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.
James Walker (4:00 PM)
Quick note, the Bengals just placed CB Adam Jones on injured reserve with a neck injury he suffered against the Atlanta Falcons.
How big of an impact will the loss of Aaron Smith have on the steelers defense this year?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
I think the Steelers are capable of filling in better for Smith now than in year's past. Ziggy Hood is a first-round pick who is rounding into form. He will get an opportunity to see where he is. Once Brett Keisel comes back, I think they will have decent depth. But Smith without a doubt is the best DE Pittsburgh has.
James (Los Angeles CA)
Will the bengals be the first team to lose to the bills?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
That's too far to look ahead for me. I try to take the NFL and predictions week to week. The Bengals have a lot of talent. But they are a threat to lose any game with the way they're playing right now.
Please tell me the Browns are going to let McCoy play out the year?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Can't say that for certain, David. Colt McCoy, in my opinion, has earned the right to continue to start. But Eric Mangini is sincere in saying he wants to see who gives him the best chance to win. You have to keep in mind that Mangini needs to win games to keep his job next season. For him, that takes precedent over developing a rookie QB.
James,Is it over for the bengals?Please tell me no!!!!
James Walker (4:08 PM)
It's a long season, LL. I wrote this week that they are too sloppy to be considered contenders. But I'm not ready to write off Cincy's season. Sunday's game against Miami is a must-win.
WillMarvin Lewis be back next year? If not who are some of the candidates you think are in line to coach the Bengals?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
I checked on this recently and all is quiet on the contract front right now. At any point things can pick up or nothing could happen at all. It's really up to the two parties, but I will continue to check on it. Mike Zimmer right now would be the leader in the clubhouse. In terms of outside candidates, the Bengals are so unpredictable and it's so early that it wouldn't be wise for me to throw out names.
Ravens would get whooped by the GMEN if they played them right now?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
I don't know about that. Ravens aren't playing their best ball right now. But they have beat some quality opponents in the Jets and Steelers.
D-Bo (St. Pete, FL)
Hey James, In your opinion, what will the Steelers do with their D-Line? They have Eason and Hood, but with Keisel banged up will they sign 1 or 2 more Linemen? Perhaps bring Sonny Harris back?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood will start if Brett Keisel can't go. Mike Tomlin said today that Keisel will be limited in practice this week, and it's possible he can play. If that's the case, I expect Hood and Eason to split playing time about equally for Smith.
Tim K (Tampa Fl)
Curve ball Question: Who you got tonite- Heat or Celtics?????
James Walker (4:15 PM)
Great first game. But I like the Celtics at home in a close one.
James I think holding a roster spot for A. Smith is the right move by tomlin and the steelers. If he can make it back before the playoffs he would be a huge lift to the defense heading into the post season do you agree with then move?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
I agree. Tomlin said the tricep was only partially torn, which makes it possible Smith can return by the end of the season. Pittsburgh has enough talent to hold a roster spot and not miss it. They could give Smith a few weeks/months, see where he is, and make a decision later if needed.
The Bengals have talent on both sides of the ball, but they're not getting it done. What is the problem?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Too many things to mention in this chat, Spif. The primary issue I see is this team doesn't do the little things, and the lack of attention to detail is killing the team when everyone is failing at once.
James Walker (4:18 PM)
I don't think I've ever been to a game where a team put 12 men on the field twice in one half. One was on offense and one on defense. It sounds simple, but everyone is screwing up the little things right now for Cincinnati.
The Bengals are like the Cowboys in that regard.
James Walker (4:19 PM)
Very much so, James. Cool name.
David (York, PA)
What are the Ravens' chances of landing Shawne Merriman?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
This is another thing I checked on recently, last week I believe, and was told it's a "possibility." I'm hearing there is some interest from the Ravens and the Chargers will release Merriman at some point. He's from Washington D.C. and the Ravens play the style that fits Merriman, so it makes since. The biggest issues will be health and money. There's no promises both will pan out.
Who are you leaning more towards to winning steelers or saints?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
I make my picks on Friday, so I need more time to think about that one. I'm trying to figure out if the Browns exposed the Saints or made them more upset to explode on Pittsburgh next week. Tough call.
Patrick (Dayton, OH)
if delhomme and wallace make it back in do hte browns cut ratliff again
James Walker (4:24 PM)
Yes, Patrick. As soon as the Browns have both QBs healthy again, Ratliff will be the odd man out. There's no reason for Cleveland, or any team, to keep four QBs.
Will the Browns need to pull out their whole bag of tricks again in 2 weeks to upset NE?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
The trick plays are something you can only do occassionally. The Browns used them all against the Saints and deserve kudos for catching New Orleans off guard before the bye week. But now that it's on tape, all of those plays probably won't work as well. The Browns will have to choose their spots.
If Colt is the real McCoy, would it make more cents to cut Jake?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
The Browns are not cutting Jake Delhomme. They paid him $7 million to play this year. I said all along that was too much money for a QB coming off his worst season of his career.
jmo (Bed Stuy)
With Hillis getting the bye week to let his thigh heal, do you predict that he'll be able to take it to the slate with power vs. New England?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
Hey! There we go, JMO, reppin BK to the fullest. As long as Hillis is in the game he runs hard. That's part of the reason he's injury-prone. The bye week will help him just as much as the veteran QBs.
