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July 3, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Jamison Hensley

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:02 PM)

Thanks for joining the chat today. I know it's a busy week with the Fourth of July tomorrow. Let's get started ...

Justin (Canton, Ohio)

So the fans of each of the AFC North teams can all agree that the "Effective July 17, ESPN will be transitioning all conversations to Facebook comments. At that time a Facebook account will be required to post comments on new articles." is pretty stupid for a number of reason. How do you respond to the Entire AFC North agreeing on something for the first ever?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:04 PM)

All I can tell you is that this will be the policy moving forward. It's similar to what other media sites use as well in their comments. For further information, you can go here:

Todd- minneapolis, mn [via mobile]

In most articles on my beloved Bengals, Andy Dalton's arm strength and 3rd down efficiency is always the main reason why the bengals will struggle to make the playoffs(for a 3rd year in a row might I add). Will the additions of Eifert and Bernard really spread teams out enough where Andy will be able to see the field better and make those deep throws and 3rd down conversions? Do you see either player(Eifert or Bernard) getting 50+ catches this season?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:07 PM)

I don't see Bernard or Eifert making 50-plus catches this year. That's a lot to ask of a player who won't be starting. Where these guys will help is in the short and intermediate passing games. Bernard can take a short pass, break tackles and make a big play. Eifert can stretch the field more than Gresham and will contribute more 12 to 15-yard plays. Both will make impacts this year.

Ravenous128 (Columbia, MD)

What are you hearing about Gino Gradkowski's transition to starting center? Is he the answer, or will the Ravens look to free agency as a fallback?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:09 PM)

I believe this is going to be Gradkowski's job to lose. But remember, the Ravens traded for A.Q. Shipley in early May. He started down the stretch for the Colts last season. If Gradkowski doesn't show he can start this year, Shipley is the fallback option.

Trey (Ohio)

With the extra money the browns had this offseason why did they not look for a good #2 CB opposite joe haden? Why rely on a rookie?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:12 PM)

That's the question I asked all offseason. The only top-notch cornerback the Browns had for a free-agent visit was Brent Grimes and he ended up in Miami. This was the biggest mistake made by the Browns' new regime. Not sure what they are thinking going into a season with a rookie, Chris Owens and Buster Skrine to fill the No. 2 and nickelback roles.

Mac (USA)

From what I understand is that it usually takes a player 1-2 years before they start producing in Dick Lebeau's defense because of the complexity. In that case why do so many people have Jarvis Jones up for DROY and getting 6-10 sacks?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:13 PM)

Unlike other Steelers OLBs, Jones isn't making the transition from playing college DE. He was an OLB in a 3-4 defense at Georgia. Plus, you have to take into account his competition. If the Steelers still had James Harrison, the expectations of Jones would be less. But many believe Jones will beat out Jason Worilds for the starting job.

Luke Carlisle, PA [via mobile]

Do you have any inclination this may be Dick LeBeau's last season at the helm of the Steelers D? With a lot of expected age turnover(Brett Keisel, Ryan Clark, Ike Taylor, Larry Foote) at the end of the coming season, do you feel it would be the right time for him to walk away, with Keith Butler in the wings?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:15 PM)

I'll put it this way: I wouldn't be surprised if this was LeBeau's final season. It's going to happen over next year or two. When the Steelers retained Keith Butler, it showed he was the defensive coordinator in waiting. That, I feel, started the clock on LeBeau.

Anthony (Cleveland)

Do you have any idea what these "personal reasons" are that have kept Andre Smith out of everything?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:16 PM)

I have no idea. Marvin Lewis was vague when asked about it at mandatory minicamp. But it was more than Smith just not wanting to be there. He did have an excuse, based on the tone of Marvin Lewis.

big blue 21 (Cincy, OH)

Do you think WR Cobi Hamilton has a shot of making the bengals squad

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:17 PM)

He'll either be on the 53-man roster or the practice squad. The Bengals like his ability to get open downfield. Josh Johnson was frequently launching passes to Hamilton when the second-team offense was on the field.

Andrew (Cleveland)

Is the Browns' Tashaun Gipson enough of a ballhawk to lock down the starting free safety job in Cleveland? Or do you see Johnson Bademosi or Jamoris Slaughter as legit competition?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:19 PM)

Gipson is an average starter in this league. But he's the best one they have right now. Slaughter could develop down the road. Bademosi is more of a special teams player, and a very good one. When the season starts, I expect Gipson to be back there with T.J. Ward.

Ray (Louisville)

Jamison, what would your thoughts be about this Bengals front four on passing downs: Michael Johnson, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, James Harrison.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:19 PM)

Two thoughts: 1. The Bengals won't need to blitz. 2. Quarterbacks had better get rid of the ball quickly.

Frank (Lebanon)

whos in the running for starting position opposite WEBBY? SMITH OR GRAHAM?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:21 PM)

It will come down to Corey Graham and Jimmy Smith. Graham was a pleasant surprise last season, and I'm not sure the Ravens can make that Super Bowl run without Graham stepping up to fill Webb's spot. But I get the feeling that the Ravens want Jimmy Smith to assert himself and take the starting job this year. He was a first-round pick for a reason.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:22 PM)

When healthy, the top three defensive players (in order): Geno Atkins, Terrell Suggs and Troy Polamalu.

Steve (Columbia)

Jamison, important question. With Ray Lewis retired there will be no more pregame dance or pregame speaches from him. Do you see anyone stepping in here? Any dogs in the house??

