Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com AFC North blogger James Walker will stop by to chat about the NFL and what to expect from your team.
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch.
Send your questions now and join James Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (3:59 PM)
Let's get started and talk some AFC North football.
Steve Spedden (Boise, Idaho)
Hey James, With young and hungry Lawrence Timmons ready to step in and replace Larry Foote do you think the Steelers Defense will be even more dominating this year? I know they lost Bryant McFadden but William Gay has proven he can play. Much easier schedule than last year as well. Thanks
James Walker (4:01 PM)
It's hard to be more dominating than the No. 1 defense. But I think you're going to see Pittsburgh be even more dynamic. Dick LeBeau can do things (like blitz) with Timmons that he couldn't do as much with Larry Foote. He's going to have a new toy to draw up more schemes.
How do you think Eric Mangini has done with his new team this offseason
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Eric accomplished what he set out to do for the most part. That was bring in his type of players and change the culture in Cleveland. How many wins it will translate into, I'm not sure. Cleveland's talent level just doesn't stack up to the other three teams. So the Browns are going to have to play smarter and more efficient than everyone else.
James, love the blog. Is there any way you can explain how the Browns' safeties are improved now that Sean Jones is an Eagle? What were they thinking not re-signing him?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
This is similar to the last question, John. Eric Mangini wanted his own player, and that safety is Abraham Elam. Jones may be a little more physically gifted than Elam, but it means a lot to Mangini to be able to trust his guy. Like I said, it remains to be seen whether all of this translates into victories.
when viewing the steeler's OTAs, which rookie outside of ziggy hood impressed you the most?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
I liked Mike Wallace and Keenan Lewis. I really think Wallace could be the fastest player on the team (at least in shorts) as a rookie. He's really a blur. Lewis has good size and looks like a Cover 2 corner. My guess is Mike Tomlin wants to use that defense a little more this year or in future years.
I have read blogs of St Louis Rams fans who say Brian Leonard was a second round bust and they were glad to get rid of him. Your thoughts on Leonard and his potential to help the Bengals.
James Walker (4:10 PM)
I agree that Leonard was a bust in St. Louis. He came out of college with a lot of expectations that he didn't reach. But a change of scenery can help a lot of players. Leonard is out to prove something and that could motivate him. The Bengals need depth at running back, so it could be a good match.
james - do you think that b. mcfadden would still be in the black and gold right now if the starks deal had gotten done earlier this offseason or would he still have walked.
James Walker (4:11 PM)
The two were not related. The Steelers really like William Gay and felt it was his time. So they didn't make much of a push to pay Bryant McFadden top dollar.
Eric (Aberdeen, MD)
James, I'm hearing good things about Domonique Foxworth in Baltimore. From anything you've heard or have seen, what impact do you think Foxworth will have? Also, will it be Foxworth and Washington starting, or Foxworth and Rolle?
James Walker (4:13 PM)
Eric, how is it going? It looks like Foxworth and Washington are expected to be the starters, barring injury. It's going to be interesting to see how he fits, though. Foxworth is more of a speed corner. But in the AFC North, he's going to need to be more physical against big-bodied receivers like Hines Ward, Braylon Edwards and Chad Ochocinco.
SteelCityTA (Tha Burgh)
James, with Parker coming into a contract year and the recent play that he has given with the short yardage carries, do you Mendenhall starting the 2010 season?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
I get this question a lot and this is something that everyone is going to have to wait and see how it plays out. The Steelers don't know at this point. It's going to be up to the play of these two players.
Lawrence timmons will give the steelers more blitzing options but will he be able to match what Larry Foote did against the run?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
That's the flip side of it, Reid. Timmons will have to take on guards and fullbacks, too, which Foote was good at. Physically, Timmons can do it. He just needs more experience at it.
John (Sanibel Island, FL)
James, you mentioned a while back that Ryan Mundy looked impressive in workouts. Do you think this will affect the way the Steelers approach resigning 2010 UFA's, considering Ryan Clark is on that list?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
Lot's of Steelers questions today. Mundy had a good spring, but coaches prefer to keep it all in perspective. It's just practice without pads. Pittsburgh knows what it has in Ryan Clark and is interested in extending him.
hey james, can you see marcus smith and williams having bigger roles in baltimore's offense this year?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
They have no choice. If Demetruis Williams stays healthy, that alone will be progress for him. Smith surprise me some with his ability in minicamp. He could be better than people think.
James are we going to see you at some point on the Bengals Hard knocks show?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
I will definitely be there if HBO chooses to put me on camera.
Missing Ryan..... (MD)
Everytime I hear Rex speak I can't help but to think of what a peerfect fit for Baltimore. I know you think Harbaugh is a good coach, but I dont' see it. It appears he just smile and hug his players. Will he be able to handle the team when things are going as well as they did last year?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
John Harbaugh got to the AFC Championship Game in his rookie year as head coach. What more do you want from him?
What are your thoughts on Martin Rucker at TE for the Browns? Will Royal be the starting TE when the season begins?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
Rucker hasn't shown much since he arrived to Cleveland. Barring injury, I don't think he will supplant Robert Royal, who is a veteran and someone Eric Mangini trusts a lot more. Sorry to keep bringing up this "trust and smarts" thing with Mangini, but it's true. It really matters, and I'm trying to be accurate with my answers.
