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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 20

Let's get to it:

STEPHEN SCHRADER FROM PORTLAND, OR: What is Jim Furyk's connection to the Steelers? He is definitely one of the classiest athletes in all of professional sports.
ANSWER: Jim Furyk's parents both grew up in the Pittsburgh area and he says he has been a Steelers fan all his life. Although born near Philadelphia, Furyk's parents moved the family to the Pittsburgh area during the 1970s when the Steelers won four Super Bowls over a six-season span. "I take a lot of time off in the fall," Furyk told Teresa Varley for a story that appeared on "I probably get a chance to see 10 of the 16 games live. The ones I don't, I tape and watch every game and enjoy it. The DirecTV NFL package has been a godsend. I live in Jacksonville now, and my friends try to drag me to the games. I joke and tell them I would rather watch the Steelers on television than watch the Jaguars live. My perfect Sunday is to cook all morning and then sit on the couch watching football all day and hanging with family and friends."

GRANT FRANJIONE FROM BRIDGEVILLE, PA: Just a correction to your answer to Michael from Albuquerque about the NFL scheduling system. You said that as part of the normal rotation, all AFC North teams play all AFC West teams every four years. But it's actually every three years.
ANSWER: You are correct. I regret the error.

DONNA KLAKAMP FROM ERIE, PA: Why don't we see punters aim for the "coffin corner" anymore? Is this a lost art?
ANSWER: It is. The preferred technique nowadays is for the punter to hold the ball with one of the ends pointing toward the ground, and when kicked from this position the ball flies in an end-over-end fashion instead of a spiral. An end-over-end kick has a much better chance of bouncing backward where the coverage people will have a chance to down it. That's the idea, anyway.

RON GONZALES FROM HONOKAA, HI: I know we've beaten this subject to death, but I have another question about Le'Veon Bell. If he comes in after Week 9 but before Week 10 and signs the franchise tender, can we then cut him and if so, how much money will we owe him?
ANSWER: As soon as a player signs his franchise tender, the salary immediately becomes fully guaranteed except in the case of a league-issued suspension. In your scenario, Bell would be guaranteed eight weeks pay (Weeks 10-17), which would work out to around $6.84 million.

DENNIS NEVINSKY FROM ERIE, PA: People are calling for coaches to be fired. Have the Steelers ever fired a defensive or offensive coordinator during the season, within the last 30 years?
ANSWER: No. Dan Rooney never believed in the concept of firing a coach during a season, because he said that if the interim replacement had some success there would be pressure to give that man the job full-time even if there could be more qualified options available once the NFL season ended.

EZEQUIEL CLARK FROM CDMX, MEXICO: Jesse James has had a tremendous two games. But the No. 1 tight end on the depth chart is Vance McDonald. I'm not saying it will happen, but is it possible for a team to change the depth chart during the season, according to the in and outs of players and their performance?
ANSWER: It is possible for the depth chart to change at any time, and with the Steelers those kinds of decisions are made by Coach Mike Tomlin.

ISRAEL CATANO FROM ARTESIA, CA: How many interceptions does Artie Burns have so far in his career?
ANSWER: In 34 career NFL games, including 27 starts, Artie Burns has four interceptions.

BEN KELLMAN FROM PHILADELPHIA, PA: The Steelers are accumulating significant additional salary cap space with each game Le'Veon Bell sits out. Are there any free agents still on the market who you think could help the team this year?
ANSWER: In my opinion, no. I believe it would be better to roll the acquired cap room over to 2019 and then use it either to re-sign some deserving current players to contract extensions or to use it possibly to attract a premium free agent when the signing period begins in March.

GERALD GAREY FROM FACTORYVILLE, PA: Can you tell me why the Steelers did not sign Khalil Mack?
ANSWER: Because he wasn't an unrestricted free agent. The Chicago Bears acquired Khalil Mack in a trade, and the Steelers didn't have the room under the salary cap even to take on the contract Mack wanted to renegotiate, let alone the salary cap room for the contract the Bears negotiated with him once the trade was made.

WILLIAM BUCKNER FROM RENO, NV: The defense (more specifically, the pass rush) seems to be progressively worsening, and this is year four without Dick LeBeau at the defensive helm. Coincidence?
ANSWER: In 2017, the Steelers finished with 56 sacks, which led the league and set a franchise record.

PAUL LUKACS FROM VIENNA, VA: Do you think Chris Boswell's struggles are attributed to the new holder? You would think that would have been identified in camp.
ANSWER: Jordan Berry was Chris Boswell's holder last season, and he is the holder this season. There has been no change there, nor at long-snapper, where Kameron Canaday also held that job in 2017.

DAREN JOHNSON FROM NEWBERG, OR: Can you please explain to me the reasoning behind T.J. Watt covering Sammy Watkins on a go-route? It doesn't seem logical to me.
ANSWER: Nor to me. My assumption would be, especially based on Watt's reaction at the end of the play, that he was supposed to be getting some help on that coverage and did not.

HAYDEN SHUEY FROM STATE COLLEGE, PA: Do you think if we were to get a third-round compensatory pick for Le'Veon Bell, we would draft another back like Bell to fill in the hole he leaves, or will we be fine with James Conner?
ANSWER: Do you realize you're asking me to predict what the Steelers will do with a third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft if they in fact get it, right?

CECIL ORTALLONO FROM ERIE, PA: Terry Bradshaw said no matter what Le'Veon Bell wants, pay him, because the Steelers will never reach the Super Bowl without him. Do you agree?
ANSWER: Terry who?