AFC North mailbag

Let's see what's in the mailbag.

Matt from Baltimore writes: I'm just wondering why everyone is taking it as a foregone conclusion that Cedric Benson will have another great year? Before last season, he had been nothing more than average.

James Walker: That's a fair point, Matt. Last year was Benson's first 1,000-yard season. I don't anticipate Benson getting more than 300 carries again this season. The Bengals would like more relief this year with Bernard Scott and possibly Brian Leonard. Cincinnati's passing game also is improved, which will make the offense more balanced. But as long as Benson stays healthy, he should be fine. He's 27, in the prime of his career, and mentally he now understands what it takes to be successful the NFL. Benson also is in a contract year and wants a new deal.

Kovacs from Santa Monica, Calif., writes: How did Cleveland Browns' minicamp compare to last season's session?

Walker: I felt there was more talent and professionalism this year, Kovacs. The quarterback position is a big reason. Regardless of what you think of Jake Delhomme at this stage of his career, he knows how to command a huddle and organize an offense. There were fewer mental errors in practice and players know more of what to expect in Eric Mangini's second year. But the Browns still have a long way to go to get to the top of the division.

Eddie Kilroy from Brunswick, Ohio, writes: Do you think Le'Ron McClain will get any carries behind Ray Rice?

Walker: More than last year, yes, Eddie. McClain's 46 carries were not enough to be effective. With Rice's emergence, McClain won't lead the Ravens in rushing. But McClain has more to offer with the ball than what he produced last year. He's also in a contract year.

Robbie D from Vienna, VA, wants to know my expectation of the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line this season.

Walker: Don't be surprised if this unit improves in several key areas, Robbie. Pittsburgh spent a first-round pick on Maurkice Pouncey, and he should help in red-zone and short-yardage situations. That would be huge for the Steelers. Pass protection also is an issue, but that probably will be more difficult for this unit to improve in one season.