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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to the mailbag, Steelers Nation. Preseason Game #2 kicking off in just a couple hours. Let me know what’s on your mind.

To your questions!

Sam Clonch: What do you see as the most likely way to make some cap space in the event a desirable FA gets released? Anyone out there on your radar? (I’ve heard John Simmon is doing well in the switch to 4-3 DE, so I’ll let that idea fade away)

Alex: Just cutting some of the vets. Coty Sensabaugh would save you some money. But there aren’t many moves left on the board at this point and I don’t know if you want to keep moving money around. But I think they have enough cap space to make a move if need be. NFLPA says the team has about $4 million in space.

Andrew Black: Is tonight’s game against Green Bay pretty much the deciding factor between Rudolph and Dobbs heading into the season?

Alex: I don’t know if I’d go that far. I think the team takes as much time as they can, they have the luxury to take all the time they’re afforded. Obviously, neither may play a ton in the third game, probably splitting the 2nd half, but it’ll be just those two in the finale, I imagine. So you can take a step back at the end of that process and make the decision. Don’t have to after tonight.

falconsaftey43: If there was going to be one shocking cut this season, who would your guess be? Mine would be DHB, team choosing a couple young ST capable WRs in Tucker/Patterson over him.

Alex: That’s a tough one. I think DHB is kept. I just don’t think you want that much youth – and that much youth – only, in back end of your roster. Especially if you keep Patterson. But I get the premise – it’s not a shock unless it’s, well, a shock.

Does Grimble count? I can see the team fed up with him underperforming, missing time, and going out to find another TE if McDonald is still hurt but not so much so that he starts the year on IR or something. Obviously, any replacement wouldn’t come in-house. But Grimble’s career has been a frustrating one.

Ichabod: Do you see any Steeler trades happening before cut downs?

Alex: Odds seem good, even if it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly where it’ll happen. Kevin Colbert has been a busy man over the years. Trading away Coates, Cockrell. Trading for McDonald, Boykin, Gilbert. Even a player-for-player deal last year (Crowley for Phillips). So they’ll probably going to do something.

John Hinton: What are your thoughts on Matthew Thomas possibly moving into the 1st option behind Bostic at the MACK position by Week 1 with a solid showing in all 4 preseason games?

Alex: I think he’s gotta focus on making the team first and playing well on special teams before we worry about anything else. A nice camp and preseason and being capable right away in the regular season are two totally different things. I’d definitely be playing Fort over Thomas to start, if I had my way.

PghDSF: Did Forte show anything in camp that might put in ahead of Dirty Red?

Alex: In my eyes, yes. In the team’s eyes, probably not. I don’t have that feeling, at least.

NickSteelerFan: Hey Alex! Phenomenal job over the past few weeks keeping us up to day, I really appreciate it.
With the battles for the bottom of the roster coming down to mostly ST, I would love to see James Washington and Damon Patterson get some looks at KR and PR. Do you think either of them have the traits to be successful there?

Alex: Thanks Nick! I think Washington has the traits and he did a little bit of it during training camp practices. I wouldn’t mind it. This team just has so few options in the KR game. Take Henderson and Thomas out of the equation…they aren’t making the team. Who are the KRs? I guess it helps that the new rules only puts three guys back there so you only have one returner now. Not two like the past.

But do you want JuJu back there? A starting WR? If not him, who else? Cam Sutton isn’t going to get that chance. Hunter, DHB, Ridley, Conner, backup WRs/RBs who normally are in that role, aren’t candidates. So it’s an issue…again, and one of the top things that bothers me about Mike Tomlin.

ilamarca: 

Is it just me or has Todd Haley come off as likable on Hard Knocks?

Also, gimme one (good) reason to keep Justin Hunter over Damoun Patterson on the 53. He hardly has more game day experience and “tall” is not a reason.

Alex: I think people just see Haley as the guy who is running the show…or at least should be. He’s a lot more competent than Hue Jackson, a guy I used to like a ton, but is just running a trainwreck over there. They won’t win until he’s gone.

A good reason? I don’t really have one. They like Hunter’s big-play ability, on paper, at least, and red zone impact (in theory). If it was me, I wouldn’t keep him.

The Tony: Who was your first jersey?

Alex: I haven’t bought a jersey in forever. Only have three in my collection.

1. Ben Roethlisberger
2. Willie Parker
3. Chidi Iwuoma (signed by him too)

Not sure which was first though.

Steelers12: What players do steelers have that could be good trade bait since they might not make the 53?

Alex: I’ll probably go into greater detail about that near the end of the preseason. Performance and injury can change things pretty quickly.

Can you flip Josh Dobbs for a 7th? Probably not but maybe if there’s an injury that happens somewhere else. Coty Sensabaugh? Conditional 7th for him is possible too.

Phil Brenneman II: 

Alex I can’t think of a good football question because everything is covered so thoroughly on here and has seemingly been answered.

Is DBZ the only anime you watch and do you only watch anime or do you also read manga?

Alex: Hmm, yeah, I think DBZ is the only one. Anything else they show on Adult Swim on Saturday Night isn’t my cup of tea. Not interesting in watching Ghost In the Shell. Never have read Manga. I follow DBZ mostly because that’s one of the shows I watched growing up. For nostalgia purposes as much as anything.

CP72: Alex,
Is Tyler Matakevich a stone cold lock to make the team? He’s a good special teams player, but we’re in trouble if he has to play significantl defensive snaps. He may just be maxed out.

Alex: Yes. Because even if he doesn’t start, and I don’t think he will, he’s still got plenty of value as a special teamer. So I will call him a lock.

Ken: Are the Steelers going to use an extra safety in lieu of a linebacker – such as Edmunds in any formations?

Alex: Yes. In dime, just as they have in the past. Burnett will replace an ILB. And when they run 2-2-7, they’ll use it, just don’t know how often, both ILBs will come off the field.

But it won’t be Edmunds. He hasn’t been used there at all during camp, he even said as much. It’ll be Burnett in dime, Burnett/Sutton in dollar.

JohnB: 

Who lasts longer in Cle, Haley or Hue? If its Hue does Haley take over or Williams?

Also, does Tomlin ever interact with fans at camp?

Alex: Good question. It should be Haley…but Hue could force him out. I think Haley gets the nod over Bounty Gate Gregg Williams.

Tomlin doesn’t interact with them very often. Each year, there’s a group of kids that shout his name until he responds back with a wave. I think there is a designated section where he signs autographs. I always see a sign that says if he is or isn’t signing for that day.

SteelCity: After seeing Edmunds in camp how do you feel about selecting him in the first round?

Alex: I’m comfortable with it. Obviously, a long ways to go, but it’s hard to be mad about using a 1st round pick on him based on what I’ve seen so far.

steeltown: You can only pick 4 players (2 starters, 2 backups) who are you keeping at ILB and who are your starters?

Alex: So basically between Fort and Thomas? You can put Thomas on the PS for the year so I guess I’d do that. But you can definitely roll with five.


That’s all for this week. Thanks everyone, enjoy the games.

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