Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com AFC North blogger James Walker will stop by to chat about the NFL and what to expect from your team.
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch.
Send your questions now and join James Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
Hello everyone. Let's talk some AFC North football today.
assuming a healthy carson palmer, does chris henry lead all bengals receivers in targets this year?
James Walker (4:01 PM)
Chad Ochocinco will be the team's leading receiver this year as long as he's healthy. Henry is the team's No. 3 receiver, so it will be pretty hard for him to lead the team. I still think Henry has the potential to have a breakout season.
Matt K (Enola, PA)
Is it some weird bizzaro world or has Limas Sweed drained all of Plaxico's pass catching powers since Plax does not need them anymore?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Funny thought, Matt. But from everything I've seen, Sweed has looked good since the spring practices. It's just now that everyone is getting to see it in games. Sometimes receivers take a couple years to figure things out.
Hauscka, Gano, or Stover?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
Tough one, Kevin. Graham Gano is out. I'd say Steve Hauschka for now with Matt Stover keeping his leg very warm.
Hey James, in a nutshell what do you see as the major glaring weakness of all 4 teams in the division?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Offensive line for the Browns, Bengals and Steelers. Proven depth at wide receiver for the Ravens.
Tyler Parker (Shelbyville,TN)
At age 30 and with a decade of pounding, does Jamal Lewis have one last 1,000-yard season in him?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Every year someone counts out Jamal Lewis and he just keeps on trucking. I haven't been impressed with what I've seen from Lewis so far coming off ankle surgery. But I suspect he will try to kick it in gear once the regular season starts.
Mark (Northern Virginia)
Given what you have seen from Browns in training camp and progression in preseason games, has your perspective on the Browns season changed much?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
Not all that much, Mark. I just recently turned in my season picks for the year, and without giving it away I had the Browns in the same spot in the AFC North that I would've had them months ago.
There's no chance Stephan Logan doesn't make this Steelers roster right?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
I wouldn't say "no chance." But with the way he's played and the Steelers eager to find a return game, they most likely will find a roster spot for him.
RAY GORDONREID ( MORGANTOWNWV 26506)
QUESTIONTO JAMES WALKER AT 4.25 HI JAMES WHICH AFC NORTH OPENING DAY GAME YOUGONNABE AT
James Walker (4:12 PM)
Opening week should be a fun one. I will be in Pittsburgh (Steelers/Titans) Thursday night to kick off the 2009 season. Then I will hit the turnpike to see Eric Mangini's debut with the Browns against Brett Favre and the Vikings.
Yo James, loooove the blog! Much love from the C-bus! Will Jerome Harrison have a tough time making the Browns roster after being injured most of the preseason and due to James Davis' strong play?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
Thanks, Mitch. I don't think Harrison's roster spot is in jeapordy. With Eric Mangini you never know, but I think Harrison has shown the ability to contribute in some ways when healthy. And the Browns don't have enough dynamic running backs besides Harrison and James Davis.
Jason (Boston, MA)
Do you think Essex is an upgrade over Stapleton on the Steelers O-line?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
Tough to say. I need to see more of Trai Essex in real games that matter to come up with that determination. Overall, I haven't been all that impressed with the Steelers o-line in the preseason.
Troy Reed....or Lott?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Let's get it out of the way for the week: Troy Reed.
darren (san antonio )
do you think micheal johnson will have a big rookie year?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
I like Michael Johnson's talent. He could be a force is he's consistent, but that's always been the knock on him. He will be the third DE behind Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom, so he will have to make the most of limited opportunities.
Come on James, admit it. You wouldn't love us without a Reed/Tory question every week.
James Walker (4:19 PM)
Ok, it has become a nice running joke in the AFC North.
Matt (Chicago, IL)
JW! Big fan of the blog! Does the Browns cutting Rod Hood surprise you at all?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
Yes and no, Matt. Hood's release didn't surprise me because he has struggled since arriving to Cleveland, and I think Eric Mangini wanted to make a statement. But where it did surprise me is I think the team has worse cornerbacks still on their roster than Hood.
I watched the game againt the bills and the announcers mentioned how good the offensive line was holding up in pass protection. yet you say you aren't impressed. You dont think its a step above last year?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
I base my thoughts on everything I've seen since the spring--practices, minicamp, training camp and all preseason games. The unit played better in limited time against Buffalo.
Purple Passion (Charm City)
Can Haloti Ngata please make the Pro Bowl this year? P-p-pleasee James.
James Walker (4:25 PM)
It's not up to me, Purple Passion. I do expect Ngata to have a moster year. When I talk to players on various teams around the division, his name comes up the most in terms of underappreciated, great players. Ngata has a lot of respect among his peers.
The C (Glen Burnie (MD))
Why is the AFC North one of the most under looked divison?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
The entire division has "small market" teams. Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore are not huge cities nationally,so the national spotlight is not always there. A big part of my job is to bring these interesting AFC North stories to the forefront.
Any chance Isaac Redman makes the team? Or is he destined for the practice squad?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
There is still one preseason game left. But if the final roster is made today, I would say "Redzone" finds his way to the practice squad. He hasn't done much in the past two preseason games.
