Week 8: Engel's Mailbag

Kelly, Scottsdale, Ariz.: Let's talk about Hines Ward, shall we? Just when I gave up on him, he had a spectacular Week 7. However, now the Steelers could be without Ben Roethlisberger again. Do you consider Ward a decent play with Charlie Batch throwing the ball, or would you go with Braylon Edwards over Ward this week? Also, which one of the following three rookie RBs would you recommend for a start this week: Leon Washington, Laurence Maroney, or Maurice Jones-Drew?

Engel: I think Ward's disappointing play early on was due to his health and teammates, and those situations have changed. Ward has clearly shaken off the effects of a hamstring injury, and he's looking like a must-start player again. Plus, Nate Washington and Santonio Holmes are improving and drawing some defensive attention away from him. A switch from Roethlisberger to Batch won't hurt the passing game much. Batch played well overall when he started at the beginning of the season and looked good in relief of Roethlisberger last week. Edwards simply isn't dependable enough to start over a healthy Ward, regardless of matchup. At RB, Maroney hasn't been reliable recently, and while Jones-Drew has become a regular TD threat, you have to like Leon Washington against Cleveland this week, especially considering he is starting to score in addition to posting quality yardage. It's a close call, but I like Jones-Drew a bit less against the Eagles.