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)
How is everyone today? Let's get to it.
What is the status of Brett Ratliff? I have a hard time seeing the Browns keeping 4 QBs.
James Walker (4:02 PM)
Brett is on very thin ice, Greg. He's an Eric Mangini guy, but Mike Holmgren is running the show. Holmgren signed Seneca Wallace, Jake Delhomme and drafted Colt McCoy. I don't see Ratliff making the team unless there is an injury.
Kovacs (Santa Monica)
From what you've seen, what's the biggest difference from last season to this season at Browns' OTAs?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Kovacs, what's up? I got your e-mail last week, by the way. It's early. They've only had one session open to the media. But from that short time I felt their energy and excitement were where it needed to be. A lot of people weren't happy in Cleveland last year and it translated on the field.
If Jake Dellome against all odds has a pro bowl year, can the browns contend for the playoffs. The dolphins did it why can't the browns. Thanks for being turly the best in the biz!!!
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Jake Delhomme having a Pro Bowl year is a long shot, Ryan. I don't think any of the coaches expect that out of him. They just want Delhomme to be solid and not turn the football over.
James Walker (4:08 PM)
Plus, it would be very hard putting up Pro Bowl numbers with a group of unproven and inexperienced receivers.
Will WR Antonio Bryant be a significant upgrade over laveranues coles this season?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
I think so. Coles just didn't seem to have much left in the tank last year. There was a lot of tread on those tires. Bryant should still be a productive player. I think his ability to be successful over the middle will help.
What veteran options are there for Cleveland at receiver? TO? Crayton? Anyone worth looking into?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
Terrell Owens, Laveranues Coles and Patrick Crayton (via trade) are probably the biggest names left on the market. Any of these players may be able to start for the Browns.
what do you think tampa will do this year
James Walker (4:14 PM)
Every week in the AFC North chat it seems I get a Tampa Bay question. Is someone playing a prank on me?
With Big Ben gone for awhile, can the Steelers beat the Browns?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
The Browns are not on Pittsburgh's schedule during Ben Roethlisberger's conditional six-game suspension. So there's no way to find that out.
James, great work on the blog. Why do clubs wait until summer to start signing their rookies, instead of immediately after the draft? Is there a rule in place, or is it just tradition to wait? As a Bengals fan it's always painful in July to wait for M Brown to start doling out salaries one penny at a time.
James Walker (4:18 PM)
Good question, Scott. It's a combination of posturing and vacation. Many teams, players and agents take vacation around this time of year. It's really the only free time in what's become a year-round league. But part of it is also leverage. Teams don't want players to miss camp, so more gets done around those two weeks leading up to it.
What is the latest on Andre Smith for the Bengals? Is it too early to call this guy a draft bust?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
Andre Smith is still sitting out of team workouts after foot surgery. I have a hard rule that I will not label a player a bust after one rookie season. It's fair to say that Smith and some other rookies need to step up in Year 2. But it's too early to have any "bust" talk.
Guess who??!! Jamarcus Russell. Yes, he has the field vision of a dead corpse and the mobility of a standard household mustard dispenser, but will the Bengals really take a look at this rebuilding project behind JT O'Sullivan?? Good luck!
James Walker (4:23 PM)
The Bengals showed some small interest. But I don't know if this will happen. It could come down to money. Russell is a former No. 1 overall pick and may want a fairly decent amount for a backup QB. But he's also made a lot from Oakland, too.
James Walker (4:23 PM)
By the way, just announced that New York will host Super Bowl XLVIII.
best player in the afc north?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
I ranked the top 40 players in the AFC North in February. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was the No. 1-ranked player in the division.
Sean (San Diego)
James, are the Browns a #1 receiver and pass rusher away from being playoff contenders?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
I think the Browns need more than that. Of course, it would depend on who is the WR and who is the pass-rush specialist. Adding Patrick Crayton and convincing Matt Roth to stay in Cleveland won't do the trick.
James, is there any reason to think the Ravens can beat the Bengals as long as Carson Palmer is under center? He just seems to pick my boys apart as long as he is healthy.
