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 (4:00 PM)
Hello everyone. Let's talk football and have some fun this week.
Should I be worried about Palmer or is it a mild injury where he'd play if it was the regular season?
James Walker (4:01 PM)
Hello Joe. Palmer's injury isn't serious. He believes he will play in the final two preseason games. But Palmer will certainly be ready by the regular season. So there's no need to worry.
Joey Gladstone (San Francisco,CA)
Are the Browns going to be this year's Lions?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
I wouldn't get too down after one preseason game, Joey. I do believe it's going to be a long year for the Browns but not 2008 Detroit Lions long. Cleveland will win a game. Maybe four. Maybe five or six.
jonathan (sunrise fl)
long time reader first time asking a question who is the front runner to replace bart scott at lb
James Walker (4:04 PM)
The Ravens really like second-year linebacker Tavares Gooden, who has had a good offseason. He reminds me a little bit of a smaller version of Lawrence Timmons with his speed. It will be interesting to watch him develop.
BigKJ585 (Rochester NY)
Hey James, if Mason is up to it, do u think the Ravens will try to re-sign to another contract?
James Walker (4:06 PM)
That's a tough question and usually not one I like to answer. Predicting contracts and such beyond this year is difficult. Players can have good years. Player can also have bad years or get hurt. It's a very year-to-year league. I would put Mason in the Willie Parker catagory of wait-and-see.
how does the signing of Favre impact the games against the NFCN?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
It's going to make getting a win against the Vikings that much tougher this season. They're by no means unbeatable. But Minnesota, in my eyes, just went from a top 12 team to maybe a top 7 or 8 team by getting Brett Favre. Even at this stage he is a better passing threat than Sage or Tarvares.
Brian (Dover, DE)
Big James,Your opinion of the Steelers OL is well documented and I'm generally in agreement. My question is this - isn't the OL good enough to win another Super Bowl? Granted, they aren't the strongest unit in the league, but they were good enough last year and should be a little better this time around, as should be the skill players around them.
James Walker (4:10 PM)
That is what the coaching staff suggests, Brian. As most people know by now, I question how high the ceiling really is for this group. I could be wrong, but the first preseason game didn't change my opinion.
Pete (Southern Cali (by way of Bmore))
James - A) You the Man. B) Anybody else feel that Mendenhall (and the whole Steelers offense) is way overrated?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
A) I'm not the man. I just try to inform and entertain AFC North fans in my blog. B) I don't think the Steelers offense gets much pub. The defense gets it on that team and it's well-deserved.
CHILD PLEASE with this Favre talk!
James Walker (4:13 PM)
Good catch and breakaway last week Ocho. The Bengals need more of that this season.
which afc north team has the best o-line?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
I would say the Baltimore Ravens. They have a lot of versatile players and most of them are pretty young. Plus, I think Michael Oher and Jared Gaither are a good pairing of young tackles.
Do you think Cincy or the Browns will even have a chance this year to be better then 8-8?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
If healthy, Cincinnati has a great chance to double its win total this year. I'm not optimistic from what I've seen that the Browns can do the same.
Kellen (Los Angeles)
Is it time the browns move on from the Corey Williams experiment? injuries in Carolina... Poor play in Atlanta and Oakland? Time to sell high and move on...
James Walker (4:18 PM)
The Browns can't "sell high" with Corey Williams at this point, because he's been injured and has little value to other teams. Cleveland needs to stick with him this year because it paid out a huge signing bonus and it would hurt the cap to move him this early into his deal. Williams is not a natural 3-4 player, but he may do better in his second season in the system.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
How will the state of Ohio do against Denver? Start things off early with wins or do you see the Broncos might surprise the Bengals and the Browns?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
The Bengals have Denver at home in the first game of the season. So preparation time and energy will be high. It's safe to make Cincinnati the favorite in that game. Cleveland travels to Denver this year, I believe. So the Broncos would have a good shot of upending the Browns.
Do you watch the show hard knoks?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
I'm watching every episode, Chauncey. I'm also doing a recap and report card on the show every Thursday morning in the AFC North blog. You should look for it.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
Is Brady Quinn ready for the Browns to be his team, and will Derek Anderson be a distraction on the bench?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
I've talked to Brady Quinn several times this offseason and he really wants this opportunity. This is a big year for him to take over this franchise and he knows it. I've said all along he will win the job and nothing I've seen so far has changed my thinking. Derek Anderson is not the distraction type.
James Walker (4:24 PM)
The only distraction it could cause is if Quinn struggles and fans are clamoring for the Browns to bring in Anderson off the bench. Imagine the irony after Cleveland did it to Anderson the past couple of years.
