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November 21, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Jamison Hensley

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:02 PM)

Thanks for coming to the chat. Happy pre-Thanksgiving! I'm going to answer as many questions as possible but I will have to keep today's chat to 30 minutes. Let's get started.

Al (Mt. Lebanon, Pa.)

Great work on the AFC North, Jamison. Don't think the Steelers can survive many more injuries to key cogs, 'The standard is the standard' notwithstanding. What's your take on them as things stand and to me, the absence of Antonio Brown is underappreciated outside of the AFC North followers, save Cris Collinsworth.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:04 PM)

I agree with you that the absence of Antonio Brown is underappreciated. It's looking like he will miss a couple of more games, which will hurt the Steelers in the rematch with the Ravens. I still think the Steelers make the playoffs, whether Ben Roethlisberger is out for two or four more games. If they can't win with this favorable remaining schedule, they don't deserve to be in the postseason.

cp (reno)

Please give me your evaluation on how Heyward and Ziggy Hood..Are they building blocks or just warm bodies?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:05 PM)

Hood is a major disappointment. The Chiefs and Ravens were running right at him. I would like to see more of Cameron Heyward before giving him an assessment.

davon baltimore city [via mobile]

We going all the way. We got a good team ravens all day

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:06 PM)

It has been noted.

Mitch (Seville, OH)

Early on it seemed like Weeden was going deep quite a bit, he missed most early but then started hitting the deep ball. Now it seems to have disappeared completely, is this due to play calling, defenses keying on the deep ball or is Weeden just afraid to go deep now?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:09 PM)

It sounded like Weeden was scared to throw deep against the Ravens because of Ed Reed. The Cowboys secondary is actually among the best in not allowing big plays in the passing game. Weeden will have the same problem against a Steelers pass defense that doesn't allow many deep passes. So, I think it's more of an indication of the defenses he's facing than being scared. Still, Weeden does need to test these teams occasionally.

Luis (Las Vegas)

When do you think we will see Polamalu back in the lineup? and when he does return do you think he will make an impact on defense?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:10 PM)

The timetable I keep hearing has always been December. So, we shall see.

James (Stonehenge, UK)

Do you think the Ravens will give Ed Reed a new contract/payrise in the offseason, or let him test the market like they let Ray do in 2009??

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:11 PM)

The Ravens will likely give him a good offer just before free agency. It will be up to Reed to decide whether he wants to take it or test the market. Reed doesn't have an agent. He reps himself.

Steelgal (France)

JH stop trying to convince the ravens fandom with statistics that their team is legit. Stats are for losers. Call me when you get more than one Ring!

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:11 PM)

Will do. Now, we just need to know what number to call.

Clayton Walker (Pgh)

Does a homer like yourself honestly thing the lowly Ravens' can sustain first place with the "elite" Flacco. Man are you a homer or what?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:12 PM)

When you call a team that has a two-game lead in the division "lowly," what does that make your team?

Brian (Valley Forge, PA )

Happy Thanksgiving Jamison! 2 questions for you: 1) What will Brandon Weeden have to demonstrate in the last games of the season to prove he is the QB Browns fans have waited so long for? 2) As a Terrapin, what are your thoughts on Maryland joining the Big Ten? (I'm a Michigan State grad, so welcome!)

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:14 PM)

Happy Turkey Day to you as well. First question, Weeden needs to show he can make plays in the clutch and reduce the rookie mistakes (like throwing right to that Cowboys defensive lineman deep in Browns territory). It would also help to win games, but the Browns need to see him showing more composure in tough situations. As for the second question, I understand the move but I'm sad about it. Maryland is a basketball school and it's going to stink not playing Duke or Carolina. I great up with those rivalries.

Brent H. (Pittsburg, KS)

Jamison, what will it take for the Steelers D to force turnovers?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:16 PM)

Have no idea. This has been a question that hasn't received an answer for a couple of years now. The Steelers defense is good but it won't be great until it makes game-changing plays.

Danny (Allentown (PA))

How long can the Steelers survive W/O Roethlisberger?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:16 PM)

Through the regular season. But they won't survive without him in the playoffs.

Bill (Pittsburgh)

Unreal how just because you worked in Baltimore that people call you a homer. Dopes can't accept that you have an opinion that differs from themselves. Keep up the great work.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:17 PM)

Much appreciated. I knew there was one person who understood out there. Thanks for stepping up.

Brian (Middletown, Ohio.)

What's it going to take for you to stop referring to Dalton's season as a sophmore slump? 11 picks in 10 game's and a four game losing streak aside, compared to Cam, Ponder and other's in his class he's doing quite well.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:19 PM)

His first eight games was the definition of a sophomore slump. He threw an interception in every game and had three returned for touchdowns. Why do you think Marvin Lewis called him out to step up? It's not because Dalton was having a Pro Bowl season. Obviously, he's played better the past two weeks.

Anthony (Cleveland)

Zim knows that Palmer doesnt trust his line and cant move well out of the pocket. Do you see the Bengals actually blitzing a lot this game?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:20 PM)

That would be interesting to see. As you know, the Bengals don't do a lot of blitzing. Will have to keep an eye on that.

