Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to the weekly edition of your Pittsburgh Steelers’ mailbag. Have a bit of unfortunate news day of the HOF Game being cancelled. Besides that, we’re here for the next hour to answer anything on your mind.

To your questions!

Michael James: In your opinion: How much % the NFL holds at least some kind of a season (as of right now)?

Alex: Some kind of season? Still very high. 80-85%. My belief right now is the league will still kick off Week 1 as planned. What happens from there is a little more up in the air and TBD. But you’re going to see a drastic reduction in preseason, perhaps the preseason cancelled altogether, and definitely a cap and outright ban in some areas on fans for the start and probably the entire year. They won’t come back until there’s a vaccine, which doesn’t seem likely to even be developed (much less made available to you and I) until very late this year at the absolute earliest.

But I am confident there will be football. The spike in cases, stars testing positive, and the disruption that brings is a totally different story.

Jeff P.: Thoughts on Big Ben’s comments on his addiction issues? I didn’t see an article on the Depot really discussing it.

Alex: Matthew wrote an article this morning covering Ryan Clark’s angle on it. I just didn’t see it as much of a story. Certainly one that’s become a much bigger deal than I ever anticipated…and I watched the ManUp session before it was passed around by the sports media. Heard the comments and shrugged them off. My read of it wasn’t that Ben had a serious, crippling problem but he went through things most people who grew up in his era did. Maturing, realizing what’s important (cutting back on drinking/partying), putting life in perspective and focusing on reality (porn isn’t real life, becoming a pool boy doesn’t get you laid) and looking at life through a Christian, biblical scope.

Maybe I’m incorrect in that assessment, we’re all just going off the brief few sentences Ben said, but to me, that story was not headline news. Not even news, if we’re being honest. But this is what happens when there’s basically no sports going on and the media machine’s gotta be fed.

draframe1: Hi Alex,
What do you think of Antoine Brooks being paired with Bush as the nickel linebackers? Seems his best role for impact given his limitations as a slot cover guy.

Alex: Longer-term, I think Brooks home could be sliding down to linebacker. But not this season. His focus is just being a 6th round pick whose lost out on A LOT of practice time and now just needs to make the roster and contribute on special teams. He’s starting at SS this year anyway.

Could your question eventually become relevant? Potentially. But Vince is still here, I’m high on UG3, and Brooks has to climb the ladder before we even get to that point. Can’t seriously entertain the question until next year at the absolute earliest. Let’s see if he can take his first steps in 2020.

Brian Tollini: I’ll continue the hypothetical injury questions…tougher to lose for the year…Steven Nelson or Diontae Johnson?

Alex: Definitely Nelson. You can live without Johnson. Still have a healthy JuJu, Washington, drafted Claypool, and of course, most importantly, Ben. Roethlisberger made Cobi Hamilton look good. He can work without #18.

Lose Nelson and you lose a major part of your defense as the Steelers have adjusted to a man-heavy scheme that relies on trusting its corners. And next man up is murky. Team has been reluctant to play Sutton outside, even though I view him as the best option, and Justin Layne is still an unknown right now.

So Nelson and I don’t think it’s even that close, much as I’m excited about Johnson in Year Two.

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