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Walker's weekend mailbag: Ravens and Steelers

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

I must admit, I've been really busy with the minicamps of the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals this past week.

To provide some balance Saturday, let's get to questions on the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers only.

Brett from Montgomery County, Md. (Stand uuup!) wants to know if the Baltimore Ravens will make a trade for Denver Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall.

James Walker: I have to give my fellow Marylander the first question this week. This is something all Ravens fans want to know, Brett. I don't mean to throw cold water on this hot topic, but I've looked into this during the week and everything I'm hearing is the Ravens will not land Marshall this summer. This is in part because I'm told the Broncos are not interested in moving Marshall, despite contrary reports, and also because there are some character concerns and Marshall wants a huge contract. The Ravens are doing their homework. But unless many of these variables change in the coming weeks, I don't envision Marshall wearing a Ravens uniform this season.


Zach from Ohio really, really wants to know which of the Baltimore's young receivers will produce this season.

James Walker: The safe answer is to say I haven't seen enough of Demetrius Williams and Marcus Smith, Zach. But since I'm not going with safe answers today, I think Ravens fans are going to be surprised by at least one of these two players in 2009. Smith was one of the better players in veteran minicamp last month. He raised these two eyebrows by making play after play in the three-day camp, although it was in shorts. Williams hasn't been as active this offseason because of prior injuries. But his speed gives him a chance to see the field in Baltimore. Neither of these two will match Derrick Mason's production as the top receiver, but that's not necessary. The Ravens just need Williams and/or Smith to be ready when their number is called in 2009.


Noah from Baltimore wonders if Chris McAlister could play safety upon his return to the NFL.

James Walker: That's a good question that I haven't thought about, Noah, who happens to be another Marylander. McAlister is physical enough and has the frame to play safety. But I'm not sure McAlister has any interest in changing positions. I think he is still a good cornerback when healthy. He just first needs to get his knee right so a team can sign him before the start of the season.


Krankor from Bellevue, WA writes: Dear James--Under the comments section of your June 13 Weekend Mailbag entry, you'll find a discussion about which commenter is secretly you under an assumed name. Care to comment?

James Walker: If I have a secret alias, Krankor, why would I tell anyone?


RJ from Virginia Beach, VA doesn't understand what all the fuss is about with the topic of "Team of the Decade" between the Steelers and New England Patriots.

James Walker: I understand that not every topic is for every sports fan, RJ. Perhaps this one isn't for you. The interest level has peaked since Pittsburgh won its second Super Bowl of the decade in February and has a chance to tie New England this season. If the Patriots didn't have another team in their wheelhouse, it wouldn't be a debate. But debating the team of the decade doesn't diminish what the Steelers, Patriots or any other Super Bowl team of the past nine years have accomplished. It's simply a way to measure the most successful and elite franchise since 2000.


Robert from Latrobe, Pa. inquires about the chances of the Pittsburgh Steelers re-signing starting defensive end Brett Keisel after the season.

James Walker: The writing looks to be on the wall for Keisel, Robert. He's 30, which is almost a formulaic number for Pittsburgh to let players test the free-agent market. The Steelers also drafted defensive lineman Evander "Ziggy" Hood in the first round, who is expected to be the heir apparent.


Chris wants me to use my crystal ball once again to see what current Pittsburgh Steelers will make the Hall of Fame.

James Walker: My crystal ball is getting a lot of work in June, Chris. I think I'm going to put it on the shelf after this mailbag, because I'm going to need it for the start of the season. The Steelers with two rings have the best chance to make the Hall of Fame. Hines Ward, in my opinion, will get in. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and safety Troy Polamalu also have winning pedigrees and are well on their way. But they need to prove their longevity.