JamesinNYC: Since Lewis looks like a starting CB, any news on an extension for him?
Gerry Dulac: No, and I don't think it would be wise to extend him now because 1) you don't know how he will petrform as a starter, and 2) what happens if Cortez Allen eventually becomes the starter? You can't put a contract value on Lewis right now. Wait and see.
Rick in LA: Gerry, how do the Steeler pressure Peyton so he doesn't carve us up like the Christmas Goose? We really need James and Woodley to bring it, and I am not sure they are up to the task, given the altitude, etc. Thoughts Obie Wan Kenobi?
Gerry Dulac: Look, Peyton is going to be Peyton. He is going to get rid of the ball quick and he's going to complete a lot of passes. And I expect the Steelers to play like they always play -- willing to give up the short underneath stuff to prevent the big play, something they didn't do last time in Denver when Tim Tebow was the QB. If the Steelers are going to get pressure, it better be quick pressure, and most of that usually comes up the middle, not from the outside.
JamesinNYC: Hampton and McClendon both look like they will receive a lot of playing time who gets the official "start".
Gerry Dulac: Hampton will start but I don't expect either to play a lot. The Steelers will use a lot of nickel defense against Manning, which means a fifth DB (Cortez Allen) and no nose tackle.
Rick in LA: Has Dwyer won the starting HB role?
Gerry Dulac: I think Redman will be the starter, so long as his ankle is fine, and he should be. Jonathan Dwyer has looked really good in the preseason, in all facets, but he hasn't played in big games on big stages such as this. Redman has, just look back to what he did last year in the playoffs in Denver. I think Dwyer will be used, but it's not the place to start him -- unless they have to.
Rick in LA: Can Max play 16 games this year? I worry about his age and health.
Gerry Dulac: That is the $800,000 question. That is also max'a salary this year. We'll see.
Gerry Dulac: It's neither. He's their nose tackle. Why wouldn't he start, if he is able? Now, if they find out his knee can't stand up for a whole game, or if he's ineffective, then maybe they will make a change. But he is a five-time Pro Bowl NT, don't forget.
Gerry Dulac: Oops, forgot to add the question to the previous answer. Here it is....
JAMESH: If Hampton starts, is that symbolic or has he looked better than McLendon this past week?
Rick in LA: Does Rainey get both Punt and Kick returns? I like him better on punts and AB on kicks.
Gerry Dulac: I don't think you are going to see a lot of Antonio Brown on returns this season, though he wll be used in some situations where they Steelers need a spark or something to get them going. I agree, I think Rainey is better on punt returns, where it's more important to make the first guy miss -- which he does exceptionally well. Now that Mike Wallace is back, I think you will see Emmanuel Sanders return kickoffs.
NJ Stiller Fan: The turf against Carolina was terrible and probably contributed to Spence's gruesome injury. Any explanation for this? Any plans to re-sod?
Gerry Dulac: You an agronomist or something??? I couldn't disagree more. That turf looked as good and was as good as ever.
atodd81: Will Limas Sweed ever be given one more workout?
Gerry Dulac: Not if he hasn't had one by now.
Scott: Mike Tomlin stated in his press conference that Rainey will be the go to guy on kickoff and punt returns but that he wouldn't hesitate to turn to Brown if needed, is there a concern about Rainey's experience on kick returns?
Gerry Dulac: No, I think it's more for the reason I stated earlier -- that Tomlin won't hesitate to use him in situations where the Steelers feel they need a big play. After all, Brown is a Pro Bowl return specialist.
TM-Atlanta: Gerry, Thanks for chats! Are you suprised that everyone is thinking so little about the Steelers this year. There are a lot of people picking us to finish third in the division, Do you see it that way? I seems that the steelers shouldn't even show up this year. i don't see that being the case. Am I wrong?
Gerry Dulac: No, I tend to agree with you. I said the other day on the Steelers pre-game radio show that my opinion of the Steelers hasn't changed a lot -- I still think they are a team that will contend for the division title and, with a little luck, could advance through the playoffs. Whenever you have a QB like No. 7, and a defense like the Steelers typically have, you're never out of any game and you're never out of any season.
What has changed is my opinion of the division. I still think the Ravens are good, but I think their defense will really suffer without Terrell Suggs. Also, they lost LB Jarrett Johnson and DE Cory Redding in free agency, and Ray Lewis is just that much older. And I'll hold off on the Bengals until they prove they can put together back-to-back winning seasons -- something they haven't done under Marvin Lewis.
I now think the Steelers can win the division.
Shef: Do you think the Steelers will avenge their loss from January or will they fall to another Denver QB?
Gerry Dulac: First off, there is no avenging that loss. That loss ended their season. If they lose this time -- and I think they will -- it won't end their season. It might not even ruin it. Don't forget, they were embarrassed last year in the season opener in Baltimore and they ended up 12-4. Now who would have thought that after that game???
Shef: Will the Steelers be a top 5 defense this season?
Gerry Dulac: History says there is no reason that they won't. Don't forget, they were No 1 last season and allowed the fewest points in the league even though James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley missed a combined 11 games. And they had the fewest takeaways in the league and their sacks were way down. If they can be No. 1 with all that, imagine how good they can be if they manage to stay somewhat healthy.
Gerry Dulac: That's going to do it for today, kids. We'll chat again next week, after the Steelers open their season in Denver. See you then.
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