Chat with James Walker
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch. He also covered the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Cavaliers at the Dispatch. Walker grew up in Hyattsville, Md., before attending Temple University, graduating in 2001 with a B.A. in communications and mass media. He resides in the Cleveland area.
Send your questions now and join Walker on Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET!
James Walker (11:09 AM)
OK, guys let's get into it.
Jacob (home of the wire)
Thoughts on Kelly Gregg getting IR'd.
James Walker (11:10 AM)
Justin has played well enough to not notice the absence. But Gregg is a great player that will be missed, especially if injuries come into play at that position.
Chris Pittsburgh, Pa
What is the latest buzz on Willie Parker? With all of the other most recent injuries, his status is vague.
James Walker (11:12 AM)
Willie seems pretty confident he could've played against Jacksonville but didn't want to rush things. I would expect him back after the bye, but there's no official word.
Jesse (Raleigh, NC)
The Browns can't keep 2 QB's with big contracts forever. It's a little early for this talk, but does the flexibility installed in DA's contract make him more appealing than Quinn given the unknowns about both? If another team takes a chance on Quinn and he doesn't pan out, then the cap hit is bigger than with DA. Have you heard anything on the trade front?
James Walker (11:14 AM)
There's no trade talk yet until after the season. You're right, little chance the Browns keep both. But once the season plays out Cleveland's going to make a choice. My guess is it will be Quinn in 2009.
Steelers are 4-1 despite getting ZERO contribution from their draft class. I know Mendenhall got hurt, but why is nobody else contributing? Did they misfire on some of their picks?
James Walker (11:15 AM)
It's not fair to rip draft picks five weeks into the season, or even after one full season for that matter. Pittsburgh is a veteran team and it's hard to get on the field as rookies. Look at Woodley and Timmons last year. They were in the same boat, waiting their turn.
Jay (rockville centre)
Could a Wild Card team come out of the AFC North, between the Ravens and Pittsburgh?
James Walker (11:17 AM)
That's a tough one. Coming into the year I thought there was a chance but it would take two 10-win teams in the AFC North. I don't think two teams in the division will win 10 with those brutal schedules.
Would you still consider Le'Ron McLain a FB or is he now considered a RB?
James Walker (11:18 AM)
I would still consider him a fullback that has good rushing shills. Really he's just a solid football player that's hard to keep off the field.
Is McGahee still suffering from injuries, or is the time share more a result of McClain's performance???
James Walker (11:19 AM)
You always need help and depth at that position. The Ravens are going to need both players and maybe Ray Rice with as often as they want to run this year.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
Given the way the Bengals played against the Cowboys and Giants, do you think they can beat the Jets on Sunday?
James Walker (11:20 AM)
I'm not one to look at things that way all the time. The NFL is so week to week as far as who shows up. The Bengals are underdogs Sunday and they should be.
Brody: (Cleveland - OH)
Hey James, is Limas sweed making any strides at all in practice? He's the big target Ben asked for and yet he can't sniff the field.
James Walker (11:21 AM)
Nate Washington is playing really well. Who are you going to take off the field right now?
Greg (Rochester, NY)
Carson Palmer is finally to play like he can but unfortunatley Chris Perry has been a disaster for the Bengals - his fumble changed to whole game against the Cowboys. Can the Bengals make some noise the 2nd half of the season?...the players clearly have not quit.
James Walker (11:23 AM)
The rest of the year will be a test for the Bengals. A lot of teams say they can play spoiler, but you don't know if some clubs will keep working hard or pack it in.
What's up with all the terrible roughing the QB penalties this year? James Harrision made a textbook hit just as the QB was releasing the ball and it got flagged.
James Walker (11:24 AM)
I don't know if there are more roughing calls than usual. I just think there are more controversial/borderline calls this year and that is making everyone take notice.
Do you see Benson taking over as the starter in Cincy with all of Perry's fumbling problems?
James Walker (11:25 AM)
Not this week. But I do think the Bengals will see if Perry's fumbling is correctable and go from there.
Greg (Rochester, NY)
Keith Rivers has been great for the Bengals - they have a lot of promising young players on defense - can this become a strength for this team over the next couple of years?
