Ask Wexell (Feb. 2)

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

3rdCoastSteeler: If the Redskins cut Antwaan Randle El as expected, would he want to come back to Pittsburgh? And would the Steelers even want him?

Not that I've been paying close attention, but I haven't seen that Randle El quickness in a long time. And, frankly, when he left, I didn't think he was anything more than a slot receiver/return man, so I can't see the Steelers showing much interest four years later.

SteelerBill13: What do you think of doing a Steeler Nation sequel on the Internet generation?

People are already sick of the Internet generation. People deep down want to go back to running the ball while listening to Pat Summerall call the action.

Steel Clan: Do you ever see Jerome Bettis coming back as a running backs coach?

No. The best players often make the worst coaches because a.) They didn't need to learn the details, or the little things, that make marginal players better, and b.) They don't need the money badly enough to work those crazy hours. Someone like Mewelde Moore might make a good assistant coach some day.

SteelerCooz: How do you view Myron Rolle's draft status? He delayed entering the NFL so he could study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, but he was a pretty good player at Florida State.

To tell you the truth, I didn't pay much attention to Rolle in 2008, when he last played. I've read that he's a step slow, and some questioned his desire to play in the NFL. But he had a good week at the Senior Bowl after showing up in such great shape that no one questioned his desire the rest of the week. My understanding is he's a mid-rounder.

Jenksinrke: Last September, whose call was it to cut Anthony Madison?

Mike Tomlin cut Madison to keep Keiwan Ratliff because 34-year-old cornerback Deshea Townsend had missed four games with two different injuries the previous season. But Townsend remained healthy in 2009, Ratliff played poorly on teams, and Madison was eventually reacquired the same week of the post-championship season that Chidi Iwuoma was in 2006. I asked former special teams coach Bob Ligashesky about Madison prior to the reacquisition and he shook his head and said, "I can only coach the players they give me."

Steel Chowder: If the Steelers draft OG Mike Iupati, what would his role be in 2010? Would he play LG or RG? And what is the difference in those positions? Between him and Chris Kemoeatu, whose skill set better fits the positions?

After seeing how much more comfortable Iupati was at his familiar LG position in the Senior Bowl, I'd open him at LG and move Kemoeatu to RG where he spent his first three NFL seasons trying to win a job from Kendall Simmons. Iupati could compete with Ramon Foster or Kraig Urbik for the job, with the other backing up Kemoeatu as Trai Essex returns to OT as the No. 3 man. I don't know enough about Xs and Os to know the real differences in the positions. I always thought it was more about the stronger drive blocker playing the right, or strong, side, and the more mobile playing on the left side. But I'd defer to whichever side allows the players to play with more confidence. I believe Iupati is more mobile than Kemoeatu, and is also the more explosive run blocker.

The Curtain: If Casey Hampton leaves, is there any chance Tomlin switches to a 4-3 next season? How high is his confidence in Chris Hoke as a starter? Do you think a switch to a 4-3 is in Tomlin's future? And would Dick LeBeau retire if he made the move?

I realize Tomlin has drafted 4-3 defensive players in the first rounds of two of his three drafts, but I don't see that as a sign of transition to come. I think they're working to provide as much flexibility in their own defense as they can. I'm also reading how the 4-3 "Tampa 2" has become too easy for quarterbacks to beat. Whatever. I'm not a big fan of trends.

As for Chris Hoke, I don't know Tomlin's level of confidence in the veteran backup NT, but my confidence level is high. I think they'd be fine as long as they bring in a rookie to compete with Scott Paxson for the spot behind Hoke.

SteelerBill13: Outside of Scout.com, what sites do you frequent for football and draft news?

I've been reading Wes Bunting's work at National Football Post, but that's about it. People bring enough outside reading material to our message board to keep me informed.

Mineola: As the mock drafts start rolling in, I see LT Bryan Bulaga and C Maurkice Pouncey described as Day One starters. How realistic would that be given the Steelers' penchant for letting rookies sit a year? And how much input would OL Coach Sean Kugler have in that decision? I just see DB and ILB being greater priorities and they should trade up to draft someone who will make a difference.

I wouldn't count on either Bulaga or Pouncey to step into the lineup by opening day 2010. There's just too much to learn for players trying to oust veterans at either spot. Now, an injury would hasten any move. Kugler would recommend that move and Tomlin would have the final say.

JustStillin: Do you feel Art Rooney II's comments about developing young players more quickly had something to do with the schemes being more complex? Was it a shot at relying too much on the old vets?

Rooney told the Post-Gazette that the Steelers have to "get better at developing our younger players." I don't believe Rooney's criticism was meant as a shot at the complex schemes, but was made to simply put heat on the coaches to get these guys on the field, particularly when a first-round price tag is involved. I saw it as nothing more than a reminder that he's watching, and that while patience is an organizational trademark he doesn't want anyone getting too comfortable.


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