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)
Let's get this party started! How is everyone today?
Andrew (Chapel Hill)
What is the Raven's plan for RT against the Jets?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
Good question, Andrew. Right now the Ravens are considering moving G Marshal Yanda to RT tackle. He would be solid there, but he's clearly a better guard. Baltimore's best hope is to have Jared Gaither or Oneil Cousins return. But the status of both players is up in the air right now.
James... I read earlier that Mike Tomlin won't commit to giving Ben his starting job back once his suspension is up. Do you really think he'd let Dixon play beyond week 5, and what do you think it would take to make that happen? Thanks
James Walker (4:03 PM)
I think it's just coach's speak, Evan. Tomlin doesn't want to back himself into a corner with something he said in Sept. It's smarter to leave things open. The only chance Tomlin would have to make a tough decision is if Dennis Dixon lights it up and starts 4-0. The chances of that happening are very slim. I could see in training camp and the preseason that Ben Roethlisberger is clearly the best QB on the team.
Erick (Acworth, Georgia)
With Dennis Dixon being named the starter for the Steelers opener against the Falcons. Do you think this enhances Rashard Mendenhall's effectiveness as a runner because of the defense having to cover a mobile quarterback as well?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Yes I do, Erick. And I think that factored into the decision. All 11 defenders will have to worry about containing Dixon as a running quarterback. The DEs and OLBs, in particular, will have to be more careful to protect the outside lanes and I think that helps Mendenhall.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
How do you think that Colt McCoy will do with the Cleveland Browns?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
It's too early to say, Chris. But I liked some things I saw from McCoy in the final preseason game. He is very accurate when he has protection and was 13-for-13 against the Chicago Bears. That's a good quality to have. But he's also had some rough moments this preseason. So Cleveland's staff needs to work with him during the year while he sits and learns.
give me a good week 1 upset for my pick-em league
James Walker (4:09 PM)
I would go safe in Week 1, Jason, and pick the biggest favorite. Let others take chances this early when it's not needed. But if you have to pick a big, surprising upset, I would take a look at Washington over Dallas.
Brandon (Hebron Ky)
So with all the new additions to the Bengals passing game such as TO and Gresham. How do you think that will effect Benson's numbers for the year. After all they did run with him alot last season, and it looks to me like they will look to the air more. Will this open up the running game for Benson? or bing his numbers down to earth?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
I don't see Benson getting as many carries per game as he did last year. The Bengals are trying to be more balanced and less predictable. Cincinnati does want to pass more, and backup tailback Bernard Scott will get more carries this year as well.
James, I saw word that the Ravens put Ed Reed on the PUP (out 6 weeks). How much do you think it changes the Ravens D especially with Foxworth out for the year? Do the Steelers with Smith and Polamalu healthy surpass the Baltimore D?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
Yes, Reed is on the PUP. I think last year helped that Baltimore played long stretches without Reed. Tom Zbikowski has been pretty good in Reed's place. The Ravens can win in the short term, but they really need Reed back at some point to take it to the next level.
JW, although I like the pickup of LeFevour, I'm very worried about the Bengals backup QB spot. Why didn't they look at Leinart? Given Carson's injury history (and what has happened when he gets injured), I would think there would be a more competent backup.
James Walker (4:15 PM)
The Bengals were one of several teams that had interest in Matt Leinart before the Houston Texans signed him. Cincinnati's quarterback depth isn't very good. But on most teams, if the starting quarterback goes down the season is over anyway. How many great backup quarterbacks do you know that can still lead their team to the Super Bowl?
Daniel (Glendora, Ca.)
Hey James! How is Joe Haden coming along? Havent really heard anything about him...as a CB, is that a good thing or a bad thing?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Haden is doing ok. But he's not come along as well as I would expect from a No. 7 overall pick. The Browns really need immediate impact players. So far, Haden will play in nickel situations.
Danny (Cantonsville, MD)
Any chances the Ravens surprise us again and go get Vincent Jackson
James Walker (4:20 PM)
Be happy with T.J. Houshmandzadeh. That is more than enough.
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
I know hindsight is 20/20 when you draft a player with an injury history like Hardesty but how much do you think the Browns were counting on him in 2010?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
The Browns had high expectations for Hardesty. The coaching staff really liked his ability and how quickly he picked up the offense. But I've been saying for days now that if you draft a player with a lengthy injury history, you cannot be surprised when he gets injured again. It's right there on his scouting report. Cleveland now has to move on.
For what Holmgren and Heckert have done so far, how long do you think it will take for the browns to be competitive in the division?/competing for a playoff spot?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
I try to take things year to year, because that's how the NFL works. Right now, I don't see the Browns competing for the division title this year. If they have a good offseason, maybe next year. But I think they are probably a couple years away.
Hey James... big typo earlier... Brandon McDonald's cut surprise you? I couldn't believe they let him go with as thin as their secondary is.
