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Old 07-11-2009, 06:04 PM   #1
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Default Walker's weekend mailbag: Steelers LBs

Walker's weekend mailbag: Steelers LBs
July 11, 2009 3:00 PM

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Let's dig into the weekend mailbag.

Jake from Pittsburgh, Pa. wonders if his Pro Bowl expectations of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons are reasonable.

James Walker: Jake, constant readers of the AFC North blog know that I am pretty high on Timmons' abilities. But I do not expect him to make the Pro Bowl in his first year as a starter. That may be taking it too far. It doesn't mean Timmons isn't capable. But he will be surrounded by so much talent such as James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, Ryan Clark and James Farrior. I doubt there will be enough plays to go around for Timmons to put up Pro Bowl-caliber numbers.

Kevin Blake in West Chester, Pa. is a fellow Temple alum and wants to know why Timmons is getting so much ink instead of teammate LaMarr Woodley.

James Walker: Kevin, the Owls are everywhere, right? I cannot speak for everyone, but I believe Timmons is getting a lot of pub because he's entering his first year as a starter and the team and most media expect great things. Woodley broke out last year with 11.5 sacks. Most are already aware that he's a fine player, while some outside of the AFC North don't know of Timmons just yet.

Ranchboss from Butler, Pa. is concerned about Pittsburgh's depth at linebacker and asks, "Who do you see as the top backups, and do you think they may pick up a veteran some time before training camp?"

James Walker: I'll start with the last part of the question, Ranchboss. Don't expect the Steelers to make any free-agent pickups before training camp because of the lack of cap room. As far as backups, Bruce Davis and Keyaron Fox are two candidates who could potentially fill in. Davis was very good at rushing the passer in college but hasn't displayed much in the pros to date. Fox is more of a stopgap veteran who may be able to fill in for a couple games if someone gets injured, but he isn't a long-term solution. The starters are tremendous, but it's not a very deep group.

Jake from Washington, D.C. writes: Mr. Walker, the truth please: What NFL team are you a fan of?

James Walker: The High Point Eagles -- the only football team I've ever played for.

John B from Baltimore wants to know if Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis plans to get into coaching after he retires.

James Walker: Life after football was a topic Lewis and I discussed for this story last year, and his plans at the time was to remove himself from the game completely. That was last year and plans certainly can change. But without speaking for Lewis, I get the sense he wants to spend most of his time after football focusing on his family and business ventures.

Adam B from Warren, Ohio wants to know what Browns coach Eric Mangini has in store for Joshua Cribbs on offense.

James Walker: Surprisingly, in the practices I attended, I did not notice many innovative things being done with Cribbs on offense. But I have a feeling Mangini might have something up his sleeve for Cribbs and is either holding the package(s) until training camp or hiding it from the media until practices are closed. Remember, the Miami Dolphins withheld the Wildcat until the regular season and caught the entire league by surprise.

Richard Davis from Huntington, WV wants to know if the Cincinnati Bengals will "at least" make the playoffs this year.

James Walker: Richard, I see that you're from Huntington. So let me first say rest in peace to longtime Huntington sports writing legend Ernie Salvatore, who passed away last week. Salvatore was a tremendous person who helped me in my career when I worked in Huntington seven years ago.

As far as your question, if the term "at least" means the postseason is the bare minimum for Cincinnati, then I don't think that's accurate. I've mention many times that the Bengals could surprise this year, and that may include a playoff berth if a lot of things fall their way. But to say the postseason is the least the Bengals will do is pushing it. I can see several scenarios where they finish a lot worse.

Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Ernie Salvatore, AFC North, mailbag

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Old 07-12-2009, 01:28 AM   #2
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Default Re: Walker's weekend mailbag: Steelers LBs

I get the sense he [Ray Lewis] wants to spend most of his time after football focusing on his family and business ventures.
I'll keep my freedoms, my guns, and my
money . . . you can keep "THE CHANGE."
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: Walker's weekend mailbag: Steelers LBs

Nice read thanks Mesa. I also think Timmons will have a good year as well but probably won't make the pro bowl.
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