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Saturday, October 16, 2010
Walker's weekend mailbag

By James Walker
ESPN.com

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

Marcus Wyche from Baltimore wants to know if Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer should have had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

James Walker: Palmer decided not to have that surgery on his elbow in 2008. Tommy John surgery is not typically done on NFL players, and it would have been a risk to go with that procedure. When Palmer is asked about his health now, he says he's 100 percent. I take Palmer at his word and evaluate his performance mostly as though health is not an issue.

Matt from Syracuse writes: JW, isn't it a little too early to look back on the Bengals?

Walker: The point wasn't to say Cincinnati (2-3) is done, Matt, because it's a long season. The point was to highlight how quiet Bengals fans have been on the blog recently. Cincinnati fans were quite vocal here just a few weeks ago. In running this blog for three seasons, "Bengaldom" disappears and reappears on the blog more than any other fan base. That is not good fandom, in my opinion. This week's silence is another example of that.

Ryan from Dayton, Ohio, writes: How long can the Bengals keep playing like this before someone takes a fall?

Walker: Slow down, Ryan. It's too early for Bengals fans to go overboard. The team is 2-3 and still in it. There is still plenty of time to get back into the race and it starts for the Bengals next week against the Atlanta Falcons (4-1). If Cincinnati wins that game, people will feel good again.

Derek Davison from Chicago writes: As a Steelers fan, should I be worried that Rashard Mendenhall is on pace for 356 carries this season?

Walker: Impressive math, Derek. Mendenhall is on pace to shatter his career high for carries, but using him a ton was the only way Pittsburgh could win games without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. With Roethlisberger's return, the Steelers' offense will be more balanced and Mendenhall won't have to carry the offense on his back. Pittsburgh must be careful, though, not to stray too far away from their hot hand.

Eddie from Beaufort, S.C., writes: If the Ravens beat Steelers and Jets on the road, how are the Ravens still behind the Steelers in the Power Rankings?

Walker: I got this question a lot in the AFC North mailbag, Eddie, and it's a legitimate debate. But the consensus of the Power Rankings, which I am a part of, is Pittsburgh is a stronger team with Roethlisberger back. I also outlined why the Steelers are the NFL's most dominant team entering Week 6.

RJ from Altoona, Pa., writes: It seems to me that you media folks are digging deeper and deeper to find reasons to praise the Ravens. So they beat a mediocre team (Denver) after playing the Steelers, that makes them mature? Come on, man.

Walker: RJ, the Ravens are playing great football and look to be finally playing to their talent level. It's a long season, but there is no debating that the Ravens are one of the NFL's top teams.

Ron from Qalat, Afghanistan, wants to know if San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman could fit the with Baltimore.

Walker: Ron, first thank you for your service. There's a chance that Merriman, a Washington D.C. native, could land with the Washington Redskins or Ravens once he is released. But it's way too early to speculate, because Merriman is weeks away from being healthy.

Dave from Cleveland writes: The Browns need to go ahead and take the leash off Colt McCoy for this week's game against the Steelers. With Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace injured, it just makes sense.

Walker: The Browns don't have a choice, Dave. If the team felt Brett Ratliff were a better option, it would have cut McCoy in training camp and kept Ratliff. McCoy will get his chance against the stiffest test imaginable.

Don Dietz from Ashtabula, Ohio, writes: Is it a fair assessment to say that the Browns' defense has controlled the run game of their opponents?

Walker: Well, Don, the Browns have been decent. Last week, they allowed Atlanta's Michael Turner to rush for 140 yards, which isn't good. But overall, the defense has held its own. The Browns have much bigger issues than run defense. More problems reside on the offensive side of the ball.

(There will be no complaint department this week. The AFC North community whined waaaay too much.)