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)
Greetings everyone. It was an exciting week in the AFC North last week. So let's get to some questions.
Pop Risley (Lorain,OH)
Hey James, what do you think about the situation in Cleveland with the QB's? I'm an avid Browns fan and I'm having a hard time watching the games every week. I don't think it's the QB's, I think it's the coaching and lack of talent, what do you think?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
I think the Browns created another problem by benching Brady Quinn at halftime. I'm not sure who's better between the two, but if you pick a player you should give him time and stick with him. There are a lot of problems on the offense, not just the QB, as you can when Derek Anderson came in and the unit still sputtered.
Tom (Derby, CT)
Good afternoon James. What's with Limas Sweed? If the pass is rifled at him in traffic, he can catch it. Lobbed up, wide open, continually drops it?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
Sweed is having trouble catching the deep passes mostly, and I don't know how you fix that. The first part is running the correct route, and the second part is separating and getting open. He has no problems with the first two steps, which are actually pretty difficult in the NFL. Sweed just loses concentration on the third step of catching it.
James, what are the key matchups for the ravens this weekend against the pats? Foxworth v. Moss? Reed v. Brady? Cameron v. Bellichek? Thanks!
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Those are all good matchups, Tray. But I like the Tom Brady vs. Ray Lewis matchup. Both call the plays/signals on offense and defense. So there will be a bit of a chess match going there.
Elton Jones (South Ozone Park,NY)
The Bengals are not easy to play and hard to beat, but too much has to go right for the Bengals on offense to make the long run to the playoffs. And I'm still worried about their lack of game management.
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Elton, let's slow down on the playoff talk after three games. A lot can happen and the Bengals need to focus on the game(s) ahead. Cincinnati should be able to handle Cleveland and get to 3-1, which is a great start to the first month of the season.
adam (marysville oh)
could the browns possibly go 0-16?could mangini be done after one year?will they score a meaningful touchdown this year?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
I doubt the Browns will match the Lions and go 0-16. And I also doubt Browns ownership will give up on a new head coach after one year. That simply doesn't happen in the NFL. The Browns are still paying Romeo Crennel after his recent contract extension.
Paul (Baltimore, MD)
JW, What are you expecting out of the Ravens vs. Pats game?
James Walker (4:09 PM)
A tremendous game. If you're looking for picks, I will make them later in the week.
James y ou've been around the Bengals locker room a lot. Do you feel these players starting to believe they can win anywhere anytime and against anyone? Do they have a confidence in the "TEAM". This use to be a team of individuals but as a fan i think i see a team of professionals who are playing for one another. Thanks
James Walker (4:11 PM)
That's a good observation, T.J. The Bengals do believe. But it started late last season when things started to click during their three-game winning streak to end of the season. That created some momentum, and now they've actually won 5 of their last 6 games. It's a much better locker room and collection of "team" guys.
John (Boston, Mass.)
James, loyal Pats fan, but I'm nervous. Flacco looks GOOD. Do my pats honestly have a shot this weekend?
James Walker (4:13 PM)
Of course the Patriots have a shot. You're in for one of the best games of the weekend. I think we're going to learn a lot about both teams.
nick (dayton ohio)
When do you think the browns will use James Davis more he was there leading rusher in the pre-season.
James Walker (4:14 PM)
I tried to warn people not to overrate the preseason. Davis played well against a lot of backups or players that are no longer in the league right now. I think he's a good-looking rookie, but don't expect too much, too soon.
James, with the steelers at 1-2 do you see them playing catch up all year with the ravens and bengals?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
I see two teams getting into the playoffs from the AFC North this year, so it's going to be very, very close. The Ravens have a nice lead so they're basically a lock barring injuries. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will battle for that second spot. Mathematically, three teams could get in from the division, but I wouldn't count on it.
Does OchcoCinco play better w/ the spotlight on him and having fun or focusing just on football?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
I can't speak for Ocho. But in my opinion, he is a player who needs to be himself to be at his best. Ochocinco does a lot of talking and antics because that's his way of firing himself up. When coaches take that element away from him, the game is not as fun and he doesn't seem to have that fire.
james what do you think of the bengals o line so far this season
James Walker (4:21 PM)
It's performing above expectations, considering Andre Smith is out. But there is still a lot of room for improvement. Too many mental errors/penalties.
Todd (Massillon, OH)
Any idea where Robiskie dropped off to?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
Brian Robiskie has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff early in the season, and I'm not exactly sure the reason. It's possible that he's not performing in practice, but I wouldn't know because those are closed to the media once the regular season begins. He also doesn't contribute on special teams, and that's part of the reason the coaches have gone with other players on Sundays.
