Ask Wex (May 17)

Have any questions about the Pittsburgh Steelers? Enter the South Side message board and click on any of the "Ask Wex" threads. publisher Jim Wexell will answer those questions here on the front page.

NYSteel: What is Art Rooney II's view of Mike Tomlin at this time? I would particularly be interested in respect of two sets of issues: (i) Does he believe Tomlin/Bruce Arians have been too permissive of Ben Roethlisberger's behavior and contributed to the problems and (ii) Does the hiring back of guys who left earlier (Bryant McFadden, Larry Foote, Antwaan Randle El) suggest frustration with personnel management in the last few years either by Kevin Colbert or Tomlin?

First of all, Tomlin was Art's first hire, so I assume he's going to give the coach every benefit of the doubt. I doubt he believes that coaches are responsible for a player's actions off the field, nor should he. I do believe Art thinks Arians has been too permissive with Roethlisberger on the field. The prolonged holding of the ball and the audibles into "running plays that can't work" are both symptomatic of excessive permissiveness. Shouldn't everyone be held accountable for their mistakes? As for the second part of your question, I see the re-signing of former players as being merely coincidental. The Cards overpaid for McFadden and were eager trade partners; Foote understands his role as a backup now; and the Redskins overpaid for Randle El, who had a good relationship with everyone in Pittsburgh.

Vandilay Industries: Do you believe that, other than reigning him in, the cloud of Ben's suspension might have a small silver lining? I would think there is no way that -- whether it's Dennis Dixon, Byron Leftwich, or Charlie Batch at the helm -- Arians is going to be chucking the ball 40 times per game regardless of what Art II had communicated about wanting to run the ball now. In short, might Ben's absence force the team to focus even more on the running game a la 2004 and to get that mentality back?

In short, yes.

Draftnut: As the Steelers have brought in a couple of ex-Bucs (Leftwich and Will Allen), would the Steelers and OL coach Sean Kugler have an interest in taking a look at Arron Sears?

I doubt it. They have the numbers on the interior of their O-line. No sense adding to the confusion.

Stillerfreak: Do you like a gas or charcoal grille better?

My wife likes the gas grille better, therefore I do too.

StlrNews: In your opinion can Mike Wallace/ARE effectively replace Santonio Holmes/Wallace? Is B-Mac a long-term and effective starting CB solution? If not, is anyone on the roster besides Ike Taylor? Will Maurkice Pouncey start Week 1 at RG? Will Justin Hartwig be replaced at starting C by Doug Legursky?

I'd have to go with the Holmes-Wallace duo by a wide margin since ARE hasn't shown much quickness yet. At CB, players can lose it so quickly that I rarely think of any of them as long-term answers, particularly among this crew. B-Mac should be fine for now and I expect improvement from Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett. I don't think Pouncey will start Week 1 at RG, since he has so much to learn, but you always hope to be surprised. I'd like to see Legursky start at center but don't think it'll happen since I never expect to get what I want from coaches.

SteelerBill: Ginger or Mary Ann? Also, I realize that in some circles Lord Byron gives us the best opportunity to win based on experience. But, if Tomlin does like Dixon as much as has been reported, and if he is the "future" at the position (AB - After Ben), wouldn't it make sense to ride the Double D Express in order to provide him with game experience?

Two ancient questions that have no right answers. The first one is the toughest, and I'll side – barely – with Mary Ann since I think Ginger would end up cheating on me at some point to get a lead role. As for giving young QBs playing time to hasten their development, I don't like to think that way, particularly with a team that can compete for a title. Go with the guy who can help you win today's game.

Steelmann58: What positions do you believe need a tweak before training camp starts in July?

They have to cut 10 players, so I don't see any further tweaking taking place.

Tyranid: What do you think of the TE corps? Will David Johnson retain FB duties? Will he get a shot at No. 2 TE? Where do Sean McHugh and Frank Summers fit into all of this? What does the staff think of Matt Spaeth at this point? They brought Nate Byham in. Would they have drafted him had he lasted to their pick in the 6th round?

I think Heath Miller's a great piece to any championship contender, and I don't think Spaeth's as bad as most say. He'll surprise you every now and then by sealing the edge on something wide. But, he's still only average on his best days. I think Johnson will be pushed by McHugh for the fullback job, but if they're close Johnson will get the job. He has better upside as an in-line blocker. Byham was brought in because he played at Pitt. I doubt the Steelers had any plans to add to their 5-man TE group.

CASteelerDude: What role did Dick LeBeau play in the draft? Did he lobby for anyone in particular?

All assistants provide input, and I'm sure LeBeau turned in his homework assignments. He didn't attend the Virginia Tech Pro Day, but did go to Ohio State, so he may have pushed a little bit for Thaddeus Gibson, but I doubt that he strenuously lobbied for anyone since rookies normally don't contribute much to his units anyway.

Tanny Brown: With a draft that signals a return to the best-football-player approach, do you think that strategy will apply when the coaches are making cuts? That is to say, do you see the team moving towards keeping the best 53 players to create a roster with, say, only 2 active quarterbacks (plus Ben) and perhaps 8 DL (or some other scenario where one position is made deep at the expense of another)?

Tomlin will ask himself which 53 give him the best chance to win the opener, and then which 53 give him the best chance for the first half of the season. Ties will of course go to younger players with upside. And, he may be reminded, that older players cost more, but it won't be a sticking point. And, yes, excessive talent at one unit can deprive another less talented unit on cutdown day.

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