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)
With the Super Bowl teams now set -- and one representing the AFC North -- let's dig into some questions
Aloha James, Any official word on Pouncy yet? If not, when do you expect the Steelers to talk about his injury?
James Walker (4:01 PM)
The only official word right now is it's a high ankle sprain. His game status won't be determined until at least next week. But I talked to Maurkice Pouncey Sunday night and he seemed very confident that he won't miss the Super Bowl. I will have updates on him throughout the week in the AFCN blog as I get them.
Ryan (The Nati)
Lets say Palmer gets traded, does that mean bye bye to Ced and J-Joe for sure?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
I think trading Carson Palmer is a big "if," Ryan. Bengals ownership does not bow down often as we saw in the recent Chad Ochocinco trade demands. But "if" he is traded, I don't think it impacts Benson's and Joseph's situations all that much. Benson wants to play for another OC, so I don't expect him to return anyway since Bob Bratkowski is still on board. Joseph plays defense and I think he is interested in staying in Cincy as long as the team pays him a good salary.
So James, who will 'go to the slate with power' in the superbowl?
James Walker (4:06 PM)
I think both teams, Lee. This is a good and interesting matchup. The last game in 2009 was an instant classic, where the Steelers won on the final play, 37-36.
Josh (New Castle, PA)
James, great work you do here on the blog, I read it weekly. Santonio Holmes' contract runs out with the Jets this year, what are the chances that he'll move to another team? Could there be a chance for him to return to the Steelers?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Zero chance of Holmes returning to Pittsburgh. He was traded for a reason, which was the off-the-field issues. Plus, Pittsburgh is more than happy with Mike Wallace's development. I think Holmes has found a home in New York and he will stay there. He's a really good player.
What are you thoughts about Steeler's Owner Dan Rooney saying he is against an 18 game regular season?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
I thought it was an interesting statement. But it did come from a "former" owner, now that he's handed over the title to Art Rooney II. In the end, I think an 18-game season is going to happen.
Do you think Aaron Rodgers will be as effective with the very strong possibility of the Packers' run game getting shut down early?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
This is going to be one of the big chess matches. The Packers are not a good running team. So there is a very good chance that offense will be one dimensional against Pittsburgh. The Steelers have a chance to drop a lot of guys back and could probably stuff the run without blitzing very much.
If Aaron Smith is healthy enough to be effective, do you think the Steelers give him a roster spot and risk taking a spot away from a position where they will need depth (i.e. OL, DB)?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
If Aaron Smith is healthy he definitely will be active. The Steelers kept him on the roster all season. I would assume someone like Jason Worilds will be inactive on special teams.
Who was your pick to win the AFC North Division? If I'm correct you picked the Ravens? Has the Steelers suprised you from all the been thru this year from Big Ben suspension to multiple injuries espically the O - line.
James Walker (4:15 PM)
Yes, I did pick the Ravens to win the division. I picked the Packers and Colts in the Super Bowl. So at least I got half of that right. I thought playing without Ben would really get the Steelers off to a slow start. It ended up the exact opposite and now they're in the Super Bowl.
James, whats Palmer's trade value? Will a team like San Fran over pay for a average QB?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
Let me repeat that the Bengals aren't interested in trading Palmer before I answer this question. But if they were, I don't see any reason why they couldn't get a second-round pick and maybe a later (fifth) pick for him.
Rogers has shown some good "escape-ability" in the post season. Do you think he can do the same against the Pittsburgh D?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
The Steelers are pretty discipline with their pass rush. They stay in their lanes and finish, which is one reason they led the NFL in sacks. Rodgers has shown some mobility but I think Pittsburgh has the edge here on the blitz.
Laurent (Paris, France)
Hi, James. Mike Wallace has been very quiet in the playoffs. Do we have to worry about it or is it just because the opposite defenses focus on him more than in the regular season?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
Wallace is getting a ton of focus by the defense. No opponent wants to give up a big play in a playoff game. So teams have been preventing it. That's partly why RB Rashard Mendenhall had such a huge day. The Jets rarely had eight in the box.
"Big Game" James Walker, love when youre on the radio here in CLE...what do the Browns need to catch up with Pitt and Balt? Pass Rusher and #1 Receiver?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
Thanks, David. The Browns are a long way away. A WR and pass rusher would help. But you need playmakers/difference makers period. The Browns also need to know if Colt McCoy is the right quarterback who can lead Cleveland to the playoffs and eventually the Super Bowl. He did some nice things as a rookie but didn't look good late against the teams he has to beat.
JW - I know there are tons of "ifs" out there, but "if" the Bengals need to look at a QB, who in the world would they look at? Please don't say Alex Smith. The Bengals could never go to the slate with power with Smith. He has small hands and an inordinately wide stance under center - way too much toe tapping and hand swiping in his pre-snap routine. Any other possibilities? Take good care. Smile.
