AFC North: Patrick Crayton

AFC North mailbag

June, 2, 2010
6/02/10
3:00
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Let's see what's in the mailbag this week.

Bill R. from Bellefontaine, Ohio, wants to know if Johnathan Joseph, Cedric Benson and head coach Marvin Lewis will all be re-signed next season.

James Walker: Good question, Bill. This is the final year for this power trio under contract. Joseph, in my opinion, has the least chance of getting an extension after this season simply because of the money that's involved with great cornerbacks. We will take a look at what his price tag could be later this week. Benson is interested in a new deal and he's a great fit in Cincinnati. So Benson is a possibility by the end of next season. But Lewis is the tricky one, because to my knowledge this is about more than money. It also has to do with overall direction, and that's why this negotiation is so difficult to gauge. I know the Bengals have reached out to Lewis, but I'm not sure how easy or difficult it would be for both parties to reach a middle ground.


Ben from Pittsburgh writes: What do you think the chances are that Dallas Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton ends up in Pittsburgh?

Walker: The Steelers? Not very good. Pittsburgh appears happy with its group of receivers. Mike Wallace has been the most impressive receiver in the offseason workouts I attended. Hines Ward is entrenched as the other starter, and the coaching staff hopes Antwaan Randle El can fill in the No. 3 role. I think the Cleveland Browns could use Crayton more than the Steelers.


Todd from Massillon, Ohio, writes: If Terrell Owens was signed, would the Browns be better or worse served on offense?

Walker: Even at this stage of his career, Owens would likely be the best receiver on the team. So from that standpoint, Cleveland's offense would improve. But there is a reason Owens is still on the market, and that's because of the additional things that he brings. The Browns are trying to start over with a new energy and a new regime. So taking on a strong personality like Owens would be risky.


Matt Miselis via Twitter doesn't believe Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson gave Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth enough credit for his performance last season.

Walker: I don't like to speak on other people's opinions, but I thought Williamson's analysis on Foxworth was fair. He thought Foxworth wasn't great last year and had some down games, but "you can win with him." I agree with that assessment. I think the bigger question becomes is Foxworth worth an average of $7 million per season? As I mentioned earlier, cornerbacks are very expensive in the NFL.
NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Is Cleveland Browns receiver Brian Robiskie ready to start in his second year?

[+] EnlargeBrian Robiskie
Aaron Josefczyk/Icon SMIBrian Robiskie caught just seven passes during his rookie season in 2009.
The opportunity for playing time has never been more wide open for Robiskie. The Browns are in search of another starting-caliber receiver opposite Mohamed Massaquoi, and Cleveland is hoping Robiskie develops into that player this season.

Like Massaquoi, Robiskie was taken in the second round in 2009. But unlike Massaquoi, Robiskie didn't show much in his rookie year. The former Ohio State product struggled and barely saw the field until late in the season. Robiskie finished the year with only seven catches for 106 yards.

But growth for Robiskie is already evident this year in offseason workouts. He has been impressive early and is showing the ability to make plays at the next level. Cleveland is hoping Robiskie can carry that momentum into training camp and eventually earn a significant role in the offense this summer.

A possible starting group of Massaquoi and Robiskie could potentially be the youngest receiver tandem in the NFL this season. Veteran quarterback Jake Delhomme should help develop these inexperienced players, but it will be a work in progress.

Cleveland also continues to keep its options open with possibly adding a veteran receiver to the mix (Patrick Crayton, anyone?). But Robiskie's steady performance in organized team activities is one reason the Browns have stayed put so far with what they have.
Here are the most interesting stories in the AFC North:

Morning take: We will be in Pittsburgh today to check in with the Steelers. But this has nothing to do with everyone's behavior during the holiday weekend. I've heard good reviews.

  • Running back Peyton Hillis is out to prove the Cleveland Browns got the better end of the Brady Quinn trade with the Denver Broncos.
Morning take: Quinn is the bigger name. But he's now with a crowded group of quarterbacks in Denver that includes Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow. Hillis should get playing time right away.

  • Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco is surprised fellow receiver Patrick Crayton wants to leave the Dallas Cowboys.
Morning take: Could Crayton land in the AFC North? At least one division team (Cleveland) could use a veteran receiver.

Morning take: That's an interesting thought. Maybe Stallworth could help if he's a better option than Chris Carr.

AFC North mailbag

May, 20, 2010
5/20/10
4:00
PM ET
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.

Tomlin: Cowboys comments 'funny'

December, 9, 2008
12/09/08
1:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

CraytonTomlin

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin apparently doesn't accept early Christmas gifts, as the Dallas Cowboys have put it this week.

In the aftermath of Sunday's 20-13 comeback victory over Dallas, a Cowboys player told reporters "Christmas came early for the Steelers." Initial reports had the quote attributed to tight end Jason Witten, but NFC East blogger Matt Mosley clarified Monday that it was receiver Patrick Crayton who made the statement.

Either way, Tomlin was amused by the comments during his weekly press conference Tuesday.

"That's just guys talking," Tomlin said. "That's funny to me. When the clock strikes zero, you either got more points than your opponents or you don't. We could have said the same thing about our Indianapolis game but we didn't. We acknowledge that we didn't finish the job. That's what winning is about, particularly winning in December."

And winning in the final month of the season is something the Steelers have done well. Pittsburgh is 16-5 in December since 2004.

Dallas, on the other hand, continues to give out early Christmas gifts in December, as it has for much of this decade.

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