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August 23, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with James Walker

James Walker
  (4:00 PM)

Good afternoon, everyone. Let's chat on the AFC North. And remember, players, coaches and executives need to have misspellings so I know it's really them.

James Walker
  (4:01 PM)

It's our secret code.

Justin (Cleveland)

What is your take on Colt McCoy and where do you see the Browns 5 years from now?

James Walker
  (4:03 PM)

Justin, I just take things year to year. You can't look ahead five years in the NFL. Things change too rapidly. Right now, I like some things I see from McCoy. The Browns won't be contenders this season. But maybe with another solid draft or two, they can try to make a playoff push down the road.

CW (Cleveland)

What do you think of the Browns offense?

James Walker
  (4:04 PM)

It's definitely more organized and gives players a chance to succeed. That's the most important thing. The concepts make sense and you understand why the Browns are running certain plays and routes.

Dan (York, Pa.)

Why won't the Ref's call and let hits on Ben? That was a cheap shot by Phila. on Thursday.

James Walker
  (4:06 PM)

Well, I don't want to get started on the refs too early this year. Readers of the AFC North blog know that I'm not high on NFL officiating. Ben Roethlisberger took a low shot at the knees that wasn't called. But I've seen that call made for other QBs. I think his size and toughness hurts him sometimes.

Mike (Tampa)

Who is going to fill in for departed strong safety Dawan Landry?

James Walker
  (4:07 PM)

It's a good competition going between Bernard Pollard, Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura. It will probably come down to Pollard and Zbikowski. The Ravens are very deep in the secondary at safety and corner, which isn't the norm for Baltimore.

THom Hackert (Cleveland)

Who should I lock up next? Also don't you think PIT has a LOT of money locked up in those two LB's? Those 2 are good but that's a ton of $$$.

James Walker
  (4:10 PM)

You have a few choices "Thom." I would say choose between C Alex Mack, DT Ahtyba Rubin and RB Peyton Hillis.

David (Muncie)

Great move by the Browns to lock up Joe Thomas long term. Does he have a shot at the Hall of Fame if he continues to play at this level but staying in Cleveland?

James Walker
  (4:10 PM)

Absolutely. Thomas has made four Pro Bowls in four years. If he keeps that pace, there's no reason Thomas won't get into Canton.

Shag (Coshocton, OH)

I'm glad the Steelers gave Timmons a contract extension. He deserved it. But, I'm worried about Polamalu. What will happen to him? Do the Steelers have enough money left to sign him before the 2011 season starts?

James Walker
  (4:12 PM)

I wrote about this earlier today, Shaq. Check out the AFC North blog. I project the Steelers will do the same thing with Polamalu that they did with Woodley. Let Polamalu play out the year, franchise him and try to work out a long term deal.

James (santa clarita, ca)

Hey James, Whats your opinion of Taylor Mays? Good pick up?

James Walker
  (4:13 PM)

The Bengals need athletes on defense. So, for that alone, Mays makes sense. He's very raw in coverage, which is a concern. But the Bengals will try to work with Mays and see if they can get more out of him than San Francisco did.

Greg Liddel (OH )

Feel like i have potential to be a pretty good wr down the road for the brownies. Your thoughts?

James Walker
  (4:15 PM)

Just keep working Greg Liddle. You're shaking off the rust right now from missing all of last season. I noticed some drops in camp and that concerns me. But physically you look the part.

James Walker
  (4:16 PM)

By the way, stop punting the ball in the stands, Greg Liddle. It's not a good look.

Mike (Acworth, GA)

Isn't so much more refreshing that you don't get Ochocinco questions about his life outside of football?

James Walker
  (4:18 PM)

I can't speak for everyone, but I actually enjoyed my time covering Chad Ochocinco. He was outside the box, and you don't get that a lot in today's corporate NFL. Chad is his own person and he doesn't care what others think. I can respect that. He filled up many of my notebooks with amazing quotes.

James Walker
  (4:19 PM)

I remember a couple years ago he told me "[expletive] the Steelers." That quote/blog was pretty memorable.

Hunter (Baltimore)

Do you think the Ravens reciving coprs have improved or gotten worse from last year's team?

James Walker
  (4:22 PM)

I like the group this year because it's much faster. Boldin, Evans and Smith has much more speed than Boldin, Mason and Houshmandzadeh. All of these WRs can work in certain systems. But for what the Ravens and QB Joe Flacco need right now, the ability to stretch the field is more important.

steelguin55 (pa)

isnt it Greg LITTLE???

James Walker
  (4:24 PM)

It's an inside joke where players and coaches misspell their names on purpose.

James Walker
  (4:24 PM)

It's an AFC North chat thing.

Brian (Dover, DE)

Care to reconsider your AFCN prediction?

James Walker
  (4:25 PM)

Nope. Why would I do that?

Marvin Louis (Cincy)

If my team goes 4-12 again this year, am I on the hotseat?

James Walker
  (4:27 PM)

It's hard to say "Marvin Louis." You have a two-year deal to rebuild this team and the Bengals usually don't like to fire coaches with money left on the table. I think the organization knows where the team stands. But the higher ups do want to be competitive, even if the Bengals don't win many games.

Jo (Flacco)

I'm starting to think I actually am a horrible quarterback, but maybe I'm just average. Every time I feel pressure I make mistakes. Please make me feel better.