James Walker (4:26 PM)
There's really no veteran QBs out there for the Bengals, who typically like to go on the cheap. I think the draft is the best option.
Laurent (Paris, France)
What are the cances to see Maurkice's twin brother in Pittsburgh next year? I think it would give a great interior trio with the two Punceys and Kemoatu.
James Walker (4:27 PM)
The Steelers are going to draft No. 31 or No. 32 this year, and early projections have Pouncey going earlier than that.
Boris (Denver, CO)
How good a RB can Bernard Scott be? Will he be given the chance in Cincy?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
I like Bernard Scott. I think he's a good player in certain situation, but I'm not sold on him being a No. 1 RB who carries the ball 300 times a year. If Cedric Benson doesn't come back, I think another bruising back like Oakland's Michael Bush could be a good pickup in free agency.
please weigh in on the cutler-twitter-backlash?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
I think it shows that Jay Cutler isn't the most popular player among other players in the league.
James, do you think the Steelers will be able to establish the run against the Pack like this past week against the Jets?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
It's hard to say for certain. But I really like how the Steelers ran the ball last week. New York's run defense was third in the NFL. So there's a chance Pittsburgh can run well against Green Bay. Maurkice Pouncey's status will be key.
Rob (San Antonio, Texas)
Will Pitt franchise Woodley?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
It's not known if there will be a franchise tag in 2011. The Steelers have to wait for the new CBA.
James Walker (4:34 PM)
The NFLPA is against the "tag" by the way, for obvious reasons.
Any word on Hardesty's recovery, will he be ready for the season, or do the Browns need to look for someone else in the draft to help Hillis?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
I've seen Montario Hardesty a couple of times in the past couple of months and he looks fine. I think the Browns are high on him, which is why they traded up in the second round to get him. But Hardesty needs to get over the injury bug.
Billy (Orlando, FL)
What color jerseys are we (Steelers) sporting next Sunday?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
Pittsburgh is the "road" team in this Super Bowl. So the Steelers will be wearing the road white jerseys.
Pie Guy (Morgantown, WV)
Do you think that the new pro-bowl setup cheapens the honor of geting selected? Seems like everyone is getting the nod as a alternate do to injuries players suffer in the playoffs or teams going to the super bowl.
James Walker (4:40 PM)
I don't like the timing of it. No one is even talking about the Pro Bowl this week, because everyone is more interested in the Super Bowl matchup, which is the game that counts. The NFL really needs to reconsider how the Pro Bowl is setup, in my opinion.
Joe B. (Hollywood, CA)
How about them raiders!!!
James Walker (4:46 PM)
I think Hue Jackson is a good coach. I covered him in Cincy and Baltimore and he did a good job in both spots. This is a good opportunity for him.
The Big Orange (Saudi Arabia)
Is there a quarterback out there that the Bengals could get that could lead the Bengals to a winning season next year?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
I don't know if Carson Palmer could lead the Bengals to a winning season next year. That's why he wants out. Cincy went 4-12 last year and I don't see the team competing with Baltimore and Pittsburgh in 2011. But it's early.
Laurent (Paris, France)
Do you really think we can have a game like last year (37-36) in the Super Bowl. I don't see a high scoring game in Dalls. What do you think?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Probably not. There's a few reasons. First, Troy Polamalu didn't play in the first meeting. Second, I think both defenses are better this year than last year. Third, there are two weeks to prepare, which I think favors the D and could hurt the timing of the O.
James, with the Browns going to a West Coast, does that mean we will see Peyton Hillis going to the slate with power alot less, and the last time Lawrence Vickers is in a Browns uniform?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Lawrence Vickers is a free agent and he's unsure if he will return. He's a really good fullback but he will get some interest as a free agent regardless.
James V. (Los Angeles)
Hey James, Do you think Cam Newton will make it as a NFL Qb? I can totally see the bengals picking this guy early and it turning out awful.
James Walker (4:55 PM)
I still need to see more of Cam Newton. There are some things I liked as a QB and things I don't like. He's someone to watch closely in the pre-draft process.
Gut feeling: will there be a lockout? If so, loss of regular season games or just preseason?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
My gut feeling is that there will not be a lockout and the NFL will not miss any games in 2011.
Possibly another 99 yard TD INT return for a TD against the Packers like the last Steelers superbowl with James Harrison?
James Walker (4:58 PM)
The chances of that play happening again in a Super Bowl is very, very slim.
what do the ravens need to do next year to improve
James Walker (4:59 PM)
The RT position on offense needs an upgrade. I also think Baltimore could use another pass-rusher to go with Terrell Suggs. Those are the first two things.
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Everyone, thanks for your time agains this week. Remember to read the AFCN blog and AFCN Twitter for coverage of Super Bowl XLV.