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 AFC North fans. The regular season finally gets underway Thursday. It should be an exciting week.
Stukes (Nokesville VA)
Lovin the Blog JW. What are the chances that Matt Stover comes back to Baltimore since they cut Gano? and what role would Stover have?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
I would put those chances at 50 percent, Stukes. With kickers, you just don't know how they will react in game situations. Steve Hauschka has to prove it when it counts. If not, Stover would come back primarily as the kicker and probably not the kickoff specialist, similar to last season.
RAY GORDON REID ( LOUISVILLE KY 40424)
QUESTION TO JAMES WALKER AT 4.15 OKJAMES BRADY QUINN OR DEREK ANDERESON QB BROWNS VS VIKINGS SUNDAY
James Walker (4:03 PM)
I fully anticipate Brady Quinn being the starter. He edged Anderson in the preaseason on the field, and particularly the third preseason game. I wouldn't put anything past Eric Mangini, but it would be a surprise if Quinn is not the starter.
NFC Super Bowl contenders Saints or Vikings!!!!
James Walker (4:04 PM)
I don't think either will represent the NFC. I picked the Philadelphia Eagles. I do think the Vikings will make a good run at it, though.
Can the Cleveland Browns make the playoffs with LeBron James?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Although the Browns could use some help at tight end, not even LeBron James could propel the Browns to the postseason this year. Cleveland is still a number of players away, and I still don't see how the Browns can compete in a tough AFC North.
john (baltimore )
J.W. love the column, How do you see the Chiefs trying to attack the Ravens defense this sunday?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Thanks, John. Keep reading, because we're going to have even more fun this year. It depends on whether quarterback Matt Cassel plays or not. If he's in the lineup, I expect them to pass to set up the run. That's really their only chance. If Cassel isn't in the lineup, the Chiefs will try to run the ball first and that almost never works against the Ravens.
James, If Quinn is handed the starting job, do you see Derek Anderson attracting any interest around the league in a potential trade?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
That ship has sailed Aaron. To my knowledge, it was Brady Quinn who received some interest from other teams. Not Derek Anderson. So unless there is a major injury somewhere, I don't see the market changing for Anderson barring an emergency.
Matty Ice (Enola, PA)
I would love to see Fast Willie get the goal line carries, I always thought he was pretty good, is Tomlin for real with letting him do so?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
That's an interesting topic right now in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are probably going to give Willie Parker first dibs, because he's the starter. But I question if they really have a short-yardage option on their team. A strong case can be made that Pittsburgh's best short-yardage back is on the practice squad (Isaac Redman).
jw seem,s as if nobody is giving cinci much of a chance in the division this year. my question to you. if the bengals start off 3-0 including a early division win against the steelers, do you think that could catapult there season and people will start believing this 09 cinci team is alot different from years past?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
The Bengals need a fast start badly. Last year, they didn't get their first win until the ninth game. The team feels its much better, but the Bengals still have to prove worthy of the hype. I still think they will struggle in the division, which is why I picked them to finish third in the AFC North.
Pat (Warren, OH)
What are the chances that Mr. Rogers will come out and dominate for the Browns? Was he just 'laying low' or was he really injured?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
Shaun Rogers will be fine. He's Cleveland's best defensive player and now he's well rested. From what I'm told Eric Mangini rested Rogers to keep him fresh for when the games really matter.
Bryan (Baghdad, Iraq)
Hey James love your blog, as a soldier here in good old Baghdad, I was busy for Chad's debate with skip, is there anyway that I can get a full copy of this, as me and a bunch of my soldiers are from the Cincy area. We were out on a mission during the only showing. Thanks for any help you can give us
James Walker (4:14 PM)
We have about seven minutes worth on the AFC North blog, Bryan. We will also have some clips of Marvin Lewis on the blog soon, as well. You should check it out. Also, I can't promise, but send me your e-mail address to the division inbox and I will see if I can get you the complete video. Thanks for serving our country.