Matt (Madrid, Spain)
The Steelers O-Line debate aside, IF Big Ben were to be injured this season, how big of an impact do you think this would have on the Steelers' results for the season?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
It would depend on the severity of the injury, Matt. If it's a game or two, I think Pittsburgh is prepared to handle that scenario. But if it's more extreme, the Steelers couldn't go on and win a Super Bowl without Roethlisberger.
Keith (Rockvile, MD)
How patient should us Steelers fans be with Mendenhall? Most backs taken in the 1st couple of rounds last year have flashed a lot more than he has.
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Rashard Mendenhall is lucky that Willie Parker is around and entrenched as the starter. That actually puts Mendenhall in a good spot to come along gradually and without too much pressure. Still, it's time this year that he shows what he can do.
Gregg (Rochester, ny)
Who is the next Steeler to sign a contract? I think it should be Ryan Clark. Your thoughts.
James Walker (4:30 PM)
It's probably going to happen next year. But Clark is the favorite.
What type of year do you see braylon edwards having? In 2007 it seemed as if he caught everything. In 2008 he dropped everything. do you see him putting up 2007 numbers again in his contract year?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
Somewhere in between his 2007 and 2008 season. I doubt he will drop 15-20 passes like he did last season. (There is no official stat kept for drops by the way). But you probably won't see him catch 16 touchdowns in this style of offense, either.
Flacco (Bear, DE)
Thoughts on Flacco... real deal or flash in the pan?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
I was one of the first in the national media last year to say Joe Flacco would start in Week 1. I didn't know it would happen under those circumstances but obviously I believe he's no fluke.
Any thoughts on the rumors of Brandon Marshall to the Ravens for Troy Smith and picks? I don't think its going to happen, but I'm still holding out hope. Troy will be gone anyway once his contract is up, and we could use another vet WR.
James Walker (4:34 PM)
There have been scores of rumors with Brandon Marshall and nothing has happened to date. Last I was told the Broncos have zero interest in trading him. Unless I hear something different before the start of the regular season, I'm not putting much stock into trade scenarios.
PolamaluRules (Rochester, ny)
In your opinion, who will have a bigger impact on the Steelers defense this year - Lawrence Timmons or William Gay and why?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
Timmons. Linebackers in Pittsburgh's defense always have tons of opportunities to make plays.
Zach (Chillicothe (oh))
will troy smith ever have a chance in his career to be a fulltime starter?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
Not in Baltimore, Zach. It will have to happen with another team.
Michael (New York)
What kind of role do you think Ray Rice will have with the Ravens this year, are we looking at him as the starter or strictly as a third down back ?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Ray Rice has a great chance to be the starter. In fact, he's played that role all offseason and just needs to hold it for a little longer. Rice has enough ability to be an every-down back. He just needs to progress in Year 2 and stay healthy. But all three backs in Baltimore will get carries.
To form an opinion of the Steelers O-line based on the first pre-season game is a bit futile considering they were without Hartwig and Stapleton. How much of an impact will having these two healthy have on the "gelling" of this unit?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
You misread my statement, Tom. My opinion comes from watching them all last season and not seeing the Steelers make any changes to the o-line in the offseason. I just said the first preseason game didn't do anything to change that opinion I had from last season. Stapleton will have to compete for his spot when he comes back. The Steelers need Hartwig ASAP.
Troy Reed (Indiana)
Not who is better, but who is more important to their defenses Polamalu or Reed?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
I knew this question would come up again in some form this week. If I had a dollar for every time...
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Nice try by the way.
jared (auburn, al)
How is Michael Johnson progessing in Bengal camp? Do you see him making and impact on passing downs this season?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Michael Johnson has been a pleasant surprise for the Bengals in camp this summer. He is really athletic and has first-round talent. The Bengals just need to stay on him to make sure he becomes the best he can be. So far so good.
If the Over/Under on Bernard Scott's rushing total this season is 400, what are you taking?
James Walker (4:45 PM)
Under. I'm not sure Cincinnati's offensive line will be stable enough to allow a backup tailback to put up pretty good numbers, especially playing against Pittsburgh and Baltimore four times this season.
simon Vila (portland)
which one is worse 1.bengals o line2. bengals d line
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Take your pick: Bengals o-line.
Who would win in a 3 way cage match: Mike Ditka, Troy Reed, or Chuck Norris?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
Ditka and Norris are too old at this point, so Troy Reed. Has anyone created Troy Reed in Madden 10 yet?
Kevin (Solon, OH)
I will do that tonight!
James Walker (4:48 PM)
Send me an e-mail to the AFC North mailbag and tell me how it works out.
