Scouting combine slowly evolves

A: Signing him to a long-term deal to reduce this year's cap number would be preferred, but you raise a great point. Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Suh are among the highest-paid players in the league at their positions. They also are among the most talented at their positions. The Lions had to lose a lot of games to be in the position to draft Suh, so letting him go when he's still young and in his prime would be difficult. Keeping all three does create cap issues. If there is a way to keep Suh around $12 million a year, that would help. It's hard to pay a defensive tackle like you pay a quarterback.

Q: I'm a die-hard Bengals fan and I'm tired of seeing them not moving further in the playoffs. If the Bengals don't get past the first round next year or don't make the playoffs at all, do you see Marvin Lewis getting fired?

A.C. from Miamisburg, Ohio

A: If the Bengals make the playoffs, Mike Brown and the organization will stay behind Lewis and his staff. Still, he has been there more than 10 years, and that's a long time to stay for a coach. I think the coordinator change from Jay Gruden to Hue Jackson will lead to more of a run-oriented offense during the playoffs. Jackson will emphasis the run more than Gruden did, which could help them win a playoff game and take some pressure off Lewis.

Q: Were the 2000s a golden age for left tackles? Walter Jones was recently elected to the Hall of Fame and it got me thinking of the great LTs of that decade. Jonathan Ogden was enshrined last year. Willie Roaf in 2012. There were many other high quality LTs as well, such as Orlando Pace. There are great LTs now and in other decades, but it seems like the quality and quantity for great LTs of the 2000s is hard to top.

Kevin in Washington, D.C.

A: You are 100 percent right. The increased use of tight ends as pass-catchers changed football. Jones, Ogden and others were on an island at left tackle, blocking the best pass-rusher of an opposing team without the help of a back or a tight end. Their ability to handle the left tackle position allowed tight ends and running backs to go out in pass routes more. It opened up offenses. The Hall of Fame selections of Ogden, Roaf and Jones were the first rewarding a great era of blockers.

Q: Why are people undermining the significance of what Michael Sam is doing? There has never been an openly gay athlete in any of the four major sports. Look at what Jonathan Vilma said just one month ago. Sam's announcement is not only important for sports, but for the whole gay community. Look, much has changed. I hope in the future football players can be football players, period. And I hope people will respect people.

Benjamin, Lakeland, Fla.

A: You couldn't be any more right in what you are saying. We all knew it was going to take time for such acceptance, but I guess we shouldn't be surprised. Vilma's comments were made before Sam's announcement, and Vilma went on the defensive after the fact. I think the NFL, general managers, coaches and the union did a great job of saying the right things in welcoming Sam into the NFL. Let's hope it continues. The hope is a player is accepted for the way he plays not the way he lives. I give credit to Sam for his courage in making the announcement.

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