Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome to the final mailbag before training camp kicks off. I know these Monday ones have been a bit irregular but since there won’t be one on Thursday, the first day of practice, I wanted to squeeze this one in. We’ll be here for the next hour.

To your questions!

hdogg48: Alex, who do you have starting at ILB, CB and Safety this year?

Alex: Inside linebacker. Vince Williams as the Buck, Jon Bostic at the Mack. I know Matakevich is very much in the mix but my feeling has always been Bostic. And without camp starting yet, I’m sticking with what I originally thought.

Corner: Haden LCB, Burns RCB, Hilton NCB. Pretty easy I think. Sutton is next-man-up at all three spots.

Safety: Sean Davis at FS, Morgan Burnett at SS, Terrell Edmunds in dime. Burnett replaces VW in dime packages, playing close to the LOS. I don’t love it but it’ll do.

Matt Harp: I know we are strapped for cash and still have to sign Edmunds but I feel like Dez would be happy playing with Ben. He would also get to play for a contending team so my thinking is that he would be less of a headache. Is there any possibility in the Steelers signing Dez and if so, at what cost since he has not been signed yet?

Alex: I’d put the odds at roughly zero. If Bryant wanted to sign somewhere, he would’ve done it by now. I know Baltimore had interest. He’s waiting for an injury and teams to get desperate so he can come to a team with a bigger need at WR than what’s currently out there.

Like you said, money is an issue and Dez wants to play on a one-year deal so he can try again next season after Dallas screwed him by cutting him late. That means any cap hit is for the one year, there’s no way you can push that money back like a multi-year contract, and the Steelers simply don’t have the cap space to swing that right now. Baltimore had a similar issue.

Besides, as much concern as there is over the WR depth, the starters are pretty much known. You’re hoping Washington can make an immediate impact and sure, that is anyone’s guess, but you drafted him in the 2nd round to find that out. Not go ahead and sign someone to play over him.

Willie John: Any chance we sign Timmons if ILB depth not looking good during training camp? If not Timmons, who else might we sign?

Alex: I wouldn’t hold your breath. I think they roll with who they have and hope someone from that group, Matakevich or Bostic, stands out. If they went anyone else, Navarro Bowman is a pretty popular name for Steelers Nation to throw out there.

Phil Brenneman II: 

Alex a few players have a good bit of buzz coming into this training camp of this list who are you most rooting for to live up to the hype and why? And who do you expect to not live up to the buzz (also if I leave a name off you think belongs in the convo feel free to add it).

Matthew Thomas
Marcus Tucker
Keion Adams

Alex: It sounds dumb, and I promise I’ll give you a semi-decent answer in a second, but I’m rooting equally for all of them. If they play well, the team plays well, and less drunk uncles yell at me. Win win win.

But the ones who the team needs to live up to those expectations are the guys counted on for big roles. Vance McDonald probably top of that list. I pray the team’s confidence in Tyler Matakevich proves to be correct. And rooting for Dupree, Burns, Sean Davis, even if they aren’t getting the buzz other sleepers are.

I think Tucker will have a good preseason. Is that enough to get him on the roster? Maybe, maybe not. Adams…he’s almost like a rookie. Saw such a small amount of snaps last season, none even in a game. Thomas is someone who could underwhelm. Yeah, he’s a great athlete but a slow processor and initially at least, could look pretty lost. He’s a far cry from Shazier, that’s for sure.

Patrick Morris is someone I’ve touted quite a bit. It’d be perfect that if Foster is gone after this year and Finney replaces him, Morris slides in to become the new Finney.

SteelDoDo: Hi Alex,
Could you see a situation where a team would rescind the franchise tag after it has been placed? With Bell waiting to sign it until the last possible moment, there has to be some sort of downside? In theory, if he gets hurt before signing or if he were to get caught with weed again? Obviously the Steelers won’t be able to this year because they are relying on him, but if we had been able to draft Guice in the second round for example (then we would have had an alternative) could you see the Steelers rescinding the tag or is there a reason why they wouldn’t?

Alex: Nope, there was no chance of that in any conceivable scenario. Any downside you get by Bell reporting late is small potatoes compared to not having him the entire season and the possibility of him playing against you at some point along the way. Bell is the best back in football and you keep him on the roster as long as humanely possible. To do otherwise is self-destructive.

PittShawnC: Hi Alex,
Looking at the schedule, which opposing offense terrifies you the most?
Also, is it me or is the @Jax, @Den, LAC, @Oak, NE, @NO stretch as difficult as any stretch in the last decade?

Alex: Ah, I’m the worst at those questions. They all terrify me. Some teams play better than you think, some play worse. Some guys get hurt, some stay healthy. It’s an impossible guessing game. They all have their strengths. Jacksonville’s ball control, Denver with a new QB, Philip Rivers, Raiders bullying offensive line, Tom Brady, Drew Brees. It’s definitely a tough stretch on paper but who knows how things actually look by the time you get there. You’re talking Week 15/Week 16. I can’t look that far into my crystal ball.

That’s all for this week. Talk to you during camp!

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