Chat with Jamison Hensley
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley stops by to chat.
Hensley joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun for 11 years. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he lives in the Baltimore area with his wife.
Send your questions now and join Hensley Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Drew (St. Petersburg)
How's Mendy's Hammy? Is this the week that Redman, who's played better than Mendy this year anyway, gets a shot at being the feature back? 4 weeks ago I would have thought myself crazy to ask this but Does Pitt even have a chance against Tenn?
Jamison Hensley (2:04 PM)
We'll get our first hint at Mendenhall's availability today at practice. My guess is he'll be limited all week and a game-time decision.I know there is a lot of fan support for Redman, but Mendenhall is the more talented back. He's had to bounce to the outside because there are no holes being created up front. This Sunday will be a tough one for the Steelers offense because the Titans are top 10 against the run and the pass.
Josh (Baltimore, MD)
Is this the year that the Ravens finally make a push at the Super bowl? How do you think they will fair against the Texans? Will the Stellers make the playoffs?
Jamison Hensley (2:08 PM)
Josh: Based on the first quarter of the season, I feel the Ravens are the team to beat in the AFC. The Patriots, of course, have the best QB in Brady. But New England's defense is bad. You could say the same thing about the Ravens' offense, but at least Flacco has shown some life in two games. The Ravens defense seems up to the task to handle Brady, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub and Ben Roethlisberger.As far as the Steelers, don't count them out. Yes, there are a lot of injuries. If Pittsburgh can get healthy, the Steelers can make a run because of a very favorable schedule.
Where does Keith Rivers fit into the Bengals LB core when he returns?
Jamison Hensley (2:12 PM)
Anthony: Rivers is on the non-football injury list, which means the earliest he could play is Week 8. Based on the rumblings out of Cincinnati, it doesn't look good for Rivers this season. He's been dealing with a wrist injury and could be placed on IR, which would end his season.Rivers just doesn't have a spot on this team anymore. The Bengals are pleased with the additions at outside linebacker -- Thomas Howard (a former second-round pick from Oakland) and Manny Lawson (a 2006 first-rounder from San Francisco). Howard signed a two-year, $6.5 million deal this year, and Lawson agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract.
Is Peyton Hillis going to miss any games because of contract issues? Did he really fake sick? Are these just some invalid rumors?
Jamison Hensley (2:16 PM)
Derrick: I don't believe Hillis missed that game because of a contract issue. Why pick that game? From all indications, he missed that Friday practice because of illness. Hillis showed up at the stadium with the intention of playing. If he was faking, he could have easily just phoned it in.The only thing these rumors can accomplish is a lowering of Hillis' market value because it questions Hillis' toughness. But if you watch any game film, there shouldn't be any question about that.
Rank these 3 Rookie Defensive Ends in terms of how impressive they've been. Jabaal Sheard, Pernell McPhee, Cam Heyward.
Jamison Hensley (2:18 PM)
It would be exactly that: Sheard, McPhee and Heyward. Sheard, though, is in a different class when talking about production in the first quarter of the season. McPhee has been a pleasant surprise. And Heyward should get more playing time as the season goes on. If Aaron Smith is sidelined, Heyward could get his first start.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Jamison, given Colt McCoy's 61-pass performance on Sunday, do you see the Browns airing it out like that in the future?
Jamison Hensley (2:21 PM)
If that's in the Browns' future, so are a lot of losses. Shurmur's style is a West Coast one, which favors a lot of high-percentage throws. Look at how many times the Eagles throw under Andy Reid.The problem is McCoy isn't ready for such a game. The Browns have a powerful back in Hillis and shouldn't forget that.
Brandon (baltimore, md)
Will Joe Flacco ever consistently play at a high level this season? Can his up and down play be the result of an injured WR and banged up O-Line (Tennesee) and then playing against a formidable Pass D (NYJ)?
Jamison Hensley (2:23 PM)
Brandon: Flacco will be more consistent throughout the season. He started off slow last year and went on a tear for the final couple of months.Just remember Flacco lost his two favorite receivers when the Ravens cut Derrick Mason and Todd Heap. He had a chemistry going with Lee Evans, but he's hurt. There are going to be some growing pains with young targets like Torrey Smith, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.
Back2Jungle (Atlanta, Ga)
Do you think Benson will get suspended ultimately?
