<
>

Walker's weekend mailbag: WR talk

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

The AFC North mailbag has been inundated with wide receiver questions this week. So let's provide some answers.

Al Lewis from Cleveland, Ohio, wants to know who is going to be the No. 2 receiver for the Cleveland Browns this season.

James Walker: This is not a prediction, but an under-the-radar player who has been getting a good share of reps this offseason is veteran David Patten. At this point, a lot of players are being filed in and out as the second and third receiver while new head coach Eric Mangini is trying to learn their abilities. But Mangini already is familiar with Patten and has a certain level of trust in the veteran. That means something for a coach like Mangini, at least early on when competing against a pair of unproven rookies in Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi. But the No. 2 receiver position will not be determined until the Browns at least get through training camp, and that could be enough time for a young player like Robiskie, for example, to learn the offense and catch up.


Dre from Atlanta is curious if the Baltimore Ravens have any interest in free-agent receiver Matt Jones.

James Walker: I get this question a lot in the AFC North inbox, Dre. There is no interest in Jones that I'm aware of. He's is a taller, possession receiver and not the speedy deep threat Baltimore needs. Jones also has some off-the-field concerns.


Jack from Baltimore, Md., writes: Hey JW, hope those Ohio teams aren't boring you too much. I have a free agency question: How is Marvin Harrison still a free agent, and what are the chances of him landing somewhere in the AFC North? Obviously, you see where I'm going with this. Is there any possibility of the Ravens signing him?

James Walker: Thanks for the concern, Jack. But I'm not bored at all. I find losing teams can be just as interesting as winning teams, especially in the offseason when struggling clubs spend a lot of money trying to patch up holes with high draft picks and free agents. As far as Harrison and the Ravens, he would be a better fit than Matt Jones, but also comes with a higher price tag. Harrison, too, is more of a possession receiver at this point of his career, which is a role Baltimore doesn't need.


John B is a Steelers fan in Baltimore and wants to know what it will take for receiver Santonio Holmes to eclipse 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.

James Walker: The Steelers are not going to throw the ball 40-plus times a game like the Indianapolis Colts or New England Patriots. So to pull it off, Holmes needs to take advantage of every opportunity. Holmes has an odd way of being extremely clutch with spectacular plays, yet he drops some of the routine plays. Things like quick slants and routine outs are what Holmes needs to be more efficient with to eclipse 1,000 yards this season. In the past he's left some of those plays on the field.


Steve from PA writes: James, how long do you think it will take for Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed to have actual impacts on the Steelers?

James Walker: Both players will be in backup roles, so I wouldn't get your expectations too high, Steve. What the Steelers need is both to be ready when their number is called. Mendenhall got hurt early last year, and Sweed had to wait most of the season before getting his chance, and when that time came he clearly wasn't ready. This year, both players should be utilized as early as Week 1, and their "readiness" will dictate the amount of opportunities and impact on the team.


Clifton from Brooklyn, N.Y., (Stand up!) writes: James, have you had an opportunity to ask Len Pasquarelli why he believes the Steelers to be the 9th best team in the league? If so, could you share his reasoning?

James Walker: We both had a Double Coverage debate on this topic recently. Here is the link.


Nick from Naples, Fla., wants to know if it's possible that three teams from the AFC North can get into the playoffs.

James Walker: Mathematically, sure it's possible. But I would say it's unlikely, Nick. In the AFC, that would likely require double-digit wins from three teams in the AFC North, which is very tough to do. Don't count on it.