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Saturday, September 11, 2010
Walker's weekend mailbag

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Let's see what's in the weekend mailbag.

Becky from Galloway, Ohio, writes: Do you think Marvin Lewis not getting a new contract will impact the Cincinnati Bengals this season?

Walker: Not right away, Becky. Lately this topic has been low key in Cincinnati but could grow as the season wears on. I hear that not much is currently going on between the two sides. Perhaps Lewis and the Bengals decided to focus on the regular season now that it's here. But things can change if Cincinnati gets off to a hot start.


Jeff Chernauskas from Westerville, Ohio, writes: Do you really think Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin would not start Ben Roethlisberger against the Cleveland Browns?

Walker: There is very little chance Roethlisberger isn’t the starter when he returns, Jeff. I'm not big on "what if" questions, but the only way I see this as even a remote possibility is "if" Dennis Dixon started 4-0 and lit up the scoreboard. The chances of that happening are not great. Tomlin said he didn't want to back himself into a corner, and I take that at face value. He doesn't want to be boxed in for comments he made a month ago in the event something completely unforeseen happens in the next four games.


William Banik from Houston writes: Why didn't the Steelers put Byron Leftwich on IR?

Walker: I'm not sure why you believe that's a good idea, Williams. Putting Leftwich on injured reserve would sideline him for the season. When I talked with Leftwich this week, he seemed very optimistic about his progress. The timeline is two to four weeks for his knee injury, and that’s a huge difference between sitting Leftwich for the season.


Rob Spencer from Las Vegas, Nev., writes: What happened to the Browns' Chris Jennings?

Walker: Jennings is now a former running back of the Browns, Rob. He was released last week during the team’s final roster cuts. The Browns pretty much had to choose between Jennings and 2009 draft pick James Davis, and Davis showed more potential in the preseason.


Stephen from El Dorado, Ariz., writes: Why did Baltimore sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh when they already have a bevy of possession-type receivers on the roster?

Walker: This wasn't in the plans until two things happened, Stephen. First, Donte' Stallworth broke his foot, and second, T.J. Houshmandzadeh was released by the Seattle Seahawks. Baltimore's open receiver spot and Houshmandzadeh’s willingness to play for cheap because Seattle is paying him made for a good match. The Ravens also traded Mark Clayton to the St. Louis Rams, and Stallworth is expected to return about midway through the season.


Comment and complaint department

Here are comments and complaints this week from our AFC North community.

RC from Baltimore writes: I saw a story in USA Today about the issues some teams are having with ticket sales. They listed the Cincinnati Bengals as a team that may have TV blackouts of their home games this year. The Bengals haven't had consecutive winning seasons in forever. They wake up last year and sweep the division, bringing all of their fans out of the woodwork and on to every blog and chat boasting of their conquests both past and future. Now we hear that these same die hard amazing fans don't actually show up for the games. Come on, Bengal fans, you have a good team to cheer for this year. That doesn't happen much in your town. Get off your butts and buy a ticket like big boys. I say we ban these knuckleheads from posting on the blog until they sell out their home games.

Rob from Bowling Green, Ohio, writes: What's with all of these Bengal fans saying that it doesn't matter who our backup QBs are because Carson Palmer is the only one who will bring the team success? Not all injuries are season ending, and if No. 9 goes down for a game or two, we're going to need someone who can keep the Bengals in playoff contention.

Ben from Pensacola, Fla., writes: The Browns finish ahead of the Steelers? That's pretty hilarious. I hope the same people that believe that are around to admit how wrong they were when the Steelers win the AFC North.

Amr from Hazleton, Pa., writes: For the most part the Steelers are ranked low because Big Ben will miss a quarter of the season. If the Steelers come out 2-2 or 3-1 how could they not be the favorites? Ben should be playing this season with more to prove then ever before. No matter the outcome beforehand they should be able to pull off 10-2 with Ben. Twelve wins should lock up a wildcard spot and maybe the division.

Kovacs from Santa Monica, Calif., writes: Fearless Prediction: Browns will be in first place in the division after Week 2 and still in the bottom five of ESPN's Power Rankings. A 0-2 Steelers team will still be in the top 15.

(Editor's note: With zero wins and losses, the Steelers were rated No. 18 this week by our panel.)

Nflreaction via Twitter writes: I agree with everything, save for the Browns. I think they edge out the Bucs and show signs of life to start the season.

Charlie D from Baltimore writes: I had to comment on how disappointed I am with the Ravens' decision making. While it doesn't hurt to have T.J, Houshmandzadeh, I wish we hadn't signed him. We didn't really need him, and Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh keep on neglecting the secondary to the point that it is just ridiculous. Baltimore is about smash-mouth, physical defense. That is the Ravens' identity. All this offensive stacking is nice, but we can't forget what the Ravens do best. Re-sign Chris McAlister!

William Wang from Germantown, Md., writes: I don't understand why everyone is so down on the Ravens' secondary. I know Ed Reed is an absolute beast, and his loss will hurt, but Tom Zbikowski is a capable replacement. Josh Wilson, Fabian Washington and Chris Carr are all solid starters. Also, Lardarius Webb will be returning soon. Besides, how often do teams throw to their fourth or fifth wide receivers?

There are no glaring "Homer of the Week" comments this time. Good job, everyone.