What were your thoughts on Andre Smiths performance after finally playing a full game.
James Walker (4:31 PM)
The two false start penalties were costly, but I thought he was okay. The Bengals need to see what Smith has because he's behind the curve of what they expected when they drafted him a year ago. He should get better with playing time.
Darrell (Dallas TX)
What is the deal with Brian Robiske, he was supposed to be a safe pick in the 09 draft. It seems like every other teams have receivers popping up out of nowhere. Is he a bust?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
I haven't been impressed with Robiskie. He has trouble getting open and is not as athletic as WRs I see on other teams. The Browns need to find a better way of using him, because he doesn't look like starter material. CBs are shutting him down too easily.
James, the James cut in Cleveland puzzles me. Hard to cut a guy you don't give a chance. Should we expect a Chris Jennings siting soon?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
James Davis, from what I'm told, was increasingly unhappy in Cleveland. He felt he deserved more of an oppurtunity, espcecially after the Jerome Harrsion trade, but never got it.
Is it possible to move Woodley to DE and Timmons or Worilds to OLB? Woodley goes about 280 and could be a better option than Eason or Hood at this point.
James Walker (4:38 PM)
No, because now you're weakining two or three other positions. Plus, Woodley hasn't played DE since college and he's not a 3-4 DE. The Steelers need to keep the defense in tact and find the right player (Ziggy Hood and/or Nick Eason) to play DE.
Walt Carter (Savannah, Ga)
As the Ravens rest up during their bye week, what are their chances of beating the Dolphins during week 9?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
I think they're pretty good. The Ravens have two weeks to prepare for this game and to fix their problems. Miami is no slouch, though.
Why isnt TJ more involved in the Ravens offense? On a similar note, how do you see Stallworth fitting in when he returns?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
People forget that T.J. Houshmandzadeh got there just days before the regular season. He didn't have a training camp or preseason to fit in. So he's kind of playing on the fly and trying to gain everyone's trust. He should be more productive in the second half of the season. Donte' Stallworth is probably the fastest of Baltimore's WRs. He could add a much-needed deep threat.
Hey James should we expect to see Jared Gaither on the Ravens next year, or do you think his time in Baltimore is done?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
I think his time is done in Baltimore. The Ravens were not happy with all that went down. It's nothing wrong with getting hurt, but his attitude about his contract and showing up too light rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
is mike wallace the fastest player in the nfl?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
One of the fastest. But there's no way to determine who's the fastest without an organized contest. The NFL used to do it in the offseason. I remember HOFer Darrell Green used to win it every year for a while.
James Walker (4:46 PM)
I'm for bringing it back, maybe at the Pro Bowl. But maybe the risk of injury is the reason it's scrapped.
What is your overall view of TJ Ward.
James Walker (4:47 PM)
Great draft pick, probably the best Browns pick this year. Good instincts, big hitter, always flowing to the football. Even when he makes a mistake, it's at full speed.
Hey James, it's my first year at Temple University. Where's the best place to eat? And is it safe for me to where my Steelers around the city?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Mike, congrats on choosing Temple. You're a smart guy. People in Philly respect the Steelers, so you're safe. There is a mutual in-state thing going there. The same can be said for the Eagles in Pittsburgh. In terms of where to eat, it's been a while since I was there. But I did the SAC on campus and I had a little secret spot I took my dates called Shao Lan Kung. Look up the address and maybe the spelling. It's high-end Chinese food that was really nice.
James Walker (4:51 PM)
Didn't know I'd be giving dating advice today.
Who do you think will win the AFC North
James Walker (4:52 PM)
I picked the Ravens at the beginning of the year, Leanna. I don't change my picks in the middle of the season. I think that's weak, even if I'm wrong by year's end.
No questions/comments about the fumble? I'm still amazed that the Steelers once again were on the good side of a bad call.
James Walker (4:54 PM)
I've kind of moved on from it. It's Tuesday. The Steelers caught a break and got the W. What more is there to say?
Sean (New York)
With Ed Reed back, Josh Wilson getting involved and Webb getting healthy, can I expect any hope for Ravens improving their secondary?? Blog is great by the way.
James Walker (4:56 PM)
Thanks, Sean. The Ravens have a lot to fix, because many of the things experts predicted at the start of the year is starting to show up. Baltimore was No. 1 against the pass for a few weeks, but I didn't think that would hold.
Do you think Big Ben can "go to the slate with power" and lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a Superbowl?
James Walker (4:58 PM)
Roethlisberger needs to "go to the slate with power" a little better near the goal line.
steve (san francisco) [via mobile]
Can we expect solid performances for Carson Palmer for the rest of the season?
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Hard to say, Steve. Palmer played well Sunday, especially in the second half, and I think the no-huddle gets him better in rhythm. It also better uses Cincinnati's talent. I think the Bengals should go no-huddle at points in every game.
James Walker (5:02 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for the time. Remember to check out the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter for constant updates on the division. Let's chat again next week.