Ask Wex (9/18)

Have any questions about the Pittsburgh Steelers? Check into the South Side message board and click on the "Ask Wex" thread. publisher Jim Wexell will answer your questions here on the front page.

JKNYCity: Can you explain the rationale used for putting receivers at the various wide receiver positions? Is there a position that the No. 1 receiver typically plays? What makes a player best suited for split end, slot, or flanker? Is it really that difficult moving between the positions?

I have so much work today, so please don't take my brevity the wrong way. But to answer your questions, the split end is normally the deep threat, so, yes, oftentimes he's the so-called No. 1 WR. The flanker is more involved in the run game, ergo Hines Ward's blocking fits it perfectly. Slot WRs are often helped by the extra yard in getting off the line, so often you'll see the small, shifty guys there and the savvy ones understand how to work the middle of the field. But those are just stereotypes. A coach can use different rationale to suit his needs, just as a baseball coach can put one of his top arms at second base since he has to take relays and turn double plays. Of course, each position requires different responsibilities on each play and therefore a complete understanding is necessary to switch positions.

I guess I wasn't very "brev" after all.

ToddInSyracuse: What roster moves, if any, do you anticipate in response to the Hampton/Starks injuries? Also, I would like to see more from the No. 2 RB. Rashard Mendenhall's carries were manageable (at 22), but would be a concern during an extended OT (i.e. a 10 play OT drive would have resulted in 26-27+ carries). Any grumblings internally to get Isaac Redman more carries?

I don't anticipate any roster moves, but I do believe the workout this week of G Doug Thomas and QB Jarrett Brown may have something to do with the return to health of Byron Leftwich. Charlie Batch could be let go for some depth at guard, and Brown, who may have had some of the best physical QB tools in the country last season, could be signed to the practice squad.

As for your second question, I don't know if anyone's grumbling on behalf of Redman, but Mewelde Moore certainly looked slow Sunday and that has to be a concern after last season.

SteelerJunky: Al Woods was a fourth-round pick in the draft and now is on the Steelers' practice squad. I know it has only been a week or so, but how much upside do the coaches see in him? What is his down side? Also, CB Keenan Lewis has good physical abilities, but does he have enough football smarts to help the team in the future?

I'll look into Woods this week (I hope) for you. The upside is that he's a big man who can move a bit. There is no down side, since he's only on the practice squad and they weren't the team that drafted him. As for Keenan Lewis, he graduated high school with academic honors, so he's a bright young guy. I realize he didn't look like he had enough "football smarts" in his lone preseason start, but I attribute that to anxiety over an opportunity. I expect he's learned a good lesson from it.

IronMeNow: The timeout philosophy explained before the 2-minute warning? A couple of the quick hitches call for a cut block by The Hotel. Can he execute that? Why no roll-outs for Dixon? Why wasn't Frank Summers given a shot at the third-down role? Can you sign a book for me?

Usually I'm all over coaches for screwing up clock management, but your first question is one that's being asked by many. I must say that it was lost on me. Perhaps I'm getting old. All I had in my notebook was "nice timeout" in a sarcastic tribute to back-to-back sacks of Dennis Dixon after the timeout. They were 2nd-and-5 at their own 44 with 2:05 left. I just didn't see the strategic problem with stopping the clock.

On Flozell Adams executing a cut block, I think he's either too old or too lazy sometimes, and neither is an acceptable option. I think it's something to keep an eye on. As for rollouts, coaches hate to give up half the field from the git-go. And Frank Summers isn't nifty enough as a receiver to warrant much third-down consideration.

Now, as for your best and most important question, yes I can sign a book – Steeler Nation, I presume – for you, but the PayPal option is no more. You can go here to use your credit card on Amazon, or send me a check for $20. I'll give you my address if you PM me back at the ranch (our site).

Blitz36: Simple, has anyone talked to Ben Roethlisberger?

No. It's not allowed. As far as I'm concerned, out of sight, out of mind. But of course this circus won't end until the team makes the playoffs. And if they don't make the playoffs, dealing with this, as media and fans, won't end until the start of the 2011 season. That's why I laugh every time someone on the message board asks if we could "just put this behind us."

KanOfCorn: Who put the helium in the kicking footballs? Both kickers had the leg to hit 60-yarders in the game – at Heinz Field! Jeff Reed actually had a touchback, and Daniel Sepulveda was 50.8 Gross/46.8 Net. What are your insights?

I'm guessing it had to do with warm weather and fresh legs. If this were December, I'd put some stock into your helium theory.

Thor1970: Your thoughts on the LB corps from Sunday? Any need to be worried about James Farrior with his missed tackle behind the line? Also, is Maurkice Pouncey that good? And if Dixon is still unable to drive the team in the first half next Sunday, any chance they go to Charlie Batch?

Every time Farrior misses a tackle I guess we'll have to contemplate his age. But I think it's the best linebacking corps in the NFL, and he's the leader. And, yes, Maurkice Pouncey is that good. I watched and wrote about him throughout all of last season when he was at Florida, but have still been surprised at his skill level. As for Dixon, it'll depend on the scoreboard. The braintrust could be very patient with him last week with the Falcons struggling on offense.

Danimal: Dixon to Mike Wallace was a thing of beauty. Why did we not see more shots in the Falcons game and should we expect to see it a bit more in the Titans game? Also, did anyone ask Troy Polamalu how his knee felt after the game?

The problem with going deep is the worry about the protection up front, and that won't be lessened any with the loss of Max Starks. It's smarter to pick their spots for the home-run attempt. I thought the Steelers could've tried one or two more, but the coaches did have a winning effort; the scoreboard said so.

No one asked Troy about his knee because of the burst he showed before his interception. He did talk about how happy he was to get out of the game healthy, so I assume his knee's fine.

Ellsy82: As a beast pass-rusher, why is LaMarr Woodley being asked to drop back into coverage that often?

They'd just be a 4-down team if Woodley rushed all the time. He and James Harrison are asked to mix it up, thus part of the mystery for opposing quarterbacks.

tannybrown: If this isn't the time for Tony Hills to play LT, his only spot, will there be one?

I agree, but Jonathan Scott did fare well in relief last week. Hills had been playing guard and right tackle in practice the last couple of weeks, so the team has been preparing him for his Sunday role as a backup. Small steps are reserved, and deserved, for a guy who's struggled in camp the last two years.

Archangel67: How do you watch the game? Is it through the eyes of a pro writer or that of a fan?

I don't think about it, to tell you the truth. I've been trained to not be a fan, and I did grow up a fan of the Chicago Bears. But it's hard not to become sympathetic to certain people, and of course root for them. I have great respect and an affinity for the Rooneys, Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin to start with, so I'm sure you can guess my in-game feelings from there. Just please don't tell anyone. In fact, burn this column when you're done.

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