El Yeah!

<p> Three touches. Two touch<i>downs</i>. </p> <p> Last week, in a preseason loss to the New York Jets, it seemed as if every one of his catches went for a first down. And then there was the reverse on which two Jets defenders -- both of whom had him dead-to-rights -- were left grasping at air. </p>

Yeah, Antwaan Randle El is a player. El yeah!

Nearly three decades ago, the "Voice of the Steelers" Myron Cope brought us the Terrible Towel, and now? Now he's gone and done it again, this time with "El Yeah"; which, as Cope explained, is not a nickname, but an exclamation. It'll likely catch on with the fans in Pittsburgh, too...Randle El will make it easy. Randle El makes you gasp.

Then he takes your breath away.

On 1st-&-10 from the Washington 32yd line, running back Jerome Bettis took a routine handoff from soon-to-be-unemployed quarterback Tee Martin and turned it into something extraordinary -- he gave it to Randle El. Antwaan proceeded to race through the Redskins defense untouched, flashing the speed no one thought he had (though they had seen it time and time again) until he hit paydirt.

Michigan State defensive line coach Brad Lawing once said that "tackling (Antwaan Randle El) is like trying to grab smoke."

I would say that about sums it up. The Washington defense may well agree.

To date the young quarterback-turned-receiver has proven that he can run crisp routes, get open against NFL-quality coverage, and catch the ball consistently. In fact, it is infinitely more noteworthy when the sure-handed Randle El drops a pass, than when he catches one. He's that good.

Perhaps most importantly, El has proven that he is no gimmick. Such were the proclamations when the Steelers dared pass on accomplished Pitt receiver Antonio Bryant with the 62nd overall pick in April's draft. Antwaan was short, slow and inexperienced. Heck, he wasn't even a college WR! How could the Steelers do such a thing? Call it the safe pick -- forego the me-first jerk Bryant, and bring in the football player. Numbers aside, El is just that -- a football player -- and a supremely talented one at that.

Head coach Bill Cowher has been quoted as saying that El is a "charismatic" player, whatever that is supposed to mean. If it means that his teammates believe in him and will rally around him then that's certainly a good thing. If it means that he is the type of guy that makes things happen, that has that aura about him that would be a good thing, too. If it was meant to imply that El is that rarest of player who defenses fear; who, with ball in hand, can hush a crowd and bring them roaring to their feet in the blink of an eye…that would be a great thing indeed.

Is Antwaan Randle El the x-factor in the Steelers championship equation? Is he the black-&-gold version of the Ravens Jermaine Lewis? A game-breaker? Or better still, a game-changer? The Patriots Troy Brown and the aforementioned Lewis broke the Steelers backs on several occasions both during the regular season and in the playoffs. Might El place that type of lethal weapon at the Steelers disposal? Might A-R-E become R-O-Y in the process?

The team, and its fans, certainly hope so.

El Yeah!


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