Ask Wexell

Enough time has been wasted, so let's get right to our newest gig – that's not fashioned in any way after the outstanding "Ask Vic" series in Jacksonville. No, this one's much different. It's called "Ask Wexell."

Choltzeakin: Is Frank Summers the fullback we're looking for, or is he a big back we need to put a fullback in front of? Anyone intriguing in the draft?

Tough question. So tough that I don't have an answer. I'd prefer Summers join the halfback brigade along with Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman and, sigh, Mewelde Moore. The guys who intrigue me in the draft are big mid-round tailbacks such as Jarvarris James of Miami, Ben Tate of Auburn and undeclared junior Harvey Unga of BYU. The only highly-regarded fullback of which I'm aware is a tweener named Rashawn Jackson. He was the classic jack-of-all trades, master-of-none at Virginia. But I'm sure they can find a real fullback late in the draft, or after the draft. If not, Summers stays at fullback and competes against Sean McHugh.

Choltzeakin: Does the O-line coach just carry out Bruce Arians' schemes? Or could someone push for more power running if it suits his line? And who is hiring this coach?

The offensive line coach – hired by Mike Tomlin – will be able to push for his favored tendencies, but without the experience of, say, Dick Hoak, he won't have much influence until he proves himself over time. When Hoak said, "No, we can't get that blocked," the OC believed him.

Choltzeakin: Do you think Tomlin was at UK talking to Joker Phillips about Jimmy Heggins?

I was ready to answer with a big fat NO, thinking Jimmy Heggins was the post-draft fullback from Kentucky I'd been hearing about. I was going to say it probably had something to do with Tomlin filling his OL coaching vacancy. But I googled Jimmy Heggins and learned he is the OL coach, and with quite a resume. So, my answer would be YES. And I'm sure Tomlin slipped in a quick question about MLB Micah Johnson's knee injury. As for cornerback Trevard Lindley, his zone coverage skills and tackling were lacking in the bowl game.

Choltzeakin: Is Sunny Harris in the picture as a backup NT?

I doubt it. I know it's been written that he possibly could be, and that he's a big, big man, but neither DL Coach John Mitchell nor Harris has ever told me he's "nose tackle-capable." I'm pretty sure Scott Paxson was re-signed for the spot behind Chris Hoke on the depth chart. I know Mitchell trusts Paxson if he had to get the job done.

Choltzeakin: See anyone taking the leap between his first and second years that Lawrence Timmons took?

Well, you know the contenders as well as I: Ziggy Hood, Joe Burnett and David Johnson. Those are the three beyond Mike Wallace who played, all in varying degrees. I left Ramon Foster out because I don't think his next step will be determined by experience, but by getting in better shape. I don't know if that's in his makeup. I don't know that it isn't, either. But of the three above, obviously Hood began making strides late. He tasted success and had the appropriate response to it following the win over Baltimore: "I want more."

Choltzeakin: Is OT a possibility in the draft only if Willie Colon leaves in free agency? I don't see him as a guard after reading Craig Wolfley said he doesn't have the tools to play inside.

I'd like the new O-line coach to have the confidence to make that move with Colon. And, yes, even if Colon stays at RT, and doesn't leave via free agency, I still see offensive tackle as a real possibility in the first round, just for the sake of value. The beauty of drafting powerful OTs such as Bryan Bulaga and Trent Williams is that they can always kick inside to guard if they're not quick enough for tackle or don't get the opportunity to play it. With someone like Charles Brown, guard is not an option.

Choltzeakin: Sean Weatherspoon and Corey Wootton = Lawrence Timmons and Ziggy Hood. Yes or no?

I have to take another look at Weatherspoon before I make an absolute opinion on him, but in the few series I watched against Navy he was awful, or a little worse than the do-nothing performance against Nebraska during the midseason Thursday nighter. The only appeal I can see to Weatherspoon is the big body and the thumper potential. Timmons is more of a run-and-hit, quick-twitch blitzer who can cover. As for Wootton, I feel he's more of a strong-side defensive end in the 3-4 with the big-body potential of an Aaron Smith. Hood, on the other hand, looked much better on the right side when he filled in for Brett Keisel and is more of a pass-rusher than run-stuffer. Maybe if we look at Weatherspoon/Wootton as the strong-side version and Timmons/Hood as the weakside duo, then it's a valid analogy.

Atmt2002: Is there a possibility that Keenan Lewis is our FS of the future?

This was asked at Lewis's draft-day press conference and the coaches admitted it was a possibility down the road. Usually they don't even admit to that, even when it's obvious. So, yes, I'd say there's a good possibility. But they'll see if Lewis can play corner first. Maybe they know the answer, but they haven't told me about it.

Jenksinrke: Is it possible to that the Steelers would target Richard Seymour if Casey Hampton leaves? I think we need another playmaker/pass rusher on the DL.

I don't see that. For one, Seymour isn't a nose tackle. Secondly, Aaron Smith is coming back from injury. They also have Hood coming on and Harris in the pipeline, so I don't see a big-buck move being made at that position.

DMPP26: Given your proximity to the players, what five or 10 personnel moves would you make if you were Mike Tomlin or Kevin Colbert?

Given my proximity to the players, the team had better cut the guys I suggest here or that proximity will lead me straight to the dumpster. But I'd get rid of the older guys like Tyrone Carter and Travis Kirschke and Deshea Townsend. Warriors, all of them, and you hope that a dignified retirement announcement with media jobs all around is how it plays out. But it's time to force the coaches to work youngsters into the action instead of relying on experience to get it done. As far as getting any more moves out of me, not today. It's bad enough I had to throw three respected members of a great period of Steelers football into the boiling vat. Just not in the mood to be a tough journalist today. Try me later.

Ironman63: Neil Young with or without Crazy Horse?

With Crazy Horse, of course. While any other smooth-talking Neil will get you the old hippie chicks every time, Crazy Horse, with its rickety yet powerful majesty is the music "THEY" will never understand. THEY being anyone you need it to be while you're soaring through the black holes of the universe.

Sssssteve: What are your thoughts on the secondary even with Troy Polamalu?

Well, I'm hoping that Ike Taylor's still a legitimate starter. For all the bashing Will Gay took, I don't know that anyone had more of a hand in the losses to K.C., Oakland and Cleveland than Taylor. He has a year left on his contract, so they're not going to give up on him. But do you re-sign him before the year? Man, I don't know that answer and I thought I used to. Ryan Clark should be re-signed. I don't believe his play really fell off much. He's a great complementary piece to Troy, but showed any potential suitors that he's a bit lacking athletically. Boo hoo for Ryan and hooray for Steelers fans because it should bring his price down. Bring Clark back and have him help mentor your draft pick(s). As for Gay, I don't believe that the same coaches who believed in him last year will give up on his this year. Difference is that this year he'll have real competition from at least Burnett and Lewis in camp. But I feel Gay is still a nickel back for a championship team. The young guys need to take a big jump next year, and no matter how well we know that as media and fans, we're always surprised when it happens, so I expect at least one of them to make a quality stride at camp.


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