave that right up in favor of arbitration. What has not been discussed enough is the failure of the union to protect theplayers
Ray Fittipaldo: I was speaking about the retired players when I answered that previous question. Retired players have the right to sue if they don't like the final terms of the settlement. And there are thousands of retired players out there.
abennihana: I may be differing with you on one aspect of the D yesterday. I thought McLendon had a really bad game (against a very good center). Will the Steelers look into a real NT next season?
Ray Fittipaldo: Depends if there is a really good one available when they're drafting. Poe was that guy last year and he was gone by the time they picked. I think there are other needs that might be addressed first. There are only so many good ones every draft. It's a tough position to fill. The Steelers invested a fourth-round pick in Ta'Amu and they didn't think he was good enough to stick around for a second year. It all depends on who's available when they draft.
Dave: Retire players are covered by the settlement class and have to opt out and pursue individual claims...........which is not going to happen
Ray Fittipaldo: Attorney Jason Luckasevic, who represents 550 of the plaintiffs in the class-action suit, was leaning toward recommending his clients opt out.
Guest: Why no PG interview with Hines yet since the ironman. Huge accomplishment.
Ray Fittipaldo: Dan Gigler wrote a story on Ward not long ago about his ironman training.
JAMESH: Any possibility the FO isn't bringing Max Starks in for a harmless workout because they are afraid he may do better than anyone else they currently have? Egg on the face/ego thing.
Ray Fittipaldo: At this point, they can't be worried about having egg on their face. Beachum had four penalties and almost gave up a sack for a safety. I believe they brought Brown in to play once he felt comfortable. If someone else is out there who can push Beachum I think they'll bring them in, whoever that might be.
Paul: Did I see Plexico on the sideline yesterday? Is he in town? If he's living in NJ that would be curious since he played for both the Jets and Steelers.
Ray Fittipaldo: I saw Burress on the sideline, too. I've seen him sporadically at the Steelers facility since training camp, but I believe he spends most of his time in Jersey.
Guest: Has Isaac Redman played his last NFL game?
Ray Fittipaldo: No. And while he might not be back in a Steelers uniform next season, there are 11 games remaining and I would not be shocked if he plays again. There are bound to be injuries.
Ray Fittipaldo: Thanks for all the questions this week. We'll do it again next week after the Ravens game.
First Published October 14, 2013 10:38 AM