Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com AFC East 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 Walker Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
Welcome to our latest AFC East chat. There is plenty to discuss in the division. So let's begin.
Gabe (Asheville NC)
How is Rishard Matthews and Hartline doing in ota's?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
Good question, Gabe. There's only been one OTA session open to the media last week. Hartline made some nice catches but said he's still trying to get his wind. Matthews didn't show much. But, again, it was just one practice. A WR who really stood out was Armon Binns. I will be at Dolphins OTAs again tomorrow to get a second look.
Ed (Queens Village)
Rex Ryan fired during season or fired after season?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
No confidence in Rex Ryan, Ed? There is no promise that Ryan will be fired. But he must win games this year, and that's why most people predict this will be his final year. Ryan has to show John Idzik a lot in 2013 or Idzik will hire his own guy. I think 9-7 with this team is good enough for Ryan to keep his job, but that's a tall task for the roster that he has.
Christian (Brooklyn) [via mobile]
Why haven't the Patriots made a move on John Abraham or any other proven passrusher this offseason?
James Walker (4:06 PM)
The Patriots have had discussions and a hosted John Abraham. There is legitimate interest there. However, a safe assumption is the money Abraham wants is too rich for New England's liking. The Patriots probably want to sign Abraham on a one-year, team-friendly contract. Abraham had 10 sacks last year and would like a multi-year agreement. I don't see New England budging on this issue. If Abraham wants to play for the Patriots, he most likely would have to accept a smaller contract.
Who will be the better player for Buffalo in future years..Robert Woods or Ej Manuel?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
Interesting question, Mike. I really like Robert Woods. I liked him at USC and I think he was an excellent choice for the Bills. He's a safe pick here. Barring injury, I think he will have a productive career in Buffalo. EJ Manuel I'm not so sure about. I watched him in college and he wasn't able to put it all together. He's very raw but has a lot of physical tools. Players get better and players improve, so anything is possible. But right now, trusting my eyes, Woods is more prepared to produce this year.
andrew st cloud mn [via mobile]
Any indication how Dion Jordan will used
James Walker (4:13 PM)
Jordan has not been able to practice, so we haven't gotten a glimpse of Miami's plans just yet. Right away, I would say Jordan is a situational pass-rusher who will grow into a larger role once he gets some reps. Jordan could eventually become the starting defensive end or even play some outside linebacker.
Have you seen a stronger leadership role in Tannehill this offseason?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
The offense this year is clearly Ryan Tannehill's. You didn't see that last year when he was just trying to find his way. But Tannehill has a natural calm about him and I think 16 starts last year provided a lot of confidence that he can play at the NFL level. Tannehill's teammates also are behind him. I expect a solid year from Tannehill.
I see at LEAST 11 wins for the Dolphins this year, what do you think?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
I'm not ready to make predictions for the season but that seems a little high, Jordan. Take a look at Miami's first five games. It's a brutal slate the Dolphins must survive.
So what's the current status of the CJ Spiller/Fred Jackson backfield in Buffalo? Are we going to see Spiller become a feature back this year or is it going to remain the running back by committee we've seen recently?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Yes, Chris. Spiller is the feature back in Buffalo. There are no more questions about that this year. Really it should've been that way last year, but Chan Gailey could not let go of his loyalty to Fred Jackson.
James Walker (4:17 PM)
New Bills head coach Doug Marrone won't make that same mistake.
What's the hold up with giving Geno Smith the starting QB job? Clearly Sanchez is done in the eyes of the organization.
James Walker (4:19 PM)
Geno Smith has to earn it like everyone else, Da'Quinn. He may not be ready to play at this point. Who knows? I think the Jets are doing the right thing to let the four QBs battle. But I agree that it's time to move on from Mark Sanchez. The Jets aren't going to win many games with him under center this year.
Any thoughts on the Sturgis/Carpenter battle at kicker for the Fins? Carpenter has been trending down lately, and a 5th rounder is awful high to use on a kicker. Seems like it's Sturgis' job to lose.
James Walker (4:21 PM)
This is one of the underrated battles to watch in training camp this year. I've been really impressed with Sturgis so far. He has a big leg and has been accurate. Carpenter probably lost Miami two games last year. He's definitely on the hot seat and his salary is much more than Sturgis' this year. It's going to be close and wouldn't be surprised either way.
Kyle (Lincoln NE)
Will Bilal Powell give Chris Ivory any struggle for the starting gig?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
I don't see it, Kyle. Powell is a part-time player. He's better on third down than first and second down. It's a two-man race between Ivory and Mike Goodson, if Goodson stays on the team. Powell is the backup.
What are your thoughts on the state of the Dolphins locker room? Do you think they will miss the leadership of some of the veteran players that they lost in free agency?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
Many of Miami's leaders left for free agency or were released. Players like Reggie Bush, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett and Davone Bess were all leaders in their own right. The Dolphins need to establish new leaders this year, but I think they will be fine.
