Big Ben likely to step right in after ban

Byron Leftwich will probably be the Steelers' starter initially, but the job is still Roethlisberger's. AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Adam Schefter often answers questions from readers in his blog. Have a query of your own? Submit it right here.

Q: Who will be the starting QB for the Pittsburgh Steelers at the beginning of the season? Do you think Ben Roethlisberger will jump right back in after his six-game ban?

-- Emilio (Monterrey, Mexico)

A: Of course, Emilio. It looks like Byron Leftwich is the leader for the Steelers' starting job going into camp, with Dennis Dixon battling for the spot. But when Roethlisberger is cleared to go, the starting job will be waiting for him. It sort of reminds me of when Michael Jordan returned from playing minor league baseball. Former Chicago Bulls players Steve Kerr and Jud Buechler were driving to the arena for Jordan's first game back when Buechler asked Kerr if he thought Jordan would start that night. Kerr told him, essentially, that whenever there's a statue of you outside the building, you essentially keep the starting job. And it's similar in football. When you've led your team to two Super Bowl wins in your 20s, and you're still only 28 years old, you keep your starting job, no matter how regrettable some of your decisions have been.

Q: I am a huge Brett Favre fan and I would be absolutely shocked if he didn't come back and play another year. But besides the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints, are there any other teams that you could see playing in the NFC Championship next season?

-- Corey (Waveland, Miss.)

A: Plenty, Corey. I believe every team in the NFC, including the Washington Redskins, has a chance. I like the Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons an awful lot. But Minnesota and New Orleans are two very good teams. To get to the NFC Championship Game takes hard work, health, luck and momentum, among other factors. But it's sort of like mutual funds -- past performance is no guarantee of future success.

Q: Why doesn't Jeremy Maclin ever get any love in these breakout WR rankings? I think he played extremely well for how much of training camp he missed, and with teams focusing on DeSean Jackson, coupled with Kevin Kolb being more accurate on short to intermediate routes, I see Maclin having a lot of opportunities. And he only seemed to get better throughout the year.

-- Birdsaretheword (Middletown, Penn.)

A: He should included in the conversation with those other receivers, Birdsaretheword. Maclin has a big upside. But in Philadelphia, most of the attention has been on the wide receiver who broke out last year, DeSean Jackson (who -- gratuitous plug here -- will be featured in a great ESPN commercial this fall). As soon as Maclin makes some big plays early on, though, he'll garner some of the attention that other capable young receivers have received.

Q: Do you see any potentially overrated running backs this year like Steve Slaton turned out to be last year?

-- Scott (Brandon, Miss.)

A: Scott, part of that will be related to injuries. And as good as Frank Gore and Steven Jackson are, they have struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons. It could happen again, but they are such talents that you'd hate to miss drafting them in your fantasy league. Jonathan Stewart says he is over his foot problems, Darren McFadden has struggled to stay on the field and Shonn Greene must prove he can carry the load over 16 games. Being a running back is tough, but the good ones play through and learn to deal with it. You never know when a back will succumb to injury -- it's so hard to predict.

Q: I know it's futile to speculate on who'll be on the hot seat at the end of the year, but which head coach do you think has the most to prove this season?

-- Mike (Utica, N.Y.)

A: It's not hard, Mike. Just go back to the coaches who were on the hot seat at the end of the 2009-10 season: Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville, Lovie Smith in Chicago and Tom Cable in Oakland. If those teams don't win this season, it could be tough for those head coaches to survive. Then you have John Fox and Marvin Lewis each headed into the last year of his contract. But the bottom line is, in this league, almost any coach who doesn't win is on the hot seat. There will be coaches on the hot seat in January who we can't see in July. It's a performance-driven league.