AFC North: Dustin Keller

AFC North injury report

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
5:35
PM ET
Here are the updates on the injuries that matter the most:

BROWNS AT BENGALS

Browns: Rookie LB James-Michael Johnson (ribs/oblique) is out and TE Ben Watson (thigh) is questionable. Watson played last game with the same injury, but Jordan Cameron seems to be slowly taking over the tight end spot. RB Trent Richardson (knee) is among the six starters listed as probable.

Bengals: LB Thomas Howard (knee) and first-round CB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) are out. Howard will likely be replaced by Vontaze Burfict, Vincent Rey or Dan Skuta. DE Carlos Dunlap (knee) and backup RB Bernard Scott (hand) are both questionable. Dunlap appears to be ahead of Scott at this point and could go about 10 plays in pass-rushing situations, according to the team's official website.

RAVENS AT EAGLES

Ravens: OLB Paul Kruger (back) practiced for the first time Friday and is considered questionable. Although he's optimistic, rookie second-round pick Courtney Upshaw is ready to replace Kruger in the starting lineup. S Ed Reed (hamstring) had a full practice Friday after being limited Wednesday and Thursday. He is probable and will start.

Eagles: Starting WRs DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Jeremy Maclin (hip) are both listed as questionable. They were limited in practice Friday after sitting out Thursday.

JETS AT STEELERS

Steelers: LB James Harrison (knee) and S Troy Polamalu (calf) both won't play, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac. Chris Carter is expected to start for Harrison, and Ryan Mundy will take over for Polamalu. RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is doubtful despite full participation in every practice this week.

Jets: CB Darrelle Revis (concussion) is out after not being cleared for contact. Kyle Wilson will start opposite Antonio Cromartie. TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) has also been ruled out. His snaps will be divided up between Jeff Cumberland and Konrad Reuland. OLB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) won't play and will be replaced by Garrett McIntyre.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger often calls teammate Heath Miller the best tight end in football. But according to ESPN.com's positional Power Rankings, Miller is not even in the top 12 at his position.

Miller came in at No. 13 in this week's ranking of the NFL's best tight ends. ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton and I were the only two voters who had Miller on their ballots. Clayton voted Miller ninth and I ranked Miller seventh.

This confirms what most of us in the AFC North blog already suspected: Miller remains one of the league's most underrated players. Injuries hurt his numbers in 2010 (42 receptions for 512 yards). But Miller was recently an AFC representative in the Pro Bowl two seasons ago with 76 receptions for 789 yards and six touchdowns.

Miller is not flashy and will never catch 100 passes per season playing in Pittsburgh's offense. But in my opinion, Miller is one of the NFL's most complete tight ends and worthy of being on this list.

Miller makes the most of his limited opportunities. He's sure-handed and great at running downhill after the catch. He's also a phenomenal run- and pass-blocker, and essentially serves as Pittsburgh's third offensive tackle.

The Steelers know how important Miller is to their offense. His contributions cannot be measured strictly by numbers because Miller adds much more with his toughness, blocking ability and being a safety valve over the middle for Roethlisberger.

Miller may not be tops at his position. But I would not select 12 tight ends for my team before taking Miller.

ESPN.com's Tight End Power Rankings

1. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

2. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

3. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts

4. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers

5. Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins

6. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons

7. Kellen Winslow Jr., Tampa Bay Buccaneers

8. Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars

9. Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions

10. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers

Walker's Tight End Power Rankings

1. Jason Witten, Dallas

2. Antonio Gates, San Diego

3. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis

4. Kellen Winslow Jr., Tampa Bay

5. Vernon Davis, San Francisco

6. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta

7. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh

8. Chris Cooley, Washington

9. Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders

10. Dustin Keller, New York Jets

Walker's weekend mailbag

September, 18, 2010
9/18/10
9:00
AM ET
Let's see what's in the weekend mailbag.

Eddie from Charlotte, N.C., wants to know if there should be concern that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dennis Dixon stayed in the pocket too much last week.

