Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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Glad you have you back for our Thursday chat. Let’s get right into it.

To your questions!

george: Whats the odds VA holds out mini camp and the odds he holds out training camp?

Alex: Find it to be very, very slim, like I said in Monday’s podcast. Showing up for OTAs by signing an injury waiver (he’s not under contract) but then sitting out the mandatory part doesn’t make much sense. I think the guy loves football and the chance to finally play. Heck, he had trouble dealing with getting rotated daily with Ryan Harris last year. Think he wants to sit out entirely and know someone else is in his spot? No way. He’ll be there.

Sam Clonch: Seems like just about everyone had some type of surgery this offseason. Is routine(ish) cleanup surgery turning into the new norm for vets during down time?

Alex: Yup, not uncommon. Better to deal with it now than wait, or not have the surgery at all, and let it bother you throughout the year. There is a small window for surgery and that’s why a ton happen at once.

Bryant Eng: If the Steelers priorities are to get to the QB with four, five on third-and-long, then does it make any practical sense to keep Dan McCullers if either L.T. Walton or T. Alualu can provide spot duty at NT? Assuming he doesn’t make the team (even if you think he will) how many and what DL do you think the Steelers keep in that scenario? My guess is 6: Walton, Heyward, Hargrave, Alaulu, Tuitt, Maxey(?)

Alex: To be fair, that’s not McCullers’ role anyway. Third and long means your nickel personnel is in. Hargrave won’t even be on the field *that* much in those situations. McCullers is depth for Hargrave in case of injury and for goal line packages. Yes, nickel is by far the dominant personnel grouping. But base is still used 20-25% of the time and you need a good nose tackle for that. Don’t want to be lost if Hargrave goes down.

The problem is that McCullers isn’t a very good nose tackle and the team seemingly didn’t bring anyone in to push him. If McCullers doesn’t make it, based on the current roster, it might end up being LT Walton as the backup nose, like you point out.

My hope would be that if McCullers is cut, they grab a NT off the waiver wire. If I had to choose someone on the roster right now, it’d be Maxey, though I’m not sure what he’s going to bring to the table. Don’t need another end, already have four (plus Hargrave).

T3xassteelers: How do I survive these next few months of no football?

Alex: Become the Pirates’ closer? You couldn’t do any worse than what currently exists…

Bill Sechrengost: What chance do you think the Steelers will keep 6 CB’s? Who is the odd man out then? Allen? Golson? Why haven’t we heard more about Sensabaugh? He certainly looks skinny from photos I’ve seen on the Steelers website.

Alex: Better than 50%. Mainly because safety depth is thinner but the addition of Stafford does complicate things and lowers the 6 CB odds (was very high before). Odd man out, it’s really hard to say. It’s like WR. Jumbled mess. I’ll let it play out in camp. Could be Golson, could be Allen, heck, could be Sensabaugh or Gay. Too much unknown right now.

Good question on Sensabuagh. I’m guessing because he’s boring. Sutton and Allen are the rookies. Golson is the darling draft pick. Not enough meat on the bone to talk about Sensabaugh.

KingoftheAFCNorth: Say The Steelers roll with AB, Martavis, Juju, Coates, Eli and DHB this season. With Ayers looking like the odd man out in this scenario, do the Steelers try to trade him? Putting him on the PS is the same as dropping him, I’d think. What if Hunter really shines with having a great QB?

Alex: I think Hunter is the most likely name to be traded. Eli Rogers would be second, if the team realizes JuJu has the starting slot gig. Ayers doesn’t have enough value or game tape. Hunter is similar to Dorial Green-Beckham and Rogers has enough of an on-field resume to make trading worthwhile.

It’s something I bet the team will explore, trading someone, but of course, that’s an admission they’re not going to make the roster. Teams are willing to wait for them to be cut or grab someone else once the rosters get trimmed down. Hurts your leverage. Player for player deals seems more common these days.

Maybe something like this: trade Justin Hunter to the 49ers for TE Vance McDonald?

The Tony: 

Who has the more talented roster Baltimore or Cincy

Alex: Hmmm…that’s tough. I’ll give the nod to the Bengals because they can be a more explosive offense with Ross/Green/Eifert (when healthy) and Bernard (when the offense decides to get him involved). Throw Mixon in that mix too, he is more talented than any RB Baltimore has.

Steelers12: Any surprise cuts you see the Steelers making like the Jeremy Maclin situation and what players are you keeping you eye on from other teams who could be possibly cut?

Alex: Eli Rogers I guess would be the one name I think fans would be shocked by. I wouldn’t. But still, those odds aren’t great. I haven’t spent really any time to look at other possible cuts. I’ll focus on that closer when the time comes.

ilamarca: Who wins… Browns with Ben vs. the Steelers with Osweiler?

Alex: Give me the Brown to win. Ugh, now I feel like I need a shower.

Sonny Saks: Would you consider taking a flier on David Harris that the Jets released?

Alex: Would I personally? For real cheap, yes. Will the team? I doubt it. Think they are comfortable with Matakevich as the Buck (right or wrong, doesn’t matter) and I don’t think Harris can play the Mack at this point in his career. That’s why L.J. Fort would still have a shot. Best athlete of the backup ILBs, those two and Steven Johnson.

Boots: Knile Davis has been getting a lot if reps but I haven’t heard about the quality of them, have you heard any news on how he’s looking so far?

Alex: Nope, haven’t heard much. It’s all about how he performs as a kick returner though. And evaluating that now is pretty impossible to do. That’s his ticket.

NickSteelerFan: Any idea of the pecking order of RB’s with Bell healing and Conner nursing his hammy?

Alex: Not aware of what it is. But it’s not going to have a great influence on the final 53. I’ll let you guys know these things come camp.

Jesse Hernandez: Alex who do you think makes the biggest jump this year on defense?

Alex: Burns and Sean Davis. All about evening out their play. Burns getting so many reps, being able to focus completely on football without his head spinning, that’s big for him. Davis knowing where he’ll play and not getting bounced around is just as critical. No reason those two shouldn’t take a big leap forward. And the team really needs it.

Good chat this week! Talk to you all next Thursday.

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