James Walker (4:26 PM)
McDonald wasn't a favorite of this new regime. He didn't help himself by tweeting some offensive things to Terrell Owens this summer either. But he was claimed by Arizona, where he joins QB Derek Anderson.
Nick (College Park)
In his heart of hearts, do you think Coach Tomlin would take 2-2 coming out of the Ben suspension if you offered it to him today?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
No. I think Mike Tomlin would play out the games and try to go 4-0, as any competitive coach would. I predict the Steelers will be 1-3, maybe 2-2.
James what are the odds of Marvin returning for the 2011 season? If not, do you see Zimmer as the new head coach of the Bengals?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
I really think it's up in the air right now with Marvin Lewis. He has some differences of opinion with how certain things are done, and I'm not sure he can convince ownership to change it. Maybe a playoff run would help. If Lewis doesn't return, Mike Zimmer would be the favorite. He signed a multi-year extension this offseason.
How good do you think the bengals will be
James Walker (4:31 PM)
I picked them to finish second in the AFC North and to grab the last wild card. So that's pretty good.
Troy Reed (Baltiburgh)
I'm still the best safety in football. Maybe in football history.
James Walker (4:33 PM)
What's good, Troy Reed? What defense are you playing for this year? I have a fantasy draft coming up soon.
Have you tried OchocincO's yet?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
Nope. But if they're better than Honey Nut Cheerios, I may consider it.
Joseph (Athens, GA)
Yo James. Whats the status on Cody going into the Jets game?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
The next injury report isn't out until tomorrow. But I don't think Terrence Cody makes it back for Monday.
James Walker (4:37 PM)
FYI, Billy Yates and David Veikune were both waived by the Browns today.
If the Bengals come out 2-0 to start the season, how will the power ranking look after that?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
It would be very high if they beat the Patriots and Ravens in back-to-back weeks, and it should be. A good test early for Cincinnati.
Great... the Browns wasted yet another early round draft pick... thanks for the update.
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Drafting is a huge part of building a team. It's the primary reason Cleveland hasn't a consistent winner since its return 11 years ago.
Who will win the AFC North? Who are your favorites?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
My picks are (1) Baltimore, (2) Cincinnati, (3) Pittsburgh and (4) Cleveland. Baltimore and Cincinnati get into the postseason.
brian (new jersey)
how effective do you think boldin will be week 1 with the return of revis?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
This could be a "decoy" week for Anquan Boldin--occupy Revis and let the other WRs go to work. Maybe make a play or two when it's there. I'm not a head coach, but that would be my plan. Why throw to Revis when you don't have to.
What kind of year are you expecting Jerome Harrison to have? Over or Under 1,000 yards?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Aloha! Quick fantasy afc north question, traded P. Hillis for B. Scott good or bad move?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Hmmm. Tough one. I think it's a toss up, which means it was a fair trade.
how fast do you believe it will take T.J. to be effective in Baltimore
James Walker (4:48 PM)
I think he could help right away. It's not like T.J. was holding out of camp and not practicing. He's in football shape and he's a gamer. I think he will be fine.
Jeff (NY, NY)
Do you expect ochocinco to have a big week against the Pats?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
What's interesting is that Leigh Bodden was just injured and he had a good track record against Chad Ochocinco. With Bodden out, New England's DBs are not as good. So Ocho could put up solid numbers.
Ryan (York, pa)
Madden Question: I know you don't have time to play but in Franchise mode, Derrick Mason retires after the first year. Do you think that is accurate and this may be his last year?
James Walker (4:52 PM)
That's pretty good. I wouldn't rely on a video game, but Mason is playing on a year-to-year basis at this point. Did Ed Reed retire in your franchise mode?
Jorge (Costa Rica)
Do you think Tomlin can change QB if Dixon struggles?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
I would be surprised if Mike Tomlin did it in the middle of the game. But overall Dixon is on a short leash if he has a bad game or two, especially if Byron Leftwich makes it back in a couple weeks.
Hey JW,Do you see the Bengals pass rush improving this season? I believe that will be key for them making a deep play off run. Your thoughts?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
I do. That has been a focus for the Bengals all offseason. The same goes for the Ravens. Both defenses were in the top five. So there isn't that much each team can drastically improve on. But pass rush is one of them.
Who do you think will step up as the steelers new reciever now that Holmes has been traded.
James Walker (4:56 PM)
Mike Wallace has been the AFC North blog's sleeper pick all season. I really like his speed, work ethic and demeanor. He needs to keep working on his short and intermediate routes, but he's has the speed to make big plays.
Tim K (Tampa, Fl)
What exactly would the Bengals do if C Palmer went down???
James Walker (4:59 PM)
According to the depth chart, they would play Jordan Palmer.
Do you think bringing back McFadden will help Pittsburg's secondary woes from last season?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Yes, Bryant has brought energy and continuity back to the secondary. He was solid in the role two years ago and I think he will be an upgrade again this year.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everything thanks for the time. Remember to check the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter for constant updates.
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