James Walker
  (4:30 PM)

Last week, "Jo Flacco," you said you were a top-five quarterback. Make up your mind.

Mike Wallice (The Burgh)

What must I do to enter elite WR status?

James Walker
  (4:32 PM)

Make more of the short and intermediate plays, Mike Wallice. The Steelers don't ask that of you often. But I'd like to see more slants over the middle and "in" routes for 10-15 yards. If you catch 80 balls this year, that will show growth in that area.

jon (citna)

should cincy trade for me?

James Walker
  (4:34 PM)

"Jon Citna" you ushered in Carson Palmer. But you won't get to usher in Andy Dalton. Sorry.

Ron (Raleigh)

Do you think this will be Ray Lewis's final season?

James Walker
  (4:35 PM)

Lewis says if he wins a Super Bowl he's done. If not, he will probably play another year or two. You have to take Ray at his word.

Jake H. (Altoona, PA)

Hey James, with such instability and lack of overall talent at the CB position in Pittsburgh, after attending camp and watching the first two preseason games, who would you say would be the best option to start at corner opposite Ike?

James Walker
  (4:37 PM)

You have to go with Bryant McFadden because of his experience. He's been banged-up some in camp. So it's important for McFadden to get healthy in order to be productive.

Chris (Cleveland)

Love the JThomas signing, but is it a big cap hit for rebuilding the team?

James Walker
  (4:38 PM)

Browns have more than enough cap room to spare. Remember, they did very little in free agency.

taylor (rochester)

Mr. walker if i were the gm of the bengals i would try to trade for Jon kitna as a mentor. would you?

James Walker
  (4:39 PM)

Jon Kitna is not a coach, Bengals fans. He's not going to make Andy Dalton play better.

Ryan (Earthquake Central)

Is there any chance the Ravens go get a left tackle and move Oher back to right? Blindside is much better on the right.

James Walker
  (4:40 PM)

The Ravens seem opposed to it. I understand. Oher isn't a great LT. But imagine if Flacco's blind side was as bad as his front side right now. That wouldn't be good.

Shane (Los Angeles, CA)

Will Cedric Benson be able to be the work horse for the Bengals again? Seems to be the Bengals will see a lot of stacking in the box to force Dalton to beat them.

James Walker
  (4:42 PM)

Yes, Shane, the Bengals will face a lot of heavy fronts, particularly early in the season. If Dalton doesn't scare people, I don't see how Benson can have a big year.

Evan More or Less (Cleveland)

I feel like I'm primed for a breakout season, can i expect to be a bigger target and get more passes then Mr. Watson, even though he was a primary target for Colt last year?

James Walker
  (4:43 PM)

"Evan More or Less" you have to stay healthy. That's the main thing. I've seen you make plenty of plays in practice and the preseason before. But injuries seem to derail you in the regular season.

Marshal Yanduh (The Castle)

James, are the Ravens going to sign a legit starter at RT so I can focus on playing RG? I know Jah will eventually start but I need a vet next to me THIS YEAR! (Other than LeVoir)

James Walker
  (4:44 PM)

I would stay ready "Marshal Yanduh." Baltimore won't have much cap room until Haloti Ngata works out a long-term deal. Then, there's a chance the Ravens will add a right tackle.

Rob (San Antonio)

How much stock do you put in preseason games?

James Walker
  (4:46 PM)

Not too much. I think it's different for some teams. For example, the Steelers can go 0-4 and lose every preseason game by two touchdowns and I wouldn't worry. But a young team like the Bengals need to show something because of their many young players.

Haloti Nataaaaa (Baltimore )

When am I getting my long term deal done? The Steelers got two LB locked up for six years , what taking the Oz so long?

James Walker
  (4:48 PM)

The Ravens are talking to your reps "Haloti Nataaaaa." I'd assume money is the issue. That's usually the case.

Master E (Section 8)

What do you make of the first half of the Steelers game last week?

James Walker
  (4:49 PM)

The Steelers took last week's game seriously. You can tell they were up for proving a point to the "Dream Team" Eagles. I liked the intensity on both offense and defense.

Henry (Col)

JW... depressed Bengals fan here... is it too early to start hoping for Andrew Luck? Would the Bengals even draft him? Is this season going to be as long as I'm fearing?

James Walker
  (4:50 PM)

Bengals fans are so quick to give up. Let the season play out, Henry. If the team is in the running for Andrew Luck next year, so be it. But enjoy the journey.

Andrew Luck (CA)


James Walker
  (4:52 PM)

Is Carson Palmer in your ear?

James Walker
  (4:53 PM)

By the way, a lot of people are asking how the Steelers signed both Woodley and Timmons. Here's the deal:

James Walker
  (4:54 PM)

Woodley had the franchise tag. His extension actually SAVED the Steelers money off thier salary cap this year. That, along with many top veterans restructuring, opened enough room for the Steelers to sign Timmons to a big deal.

Hector the Projector (Philly)

The Steelers will pay!!!!!!!!!!!!!

James Walker
  (4:57 PM)

In the Super Bowl??? The Steelers and Eagles aren't on the schedule this year.

James Walker
  (4:59 PM)

Everyone thanks again for your time. Remember to check out the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter for all the latest developments.