Hey, Wex

In a philosophical shift, we're now calling this column, "Hey, Wex." The format will still be fueled by questions from the message board, but now your comments, diatribes, rants and insults are fair game. So, enjoy.

Ironman63: Would the Steelers have any interest in Shaun Rogers with the Big Snack being his good friend and because Hamp may be able to keep a fire lit under his butt?

They had a tough enough time getting Casey Hampton on the field, let alone bring in another NT. I'd love to have Rogers up front, too, but considering his cost, attitude history, and the need to make sure Aaron Smith stays on the roster, I see zero chance of them signing Rogers.

Dam3391: Can you franchise a guy before March 3rd? If, so, will it be null and void under a new CBA if one is signed after March 3rd? And this question probably can't be answered now, but how do the Steelers and Colbert approach the draft if they can't sign free agents because the current CBA lapses?

My understanding is that now's the time to franchise a player, up until Feb. 24. The head of the NFLPA argues that it would be invalid, and I suspect it will become a minor negotiating point, but I can't see the owners giving in on that point if it costs them their, well, franchise players. So I feel it will be a good day for Steelers fans – probably next week – when LaMarr Woodley is franchised.

As for Kevin Colbert's approach to the draft, I don't see him changing one bit in the first round. He's been too successful to change. And even though they won't have much of a chance to sign other team's free agents, other teams won't have much of a chance to sign theirs.

tureoh75: I just had a question on your column note about a first-round WR. What WRs would have value at that spot? Just asking, because I don't see any worthy of that spot unless Julio Jones drops, IMHO. And do you like Moore (FS from UCLA)?

Well, I wrote that note without a particular player in mind, just that if someone like, you know, Julio Jones, drops then they should consider that position along with CB and OL. But Jones isn't going to drop. Jonathan Baldwin might be there, and that's something I couldn't have imagined last year. But after watching his lack of competitiveness this year, I doubt they'd draft him. Michael Floyd was actually the guy I had in mind at the end of the year, but then he didn't come out. The one possibility remains Greg Little. He's got the body of a No. 1 and he was such a deep threat in 2009. His problem was that the North Carolina offense was so bad and he only had brief flashes. Because of that, he was going to be scouted heavily in 2010, but then he was ruled ineligible. I don't know what kind of a kid he is, but physically he's a star-type receiver who could slip to 31. I know a scout who liked him a lot in 2009. Another junior, Torrey Smith of Maryland, could run a 4.29 at the combine and jump into the first round.

But you know how it is: value, value, value, and part of that with the Steelers, especially in the first round, is character. It's doubtful the Steelers will look at a WR (particularly with Limas Sweed still around), but I think it's a potential problem area.

As for Rahim Moore, I watched him closely in one game and don't remember much. I did note "quick, tough" after the game, and I'm usually not so positive. But I just don't see them addressing that position early. I could be wrong though, so if you like him, ride him.

rbriggs3: It would be kinda nice to maybe get some impressions from the guys who are finishing their first year in the NFL. What went right? What went wrong? What did they learn? Could probably be a series of articles.

Thanks for the input. I'll consider it.

Draftnut: Do you think that Heart's "Barracuda" would make a decent replacement for "Renegade"? I'm sick of that piece of 70s crap.

Well, you know you're preaching to the choir here, Draftnut, but "Renegade" is pretty ensconced in Pittsburgh lore by now. And why would you want to exchange one "piece of 70s crap" for another? Not that Heart ranks as low in my estimation as Styx, but they're uninspiring in their own right. Now, that new Black Keys' song, "Howlin' for You", would be a tremendous addition at Heinz Field. Fox actually played it during one Super Bowl commercial break. But, you know how that goes: When media begins playing your favorite songs, those songs ain't cool anymore.

CrispyRat: How big a priority is adding another running back? Mewelde Moore is old. Isaac Redman, while a strong short-yardage back, showed his lack of speed in the Bowl. Seems like we are pretty thin there. 3-5th round?

