The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the verge of their 50th training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, and fans have questions they want answered. This is where the BTSC Mailbag comes in. Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@btsteelcurtain) to participate in the mailbag and get your question answered here on the site. Time to dig into the mailbag and pick out a few winners...
From: Steven Calimer (@StevenCalimer)
Question: If Jarvis Jones doesn't work out at weak side LB, could Bud Dupree play that position if needed? What will the team do in that scenario?
Answer: To suggest the Steelers would put Dupree on the right outside linebacker position as a rookie seems far fetched to me. It is difficult enough for outside linebackers in the team's 3-4 scheme to learn the multitude of responsibilities on one side, let alone the opposite side. Very few players have shown the flexibility to play both right and left outside linebackers effectively, and I doubt Dupree as a rookie would be one of those players. Could he eventually be a player of that caliber? Certainly, but if Jarvis Jones fails to perform in 2015, the team would most certainly rely on James Harrison to fill the void on the right side. The remainder of the depth chart will certainly depend on who makes the team's 53-man roster between players like Howard Jones, Shawn Lemon and Anthony Chickillo.
From: Craig Feely (@feelycr)
Question: What team on the schedule do you think will pose the biggest challenge for Ben and the offense?
Answer: This is a difficult question to answer with the Steelers playing such a difficult schedule in 2015. I will answer it in two parts. The AFC North division team who will give the Steelers the toughest test, and outside of their division.
Within the AFC North there is no doubt the Baltimore Ravens defense would be the unit which could stymie the Steelers offense more than the Cincinnati Bengals or the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens have two phenomenal pass rushers in Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, with a re-vamped secondary known for their physical play. The Ravens did a great job slowing down the Le'Veon Bell-less Steelers in the playoffs, but as we saw in their 2nd meeting in 2014, the Steelers most certainly can exploit their defense. Nonetheless, of the three opponents I think the Ravens provide the toughest test.
Outside of the AFC North, I believe it will be the team which can best stop the Steelers' aerial attack and force the team to beat them on the ground. There is no team better equipped to do that than the Seattle Seahawks in Week 12. Add into the equation this game will be played in Seattle and it could be a tough row to hoe for the Steelers offense. Again, not saying the team, and the offense, can't succeed on the road against the back-to-back NFC representative in the Super Bowl, but they will give them the toughest test.
From: Ken Yaeger (@ken_yaeger)
Question: Can the Steelers defense play well enough for PIT to make some noise this year?
Answer: Despite this being a simple yes or no question, I will not answer it as Mike Tomlin would at a weekly press conference. When you say "noise" I am assuming you are referring to the team playing good enough defense to win football games. Put it that way, and I will agree. I think the Steelers' secondary can only get better, even with the departures of Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor, and the team's front seven should be better as well. If by "noise" you mean the return of dominant defense in 2015, then I would disagree. I see the Steelers defense being a middle-of-the-road unit which will rank in the top 10 in rush defense, while hopefully ranking around 15th in pass defense. Not pretty, but good enough to win.
From: Steven Calimer (@StevenCalimer)
Question: Will we be seeing more 4-man fronts with Daniel McCullers and Anthony Chickillo fitting that bill in 2015?
Answer: The suggestion of more 4-man fronts is not foreign to the Steelers, or other NFL defenses. Current defenses rarely stay in their base packages for even half of the defensive snaps in a football game. The NFL has become so specialized there are sub packages for every possible scenario and formation the offense might want to utilize within a game. In terms of the two players you referenced in your question, I see McCullers having a larger (no pun intended) role in the defense in 2015, giving Steve McLendon more rest in certain packages. As for Chickillo, it will be difficult for him to make the team. Joey Porter likes the kid, but there are simply a ton of linebackers looking to make the team, and I'm not sold on Chickillo beating out the necessary people to earn his spot on the 2015 53-man roster.
That does it for another mailbag, be sure to submit your questions next week when we take to Twitter asking for your Steelers queries.