James Walker (11:26 AM)
They have several good, young pieces. But it would take a while for that to happen. Plus Cincinnati would have to put its money into that side of the football and take it from the offense.
Where the Steelers able to "kill a ghost" Sunday night by beating the Jag's?
James Walker (11:29 AM)
The Steelers feel good about beating the Jags. But I wouldn't say it killed a ghost.
How long until people admit that Big Ben is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and not a QB who just manages game? After that performance Sunday night, with the shoulder and 4th string running back, he deserves more credit than he gets.
James Walker (11:31 AM)
I don't think many people are still calling him a game manager anymore. And those that are would be providing bad analysis.
Matt (New York)
Why does Braylon Edwards seem to be dropping so many passes this year?
James Walker (11:32 AM)
Edwards had a penchant for drops since college. I think the fact that he isn't making the big plays and touchdowns have magnified things this year.
what went wrong with Cincy this year - I thought they would have a bounce back season?
James Walker (11:34 AM)
Not many people were high on them to begin with, me included. But the Bengals kept making bad decisions since 2006 and things caught up to them this year.
Any word on how Casey Hampton is doing? Will he be back on the field on 2 weeks?
James Walker (11:35 AM)
There's a chance the Steelers could have most of their key guys back in two weeks, including Hampton.
ray gordon reid PASADENA TX77501
QUESTION TO JAMES WALKER AT 11.40 AM HI JAMES IS BRADY QUINN EVER GONNA START FOR BROWNIES
James Walker (11:36 AM)
Not this week, but there's a chance if Anderson keeps playing subpar football. This is a big week for Anderson in that regard.
In retrospect, you think the Bengals are thinking they made a mistake with Rudi? You have to think he could have easily matched Perry's 3 yards per carry and always held onto the ball.
James Walker (11:39 AM)
I don't feel you can call it a mistake to let go of Johnson. Cincinnati didn't feel it could get its money's worth out of him. But so far the Bengals have been wrong in thinking that Perry can be everydown back this year.
Johnny D BMore
How do you think the Steelers stand against the Giants and Cowboys? NFC has been dominating the AFC if you exclude the Cardinals Jets Game.
James Walker (11:41 AM)
They have a shot against both teams. But NY and Dallas rush the passer well, which makes it a tough matchup.
David (Columbus, OH)
What is the word with Sean Jones and D. Stallworth for this week?
James Walker (11:41 AM)
Stallworth is expected to play this week. Still no word on Sean Jones.
Dave (Pittsburgh, PA)
Thoughts on Mewelde Moore? I know he had a big week against the Jaguars, but then again, Davenport had a good week when Parker broke his leg last year and then disappeared. Will Moore be splitting carries more often now?
James Walker (11:43 AM)
I liked Moore's shiftiness. That's something Pittsburgh can use later in the season against certain teams. He probably earned more carries after Sunday's performance.
coach harbaugh, M&T Bank Stadium
baltimore and playoffs?
James Walker (11:45 AM)
That's up to you, coach. Why are you asking me?
frox (Hanover, PA)
James - Do you believe the Ravens will give the Steelers a run for their money in the AFC North?
James Walker (11:46 AM)
The Ravens are falling behind early and already missed on a chance to win head to head. But they're the only team I can see as a threat the rest of the year.
Would you say Mike Tomlin is the best coach in the division?
James Walker (11:46 AM)
Right now, yes. He's done the best job of the four.
Brian (Mason, WV)
Any thoughts on Gary Russell's NFL future? He's shown a little size and speed.
James Walker (11:48 AM)
Gary's been lost in the mix but the team likes him. I don't know if he will ever be a full-time back, but he may help down the road in short stretches.
Do you feel that the Browns will feed the ball to J. Lewis at least 25 times per game the rest of the season, that seems like there only chance of winning.
James Walker (11:49 AM)
They are 5-0 when Jamal gets 25 carries, but it's hard to do every week. There will be plenty of times when the Browns are not leading and have to pass the ball more often.