Ed (Saginaw, MI)
Hi James. What kind of things can we expect to see this season from Ravens new stating ILB-Tavares Gooden?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
Gooden is an athlete and he is active. So far he's fit right in because Baltimore had the top-rated defense in the preseason. It's a lot easier when you're playing with Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs. All Gooden needs to do is play his role.
Shaun (Indiana, PA)
So far Mendenhall has not shown anything which would make us say ?wow!?. Do you think he is a first round bust that the Steelers front office is overprotecting by after game statements like, ?he ran violently?. I didn?t see anything violent or impressive from him during the preseason.
James Walker (4:18 PM)
It's too early to come up with a determination on Mendenhall, Shaun. Sometimes I think fans are too quick to label. But I agree, I haven't been wowed just yet. He's dealing with being inexperienced and coming off a major injury. So he does have a lot to overcome.
Ryan (West Virginia)
Last season, Pittsburgh's biggest weakness was the offensive line. Will they continue as such, or will they improve in both run and pass blocking?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
The offensive line is still the biggest weakness, Ryan. The coaching staff believes the blocking will improve. I believe the running game will because the tailbacks are healthy. But I'm still in wait-and-see mode on the pass protection.
Roy (Columbus, OH)
James, thanks for the blog and these chats. Bit of an odd question for you: If you were building a defense today would you prefer to have the Ravens' starting D-line or the Steelers' starting LBs? I'm a Steelers fan and I might have to give the Ravens' D-line the edge.
James Walker (4:21 PM)
That is an odd question, Roy. But I will take the Steelers linebackers, because both are obviously 3-4 defenses. Why take three great players when I can get four great players?
I thought the Bengals were making a mistake moving Maualuga outside, but he's played very well. Is his ultimate position still inside or is the move permanent?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
Good question, Jerry. Rey Maualuga is a natural inside linebacker, and eventually that is where he will land at some point. But to play right away, he had to compete at outside linebacker and eventually won that job.
Adrian Lee (B-More)
JW I hope you answer my question, Your blog is by far the best on ESPN.....Why are the Ravens ranked 10th overall in the preseason power rankings despite making the AFC title game last year?.....
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Thanks for the kind words, Adrian. The process has been streamlined this year and I am no longer a part of the power rankings this year. So I can't really speak on why ratings are what they are. My guess is the panel believes last year's run was a bit of a fluke.
Tyler Parker (Shelbyville,TN)
Will Carson Palmer be his 2005 self? Or will he be the 2008 Carson Palmer?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
It really depends on whether the pass protection is closer to 2005 or 2008.
Greg (Warren, OH)
James, i was wondering if u think J. davis is a long term solution for the browns at R.B.
James Walker (4:31 PM)
I like some of the things James Davis has shown, but I'm not the type to put rookies in the Hall of Fame before their first real game. I need to see much more of Davis before I determine him the long-term and full-time solution at tailback.
John (Sanibel Island, FL)
James, what do you think the Titans will try to do on offense to attack this Pittsburgh defense?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
I expect a similar game plan to last year. Tennessee's defense will try to beat up Pittsburgh's offense and force turnovers, and the Titans will try to score points off those mistakes. The strategy worked to perfection in December, and I don't see why they would change.
Kellen (Los Angeles)
Do you see any match ups that favor the browns in their game against the Vikings this weekend?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
The Browns will have a younger starting quarterback, whoever that may be.
What are your thoughts on Mangini? Does he have any idea on how to run a team?
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Sharell, I'm taking a wait-and-see approach with Eric Mangini as well. Although I think he's doing some curious things, I need to see how his team performs in the regular season. That's all that matters at the end of the day.
James, How far away are the Browns from being a playoff team?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
Rick, I've said plenty of times that I only take things year to year in the NFL. That's the type of league this is. That being said, the Browns aren't a playoff team this year.
Bobby V (Cbus)
If the Browns were playing the Broncos instead of the Vikings we should win right? The Bengals lucked out!