James Walker (4:29 PM)
Carson Palmer does have Baltimore's number. I wrote a story about that last season before he beat them two more times. Some QBs seem to match up against certain schemes better than others. Palmer and Peyton Manning seem to give Baltimore huge problems.
Whatup james? what is the latest on jared gaither? His injury and trade rumors?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
The trade talk has calmed down considerably. It was at its peak before and slightly after the draft. But since then, teams have moved on with camps and OTAs. I just don't think Baltimore can get equal value for Gaither, and GM Ozzie Newsome is not a guy who gets fleeced in trades.
who has the better year statistically... big ben or flacco?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
Joe Flacco will play four or six more games. If he doesn't finish with more yards and touchdowns than Ben Roethlisberger, that is bad news for Baltimore.
Are the bengals going to replace jonathan joseph through adam jones since they did sign jones to a multi year deal and JJ's contract is going to expire soon?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
This is an odd spot for Cincinnati. Because, as a team, the Bengals certainly want Joseph to have another great year. But if that happens, J.Joe likely will price himself out of Cincinnati. Top cornerbacks are being paid an extraordinary about of money these days. Darrelle Revis is probably going to set a new standard for CBs this offseason. That only helps Joseph in 2011 as long as he takes care of business on the field.
What's the Browns' plan for safety? What's the likelihood of Sheldon Brown moving to safety? He would seem to be the right age for such a transition, but the draft maybe pointed in another direction. He would appear to be a good solution for the safety position.
James Walker (4:38 PM)
The Browns have no plans to move Sheldon Brown to safety. Cleveland drafted two rookies in T.J. Ward and Larry Asante, and barring injury I anticipate Ward starting next to Abram Elam in September.
Early predictions for the AFC North?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Too early for that, Jeffrey. All I will say at this point is the division race this year will probably come down to Cincinnati or Baltimore.
Adam ((Apple Valley, MN))
Do you think there will be a June 1st cut who can help the Ravens secondary?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
June 1 isn't what it used to be in the NFL, Adam. I'm not sure if that will change with the uncapped year, but there hasn't been a rush of players in June the past several years. Baltimore got the best possible news this week when Fabian Washington says he will be ready for training camp.
Michael (Maysville, KY)
Do the Bengals still have an outside shot of signing TO?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
The Bengals have enough receivers as it is. They will have trouble pairing things down to six after training camp.
Can we finally trust Cedric Benson to be a consistent RB every year in the NFL?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
There's no reason not to trust Cedric Benson. He's coming off a career year and is a good fit that the Bengals' offense. I doubt he will get as many carries, though, with the increase in passing and possibly giving Bernard Scott a few more touches per game.
Can Mendenhall carry the load in Pittsburgh?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
I think Rashard Mendenhall will be fine this year. The problem is teams will be stacking the box without Roethlisberger in the lineup. That was a huge advantage for Mendenhall last season.
David (Frederick, MD)
Who do you see emerging as the go-to TE in Baltimore?
James Walker (4:52 PM)
Todd Heap is still the starter in Baltimore. He had a decent year in 2009. At some point Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta will have to step up, but for this season they are in a support role barring injury.
What is going on with the Jerome Harrison contract? Do you think Harrison will be the answer at running back for the Browns or will it be one of the young guys? Thanks James!
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Not much is going on, Steve. The Browns tendered Harrison and he's refused to sign it so far. My sense is nothing is going to happen with any of these holdouts until they sign their tenders. Then Mike Holmgren and Co. will have to take each case on an individual basis.
What's up JW? What are the odds that Brian Daboll will be replaced by Gil Haskings this year if the Browns offense falters in the first few games?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
The Browns are going into this season expecting things will work out. So there hasn't been much talk about the next OC, or things like that. But if things go poorly early, anything is possible.
Matt (the Burgh, PA)
James do not sleep on the 6 time champs, if we come out of first 4 weeks 2-2 we will be in the hunt, plus the bengals have a history of falling back after a good year.
James Walker (4:57 PM)
Then what about the Ravens? You see, it's a number's game. Three teams in the division should be competitive this year and only two will probably make the playoffs. That's why it's tough for Ben Roethlisberger to miss 4-6 games.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Remember to read the AFC North blog this week for constant updates. Also visit us on Twitter.
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