Let's see what’s in our always booming AFC North inbox this weekend.
James Walker: The Steelers are not a big motivational ploy type of team, Steve. Pittsburgh is legitimately making moves to try to fix its kickoff coverage, and if Boiman and Ivy are two of the best 11 players this week, they will be on the field Sunday. The unit can't get much worse than it's been the past two games.
Mike from Erie, PA wants to know if the Detroit Lions really faked injuries last week, as Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini suspected.
Walker: That's very hard to prove, Mike. So I don’t know if the Lions faked injuries, and the Browns don't know, either. Therefore, without confirmed knowledge, it was wrong for Mangini to make those claims. To his credit Mangini later apologized.
Brian from San Diego, CA wants to know if Charlie Weis will be the next offensive coordinator for the Browns.
Walker: It’s doubtful, Brian. There are too many variables involved. If Mangini remains head coach, he is close to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and probably won’t remove him unless ownership or management forces his hand. Conversely, if the new general manager comes in and wants to clean house that person likely has his future coaching candidates in mind, and I doubt Weis is at the top of anyone's list for offensive coordinator after spending so much time recently in the college game.
Ken from Louisville, KY says his Xavier Musketeers will rule the Atlantic-10 and the Temple Owls this year.
Walker: Your Musketeers may dunk on LeBron James, but they can't dunk all over my Owls. Temple is too tough.
Charlie from Appleton, WI writes: Does receiver Andre Caldwell ever get to return kicks again for the Cincinnati Bengals?
Walker: I called for the Bengals to end this bad experiment this week. He dances too much and occasionally fumbles. But Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis doesn't always listen to my suggestions.
Dante from Cincinnati writes: Hey JW, NEVER PICK A BENGALS GAME AGAIN!
Walker: Sorry, Dante. I’m showing faith in my sleeper pick for at least the next two games. Let's see what happens.
Eric from Dayton, Ohio writes: The Kansas City Chiefs win their first game without Larry Johnson and the Bengals lose their first game with him. Hmmmm!
Walker: Merely a coincidence, in my opinion. I foresee Johnson winning more games with Cincinnati the rest of the way than he would have with the Chiefs.
Nick from Baltimore wants to know what makes an NFL quarterback better or worse at selling play-action fakes.
Walker: This is purely subjective, Nick. But I’ve always felt quarterbacks that showed the ball the most were the most effective, similar to a pump fake in basketball. Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, for instance, will show the ball and simulate a stretch run until the last second when he virtually pulls the football out of the running back’s stomach. That usually freezes defenders, and by the time Manning turns around his receivers are streaking open down the field. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is very good at sticking the ball out and adding head fakes. All good quarterbacks have different ways to fool the defense. Often inexperienced quarterbacks rush through the motion too fast and make the play-action pass easier to read. I’ve seen that pretty often from Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn and at times with Joe Flacco. Of the three, I think Flacco has pretty good ball skills for a second-year quarterback, but he can slow down sometimes on his play-action fakes.