James Walker: That's a great question, Eddie, and it's something that I have mixed feelings about. Dixon only rushed for four yards on two attempts against the Atlanta Falcons. But he's only doing what Pittsburgh's coaching staff wants. The Steelers want Dixon to spend more time in the pocket going through his second and sometimes third reads. His tendency is to make the first read, and if it's not there, Dixon takes off. Pittsburgh doesn't want to run its offense that way. But I think, to some degree, the team also is taking away Dixon's best asset, which helps the defense. Dixon is not a pocket passer. I think the Steelers should let "Dennis be Dennis" a little more, and allow him to scramble for first downs. It would help the offense.


Steve from Johnsonburg, Pa., writes: I know this is a long shot, but is there any way the Steelers could bring Logan Mankins to Pittsburgh?

Walker: Nope. Pittsburgh is finished negotiating contracts for the 2010 season. A trade and major signing would be way out of character of the Steelers. It's not happening.


Alex from Madison, Wis., wants to know how much cornerback Lardarius Webb's return will help the Baltimore Ravens.

Walker: Webb's expected return Sunday could not have come at a better time. Baltimore's secondary was fortunate to face Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets in Week 1. The Ravens were thin in the secondary and New York struggles to go vertical on offense. But the Bengals have a legitimate threat at quarterback in Carson Palmer and plenty of receivers to potentially give Baltimore headaches. The Ravens will need Webb, Fabian Washington, Chris Carr and Josh Wilson to all play well this week.


GPaych via Twitter writes: You think Ray Lewis was trying to send a message with that hit on Dustin Keller on that last drive?

Walker: Absolutely. Lewis, perhaps more than anyone, did not enjoy the Jets' bravado and constant talking leading up to the game. After the Ravens' D played lights out for four quarters, Lewis delivered a parting shot for the Jets to remember.


Tyler R. Smith from Palm Springs, Calif., writes: I have a fantasy football team and I have Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford and Aaron Rodgers. But I found Carson Palmer sitting as a free agent. Should I keep Flacco or trade him for Palmer?

Walker: I would pick up Palmer and release Sam Bradford. Rodgers, Flacco and Palmer are a very strong group of quarterbacks.


Joseph from Los Angeles wants to know if Eric Mangini put too much pressure on the passing game in the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Walker: Between Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, yes, too much pressure was put on the passing game. Jake Delhomme threw 37 times against the Bucs. The Browns led by 11 points in the second quarter and it was close the entire game, but Delhomme was playing on a gimpy ankle the entire second half. Cleveland's coaching staff failed to make the proper adjustments at halftime and it cost them. The offense went scoreless in the second half.


Eddie Kilroy from Brunswick, Ohio, wants to know how the right side of Cleveland's offensive line can improve.

Walker: This is a trouble spot for the Browns. Offensive tackle John St. Clair and guard Floyd Womack played poorly last week, and I'm not sure they are the answer on the right side for the next 15 games. Cleveland's coaching staff likes rookie guard Shawn Lauvao's potential, but he's been banged up with a bad ankle. When Lauvao gets healthy, look for him to at least get into the rotation on the right side and possibly earn a starting job later in the season.


Comment and complaint department

Chris Carpenter from Cincinnati writes: To whom it may concern on the Bengals, I would appreciate it if you would play football. The season started last Sunday. Your physical abilities are great; however, your mental execution was that of a Pee Wee team. You are able to play better. Your fans deserve a better product on the field. On a related note with the upcoming CBA issues: The owners may sign your checks, but the fans are really the ones who pay you. The owners will be rich with or without football. Just food for thought while you played like crap. A concerned fan.

Jason from Cocoa, Fla., writes: James, the biggest argument coming from "Bengaldom" is that they went 6-0 in the division last year. My question is, what does that have to do with 2010? Absolutely nothing. I know there are Ravens fans, and I as a Steelers fan, that feel Cincinnati had a lot of fortunate things occur in their wins over Baltimore and Pittsburgh last year. That is why I have picked them to finish third in the division. I just don't see them getting lucky two years in a row. The Ravens and Steelers are just more talented. Pittsburgh put a whipping on the Bengals last year in both games, only to blow the lead late in the game. That's nothing special on Cincy's part.

