Monday, May 10, 2010
AFC North mailbag
By James Walker
Our AFC North inbox is filled with questions. So let's provide some answers.
Matt from Greenville, SC, asks if Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon play well for the Pittsburgh Steelers, will they keep the starting job at quarterback over Ben Roethlisberger after his suspension?
James Walker: There will be no quarterback controversy in Pittsburgh, Matt. Roethlisberger is clearly the top quarterback on the roster and gives the Steelers the best chance to win. The only scenario where there may be some doubt is if Leftwich or Dixon start the year undefeated in four or six games. Then the Steelers would have a decision to make in terms of disrupting good chemistry. But I don't see Pittsburgh starting 4-0 or 6-0 without Roethlisberger this season. So it's really a moot point.
Mike from Charlotte, NC, wants to know who will play right tackle for the Baltimore Ravens if Jared Gaither is traded.
Walker: Oniel Cousins was the starting right tackle in minicamp over the weekend. He's a young, developmental player that has three career starts for the Ravens. Personally, I feel Cousins is a far drop from Gaither based on what I saw last season. But players can improve during offseason workouts, and maybe that’s why the coaching staff seems to have some confidence in Cousins. Still, I would consider trading Gaither at this point a risky move since Baltimore is trying to contend for a Super Bowl.
Brian from Cincinnati wants to know if this is finally the year the Bengals post back-to-back winning seasons.
Walker: It's been 28 years since it last happened in Cincinnati, Brian. I'm not ready to make my picks for this year, but I feel this particular group is certainly capable of breaking that streak. I like what the Bengals have done this offseason (for the most part) and I think on paper they are more complete than they were a year ago. The two biggest concerns are injuries, which always seem to haunt this team, and playing the NFL's fourth-toughest schedule.
Chase Smith from Salisbury, NC, writes: Is it safe to say the Cleveland Browns have the best secondary in the AFC North? Thoughts?
Walker: No, Chase, that is not safe to say. I like Cleveland's depth at cornerback. But they have the shakiest group of safeties in the AFC North with Abram Elam and unproven rookies T.J. Ward and Larry Asante. Cincinnati has better cornerbacks than Cleveland, and Baltimore and Pittsburgh both have drastically better safeties. So, Chase, I don't see how you can formulate that Cleveland has the division's top secondary.