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 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:02 PM)
Hello everyone. It's been a crazy season so far. So let's dig into some questions.
Rina, (San Francisco, CA)
Do you think that Troy Polamalu should play after suffering his 7th concussion?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
Hey Rina. Great name. Concussions are hard to gauge. Some are mild, some are severe. It looks like Troy's was in the mild category. I usually like teams to take precaution with head injuries, but I'm sure Troy and the Steelers will do what's they feel is best.
Brett Tampa, FL
Hey James love your work. What's going on with Ryan Tucker. He was excellent against the Giants, and the Browns sure did miss him against the Redskins.
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Thanks, Brett. Tucker suffered a knee injury recently that held him out. He's getting at the age now where he's become very injury prone, which is a shame because for a long time he was one of the most durable linemen in the NFL.
John (Fort Myers, FL)
Do you think the league will fine Hines Ward for his block on Keith Rivers? If so, doesn't this create a dilemma for the league. Ward lead with his shoulder, not his helmet, and hit Rivers in the chest. It was a clean play which received no flag.
James Walker (4:06 PM)
How is it going, John? I just received official word about five minutes ago that the NFL will not fine Hines Ward. We should have a story up on the site in a matter of minutes. But John, you got the word first.
Jesse (Raleigh, NC)
Are there any similarities between the Maurice Carthon situation and the DA situation in cleveland? Crennel was too loyal towards Carthon, and was literally forced to fire him a few years ago. Keeping Carthon around cost the Browns big time. Do we need some divine mandate to get Quinn on the field?
James Walker (4:09 PM)
Good question, Jesse. You can certainly see the similarities. Crennel grew up in a military family and he is very loyal to his people. He was that way with Carthon, and now he's doing the same with Anderson. It is a fact that Anderson save Crennel's job last year. There's no denying that. I'm sure that has something to do with why he continues to give him the chance to turn it around.
Will I revive my career in Cincinnati?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
Hey Cedric. I thought you ran hard on Sunday. What you do is up to you. The Bengals are open to giving you plenty of chances with Chris Perry underperforming.
James, man, I take back what I said about the fines. The league should fine Benson!!!
James Walker (4:12 PM)
Hey Troy. I gotta disagree. That was a big-time collision and it was clean on both you guys' part. Man, there are a lot of players in this chat room. But it is the day off in the NFL.
Connor, (Portland, OR)
OK, next question. I agree completely that Hines block was clean, but his last two fines weren't brought on by dirty plays either. Did Polamalu's comments save him a fine this week?
James Walker (4:13 PM)
You guys are on fire with these great questions. I just got word a few minutes ago so I haven't thought about that aspect just yet. Off the top of my head, I would say Troy didn't save Hines any money because the NFL looks at each case individually.
Will I take a snap for cleveland, or do you think I'll get traded somewhere else first?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
Hey Brady. I haven't seen you in the locker room in couple weeks. Where have you been? Don't worry. You will take another snap with the Cleveland Browns before the chances of you getting traded. We can field a pretty good football team with all the players chatting with me today.
Nick V (Cincinnati)
Hey James, in your expert opinion, do you think Cincinnati can turn it around in 2009? I know its sickening to even be thinking that far down the road, but I'm a Bengals fan. It's my only option
James Walker (4:18 PM)
Hey Nick, I enjoy the emails you send from time to time, although I can never get to every one of them. A lot needs to happen with the draft and free agency, and the Bengals routinely screw up both, so I would say the chances are not good of a big turnaround next year. But it's ok to talk about 2009. I understand.
Hey James, can I borrow your book of when to kick field goals-and when not to kick field goals? Also any ideas how I can get these guys not to commit so many penaltys?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
Hey Romeo, you took quite a grilling from me and other media at yesterday's press conference. But I thought you handled it well. You do need to work on some of decision making late in games. I'm a little confused also on your choice of when to kick field goals and when not to. Now that we have our coach, what would our record be with all the players we have chatting today?
Phil ( Marietta )
Hey James, Did the Steelers line play that good? Am I just getting my hopes up?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
Phil, the line played its best game of the season. Zero sacks and Mewelde Moore had a ton of lanes to run through. The run blocking was never an issue in Pittsburgh. It's always the pass protection.
