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.
Kanye West (NFC North)
Yo James, I'm really happy for you and imma let you finish your chat, but Kevin Seifert had the best chat of all time! OF ALL TIME!
James Walker (4:01 PM)
Thanks Kanye. Now get off the stage and give me my ESPN Best Blogger award back!
Doug (Maumee, Ohio)
Do you see coach Cowher in Carolina or anywhere else next year?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Bill Cowher seems pretty happy doing TV, according to a couple people I've talked to in the past year or so about it. If he does come back, Carolina would be the ideal place for him.
Why are the bengals not taking care of business at home but are getting it done on the road?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
I think the Bengals still have some growing up to do. They play really hard, but when a team is trying to overcome a longstanding losing culture they have games like Sunday. Whether the Bengals bounce back against a good Chicago team will say a lot about this group.
Tony (Groton, CT)
Can the Steelers OL stand up to Minn DL? I hope Big Ben get rid of it quickly or it can be a Phil-like day (last year). What do you think?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Pittsburgh's offensive line has been playing better. But this Minnesota defense is a different type of challenge. Ben Roethlisberger will have to get rid of the football much quicker this week or it could spell trouble. I will have more on this matchup tomorrow in the AFC North blog.
So Mike Tomlin announced today that Mendenhall has earned the right to recieve a majority of the carries going into the future...What are your thoughts and what future do you see FWP having?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
Rashard Mendenhall has the job because he has the hot hand. The Steelers had a slow start and can't afford to lose games. Willie Parker will get carries as his performance and return to health warrants it.
Will running screens be the answer to Minn. pass rush?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
That could work. But the Steelers are not a heavy screen team, with the exception of the occasional screen to tight end Heath Miller.
Brian (Greensboro, NC)
Can the Bengals make up for the pass rush that will be lost with Odem?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
I don't think Cincinnati will be as good rushing the passer without Antwan Odom, at least not with bringing four. The Bengals may blitz the linebackers more often, but they may also give up more big plays as a result.
How come it took so long for the Bengals to release their long snapper ... was he a distant cousin of Mike Brown ?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
No, Brad St. Louis was not. But he's had nine solid years in Cincinnati. So the Bengals wanted to give him ample opportunities to keep his job. But the problem could never be fixed.
do you think Coffman and Johnson (bengals) can "mature" quickly enough to make an impact on the season and do you see Johnson stepping up pretty quick?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Michael Johnson showed more promise in training camp and has been playing situational football during the regular season. So he may do OK. Chase Coffman has been really slow to develop and I'm not sure he's ready to help just yet.
Any word on last minute trades?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
Things have been pretty silent on the AFC North. Sometimes, sending paperwork to the league office takes a little time. But as of 4 p.m. before I got on this chat, nothing took place in the division before the deadline.
What has happened to Cleveland this season? Looks like another mediocre mess and lots of questions to answer at the end of the season.
James Walker (4:22 PM)
The Browns are in a rebuild mode in the first year under coach Eric Mangini. I don't think any reasonable person expected them to make the playoffs this year. I picked them to finish last in the AFC North before the season.
Can you foresee the Ravens beating Denver? Denver's on a short week.
James Walker (4:24 PM)
The Ravens can play with anybody. They just haven't won many of those close games. Baltimore has two weeks off to prepare for this game, so I expect the Ravens to sure up some of their weaknesses.
Lane (Kukuihaele, HI)
True or False. From top to bottom the North is the worst division in the AFC.
James Walker (4:25 PM)
What team in the AFC NORTH really has a home field Advantage?What crowd in your opinion is the best?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
The Ravens and Steelers both have great crowds. I would give the advantage overall to Pittsburgh.
darren (passaic new jersey)
hey james is it possiible that the steelers are playing too much cover 2 late in the game. i think thats why they let go of leads
James Walker (4:29 PM)
Pittsburgh finally pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter against Cleveland. Pittsburgh starting playing more Cover-2 defenses last year. I think safety Troy Polamalu makes more of a difference than anything.
Do you think the browns should draft a QB with their first pick considering it looks like it may be a top 5 pick
James Walker (4:31 PM)
That's hard to say. It's way too early but I'm not all that impressed with this year's crop of quarterbacks. That's a lot of money to pay a top 5 pick if you're unsure.
Is there any hope for the Ravens at CB?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
I think they can play better. The DBs (besides Ed Reed) are not gamebreakers, but I think they're playing below their ability right now. The coaching staff needs to get them all to play up a notch or two.
