Thursday, May 20, 2010
AFC North mailbag
By James Walker
Let's see what's in our division inbox this week.
David from Lubbock, Texas, wants to know about the development of 2009 draft picks Ziggy Hood and Keenan Lewis.
James Walker: Both are coming along, David. The luxury for Pittsburgh is that the team doesn't need most of its draft picks to become starters right away. That's simply not the culture there. Veteran defensive end Aaron Smith has done a lot of tutoring with Hood. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a better mentor in terms of playing defensive end in a 3-4 defense. As far as Lewis, I've always liked his size and length for a cornerback. The Steelers want him to contribute this year. But I haven't seen enough this offseason to have a firm grasp on where Lewis stands.
Ben from College Park, Md., writes: I hear a lot of people saying if the Baltimore Ravens get Lardarius Webb back healthy, our secondary will be saved. Don't you think they are jumping the gun? Do you really think a second-year corner with limited game experience can solve our secondary woes?
Walker: That’s a fair point, Ben. Webb is not Darrelle Revis. He is not the cure for all of Baltimore's secondary struggles last year. But, if healthy, Webb is better than any of the backups the Ravens currently have, and that will go a long way to helping one of the team's few weaknesses. Teams passed on the Ravens, because that was the best way to have consistent success against their defense. Domonique Foxworth, Webb and Fabian Washington don't have to be superstars. But if they all step it up a notch or two this year, Baltimore will be really tough to score against. That's why it's important for Webb and Washington to get healthy and play well.
Sam Rugg from Columbus, Ohio, wants to know if the Cleveland Browns have any interest in Dallas Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton.
Walker: Sam, the Browns are leaving the possibility open to adding a veteran receiver. But to date, I haven't heard of any interest in Crayton specifically. That can always change. Cleveland likely will go through organized team activities and possibly minicamp before determining if it needs to make a move. The issue with Crayton is it would require a trade, and I'm not sure the Browns want to give up draft picks for next year as opposed to signing an available free agent.
Will from Nashville, Tenn., writes: What are the Bengals going to do at fullback this season?
Walker: That's a good question, Will, that's been under the radar this offseason. Right now Fui Vakapuna is probably the favorite. Brian Leonard and recent addition Walter Mendenhall are also versatile enough to play fullback. Jeremi Johnson is still available for insurance. But I get the sense the Bengals have grown increasingly tired of dealing with Johnson's weight issues. Cincinnati still has plenty of time to see if Vakapuna is ready to handle the position, and if that's not the case, the Bengals could look to add more competition this summer.