BH (Severna Park, MD)
James, Hypothetically here: each division in the NFL was to compile an All-Star team to compete in a round robin tournament to establish division supremacy. 1) How does anyone score on the defense in the AFCN 2) Who wins it all?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
I'd say AFC North vs. NFC East in the championship final. And defense wins championships, so there is your answer.
How can the Steelers be " small market " when they easily have the largest fan base in football?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
The amount of fans and media coverage are two different things, E-Rock. Pittsburgh is not a largely populated city, so the media market is not as large as New York, Boston, Dallas etc. In fact, many Steelers fans live outside of Pittsburgh.
Ben (Lutherville, MD)
Hey JW love the blog. Can you rank the AFC North QB's
James Walker (4:34 PM)
Ben, Carson, Joe, Browns starter
Matt (Cleveland, OH)
Has Alex Mack really struggled as much as I've read and if this is true, are things going to be ugly in Week 1 when he lines up against the Williams'?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
Mack is getting better, but yes he has struggled. Shaun Rogers made him look pretty bad. Rogers is a Pro Bowl player like many Mack will face this season. So there is some concern there.
John Boy (Cincinnati)
Is it safe to go buy myself a slim 15 jersey? Gotta replace the TJ one.....
James Walker (4:38 PM)
Chris Henry is in the final year of his contract. He's should have a good year. But I don't know if the Bengals will pay him accordingly in free agency.
mightyminni31 (rochester, ny)
The browns have been rebuilding for ten years now. Do you feel in your expert opinion that with Mangini, the browns finally are going to turn the corner in the next 1 to 2 years?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
I only take things year to year, Mightminny31, because that's the way the NFL is. And this year I don't see Eric Mangini turning the Browns into a contender.
Whats you Gut say about the Ravens Kicking game?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Steve Hauschka with Matt Stover waiting in the bullpen.
J-Dub! love the blog. andre smith productive rookie year? or has he lost too much time with his hold out?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
Smith is going to struggle early. That may keep him off the field or have him take some growing pains on it. But everything I'm told is he can play. He's just in a bad spot right now trying to play catch up.
JW Love the blog . READ IT 24/7. Just wondering if you could get right down to it and rannk all of the AFC North teams.
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Check out ESPN.com soon when we run all of our NFL picks, Tom.
Rob T. (NY)
How many kick/punt return TD's for Stefan Logan this year?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Let's make sure Logan makes the team first, Rob.
Marty (Clowns Town)
Over / under on Adrian P's yards on Sept 13th????
James Walker (4:45 PM)
125 rushing yards.
Brandon M. (DallasFW area)
Sup JW. My first chat here. If the steelers have either lamaar or Harrison go down at OLB do you think they might move timmons to OLB and have Fox step in at MLB? Instead of having a less xperienced guy like bruce davis go in at OLB.
James Walker (4:47 PM)
Welcome to the party, Brandon. Lawrence Timmons was the first sub off the bench at all four postions last year, so my guess would be Timmons would move outside. At the very least, the coaching staff would heavily consider it.
darren (san antonio )
will benson top 1200 yards this year?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
I'm taking the under.
Marty (Clowns Town)
I have to know... Is Keisel Really the last Steelers free agent to get signed before next year??
James Walker (4:49 PM)
Unless you're going to chip in, Marty, the team has little salary cap room left.
Which Ohio team should I root for this year? I am a free agent fan. What team is more successful and has the brighter future?
James Walker (4:51 PM)
Free-agent Pops, go with the team that offers you the most money and a chance to compete for a starting job.
Adam B. (Apple Valley, MN)
Is Clayton a lock to be the Ravens second starting WR, or has someone else stepped up?
James Walker (4:52 PM)
When Clayton gets healthy, the job is his. Besides Derrick Mason, Clayton is the only proven commodity the Ravens have at that position.
brandon marshall (denver)
i would be a GREAT fit for baltimore. Are they going to trade for me or sign me in free agency next year?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Brandon, don't tease Ravens fans. The Broncos aren't very interested in trading you.
Can Kelley Washington become an impact player? Has been impressive in preseason
James Walker (4:57 PM)
"Impact player" is a term I think is thrown around too loosely. For me, that means someone who can consistently determine the outcome of games. I don't believe Kelly Washington fits in that category.
Mitch (Greenville, OH)
Could Alex Hall become an impact player this year?
James Walker (4:58 PM)
Hall is a good, young player. But see the last answer.
Which team do you get accused of being a home of the most?
James Walker (5:00 PM)
At some point and time, AFC North readers have accused me of being too harsh or too easy on all four teams. To me, that means I'm doing my job well.
Any news on the battle between Mike Wallace and Limas Sweed for the 3rd WR spot on the Steelers?
James Walker (5:01 PM)
Limas Sweed has had the inside track for a while. He is expected to be the No. 3 receiver next week in the season opener.
How much of an impact does Tucker going on IR have on the Browns OL?
James Walker (5:02 PM)
Not much. Ryan Tucker has been solid for the Browns over the years, but he's had his troubles recently with his health. With a new regime, it was always possible he wouldn't stick. Tucker was seen more as a bonus if it worked out, but Browns coach Eric Mangini brought in a lot of his own players.
James Walker (5:04 PM)
Everyone, thanks for you time this week. Send any other questions you may have to our AFC North inbox within the blog.