Lee (bridgeport, CT)
Do you see the Ravens trying to get a deep down field threat for Joe Flacco,it looks like that what they were missing sunday
James Walker (11:50 AM)
Do you mean this year? No, the Ravens won't make any moves. Next year it's possible.
Keith Brewer Sykesville, MD
Do you think refs should be held accountable when they make terrible calls (like the one on Suggs this weekend)? Calls like that can influnence that outcome of the game (maybe a season) and not the players.
James Walker (11:51 AM)
That's a hot topic in the league right now. But I'm not sure how to hold refs more accountable? Have them face the media?
Steven (Indianapolis, IN)
What is the biggest need for the Bengals? DT, RB or something else.
James Walker (11:53 AM)
The Bengals need a lot, Steven. It's probably too early to start listing positions, but I would say defense first.
Will J (Portland, OR)
In your opinion, who is the most "complete" team in football, not necessarily the best?
James Walker (11:54 AM)
What do you think the final record will be for the AFC north against the NFC East? They are currently 0-3 would 6 wins against the East be a good estimate?
James Walker (11:55 AM)
The Steelers and Ravens might still a couple games. They might get 2-3 wins between them.
Jon ( Johnstown)
What is wrong with the Bengals offense?As a Steeler fan I try to follow the divisional opponents. The Bengals problems was always the defense, but it looks at though Palmer and the wide receivers are struggling.
James Walker (11:57 AM)
The Bengals can't run the football. Part of it is Perry and part the offensive line. Without that, they are predictable and one dimensional.
Alicia (Lehigh Acres, Florida)
What do you think about Mike Tomlin's lack of fullbacks & tight ends for blocking, in the past that has helped our QB & our success. I think that is causing some of our problems with the Big Ben eating the grass so much. I do like seeing Ben throwing to Heath Miller, that big target is great down the middle. Thoughts?
James Walker (12:00 PM)
Bruce Arians doesn't keep his backs and tight end in often enough. They might make that adjustment after the bye. Ben Roethlisberger also has the penchant for holding the ball too long, but sometimes he makes some amazing plays. Pittsburgh takes the good with the bad.
Browns have any shot at the playoffs? What's DA's trade value?
James Walker (12:02 PM)
The Browns must beat the Giants to have any chance of making the playoffs. Even thin, it's an uphill climb. Anderson's trade value is not very high right now.
Do you think if the Steelers do make some adjustments they will wait until after the Bengals game. This way the Giants won't have time ot study the tape?
James Walker (12:03 PM)
This isn't the preseason anymore. You have to play to win week to week.
Ian (Hollywood, CA)
What's the deal with Kamerion Wimbley? Why has he not been able to duplicate any of the success he had his rookie season?
James Walker (12:05 PM)
Wimbley is very limited in the amount of moves he has getting to the quarterback. Teams didn't have tape on him his rookie year, then discovered what that move was and took it away. Wimbley needs to adjust, but he hasn't been able to.
Chris (Rimersburg, PA)
How would you rate the Steelers defense right now? Despite not blitzing on most plays, both LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison are getting terrific pressure, and almost no hype is around either one. A total of 12 sacks between both this season.
James Walker (12:08 PM)
The Steelers were the top defense last year, so I wouldn't count this as a surprise. Troy Polamalu has been the key to everything they do. He allows everyone else to just worry about their responsibilities.
Robert (Johnstown, PA)
Has McFadden played his way into a big contract this offseason?
James Walker (12:09 PM)
He's playing well. He needs to keep it up for a full season.
Jeff (Columbus, OH)
After a rough start, is there any reason the Bengals shouldn't be putting in a few of the young guys and at least see what they have?
James Walker (12:12 PM)
That's a good point, Jeff. But the Bengals need to focus on winning games also. Would fans be happy if Cincinnati was getting trounced every week because it wanted to experiment with young players?
When do you think we will see the Ravens utilize Heap more often?
James Walker (12:13 PM)
It started on Sunday. For some reason Heap had trouble in the passing game early. It may have been rust from his preseason injury. But he had four catches last weekend and looks to be headed in that direction.
James Walker (12:14 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for all the great questions. Check in with me next week and as always read our wonderful blogs.