Dick Lebeau (Pittsburgh, PA)
Coaching's easy with Harrison, Woodley and Timmons
James Walker (4:22 PM)
Now we have our D-coordinator. Welcome on board coach. Looks like with Crennel and LaBeau we're running a 3-4 this week.
Browns D-Line- Are C. Williams and S. Smith healthy? Rodgers is a beast, but he showed he can't do it alone.
James Walker (4:23 PM)
Shaun Smith and Corey Williams are banged up. Smith is dealing with his hand and Williams has a shoulder issue, but he finished the game. We won't know the status of either until tomorrow at the earliest.
Hey James, does this chat need a GM? I'm free, as you know.
James Walker (4:24 PM)
Thanks, but no thanks.
Brad Childress Plymouth, MN
I offered CLE 2 first rounders (09' and 10)for Quinn!! What were the Browns thinking?? On second thought..what was I thinking?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
Hey Coach Childress. I checked into that report earlier this week and didn't come up with anything. Are you sure?
Braylon Edwards, Cleveland
Do I need glasses?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
Hey Braylon. We'll take you on our team. You're seeing the ball fine from what we can tell. It's finishing the play by catching the ball is where you're struggling. We'll work on it in practice this week, OK?
Derek (Columbus, OH)
Hey James, nice hearing you on the fan today....do you really think there is something we don't know about crennel and why he refuses to even give brady a CHANCE??
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Hey Derek, thanks. I used to live in Bexley while working for the Columbus Dispatch. I don't think Crennel is hiding anything. He legitimately believes Derek gives him the best chance to win. That was the case against New York and not the case last week. We'll see how it progresses.
Hines Ward, Pittsburgh PA
How many more 70-catch, 1000-yard seasons do I need before I'm in the Hall of Fame?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
Hey Hines. Now we have our second receiver. I don't have a HOF vote, so I can't really speak on what that select group would do.
Tom Coughlin (NYC)
I disagree James. WE gave Romeo his best chance to win, not Anderson.
James Walker (4:31 PM)
Hey Tom. No chance the Browns very played well in that game?
I'm available and I can take both coaching and GM responsibilites. It'll cost you though.
James Walker (4:32 PM)
How much? Let me think about that one.
Edwin (Puerto Rico)
Hi, do you thinks that Kellen Winslow comments against the team.. afecct the team?..
James Walker (4:34 PM)
Hey Edwin. I've been asked this a couple times over the last 24 hours and I think things are being miscontrued. Kellen Winslow's problem is with the Browns front office and GM Phil Savage. Those two need to work things out. There is no issue with the coaching staff or Winslow's teammates.
What kind of reaction do you think I'm going to get from the Pittsburgh fans on Sunday? I made some big plays for them in the past but I also had my share of bad times there too (spiking the ball without being touched, dropping a TD in the AFC championship, etc...)
James Walker (4:35 PM)
Three-receiver set? We'll take it. Steelers fans are very respectful to their own. You should hear some cheers before the game. During the game, though, you're back to being their adversary.
What do I have to do to score points against this Steelers defense on Sunday?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
We took Plax, so Eli you can be our QB. It's tough running against the Steelers, although a lot of teams try. I think the best way to beat them is spreading them out, then passing to set up the run.
How big of an impact is the loss of McFadden?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
Patrick, the Steelers have always found a way for someone to step up this year through injuries. McFadden played great but I think Gay or Townsend would fill in admirably.
The bidding starts at 8 million a year
James Walker (4:39 PM)
That's $4 million per responsibility. Let's talk after the season and see how my team finishes, OK. Keep in touch.
Jimmy Smith, Keenan Mccardell, Andre Reed
No way Hines Ward gets into the hall before us!!
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Hey guys. Our team in this chat room doesn't take on retired players although all of you were great in your day. Like I said earlier, I don't have a HOF vote so I don't have much of an indication either way.
I disagree with you. Mcfadden has been great. plus you pointed out the Ginats are going to spread the field, meaning they will need more secondary help and I think that is when you will see the loss of McFadden.
James Walker (4:43 PM)
You didn't understand Patrick. I said the best way to beat Pitt's defense, I believe, is to spread the field. I never said the Giants would spread the field. I also said McFadden has been solid this year. Where's the disconnect?