James Walker (4:39 PM)
The Browns will play the Broncos in Week 2. They will have their chance at Denver, as well.
Gary (Gibsonia, PA)
Who would you have return punts for you? Santonio Holmes, or Stefan Logan?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
Stefan Logan gives Santonio Holmes a chance to focus on being a full-time receiver. It's a win-win for everyone involved.
Any word on Nate Washington's injury? Is he going to be starting against Pitt?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
I talked to Nate on Sunday, and he said he is doing everything he can to get back on the field. Washington really wants to play in Pittsburgh again, but nothing is certain.
Jason Hess (Pittsburgh, Pa)
How do you think the Steelers will play against the ravens? do you think they will sweep them again this year?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Worry about the Titans this week, Jason. Big game coming up in 48 hours.
How concerning is Lawrence Timmon's high ankle sprain, and do you think he will play Thursday? If he doesn't, does Fox step in?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
I would be surprised if Timmons makes it back from a high ankle sprain by Thursday. I'm not a doctor, nor am I Timmons. But my guess is he's doesn't play until Week 2.
Despite McClain's role change to FB, do you still expect him to get a decent amount of carries, even if they are GL?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Le'Ron McClain will get his opportunities regardless, just not as much as last year. That's the kind of coach offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is. He wants to give all his weapons a chance.
So I gave up tweeting to focus on the season. Prepare yourself Jimmy. I am going to impress!
James Walker (4:46 PM)
I've said all along you were the best receiver I've seen in training camp this summer, Ocho. Don't prove me wrong.
How 'bout an AFC North Fantasy Football question? Would you start Santonio thursday night vs Tennesee, or Ochocinco vs Denver. Both players will be playing at home. Thoughts?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
Chad Ochocinco in a no-brainer. I don't anticipate Pittsburgh and Tennessee playing in a shootout.
jim (corpus christi texas)
james ..if ocho was to go to another team...where do you think he would want to go?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Jim, this is only a hypothetical as Ochocinco is under contract with the Bengals. But if he wasn't, he has said in the past that would love to play for the Dallas Cowboys, like a lot of players.
put me on record. the browns aren't as bad as your colleagues keep rating them. I am not saying superbowl (or even playoffs) but I think there is a gross over-exaggeration of how bad they are. Maybe ita??s the strength of schedule, but i say 7-9 or 8-8 is the most likely outcome. What say you??
James Walker (4:51 PM)
There you go Keith. If Eric Mangini goes 8-8 in his first year it will be a job well done.
Kellen (Los Angeles)
Any chance you see Braylon having a better season the OchoCinco from a stats view? Playing from behind he is sure to see a lot more targets.
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Braylon Edwards is talented but will not be playing in a pass-heavy offense. It also makes a difference that Carson Palmer is throwing to Chad Ochocinco.
Paul (Fort Wayne)
Who do you think will be this year's Dolphins? A team that underperformed last year and will overpeform this year
James Walker (4:54 PM)
I picked the Cincinnati Bengals as this year's sleeper months ago, Paul. I think they have a good chance to double their win total this year, and maybe more if health and other breaks go their way.
Kevin (Solon, OH)
Also, I wanted to update you. I created Troy Reed in Madden 10 and my Xbox spontaneously combusted when it first tried loading the players on the field.
James Walker (4:55 PM)
Thanks for the info, Kevin. Troy Reed is a beast, as we all know.
mike (north canton, ohio)
James! is cleveland's lackluster ground game more a result of an aging tailback, bad run blocking up front or the lack of a passing threat?
James Walker (4:58 PM)
It's almost always a combination, Mike. Jamal Lewis hasn't looked explosive this summer. Maybe he's saving himself for the regular season, but I don't know if he can just flip that switch. Cleveland's offensive line also has some holes behind the left side.
James Walker (5:01 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Don't forget to check the AFC North blog daily for constant updates.