Jamison Hensley (2:26 PM)
Back2Jungle: I think he does. But I don't think it goes into effect this week. There's a chance that it could be reduced (Benson thinks there is a very good chance). So maybe it ends up being two games or one instead of three.
Andrew S (Chapel Hill, NC)
Good Afternoon Jamison, as of this moment we are a quarter of the way through the NFL season. The Ravens are 3-1 with wins over the Steelers and the Jets and have the 2nd-easiest schedule in the NFL this season, but with all that being said, will Joe Flacco and Co. win the AFC North and maybe (JUST MAYBE?!) get the city of Baltimore a HOME playoff game?
Jamison Hensley (2:30 PM)
Andrew: Both the Ravens and the Steelers have favorable schedules. The only challenging out-of-division games left for Baltimore is against Houston (right after the bye but it's at home) and at San Diego on Dec. 18.The big matchup, as always, is Ravens at Steelers on Nov. 6. If the Ravens can win, they would get a rare sweep of Pittsburgh and gain a big tie-breaker advantage.The Ravens have been focusing on getting a home playoff game all year. Baltimore hasn't had one since 2006.
Didn't James Harrison's back need a few weeks off anyway?
Jamison Hensley (2:33 PM)
EJ: It's true that Harrison's back was limiting him. But I would take Harrison at 70 percent over most backups. The problem is his backup, Jason Worilds, is likely out with a quad injury.So, the Harrison injury is causing the Steelers to play Lawrence Timmons out of position at outside linebacker. There would be more of a comfort level if Worilds was available.
What are the chances Andy Dalton makes a leap into the elite category of NFL Quarterbacks in a couple years? Also is anything going to happen with Palmer? (trade)
Jamison Hensley (2:38 PM)
Troy: It's too early to project Andy Dalton after four games. You have to like his poise and leadership in bringing the Bengals back against the Bills. What has to worry you is his arm strength. Dalton doesn't have that zip you need to get the ball in tight windows, which has hurt Cincinnati on third downs. But all Dalton has to be able to do is heave the ball to A.J. Green, who seems to outjump everyone.As far as Palmer, it doesn't appear like the Bengals are going to trade him before the Oct. 18 deadline. Bengals owner Mike Brown has said he won't give into Palmer. Looks like he really means it.
What are the chances that 3 teams out of the AFC North make the playoffs?
Jamison Hensley (2:40 PM)
Jim: I don't like the chances at all. Although the AFC North has the advantage of playing the dreadful NFC West this year, it just seems tough for three teams to get in from one division.I still see the Jets, Raiders and Titans as teams who will contend for a wild-card spot later in the season.
Is there any indication that Hillis may get a contract extention done during the season? any possibility this could get done during the buy week
Jamison Hensley (2:43 PM)
Patrick: Anything is possible, especially when it comes to contracts. Hillis is on the record as saying he would negotiate during the year. But the Browns are in a tough spot after Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson signed monster deals.Cleveland really can't come close to those contracts when dealing with Hillis, who has had one season as the primary back. Plus, Hillis' powerful style could work against him. Some believe running backs have a limited number of hits they can absorb (like Jamal Lewis) before they decline. So, it's a difficult situation for the Browns.
Do you think Max Starks comes in and Starts this week?
Jamison Hensley (2:45 PM)
Kurt: I would seriously consider it. Look at the injury situation with the line and the need to protect a banged-up Roethlisberger. But Starks' conditioning is a question. So, the plan could be to let Starks be the backup for a couple of weeks before getting into the starting lineup.
Scott (Springfield, OH)
Any chance the Browns are still looking for a proven receiver? The current corp isn't cutting it, as expected.
Jamison Hensley (2:46 PM)
Scott: I don't see that happening during the year. But wide receiver has to be on top (or very close to it) of the Browns' draft needs list.
BengalBacker (Columbus, Ohio)
Welcome aboard JH! Does the Bengals projected wins total increase now that the defense is playing at a high level? Can we get to 8 wins or more?
Jamison Hensley (2:50 PM)
This unfortunately is the last question .... BengalBacker: The Bengals would be extremely pleased with eight wins this season. This next three-game stretch: Jacksonville, Indy and Seattle will say a lot about where the Bengals are headed. All are winnable games.But which Bengals team will show up? The one that rallied against Buffalo or the one that flopped against San Francisco.Thanks again for all the questions. Let's do this again next week around the same time. Take care everyone!