<
>

Walker's weekend mailbag

8/28/2010

Let's see what's in our AFC North inbox this week.

Sam Fleishman from Seattle, WA, writes: Are the Pittsburgh Steelers better with Maurkice Pouncey at RG and Justin Hartwig at C? Or Trai Essex at RG and Pouncey at C?

James Walker: Playing Pouncey at center is the best move, Sam, and it looks like the Steelers are going in that direction. Pittsburgh drafted Pouncey in the first round to play center, and there's no better time than the present. Pouncey is versatile enough to be a solid guard, but he can be a potentially great center. Pittsburgh should let the blue-chip prospect flourish where he's best and build around him.


Doug from Baltimore wants to know if Hartwig should be moved to right tackle since he played the position in college.

Walker: Hartwig played the position years ago, Doug. But Pittsburgh shouldn't experiment like that unless it's an emergency. Hartwig is an NFL center, and that's what he's best at. I think Pittsburgh will give him a shot at guard to see if he's starting material. If not, Hartwig could be the first sub off the bench at center and guard, where injuries often take place.


Alex from Baltimore writes: I understand that the Baltimore Ravens' defense is not as stellar without Ed Reed. But I don't see any reason why you say they won't win the Super Bowl without him.

Walker: It's kind of a moot point, Alex, because Reed will play this season when he's healthy. But I don't understand why Ravens fans get so upset about that statement. If it makes Baltimore fans feel any better, I don't feel the Steelers can win a Super Bowl without Troy Polamalu playing this year, either.


Kovacs from Santa Monica, Calif., writes: Was there ever any doubt that Colt McCoy was going to make the Cleveland Browns' roster?

Walker: There was speculation in Cleveland this week that McCoy is on the bubble, Kovacs. But after checking it out, I'm told there's no validity to it. McCoy will make the team.


Mathew Nolan from Clay Center, Nebraska, wants to know when the Cincinnati Bengals will begin looking for their quarterback of the future.

Walker: The Bengals have put this off, because they still have a lot of confidence and money invested in Palmer. He's only 30, which is not old for a quarterback. As long as Palmer stays healthy, he should still have several good years left. But I think this season is big for Palmer to prove it.


Red McDaniel from Versailles, Ky., wants to know if the Bengals will sweep the division again.

Walker: The Steelers and Bengals have done it the past two years. But the streak ends in 2010. The division is too tough, too balanced.


Comment and complaint department

Here are this week's comments and complaints from our great AFC North community:

Dave from Cincinnati writes: Have you noticed that Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore all have last-place baseball teams while Cincinnati has a first-place one? Maybe that's why Steelers, Browns and Ravens fans have been so rowdy and restless this summer. And who's the undefeated defending AFC North Champs again?

Luke from Cincinnati writes: Other than maybe pass protection, which I thought has looked alright in the last two preseason games, is there any considerable weakness that the Bengals have? Maybe I'm a bit of a homer, but they seem solid all around to me.

RJ from Altoona, Pa., writes: You know what I like about the Steelers? They don't talk smack about other teams. They don't wear T-shirts mocking their rivals. They don't think they're entitled to a Super Bowl after a single 10-win season. And when people tell them that they're going to do nothing but lose, they just put their heads down and play harder.

Keith P. from Livermore, Calif., writes: I think a way the Steelers could use their QB situation as an advantage is to not name a starter. Make teams prepare for both Dennis Dixon and Byron Leftwich and use them based on the situation. It could work until Ben Roethlisberger gets back.

Matt from Washington, D.C., writes: There is so much talk about the Ravens corners this year, and rightfully so. My problem is, why do people think the return of Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb is going to magically fix the secondary? Both corners are average at best. Webb is basically still a rookie, and Washington hasn't done anything with his play to wow me.

Benjamin Mead Fredericksburg, Va., writes: Yes, the Browns are in the AFC North, but it doesn't mean they can't make an impact this season. The Browns could very well end up at 7-9 or 8-8 this season. A record like this could definitely shape the AFC playoff picture considering how competitive the AFC is. The Browns should be taken seriously.


AFC North Homer of the Week

John Finley from Easley, South Carolina, writes: Not only will the Cleveland Browns be a "sleeper" this season and win the AFC North division, the Browns will be a NIGHTMARE for all NFL teams to face. The Browns will win the next two Super Bowls starting this season. Go Browns!

If you any questions, comments or complaints, feel free to send them to our AFC North inbox.