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Answering the burning questions surrounding the 2018 Steelers as they push through OTAs

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field — kind of — and it’s time to answer some burning questions surrounding the Black-and-gold.

NFL Combine - Day 3 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports writer Ed Bouchette holds a weekly chat in which he takes questions from the general public. If you're unfamiliar with Bouchette, he's definitely an interesting character. He’s known for breaking important Steelers news and also for his snarky and colorful comments. This week’s full chat session can be read here.

Most of Bouchette’s answers to fans are one-liners. It’s hard to glean useful information from that, so I decided to expand on questions he takes with answers of my own. The chat lasts around a half-hour, so I cherry-picked some of the questions. For a bit of fun with this, if you put BTSC at the end of your nickname there — and your questions get answered — I’ll include your questions in next week’s article. Better make it good — don’t want the BTSC faithful to chide you

Question: After observing Mason Rudolph, do you think he will be the future franchise quarterback or would the team be drafting another quarterback next year?

Bouchette: I have seen him now in one rookie practice and 4 spring practices with the vets. You wouldn’t mind if I wait to see him another day or two before I proclaim him as the next Ben Roethlisberger would you? I will say he looks like a good quarterback from what I have seen.

Flip: How many QBs don't look good in shorts tossing passes to future HOF wideout Antonio Brown, nine-year vet Darrius Heyward-Bey, sixth-year pro Justin Hunter and JuJu Smith-Schuster who led the league in passer rate when he was targeted? I'm holding back most of my judgments for when Mason Rudolph (Rudy is my personal nickname for him.) plays against guys who are trying to tear him apart and throwing against CBs who will secure a roster spot in the NFL in 2018. Rudy faces an uphill battle against history. Only Matt Schaub and Russell Wilson became true faces of their franchise while being drafted in the third round from 2004-2017 — 17 other QBs failed.

Question: Did you hear anything about Martavis in Oakland? Do you still think it was a good idea to trade him?

Bouchette: They got a third-round pick, which sort of turned into QB Mason Rudolph. So we’ll know maybe several years from now. But I thought they could have kept Bryant, still drafted the WR in the second round and they could have had the best-four WRs in the league.

Flip: Could you imagine having AB, JJSS, Martavis Bryant along with James Washington, DHB, and possibly Eli Rogers fighting for playing time? The fear would be Bryant being a squeaky wheel demanding the ball and playing time. The draft pick that the Oakland Raiders sent the Steelers was just too good to pass up and not to pounce on. I would rather see Bryant around then thinking about DHB or Hunter seeing significant playing time due to an injury or Washington having a tough transition period. I mainly didn’t like the Steelers making a hole this year and having to fill it with a high draft pick while not using that high draft pick on another talent.

Question: Will the Steelers run a two-tight-end offense? If not, has Vance overtaken James as the primary TE?

Bouchette: They have often done so in the past and I see no reason for that to change.

Flip: I was hoping to see two-tight-end sets last year with the addition of Vance McDonald in the fold. An oft-injured McDonald will have to show he can stay healthy and not lose the confidence of Ben Roethlisberger with his propensity for dropping passes. Jesse James is not a world-beater with his athleticism but his height and sure hands make him a valued target. However, James doesn't offer a lot in the blocking game. McDonald, on the other hand, can be a tough matchup for defenses due to his athleticism, and he's a superior blocking talent. With the Steelers talent, it's tough to see a lot of two TE sets. Sure Pitt can run this in certain situations — who sits?

Question: Any chance Big Red starts over Jon Bostic? In your opinion.

Bouchette: There’s always a chance, I suppose, but I don’t think that mack linebacker spot is suited for Tyler Matakevich the way it is for Bostic. I believe he's more suited for the buck, played also by Vince Williams.

Flip: I agree with Bouchette here regarding Matakevich. Having a big motor only goes so far in overcoming athletic deficiencies. Below are some of the combine numbers of the two ILBs along with incumbent buck-LB, Vince Williams.


40 time: 4.61 seconds

Three-cone drill: 6.99 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.24 seconds


40 time: 4.81 seconds

Three-cone drill: 7.19 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.5 seconds

Williams (Pro day as was not a Combine invite)

40 time: 4.76 seconds

Three-cone drill: 7.53 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.67 seconds

Matakevich, in my opinion, just was not impressive in preseason last year, even playing in the buck-linebacker spot. He was pushed around and blown up in a goal-line series. His poor change of direction makes one wonder if he can handle some of the mid-tier tight ends or running backs in coverage, let alone how much of a liability he would be while trying to cover some of the premier players in the league. Dirty Red is a good special-teamer, but Steelers Nation doesn't want to see him as the starting mack-LB at any point during the season.

Bouchette’s snarky comment of the week:

Question: When you’re covering OTAs, does the team provide water/coffee or are the media people on their own? Do you have shade? A big floppy hat? What are the conditions for you guys?

Bouchette: They serve us drinks with umbrellas in them out on the patio by the pool.

Flip: This is Bouchette at his best. That zinging one-liner just whipped out there off the cuff left me actually laughing out loud during the chat. Bouchette might annoy me and other readers with his one line answers and snarky comments that leave readers starved for real answers, but no one can say he’s lacking character and wit.

While Bouchette has covered the Steelers going on 45 years, fans would appreciate more valued information. Fans do need to remember that these answers are all off the cuff, which is a tough style to undertake. He has no time to prepare or gather information. Do you read or participate in the chat sessions? What is your opinion on the sessions?