The Wolf (Cleveland)
Does Browns management finally realize that they need to pay Cribbs after the season?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
What's up Wolf? I'm pretty certain Joshua Cribbs will remain a Cleveland Brown, and I'm pretty confident the Browns will take care of him in the offseason at the very latest.
A step out of the division a little, could UC beat the browns? they're undefeated so far....
James Walker (4:35 PM)
Wouldn't happen. How many NFL players does UC have coming out this year? Three, maybe four or five? You need much more than that.
What do you think of Lebron buying the Browns?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
LeBron James is a Dallas Cowboys fan.
daniel (green bay)
afc north sucks. nfc north is better.
James Walker (4:38 PM)
There's a big slate this week, Daniel. Three games between the AFC North and NFC North. It should be some very good football. We have some things/discussions planned between the two blogs later in the week.
James Walker (4:38 PM)
Starting tomorrow, by the way.
James, were you surprised the Bengals were ranked lower than the Steelers this week in the power rankings? Would you have ranked them the same way?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
I wasn't surprised because Pittsburgh won its last game and Cincinnati lost its last game at home. Sometimes it happens that way. As far as where I would rank them, I honestly haven't thought about ranking 32 teams since we decided to streamline the process this year. It hasn't really crossed my mind. Too many other things to worry about.
Will Jared Gaither return this week? Oher is already very good, but not in Gaither's league yet.
James Walker (4:41 PM)
With the bye, Gaither has about two weeks to get healthy. There's a good chance he will be ready by then, although we won't know for sure until next week. An educated guess is that he returns for Denver.
Troy Reed (Baltimore, PA)
I have half a mind to take the week off...
James Walker (4:43 PM)
How is your other knee doing on Troy's side?
Hey James class of 97 High Point wassup!! Anyways.. Chicago Bears vs Cincy Bengals whats the score and who wins!! What do you think of OchoCinco and all this tweeting stuff!!! Thanks!!
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Ed B. what's up? Hope things are going well. I haven't decided on the picks yet. I make them on Friday when I know the injury reports. Ochocinco sometimes goes overboard with his tweets, but it's all in good fun. It's harmless and entertaining trash talk, better than getting flagged 15 yards for too much celebrating.
John (Sanibel Island, FL)
James, do you think the Steelers are going to keep Heath Miller in to help block Jared Allen? The guy is a beast and I'm not sure Starks can handle him by himself. Using Miller as a blocker would definitely hurt the passing game though.
James Walker (4:49 PM)
You're probably going to see a mix of that. I doubt the Steelers are confident in blocking the Vikings man for man. It hurts the passing game, but Ward, Holmes and Wallace have played well also.
Does DA throw that poor of a ball that the receivers have trouble catching it? I know he rifles the little out patterns, but everything else seems catchable.
James Walker (4:51 PM)
You can't blame it all on Derek, but he does lack touch. I've seen in practice once where he threw the ball out of bounds to avoid a turnover, and he nearly broke a speaker. It was pretty funny.
Do you think Frank Walker is the worst cb ever?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
I was the worst cornerback ever. You should have seen me play in high school, David.
Andre Smith is supposedly starting to practice for the Bengals. Does he jump right into a starting role when ready? Where will his impact be seen most: run blocking or pass blocking?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
I still think Andre Smith needs more time to get in football shape. His foot is healed, but he never got the reps in training camp. So I wouldn't expect him back this week. Run blocking was always his specialty.
Brian (Las Vegas)
Which Steelers receiver would you pick for fantasy, in order.
James Walker (4:56 PM)
1. Hines Ward 2. Santonio Holmes 3. Mike Wallace
James, any idea what is wrong with Lamarr Woodley? He just doesn't look like the same player that terrorized offenses this past year.
James Walker (4:58 PM)
Woodley played really well against Cleveland. He had an injury in the preseason that slowed him a little bit and the absence of Troy Polamalu hurt everyone on the defense. I think he's going to have a better second half of the season than first half.
Why do the Steelers not score more points to go with all the offensive yards? Is Bruce Arians the problem?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Ball security. At least that was the problem against Cleveland. The Steelers had four turnovers, three fumbles and a pick.
James Walker (5:01 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for the time. We had a ton of questions and I couldn't get to everyone. But you can always reach me at our AFC North inbox. I do a mailbag on the weekends.