Sean [via mobile]
Do you see a bigger role for egnew this year?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Michael Egnew will get a shot. That's all I'm willing to say at this point. I didn't see anything from Egnew last year to warrant getting playing time. But I learned a long time ago never to write off a player after his first year. Perhaps the light will come on. I saw him make a couple catches last week in practice.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi James - Demario Davis is the one LB who has the ability to play sideline to sideline - How important will he be to the success of the Jets D this year?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
That's important for any defense, Harry. Athleticism and the ability to cover ground is key for any linebacker. Davis has it. I don't have too many concerns about New York's defense. Rex Ryan always finds a way to keep his groups in the top 10. But can the Jets score enough points offensively to win games?
I really don't see the Pats winning more than 10 games this year. Brutal schedule, less talent on offense, aging QB. What do you think?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
We will have an over/under blog post on the Patriots later this week. Be sure to chime in.
Do you see any of the Dolphin FA they signed to one year as a long term solution (Grimes, Keller, Clabo). It seems like they have developmental guys underneath them after this year with Sims/Clay/Egney, Thomas and Taylor to come in.
James Walker (4:33 PM)
Most of those signings you mentioned were one-year, show-me kind of players. I think Grimes, if healthy, has a chance to make an impact. I would say he has the best chance to get extended in 2014. But health is a major question.
Which Patriots rookie makes the biggest impact this year? I'm hoping its Dobson. That would make a fun year, but the track record isn't so good. I can't take another Chad Jackson or Bethel Johnson...
James Walker (4:35 PM)
New England's record drafting WRs isn't very good. But I think Aaron Dobson has a chance to end that streak. He competes for the ball and is able to make highlight-reel catches. The Patriots need that on the outside. Dobson must be a fast learner, because New England's WRs need all the production it can get.
What about the Dolphins taking a flyer on Wayne Hunter to provide depth at left tackle. He is a veteran and used to being under pressure.
James Walker (4:35 PM)
You're joking, right?
Eric (Knoxville, TN)
Hi, I don't see the Dolphins overtaking the Patriots but do they have a chance to finish 2nd in the AFC East and earn a possible playoff berth with all their off - season dealings?
James Walker (4:37 PM)
That falls in line with most people's thinking, Eric. I'm trying to stay away from predictions in May. I'm not even sure I'm going to do much predicting this season. But it's safe to put New England at No. 1 and everyone else battling for Nos. 2-4.
Candy (Slippery Rock)
Hello James, what do you think of the Dolphins WR crew outside of Wallace? They must have been pretty confident in them to trade Davone Bess.
James Walker (4:41 PM)
I like the group overall, Candy. Brian Hartline is a solid player who won't have as much pressure on his this year, and Brandon Gibson made plays in St. Louis. I'm not sure Gibson is a natural slot receiver, but that's where he is right now. Miami is trying to put its best three WRs on the field. The Dolphins also are capable of running four WRs this year, as well.
Do you think Miami will use some of Tannehill's speed this year like San Fran uses their QB? Tannehill is pretty fast and this could give Miami the edge in their division depending on the game situation.
James Walker (4:45 PM)
We saw in the second half of last season that Miami used a little read option. It wasn't a lot, but just enough to throw a curve to the defense. Tannehill is a pretty good athlete, but I don't see Miami using the read option as much as some other teams. It will be more of an occasional curveball.
Tyler W. (Bethlehem, PA)
Who will have more passing yards this year based on their targets....Tannehill or Brady?
James Walker (4:45 PM)
matt ( davie, fla)
I know it was a brief glimpse, but what were you thoughts on Martin at LT? Did he look more fluid? Stronger?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
Jonathan Martin definitely looked bigger last week. His arms and shoulders were noticeably more defined. It's clear he's putting in work in the weight room. As far as his blocking, it's hard to gauge in shorts. There's not a lot of contact in OTAs. We will see in training camp.
James Walker (4:49 PM)
The hardest positions to grade in OTAs are O-line, D-line and running back. There's no hitting allowed. So don't expect a lot of answers with those positions until the pads come on in training camp.
I have a feeling Cromartie is going to "phone it in" this year because lack of help. Any chance I am wrong?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Antonio Cromartie did the opposite last year. When Darrelle Revis went down, Cro stepped up and made the Pro Bowl. I don't see why he would not play hard again this year. The Jets really need him.
Tony C (Orlando)
do you see the division as a whole being better than they were last year top to bottom ?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Yes I do, Tony. I've seen a lot of ugly football since taking over the AFC East blog in 2011. Besides the Patriots, no other team has had a winning record in two seasons. I think the Dolphins and Bills will be better this year and the Patriots are still the Patriots. So I expect to see a better brand of football in the AFC East overall.
Were you more surprised by how high Manuel was taken or how low Geno Smith went?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
I was more surprised by the EJ Manuel pick at No. 16 overall.
George (Rochester, NY)
EJ Manuel...thoughts on immediate starting and impact?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
Manuel has a lot of tools. But based on what I saw in college, he has a ways to go to put it all together. A lot can happen between now and September. But right now, I expect one of Buffalo's two veterans to be favored to win the job. Manuel is the QB of the future, and Buffalo can afford to not rush him along.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for the great questions. If you want to discuss further, feel free to send questions to the AFC East inbox in the blog or reach me directly via Twitter @JamesWalkerESPN or @ESPN_AFCEast.