JW- I have alays been a fan of your work. That said, what is holding you back from ranking the Titans #1 in the PR? Thanks
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Thanks, Stefen. I've been getting grilled for two weeks about this. But I feel the Steelers are a more complete team than Tennessee. Pittsburgh has all the aspects Tennessee has (defense, running game) plus an elite QB and better off skill players. I'm going with my eyes and what I see, that's all.
What's the likely hood that the Browns and Steelers are fighting it out at the end of the season with the Steelers tough schedule?
James Walker (4:45 PM)
Not very high, Jon. The Browns have a tough schedule, too. So falling behind likley cost Cleveland any chance of winning the division.
Chris Hoke (Pittsburgh)
I think I should have a chance to challenge for the starting nose tackle job when Casey Hampton comes back. I don't know if you know this, but we are undefeated when I'm starting.
James Walker (4:48 PM)
Great dance you have in training camp, Chris. I don't know if you can start ahead of Casey, but you can start at nose for our chatroom team.
Tony (College Park, MD)
James, you're killing me with the lack of Ravens questions. How huge was it for Flacco to get his first road win?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Stay alive, Tony. Flacco played maybe his best game of the season. But the Ravens as a team needed that win more than Flacco. I see good things coming for Baltimore since the schedule lets up a little bit.
Daniel (under-represented Baltimore)
Love the blog James! Where does Joe Flacco go from here? It seems like he's great when he has protection and his line allows him to be the 'down-the-field' pocket passer that he is. Do you think he will play for the rest of the year or will Troy Smith go in at some point?
James Walker (4:52 PM)
I expect Joe to be the starter the rest of the year, barring injury. The first day I saw him close up in minicamp, I thought he was physically the superior quarterback. It was a question of how fast he will learn the game mentally. He still has a long way to go, but he's doing a decent job learning on the fly.
I figured you guys needed a chatroom owner so that's why I'm here. Anyway, after seven weeks, do you think any other division team can legitimately challenge my Steelers for the AFC North title this year?
James Walker (4:54 PM)
No problem. Welcome or board, Mr. Rooney. The Ravens have the best chance. They always match up well against Pittsburgh and still have a home game against the Steelers. Other than that, I don't see Cleveland or Cincinnati making any significant run.
Ray Lewis (Baltimore)
Am I staying put or hitting the FA market after the season?
James Walker (4:56 PM)
Nice, we got our emotional leader and middle linebacker. You are having a stellar year for the top-rated defense, Ray. The Ravens will take of you.
Wade Phillips (Irving, TX)
I'll probably need a job soon, any room on that team for me?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
We already have LeBaeu as our def. coordinator and he's doing a masterful job. We may need a position's coach, so if something happens give us a call.
No NO, I'm going to be the chatroom owner. I will make this the worst chatroom in history. I promise I will be cheap and make terrible decisions.
James Walker (4:59 PM)
We're going with Mr. Rooney. We need more than one winning season in 18 years.
Connor, (Portland, OR)
With McFadden out, how bout we just throw Hines in there at corner?
James Walker (5:00 PM)
C'mon Connor. This isn't high school. Troy Brown played the nickel a few years ago but teams just don't do that will full-time starters.
Mike ( Baltimore, MD)
James: Who do you see as the champ in the AFCN this season?
James Walker (5:01 PM)
I picked Pittsburgh at the beginning of the year and I'm sticking with my prediction.
Chris McAlister, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata
We're all having an argument right now. Which of us is the best player on our defense?
James Walker (5:02 PM)
No fighting guys. I got to go with Suggs or Ray Lewis. How much would it cost me to sign all of you guys up for our chat room team? Lewis is already on board.
John (Fort Myers, FL)
If the Steelers beat the Giants this weekend do you see them jumping up to #1 in the power rankings, even if the Titans stay undefeated?
James Walker (5:04 PM)
It's possible, John. But I'm the only person so far that's voted an undefeated team No. 2. So I think I will continue to be lonely on that one.
James Walker (5:05 PM)
Thanks guys for all the great questions. It was fun. Check back next week and continue to check out the AFC North blog.