Troy Polamalu was a big topic in this week's AFC North chat and rightfully so. The Steelers' Pro Bowl safety aggravated a right calf injury Sunday and isn't expected to play Thursday. A full transcript of the chat can be viewed here, but here are some highlights:
Hewitt (Cleveland, OH): Bengals fan in Cleveland here. Will the Bengals win the division? And if not, who? Wild Card maybe?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Until Bengals beat either the Ravens or Steelers, I won't answer that question.
Ryan (Fla.): Your thoughts on Josh 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): 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.
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 seven, but as far as the secondary goes, he gets toasted by any QB willing to open it up. Carson Palmer and Tim Tebow make him look silly.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): 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.
browns1658 (akron): Nice call on the Bengals-Dolphins game. You were taking a lot of heat on here from Bengals fans. Now is your time to gloat. Roll the slow clap.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): 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.
dan (lynchburg va): The Ravens secondary seems to be struggling a bit this year, not even just when playing good quarterbacks or receivers but in general. Do you see the Ravens having their hands full vs the Cowboys group of receivers this week?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): 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): 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.
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): 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.
mike (new jersey): Should the Steelers find the heir apparent to Polamalu in the upcoming draft or does he still have one or two years left in him?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): 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.
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 you're not going to be a chump and pick the Browns over the Bengals this week.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): 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.