Is it me, or is O-line depth a worry for the Ravens. Cousins looked terrible in the first preseason game, and Terry is on IR. Who backs up at tackle?
James Walker (4:49 PM)
Maybe. But backup o-linemen are a luxury. There are three other teams in the division that are worried about the linemen who will have to start for them this season.
Wii, PS3, or 360? Which is best system?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
I'm no expert. I think they all have their strenghts. Personally, I own an XBox 360. But I know people that own each system or all three.
who is troy reed? I am form the NFC BEASt division
James Walker (4:52 PM)
It's a combination between Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed. I get the question all the time of which player is better and it gets tiresome. So I always answer Troy Reed as a running joke.
jay don't concern yourself with grown folk talk. go talk about vick or jessica simpson or come up with more reasons why the redskins got blanked in the first preseason game. that seems like more your speed.
James Walker (4:54 PM)
Let's be nice now. I've quieted the Beast Master (Matt Mosley) after our Ben vs. Eli debate. So I can't blame some of his readers for wanting to join the cool kids.
Eric (Los Angeles, CA.)
When will Andre Smith sign and help the Bengals on the O-line?
James Walker (4:56 PM)
It's hard to pinpoint a date, but things aren't going too well. With negotiations, progress can always heat up at any moment. He's coming dangerously close to not starting in Week 1. He may be past that point already.
Jesse (Roanoke, VA)
Ben vs. Eli? Winner: Philip Rivers.
James Walker (4:58 PM)
If Bill Williamson in the AFC West blog is brave enough to debate that point, I'll take his lunch money as well.
I haven't heard anyone mention anything about Edwards lack of effort on the two interceptions. Seems like he could have fought a little harder for the ball in the Quinn interception. On Andersons' interception, he looked a little girl trying to tackle the DB!
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Braylon Edwards has always struggled with that, Andy. Sometimes you have to become a defender on bad throws and bat the ball, and that's just not something Edwards has in his game. I'm not sure how you practice that unless you have a QB keep throwing bad throws on purpose in training camp.
Do you think the Bengals will keep Jerome Simpson and Cosby?
James Walker (5:02 PM)
The Bengals have to keep Jerome Simpson, because they spent a second-round pick on him and can't give up in Year 2. Some receivers are just slow to develop, and the hope is the light turns on for Simpson eventually. Quan Cosby is a long shot. He's not a bad player, just on the wrong team which is very deep at Cosby's position.
any chance that one of the Steelers undrafted rookies make the final squad?
James Walker (5:04 PM)
Isaac "RedZone" Redman has the best chance. But Pittsburgh is so deep at tailback (Parker, Mendenhall, Moore) that Redman might have to be good at special teams as well. It will be interesting to see if he can keep up this current pace.
when are you going on fantasy focus?
James Walker (5:06 PM)
That's not my thing, Simon. We have a lot of people here at ESPN who specialize in fantasy football, and that's very important and generates a lot of interest for our site.
What is your opinionon Collins of the Bengals?Do you think he willhave enough strenght to hold on the Raven and Steelers DBs?
James Walker (5:07 PM)
I think Collins is an ideal third tackle who can start in spurts. Some feel he's full-time starter material, but I'm not so sure. Andre Smith has a higher cieling as a player and should beat him out eventually.
What do you think the final standings will be in AFC NORTH?
James Walker (5:09 PM)
We have to turn in our picks for the season in less than two weeks. That gives me a little more time to look at teams and evaluate before making a decision.
Kevin (Solon, OH)
Do you plan on watching Shaq Vs. tonight when he takes on Ben Roethlisberger?
James Walker (5:10 PM)
Nah. I have a lot of work to do on season preview stuff before heading to Baltimore for training camp.
Are Santonio Holmes days as a punt returner over?
James Walker (5:11 PM)
It depends on if anyone else can do it. The Steelers want to take some pressure off of Holmes, because this could be the year he becomes Ben Roethlisberger's No. 1 target.
Sean (lyndhurst oh)
what separates team scouts (Steelers, Philly, NE, NYG) from scouts in KC, CLE, STL? How can some teams constantly find talent in low places
James Walker (5:14 PM)
This is a question that can't be answered in a sentence or two. In a nutshell, the good teams understand its system and which players fit into it. The bad teams have trouble doing so. Some of it also is getting a feel for work ethic and character. Some teams do that better than others.
Jesse (Roanoke, VA)
Roy Williams (safety) looks washed-up on "Hard Knocks." Is perception reality?
James Walker (5:15 PM)
He's had good days and bad. That particular day on "Hard Knocks" was one of his bad days.
James Walker (5:16 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Remember to check the AFC North blog for more info on your favorite teams.