Did you hear that Big Ben is hosting WWE Raw Monday night? How could the Steelers let him do this? Seems like he should be more focused on turning around his season rather than who he should put in the main event.
James Walker (4:25 PM)
Yes, I've heard. But the event is on Monday night, which is after the game. Tuesday also is an off day in the NFL. So I'm not sure it's that big a deal.
Is Willie parker out for the SD game?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
No. I was at Mike Tomlin's press conference today in Pittsburgh, and he said Willie Parker has turf toe and may miss some early practice time this week. I anticipate him playing Sunday.
Is it possible for the "North" to get 3 teams in the playoffs this year?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
I mentioned earlier that yes it is possible. But in a tough AFC, I wouldn't count on it.
James, do the Bengals have a mental collapse this week against Cleveland? (I remember in 07' after an upset win on Monday night against Baltimore, Cleveland beat them in a shootout 51-45)
James Walker (4:29 PM)
I think there is some potential for a trap game in Cleveland. The Browns are at home and the Bengals are coming off one of their biggest wins in recent memory. But Cleveland is in such disarray right now that it's the chances aren't very high.
So youre already conceding the AFC North to Ravens? Its only 3 wks in amd while the Steelers definitely have little margin for error dont you still feel they can overtake Balt?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
I said barring injury Baltimore looks like a lock for the playoffs.
James Walker (4:31 PM)
It's too early to crown division winners.
Patrick (Kettering, OH)
Who do you expect to see taking the starting snap for the Browns this weekend? Do you feel that this will be a competition that takes place the entire season?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
Before the season it was easy to predict Brady Quinn would win the job. But this situation now is much harder to forecast. It's really up to whatever is in Eric Mangini's head right now, and I'm not sure what that is. He's the only one making this decision. We will know on Wednesday.
Will (Minneapolis, MN)
Mr. Walker - you reported that Willie Parker has turf today in your most recent blog. Is it severe enough to linger for the rest of the year? And if so - is Mewelde Moore the guy who's backing him up?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
Turf toe injuries usually aren't so severe that it lasts all season. But this was just announced today and I don't know the severity. Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore are the backups, but Mendenhall needs to be more attentive in practice this week if he wants to see the field.
John Boy (Cincinnati)
James, Right score, wrong team. Tell me you will be in Cleveland this Sunday. 2-0 with you in the building.
James Walker (4:38 PM)
I should get a point for nailing the exact score, right? I will not be covering the battle of Ohio. I am in Pittsburgh for the Steelers-Chargers primetime game.
The Wolf (Cleveland)
Since their return to the NFL in 1999, the Browns have yet to have a blacked out home game. Do you see black outs at the end of this year with the Browns playing this badly?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
What's up, Wolf? Are you in class again this week? There is always that potential looming this year for the two Ohio teams. But I have a feeling the Browns would buy the tickets out themselves to prevent it, or at least strongly consider the option before it happens.
How long til Polamalu gets back? Will that make the entire difference when he returns?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Mike Tomlin provided an optimistic report today on Polamalu. He won't be back this week, but they like his progress. I think he's going to make a big difference in the defense. The team just has to win some games without him in the meantime.
Troy Reed (Baltiburgh)
I need to stop helping out the Ravens so much and get the Steelers out of the basement.
James Walker (4:47 PM)
Someone asked me last week if you used Head and Shoulders Troy Reed. I didn't know the answer to that. Do you?
Troy Reed (Safteyville)
on half my head
James Walker (4:48 PM)
Hey mateAfter all Mangini's claims of hardnose football why isnt he pounding hte ball more, is it becasue of the offensive line?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Welcome to the chat from Australia, mate. Jamal Lewis has been banged up and didn't play last week. That is one reason. The team also falls behind in games pretty fast.
Have you noticed the Steelers found their short yardage goaline back? Its non-other than Big Ben himself. Don't you think they're putting him at risk for doing this?
James Walker (4:54 PM)
I don't think this is a regular, planned deal, Nick. The Steelers are just using Ben when it's one yard to get. He's big enough to lean forward and get that tough yard.
Will the Ravens keep Chris Carr returning kicks and punts or will they eventually lend towards letting Lardarius Webb do the returning?
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Carr has been ok, not great. But the team is winning, and they may not want to take any unnecessary chances with a rookie back there.
James Walker (5:01 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Remember to check out the AFC North blog. It's been a fun season so far.
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