Ask Wexell (April 28)

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

SteelerBill13: Who is this 273-pound fullback we signed after the draft? I can't find out anything about him.

His name is Demetrius "D Train" Taylor. He played linebacker at Virginia Tech before moving to the defensive line. I understand he's very strong. Kevin Colbert was asked about Taylor's position after the press release came out, and Colbert said fullback was correct. I still have the Tech bowl game on tape. I'll look for the "D Train" in short-yardage situations and report back to you. He could be a guy they had in mind all the way through the draft, much like Bryant McFadden.

Oh, and thanks for the nickname, SteelerBill.

SteelNorseman:The Steelers reacquired McFadden for almost nothing during the draft. Just how badly did he play in Arizona and do you think his poor play was due to him being a poor fit for the defensive scheme Arizona runs? Or is it that he isn't the player many thought he was?

Well, he might not be the solid above-average CB most of us thought he was, but the Steelers seem to be satisfied and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. As for the Cardinals giving up on him, McFadden blamed finances, new scheme/coordinator, and injuries.

I'm sure with Bill Bidwell involved finances played the biggest part. And after saying he wasn't comfortable with the new scheme and coordinator, McFadden blamed his poor performance in the playoffs on a "serious injury to my sternum, and when I continued to play I strained my CT joint (shoulder)." That occurred during the Green Bay game, and McFadden took two cortisone shots to play the following week against New Orleans. "Playing in the type of condition I was in wasn't healthy at all, physically or mentally," he said. McFadden took a lot of heat in Phoenix for his last game, and said he was down, so this move, as I see it, is a good one for both McFadden and the Steelers.

BigDaddyMo: If the owners are so upset about Ben Roethlisberger, what are the odds that they'll let him work to regain whatever value he can and then deal him later? Also, what do the new owners think of the Ben situation? Were they behind any of the "ownership is furious" talk?

No one can tell when or if they'll trade Roethlisberger. Maybe never. Or maybe the opportunity will avail itself. It's wait-and-see for everybody. The new owners? I'm sure they were more disappointed by the situation, just as we all were, but I don't believe they'd be making any case to the Rooneys, who were furious and wanted everyone to know it. As you've seen from what some of the ex-players have said lately, Roethlisberger's been a problem in the locker room and on the field as well. It's been ongoing.

I think back to an ace pitcher I once coached. He was a real pain in the butt, used to getting his way with other coaches because he was so good and such a difference maker. One day another player complained to me about him, so when the "ace" missed the next practice I took a vote on whether to boot him. The players all hated him but voted 14-1 to keep him.

BigDaddyMo: What do you think about Ryan Mundy's chances to make the 53-man roster? Could one of the corners get bumped to FS?

Mundy's going into his third year. Time to get him good or get him gone. He has the size and the understanding, so if he's ever going to put something together the time is now. He'll get more competition from Tuff Harris than the undrafted free agents they're bringing in. Will Mundy get any competition from a corner? If you mean Keenan Lewis, I doubt it. They like what they're seeing from Lewis at corner right now, and they owe him at least two full camps to develop.

Hey, they could always bring Deshea Townsend back to play safety in an emergency. But if that means Troy Polamalu's injured again, may as well find out if Tuff's up to his name.

ToddinSyracuse: Ten draft picks? I do not understand drafting for the practice squad. I predict a feeding frenzy of Steelers fourth-round cuts.

What did the 1975 Steelers fans think about management not trading up? They had 11 picks in the first seven rounds. This new trend of trading picks because "x number of players can't make x team" is a bit too precise. I agree with them soaking each position with numbers to flush out the players who are not ready to take on this season.

ToddinSyracuse: No safety prospect? Tomlin must really like Will Allen.

I think you answered your own question. At least that's what I thought, and I agree it's a pretty scary proposition. Colleague Dale Lolley told me they wanted Major Wright in the third round, so apparently they wanted some help at that point. Safety, again, is a position I'm worried about. But at least they did bring in Allen.

ToddinSyracuse: Very interesting about the growing player reunion with Bryant McFadden, Byron Leftwich, Antwaan Randle El, and Larry Foote. Is this a good thing or an indictment of their replacements?

Well, in McFadden's case it's definitely an indictment of his replacement. But, also, they know him, just like they know the other three. Their greatest fear about free agency is injuries to players they don't know. Now, Foote suffered a pretty rough foot injury last year, so maybe they're more wishing and hoping with him. But also, Foote recognizes that he has to be a reserve. I think his ego got in the way and forced him out last year. Leftwich is an obvious pickup. They wanted to sign him last year, but he wanted that starting Tampa Bay job and turned them down. Then the Steelers turned to Charlie Batch, so that tells you how they rank those two players. And Randle El, just like the rest of the reunion-eers, is great in the locker room. This influx of leadership comes at a critical time.

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