Alex (Pittsburgh)

Even if Weeden doesn't improve much more the rest of the season, would it really be a good idea to move on at this point? It's not like there's a Luck or RG3 this year in college. And wouldn't a high pick help more elsewhere?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:21 PM)

That does factor into all of this. This draft isn't going to be stocked with quarterbacks. Still, all it would take is for the new Browns regime to fall in love with one of them.

Carsin (Clvlnd)

Hey Jamison, noice blog! So, Bengals go 4-0 no big deal in the next stretch before Steelers then Ravens finale. Even if the Bengals drop those last two, the Colts are pretenders; are we gonna see 3 AFC North teams in the playoffs again this year?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:23 PM)

The key will be conference games. The Colts are 4-3 in the AFC right now and the Bengals are 3-5. Either the Bengals will have to finish one game ahead of Indy or the Colts are going to have to lose some more AFC games if Cincy ends in a tie with them. But getting three teams in consecutive seasons would be a huge achievement for this division.

Chris (Huntington, WV)

Do you think the Bengals will have a letdown this week against the Raiders? They have strung two great games in a row, and the pressure of beating the franchise's former golden boy might be too much

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:25 PM)

For some reason, other than that Giants game, the Bengals haven't played well at home this season. I won't give my prediction until Friday, but this could be a closer game than people expect.

Rick (Bethel Park, Pa)

I enjoy your reporting on the division, Jamison and I second Bill. Had a question: I really like Tomlin and don't believe in pointing fingers (then will point one, of course), but his decisions in Nashville (not punting and trying for an unmakeable FG) and last week, keeping Leftwich in when everyone could see he was injured seem to be at his feet. Again, I don't want anyone else coaching the Steelers, but curious of your take.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:27 PM)

Rick, Tomlin has made some curious decisions this year. Don't forget about that fake FG at the Giants as well. My take on Tomlin is that he's a great coach during the week. He gets his players to play hard. But as a game-day coach, I'm not a big fan of his. Clock management is a weakness of his.

Gabe (Dayton, Ohio)

Do you think we'll see Troy or Decastro back this season? And, assuming Ben and Brown get healthy, do you see the steelers as serious super bowl contenders?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:28 PM)

You'll see both this year. Polamalu is expected to do some running today and DeCastro is scheduled to practice. But both probably won't be ready until December.

Trey (Tucson)

Hey JH Happy Thanksgiving hope your family has a great one, how many years do you think the Browns are away from competing for the AFC North title?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:29 PM)

A coaching change is going to set them back again. The players are going to have to get used to another new system and way of doing things. But, with the right coach, I can see the Browns turning things around quicker than some would expect.

Kyle (Minneapolis)

The Browns have been more exciting to watch this year than in a while but they obviously haven't figured out to finish out games. Do you think is because of the inexperienced rookies, bad coaching, losing mentality, or what?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:31 PM)

It's a mental hurdle for the Browns. The constant losing has made it a culture of losing there. Until the Browns start winning games late consistently, they're not going to have the confidence to do that. It doesn't help having an inexperienced head coach paired with inexperienced players.

Gabe (Dayton, Ohio)

I'm not understanding the reason that the Steeler' D gets so much criticism for not forcing enough turnovers. I'd rather have them playing like they are right now with little to no turnovers than create turnovers by decreasing defensive proficiency.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:32 PM)

Winning the turnover battle is the biggest barometer to winning and losing. Forcing turnovers can't be overstated.

Suburban Rhythm (Pittsburgh)

Who would have thunk a game featuring Ryan Clark and Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed is the safety getting flagged/fined. Those odds had to be astronomical!

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:33 PM)

When you put it in those terms, that is pretty amazing. I hadn't thought of it that way.

Keith (Virginia)

Hi Jamison. Do you think that the Bengals would have a better record if they did not lose their starting left guard Travelle Wharton and starting Center Kyle Cook on the offensive line. Games are won in the trenches and I believe that losing Cook was a huge blow because he had started 60 consecutive games before his injury. He is also the QB of the Offensive line who makes all line calls as for protections and such. Losing Wharton hurt also because he was brought in to sure up the run game. What are your thoughts? Happy Thanksgiving!!

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:35 PM)

Those losses have been tough for the Bengals. One of the reasons why Dalton struggled early was his play when facing pressure. And the running game has stalled because of the blocking up front. It would have been interesting to see where this Bengals offense would be with those two starters in there for a full season.

Michael (Cincinnati)

Obviously I didn't factor in injury to Roethlisberger when I suggested Pittsburgh would beat Baltimore twice. John Harbaugh doesn't require anything else for Christmas.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:36 PM)

Harbaugh would still like a good corner sitting under his tree.

Al (Wausau, WI)

Happy Thanksgiving, Jamison! Even though the Browns lost to the Cowboys on Sunday, I was impressed by their performance. How difficult do you feel is their schedule for the rest of the 2012 season?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:38 PM)

There are three tough games remaining: two against Pittsburgh and one against Denver. The Browns have a good shot of ending their road losing streak next week in Oakland. Cleveland has home games against KC and Washington.

Keith (Atlanta)

Jamison..would you agree only the Browns are playing better in 2012 than 2011 in AFCN?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:38 PM)

Without question. I don't think you'll find anyone to argue against that.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:40 PM)

Thanks for all the good questions. Have a safe and fun Thanksgiving. I will talk to you next week. Let's see if a Steelers quarterback can make it through a game without injuring his shoulder and ribs.