Mark ((Los Angeles))
J-Dog! I love the blog. Do you think there is any credence to the idea that the Steelers O-line will be better because they are more familiar with each other? Can something be said for continuity on the line?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
It's valid to believe that, Mark. It makes sense. But I'm not sure the ceiling is very high for this group. Those that read the blog know I've been critical of Pittsburgh not upgrading this unit.
Marv Lewis (Bengals Practice)
Who's this guy that keeps sticking his head in every time the camera starts rolling?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
Nah, coach. It won't be that kind of party. I have too much work to do. I'm just saying I will be present doing my job. So if the network chooses to use that footage, then it's a possibility.
Joe (Akron, OH)
What's the deal with Jerome Simpson? Is he still considered in the "project" stage w/Caldwell having a leg up on him or will he see the field a lot more in 09?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
I really expected to see a lot more out of Simpson this offseason. Many receivers make signficant strides in their second year, and so far I just haven't seen it with him. The light may turn on at some point, but the Bengals don't have more time to wait. This is a big year for everyone in Cincinnati.
Big Ben (Pittsburgh)
Are you taking coaches and players today, or keeping regular?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
We're staying mostly regular this week, Ben. It's not something I want to do too often. Good job at Bethpage.
Hello Mr. Walker. Can Bengals fans expect Johnathan Joseph to be healthy and possibly the shutdown corner he was drafted to be? Thanks.
James Walker (4:38 PM)
J-Jo is very underrated. I expect a good year out of him if the Bengals can get any kind of pass rush this season.
Justin (Canton, Ohio)
I was shocked when i saw you came from the Dispatch in Cbus, wouldnt have thought theyd cover the Brown down there.
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Not to brag, but the Dispatch sports section was the only group to cover the Indians, Cavs, Browns, Reds and Bengals when I was there. I had a great time and a wonderful experience.
Should I draft Brady Quinn for my fantasy team?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
I would pass on just about everyone on the Browns offense right now. But if you have to choose a Cleveland quarterback before the end of the preseason, Quinn is the safer pick.
Are expecting a long holdout between the Bengals and Andre Smith?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
The Bengals may surprise everyone. But based on their business history and Smith's recent problems with agents, it looks like a good possibility.
Did the Browns ever come close to trading Derek Anderson this offseason ?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Not that I'm aware of. To my knowledge there was a bigger market for Brady Quinn.
Fritz (Atlantic City)
Is Chris McAlister going to sign anywhere or is he still trying to get healthy?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
He's still working to get healthy, or at least prove that he's healthy enough to other teams. I don't expect any movement until training camp and preseason gets underway and injuries take place.
Hi James! Im just wondering, are you single? You are a good looking guy.
James Walker (4:47 PM)
You're just saying that because I may be on "Hard Knocks" this summer.
John (Sanibel Island, FL)
Did LeCharles Bentley ever sign with anyone? If not, do you think he will find a team soon?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Bentley remains a free agent, and I've heard some rumblings that he might not be that interested in returning to football. He went through a lot of trauma with the Browns. His staph was really bad, almost life threatning. After working his way back to decent health, perspectives change.
JW, just because I fear the bandwagon is filling up quickly, I wanted to remind everyone I was the first to call a 10-6 season for the Bengals a month ago.
James Walker (4:52 PM)
Ok. I'm not sure we can prove that. But AFC North readers are pretty honest.
Joe (Akron, OH)
How has Chinny Ndukwe been looking? What kind of PT do you think he will be getting w/Roy on the roster now? Love the blog. Keep up the good work.
James Walker (4:55 PM)
Ndukwe is looking solid as usual. Because Roy Williams is a proven vet, the Bengals are going to give him every chance to win the starting job. But even if Ndukwe doesn't end up starting, he seems to be one of those players you can't keep off the field because he makes big plays.
Mario miami [via mobile]
What are the chances MJD gets 2000 yards all purpose since taylor is out?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
Who's MJD? Just kidding. I doubt Maurice Jones-Drew gets 2,000 rushing yards. I don't think anyone outside of Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings has a chance at 2,000 yards this year.
Sean (South River NJ)
Who has the bigger season yardage and TD wise Coles or Chad Johnson?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Since we're in the fantasy portion of our chat, take Ochocinco over Lav Co.
John (Sanibel Island, FL)
Do you expect Eric Mangini to continue coaching the Browns in the tight-lipped fashion he has shown this offseason? I am friends with a few Browns fans down here on the island and they are so frustrated with the lack of news coming out of Browns camp this year.
James Walker (5:01 PM)
Mangini comes from the Bill Belichick school of coaching, and I don't expect this to change. Personally, I don't have a problem with it. Some fans may or may not with little information available. But the team still has to play on Sundays, and ultimately that is how he's going to be rated.
James Walker (5:03 PM)
Thanks again everyone for the great questions. We will chat again next week, and don't forget to check out the AFC North blog for constant updates on your favorite teams.