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October 10, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Jamison Hensley

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:02 PM)

Hello all and welcome to another round of our weekly chat. I'm going to have to cut it a little shorter today because I am getting ready to travel to Nashville, where I will cover Steelers-Titans tomorrow night. Now, on to the chat.

Steven (Chicago, IL)

Andre Roberts of the Cardinals and Andrew Hawkins of the Bengals. Both receivers seem to have established themselves as the number two receiver, and both receivers are playing the worst pass defenses in the NFL: Buffalo and Cleveland respectively. Who is going to have a bigger game?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:04 PM)

I've always been a Hawkins fan. I thought he showed some flashes last season. You have to use him a certain way because he is just 5 feet 7. But get him in space and watch out.

Ethan (NC)

Steelers take it easy with Mendenhall on a short week and then give him most of the touches starting week 7?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:06 PM)

You'll see Mendenhall on a "pitch count" of sorts for the first couple of weeks. My guess is they won't overwork him early in any game. They want to have him fresh in the fourth quarter like last Sunday.

Hewitt (Cleveland, OH)

Bengals fan in Cleveland here. Will the Bengals win the division? And if not, who? Wild Card maybe?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:07 PM)

Until Bengals beat either the Ravens or Steelers, I won't answer that question.

Ryan (Fla.)

Your thoughts on J.Gordon of the browns going forward! Had a great game last week but can he build on that or was it just a one of those days you get once in awhile? Thanks

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:08 PM)

Gordon definitely has the skill set to be a very good receiver. He's still raw and has to develop as a route runner. That comes with practice. There really wasn't a playbook when Gordon played at Baylor. So, you'll see flashes as a rookie from him. But it's hard to judge his game until he gets a full offseason under his belt.

Philip (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

The Steeler's secondary is a nightmare. Do you believe, based on the current prospects, that the area will be a priority in the 2013 Draft?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:09 PM)

Steelers typically don't draft corners or safeties high (I know Polamalu and Chad Scott are exceptions). Based on that, drafting players in the secondary that high isn't their style. But there is seven months until the draft.

Ben (NJ)

Jamison, Do you think it's finally the year that Dick LeBeau steps down? He's been an amazing coach regarding the front 7, but as far as the secondary goes, he gets toasted by any QB willing to open it up..Palmer and Tebow make him look silly..

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:10 PM)

When Dick LeBeau wants to step down, he will step down. Keith Butler is there in waiting, so the Steelers are ready when he does. The Steelers probably have a feeling that it will be soon. That's why they retained Butler. But it will be LeBeau's decision. He's earned that right.

James,ws,nc [via mobile]

Hi jamison, i understand the need to be able to run the ball, but with all the weapons the steelers have, i hope they dont become to predictable, your thoughts?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:11 PM)

When they couldn't run the ball, the Steelers were predictable.

browns1658 (akron)

nice call on the bengals-dolphins game. you were taking a lot of heat on here from bengal fans. now is your time to gloat . roll the slow clap.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:12 PM)

Thank you for pointing that out. I won't gloat but it's funny that you don't hear from those who were criticizing the prediction after you're right.

Going a fraction of the way. (Camp Spings, MD)

Hey JH, why don't the Ravens use Jacoby Jones more offensively? He has been making big plays for the Ravens but it seems like he only has one catch every 2 quarters. Or is he just failing to get separation?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:14 PM)

Game plans feature certain players every week. There are always going to be balls thrown to Boldin, Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta. But when Dickson gets more targets, others have to get less. There's only so many passes to go around. You'll see Jones pop up again at some point.

bradblackandgold (Berkeley, CA)

Greetings from the west coast JH. The Steelers have been playing undisciplined football and Tomlin has said it is his responsibility. How do you see him trying to affect change in the mindset of the team?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:16 PM)

This is always a tough situation for coaches. You want to cut down on penalties because they kill your team. Multiple ones on a drive can almost act like a turnover. But you don't want to stress it so much that you take away the aggressiveness from your players. Let's see if the penalties go down over the next game or two.

dan (lynchburg va)

The Ravens secondary seems to be struggling a bit this year, not even just when playing good qbs or wrs but in general. Do you see the Ravens having their hands full vs the Cowboys group of receivers this week?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:17 PM)

Don't be surprised if the Cowboys attack the Ravens running the ball, too. After seeing what the Chiefs did to Baltimore, the Cowboys might decide to keep it on the ground. Having a fullback like Lawrence Vickers, Dallas can go with a power running game.