Again, it's all about value, or drafting the board, but, yeah, I can buy your argument, although I really like Redman, slow and all, and Moore finished strong. I also see the Steelers taking a long preseason look at Jonathan Dwyer and Frank Summers before overdrafting at the position. But in the fifth or sixth round? Sure. One name to remember in those rounds is Jamie Harper of Clemson. He's a junior with nice size and enough speed and he can block and catch.

mightyveg: It sucks to be focused on asking you off-season questions rather than on buying my commemorative DVD and being glued to NFL Network to re-watch a SB victory. Only silver lining is that I get a break from NFLN's idiot talking heads. Glad you're back safe and sound. Here are some questions/topics:

Thoughts from Answer Man? As a fan, who's limited to what you can spot on TV, and who doesn't know what everyone's respective assignment was on a given play, it's so difficult to figure out what really went wrong in the SB. Should our faith in Ben be shaken? He made some great money plays in the playoffs, but his play was pretty uneven. Were his SB-accuracy issues injury related? What about the slip on the pass to Heath Miller? Would love to hear both your and Answer Man's thoughts.

Sorry, you've only got me, but I'm thrilled to finally get a Super Bowl question. You really should watch the game replay and other NFL Network shows with the miked-up players. It helped answer some of my questions and also re-affirmed some things for me. You also need to purge your system of the game and that's the only way. And you'll be proud of your team and players again, even though you'll become all the more frustrated because Green Bay was so very beatable.

I really don't want to retain this precedent of answering five questions in a row from the same poster, but I'll get to a couple of yours today. About Ben Roethlisberger, I don't know if my faith has been shaken as much as I think Aaron Rodgers is now the better quarterback. And, yes, Ben had some injury issues. I don't think we need a medical exam to realize his right foot was a problem. Did he injure his knee? Clay Matthews said at the time that Ben was faking and to watch out for him trying to become "some kind of hero" on the next play, which he did with the long run. I also think the pressure weighed on Ben to show off a good-boy image, and that's a shame. I'd have much rather dealt with a testy Roethlisberger who's adjusting to life without alcohol than a nice, smiling Roethlisberger who needs to go out at night to blow off the steam. To me, that was the disappointing issue of the news from the piano bar. He really should swear off demon alcohol, but that's just my humble opinion.

mightyveg: Should we really be surprised by our mistake-prone, uneven SB performance given the major hiccups we experienced in the playoffs this year? Our offense had three good quarters, although the third-quarter TDs against the Ravens were on short fields. Defense was stellar against Ravens but had a crap second half against the Jets, even with the goal-line stand.

Sorry, but I'm not going to diminish hard-fought wins over the Jets and Ravens. No team is perfect. Look at how the Packers tried to hand the Super Bowl to the Steelers. Rashard Mendenhall's performance in his last two games was a real bright spot for me. He looks like a legitimate superstar tailback right now.

mightyveg: Now that the season is over, and the team doesn't have to be cagey, what's the real deal with Troy's health? I realize he was playing a lot of centerfield coverage after he returned from injury, and thus had fewer opportunities for splash plays, and a good QB/team that can spread the field ("When you spread out the offense the way they do," Polamalu said [of GB], "you're able to put somebody on one side of the field and just work on the opposite side of the field.") will stay away from him, but it seemed to me that he was guessing more (jumping the seam route on the Jennings TD) to try to make the plays he couldn't make on a bad wheel. Or maybe with 2 weeks McCarthy had time to cross up GB's tendencies? Or maybe we just expect too much from Troy and want him to be Superman every game?

Instead of the misnomer "center field" let's stick with deep half in a cover-2, because Troy Polamalu was rarely in the center of cover-1 or cover-3. But anyway, what was so noticeable was his inability to change direction. People had been saying Troy was slowing down, but I never saw that. What I noticed in the Super Bowl – and the miked-up Greg Jennings confirmed this while pleading with an assistant coach – was that Troy could barrel forward at his familiar high velocity, but couldn't change direction at all. That was likely the problem with "guessing wrong" against Jennings in the end zone. Troy Aikman also pointed out that all week Mike Tomlin had emphasized stopping Jennings over the middle. So, Troy was hurt and doing what he was coached to do while being asked to cover the Packers' best WR man-to-man.

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