Brad from Atlanta writes: JW, when did the Bengals start getting so much respect? They looked horrific in their season opener and now they are playing one of the Super Bowl favorites and still half of ESPN's experts picked them to win. I've been a Bengals fan for a long time and, typically, when the Bengals get stomped like they did last week, everyone starts referring to them as the Bungles of old.

Chris from Annapolis, Md., writes: Is Pittsburgh top 10? Maybe not right now, but defense does win championships. Pittsburgh just needs to win one of the next three to be in solid shape for Ben Roethlisberger's return.

Butch from San Antonio writes: What makes you think Dallas and Washington are better teams than Pittsburgh? I am assuming defense, because neither team has much of an offense. The Steelers won with a third-stringer that alone should speak volumes as to the will of this team to overcome the Big Ben controversy. What is the excuse for the ineptitude of Dallas and Washington on offense?

Champ from District Heights, Md. writes: Real simple: I know it's not your division but how about them REDSKINS?

Shaneeka from High Point, N.C., writes: James, I know you like to look at history and records to make your picks, as evidence of your constant reminder of Carson Palmer's record vs. the Ravens and the Ravens' recent record vs. the Steelers. So, I thought I'd point out this nugget for you, the last time the Ravens won the season opener and missed the playoffs was 1996, their first NFL season.

Josiah from Baltimore writes: I can't wait until the Pats put the Jets down this Sunday so I can stop hearing about Jets this, Rex Ryan that. Really, JW, can you like tell some of your colleagues to cool it on the Jets. It's getting old. It was OK before the season started when we needed some storylines during training camp, but now it's time for REAL football, and there is a lot more going on in the league then the Jets and Rex Ryan's mouth. I think all the AFC North bloggers and fans can agree with me when I say NOBODY CARES OUTSIDE NEW YORK.

Kovacs from Santa Monica, Calif., writes: Brian Daboll is infuriating. I know the guys need to execute, but did it seem like Daboll's game plan was awful in the second half? The Browns had a lot of success attacking the edges with the run and getting some quick hitters in the passing game. Second half was a lot of runs up the middle and deep drops. He's got to adjust better.

Andy from Canada writes: Since when does Cleveland run a pass-first offense? The ratio of pass to run this weekend boggled my mind. This is not Mangini/BD's offense. There is more Mike Holmgren influence here than they let on, and it's not good. Tampa Bay was awful against the run last year and the Browns made them look great. Last year the QB never would have had a shot at throwing that late first-half pick, because they would have ran the ball into field goal range. For the Browns to have a shot at home against Kansas City two ratios have to increase: run to pass and Jerome Harrison to Peyton Hillis.

AFC North Homer of the Week

(Editor's note: I knew our community wouldn't fail me this week.)

1977BROWNS writes: How about this Walker: Take your Ravens and Bengals and stay on that bandwagon. I don't want to hear or see you…backing the Browns after they go 5-3 or better halfway through the season. We have a tough schedule but we will make the best of it. I believe in the Browns making the playoffs and I know you think that they will finish dead last in the AFC North this season. Take the past and all the stats which don't amount to a hill of beans. Holmgren and Jake will get this ship righted and look out. You and a lot more people may be eating their words in just a few weeks. Go Browns. As a writer I know you have to be the bad guy in this division, but the underdog will upset your predictions this year. The Browns and Steelers will finish first and second in the AFC North this season. If I am wrong then I will…take it like a real loyal fan. If I'm right, then I expect the same from you as a writer.

Sloppy play from Bengals

January, 9, 2010
1/09/10
5:47
PM ET
CINCINNATI -- It started with two false starts.

Next there was an interception by Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer.

A few plays later, a blown coverage in the secondary led to another touchdown by the New York Jets, and suddenly Cincinnati is trailing for the first time in the game.

Jets tight end Dustin Keller's 45-yard touchdown catch gave New York a 14-7 lead. The Bengals started the game well but became sloppy and have allowed 14 straight points.

It will be interesting to see how Cincinnati responds.

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