Mike (Odessa, Tx)

How long do you think Polomalu will be out, can the Steelers make the playoffs without him?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:19 PM)

The Steelers classify it as a week-to-week proposition with Polamalu. I can't see him coming back for another couple of weeks. Can the Steelers make the playoffs without him? Sure, but it will be definitely tougher. If I had to point to one player that means the most to that defense, it's Polamalu.

Adam (DC)

Should we be giving credit to the O line for Mendenhall's success or his abilities as a rusher?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:21 PM)

Mendenhall averaged over two yards per carry before contact. So, that shows me that the line got a good push and Mendenhall has some speed left in those legs. The running game is usually a combination of good blocking and a good back.

Nick (Morgantown, WV)

Any updates in how DeCastro's rehab is going?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:23 PM)

DeCastro is walking without a brace and has been cleared to work on the stationary bike, though it's still uncertain when he'll make it back to the practice field. I expect to see him sometime in the second half of the season.

Cole (Newark)

Do you think that the ravens defense pulled themselves together in the second half? Are they finally starting to get the message?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:24 PM)

The Ravens defense has the "bend but don't break" mentality this year. That means giving up a lot of yards but not a lot of points. If the Ravens can remain in the top 10 in scoring defense, they'll be happy.

Pie Guy (Morgantown, WV)

Think we will see more of Mclendon this Thursday?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:25 PM)

He would play more if it was my call. This is a short week and you can't wear down Casey Hampton. McLendon has played well every time I've seen him out there, including Sunday.

mike (new jersey)

should the steelers find the heir apparent to polamalu in the upcoming draft or does he still have 1 or 2 years left in him?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:27 PM)

While you'll never truly get a replacement for him, the Steelers have to be worried about this calf injury. It's given him so much trouble this year. You have to admire him for playing through so much pain over the years. But, at some point, it can catch up to a player. It would be wise for the Steelers to start thinking about Plan B.

Krusheasy (DC)

are the defenses in AFC North getting worse ... or is everyone's offense just getting better ?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:28 PM)

Injuries have really hurt these defenses. Put a healthy Suggs, Polamalu, Harrison, Thomas Howard, Leon Hall and Phil Taylor out there and these defenses would be much better.

Hewitt (Cleveland, OH)

Any news coming from anywhere on the Bengals and replacing Bernard Scott somehow? Plan?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:29 PM)

They will go with Leonard and Peerman. If there was a better running back out there, the Bengals would have had him on the roster already. Good running backs aren't sitting out there just waiting for the phone to ring. And don't even suggest trading for Chris Johnson.

CoolMoDeebo [via mobile]

With all the talk about wether or not Flacco is elite (he's not), and not nearly as much about Dalton, who would you rather have on your team long term?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:31 PM)

If it's between Flacco and Dalton, there's no question that I would go with Flacco. The only area where Dalton is better than Flacco is his anticipation. Size, arm strength and ability to lead game-winning drives all favor Flacco.

Mike (Tx)

Has Lawrence Timmons finally arrived?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:32 PM)

Can we wait for strong back-to-back games before anointing him as the next Jack Lambert?

Brandon (PA)

Will big Ben beat TB's passing record tomorrow night, only needing 300 yards?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:33 PM)

As long as the game is close, he has a good chance. If the Steelers take a big lead at some point, Pittsburgh is going to run the ball. The game will dictate whether he does or not.

matt (new york)

will the ravens finally lose at home to the cowboys?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:33 PM)

Ravens are 19-1 at home in past 20 games. Edge: Baltimore.

Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]

I hear lots of noise Tannehill is a franchise qb. I hear crickets when it comes to Weeden. Do you see the Browns sticking with him next yr?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:34 PM)

Depends on how Weeden plays in his next 11 games. Hard to give a legitimate evaluation of a quarterback after five starts. The initial impression is he has an arm to make big plays but his decision-making is suspect. Still, he's a rookie.

Alex (OH)

This was supposed to be Gresham's breakout year.. he hasn't done as much as I anticipated. What are your thoughts?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:35 PM)

Dalton never had a tight end at TCU, so maybe he's not comfortable using one. Gresham has been one of the bigger disappointments, even though he had a nice game Sunday.

matt (new york)

score for tomorrows game? do ravens finally lose this week at home? cowboys D is pretty solid

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:36 PM)

Prediction for Steelers-Titans will be posted tomorrow. My picks for the other games will run Friday.

Jeff (ABQ)

How bad does it look if the Browns draft Geno Smith? At what point do they forsake perception in the interest of finding "their guy." This is assuming Weeden is stagnant, or regresses.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:37 PM)

If Haslam cleans house and puts new decision-makers in place, they may not want another regime's "franchise quarterback." So no one knows what is going to happen.

Brandon (PA)

Is it possible that the steelers try to trade for a good SS at the trade deadline, seeing that Mundy is a terrible replacement?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:38 PM)

When was the last time the Steelers made a trade during the season?

Auto4short (Florida)

Hey Jh, concerning the bengals game prediction, it wasn't as good of a prediction as it was you jinxing us!!!! Thanks a lot Jh!

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:38 PM)

Yes, I'm sure Dalton threw that pick at the end because of my prediction.

Brandon (PA)

Harrison played a full game and had minor swelling, will we see him for a full game again on Thursday or is the minor swelling more than "minor?"

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:40 PM)

Teams always downplay injuries. It's like saying "minor" concussion. If there is anyone who can play through swelling, it's Harrison. One of the toughest players around.

D-Bo (st pete, fl)

This musical chairs at OLB is getting ridiculous, dating back to last year. Harrison out, Woodley out, Harrison out, then Woodley out. All I want for Halloween is BOTH those guys on the field at the SAME time!

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:41 PM)

It's getting weird how Harrison and Woodley can't be on the field at the same time. It makes you appreciate how good of a defense this could be if both were healthy.

Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]

Exactly what I tell my buddies. Assuming they stay healthy, the Browns offense could be a lot more formidable wk 12 on beyond. Way too early to throw Weeds away

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:42 PM)

We will definitely see, barring injury of course.

Omar (Dayton)

I would like to take this moment to apologize for calling you a chump for picking the Dolphins over the Bengals. With that said, i know your not going to be a chump and pick the Browns over the Bengals this week.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:42 PM)

Thank you. I guess you will have to wait until Friday to see my official prediction. I will be picking an Ohio team to win.

BrownTownSC (peeping from behind the bushes)

Jamison, I really appreciate all the hard work you do. I think you do an excellent job of providing content for us. I'm not trying to sound rude with my question but I was wondering if you actually watch the entire game of each AFCN team every week. If 2 are being played at once do you watch both at that time? Or do you watch the full games seperately?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:45 PM)

That's a very good question. While I'm at a game, I track the others during timeouts and other breaks. I want to know what is happening live at all times. After the game I attend, I get to watch the other games in a condensed format. It shows all of the plays but takes out all of the breaks. That is the only way I can keep track of four teams.

Scott (Northglenn, CO)

By the end of the season T-Rich will be considered a top ___ RB in the league by most people...

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:46 PM)

5.

Shef (Washington DC)

Is Suggs really going to come back and be effective this season? I have seen what Achilles injuries have done to players in the past and I am hugely skeptical.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:47 PM)

He will be back but no one knows how effective. The problem with the Achilles injury is that it's tough to push off. That will reduce Suggs' explosiveness.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:47 PM)

Thanks for all of the questions. Have to run. Hope everyone enjoys the games on Thursday and Sunday.