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:24 PM)

Suggs will take over with the pre-game speeches. He took over that role when Ray Lewis was gone for an extended period last year. I would like Flacco to take over the pre-game dances, but for some reason, I don't think that's going to happen.

mike (new jersey)

more likely to play a full 16 games: Polamalu or Roethlisberger?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:25 PM)

Roethlisberger. The Steelers' improved offensive line will allow fewer hits on Big Ben. It seems Polamalu is another hard hit away from a concussion.

Evan (Chicago)

So if Jimmy is found guilty, what happens to the team? Will he be forced to sell? Who will technically own the franchise?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:27 PM)

If Haslam is found guilty, he can give control to a family member. The bigger question is whether the family will have the money to do so. It's a money game in the NFL.

Carter (Zanesville )

Best RB in AFC North this year: T-Rich or Rice?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:28 PM)

I see them about even. That is, if Richardson can stay healthy.

Jon (SLC)

How much of an on-field impact do you think the ownership saga of the Browns will have?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:28 PM)

None. It was business as usual at the team facility when I was there for the draft.

Pat (Jersey)

Seriously, is the steelers o-line that much improved? you lost colon & one rookie was hu6rt last year

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:32 PM)

Seriously, you have Gilbert and Adams at the tackle spots and both should be better with experience. And there is David DeCastro at right guard. He missed nearly all of last season with a knee injury. That seems like an improvement to me.

Bob (CLE, OH)

Whats your predictions on how the year pans out in the division? Records? How far playoff runs?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:32 PM)

Those will come in the preseason.

Mike (Its the afternoon)

Who best fills the role of busting thru contact in short yardage situations for Pittsburgh?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:33 PM)

Isaac Redman is the most physical back on the roster. Le'Veon Bell has size, but he's not an inside-the-tackles runner.

Ryan (Nashville)

Who has a better chance to start? Doss or Thompson?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:34 PM)

I know I'm in the minority on this, but I feel Doss has the better chance to start.

Andrew Z. (Struthers, OH)

Have any special Fourth of July plans, Jamison?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:35 PM)

Parade, crabs and fireworks. Should be a nice first Fourth of July for my son.

Jeremie Proctor (Ohio)

Are the Browns targeting ant fullbacks in Free Agency, or are they sticking with Marecik

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:36 PM)

The plan has to be either sticking with Owen Marecic or going with more three-WR or two-TE packages. Not sure why the Browns didn't try to upgrade here.

Teelin (Springboro)

If healthy, when do you see Dre Kirkpatrick starting at CB?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:38 PM)

Kirkpatrick will have a shot to start in training camp and preseason. If you look at the history of Marvin Lewis and first-round CBs, he wants them on the field. Lewis was very high on Kirkpatrick last year before he got hurt.

George (NYC)

There's been some talk of an extension for Dennis Pitta. You you think Arthur Jones or Michael Oher will be extended, or do the Ravens let it ride with their current deals as they so often do?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:39 PM)

Of those players you mentioned, Art Jones would be the most agreeable to sign an extension. I'm not saying this will happen. Pitta and Oher may be inclined to test free agency.

Jeremie (Deshler Ohio)

Ron Jaworski called Weeden a "rock-solid NFL starter" and Bucky Brooks, an NFL analyst named Weeden most likely to break out this season. Your thoughts?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:40 PM)

My thoughts are Weeden will have much more of a comfort level in Norv Turner's system than Pat Shurmur's. He still has to make strides in reading defenses. But he has the arm to be a starter in the NFL.

John (Pittsburgh)

What are your expectations for Le'veon Bell?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:40 PM)

My expectation is he'll be the starting RB for the Steelers and crack 1,000 yards.

Jeremie Proctor (Ohio)

Who will start opening day alongside Dqwell Jackson at ILB?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:41 PM)

Craig Robertson. Almost by default.

Clay (Corning, NY)

Can John Conner handle the load at fullback for Cinci? If Pressley isn't ready I dont see them keeping 2 FBs

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:42 PM)

TE Orson Charles is also in the mix. He practiced at FB during offseason camps.

Clay (Corning, NY)

Hey man, who has a more productive season at TE for the Bengals; Eifert or Gresham? Also, I believe in Dalton 100%...I have to, because where do they turn if he's not the franchise qb I expect him to be?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:44 PM)

Gresham will have more catches, but Eifert will have more big plays. To address your Dalton statement, I thought the Bengals dropped the ball in not getting a more experienced backup. They're all-in with Dalton this year.

Brandon (Newark, OH)

Bengals had the 6th rated defense last year. Better, the same or worse this year??

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:45 PM)

Better. The addition of James Harrison gives them a much-needed edge and some championship experience. I believe the Bengals will be better at linebacker with Vontaze Burfict having another year under his belt. The secondary should also be improved if cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick can stay healthy.

Bill (Baltimore)

Which of the wide receivers on the ravens rosters are more likely to be cut before the start of the season?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:48 PM)

The three receivers who should be locks are: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss. The fates of Deonte Thompson, David Reed and LaQuan Williams will be based on their special teams play and their work at receiver.

Dawn (early to rise)

Let me be the first. Why are you a Bengals homer?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:49 PM)

Because me and Clooney are tight. That's why.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN)
  (2:50 PM)

Thanks for all of the great questions. Hope everyone has a safe Fourth of July. I will be taking the next two weeks off before the start of training camp. I will check back with you later in the month. Take care.