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)
How is everyone doing today? Only about two weeks before training camp. So let's talk some football.
mike (columbus ohio)
are the steelers going to bring in an offensive lineman?
James Walker (4:01 PM)
I recently checked on this and was told the Steelers are still considering it. Recently, they worked out Flozell Adams but didn't sign him to a contract. There's not a lot of options out there after Adams. So there's a chance they could look inside the organization for Willie Colon's replacement.
What do you think about Ravens FB Le'ron Mcclain lobbying for more carries this season despite having Ray Rice and Willis McGahee?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
This one is tough to figure out. First, McClain says it's a joke, then he says he's serious. It's probably a serious joke. Everyone wants the ball in Baltimore. That's the challenge of having so much talent. OC Cam Cameron's job will be to manage egos and keep everyone involved and happy.
Tim K (Tampa, Fl)
Hey James, thoughts on the Steelers WR position this year??? I still think they are going to be OK with Wallace stepping up. Do you know anything about E Sanders- the R WR from Southern Methodist???
James Walker (4:06 PM)
I think Mike Wallace will be just fine in a starting role. He's a young player but he "gets it" and the NFL game didn't look too big for him last year. I haven't seen enough of Emmanuel Sanders yet to have a firm opinion. I will be watching him closely in training camp.
Jeff (Windy City)
James, what is your take on T.O.? Obviously not the player he was, but he could help some receiver-needy teams. Does he sign soon? Where does he fit best?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
I don't think he fits anywhere in the AFC North. The Bengals were probably the best option before they signed Antonio Bryant. I think Owens could help Cleveland, but I don't get the sense the Browns are interested.
Adam W (Miami)
I loved your break down of the Bengals roster bubbles as I agree that the biggest battles will be at WR and DB. You gave Matt Jones a 40% chance of making the squad, but I really feel its hihgher then that. He fills a need (not as well) that Chris Henry left with the vertical game and size. With Simpson he is in trouble. He is competeing with Shipley and Bubba Caldwell at the slot, and Adam Jones, Caldwell, Quan Cosby and Bernard Scott at Kick and Punt Returns. Unless he has an all-world sort camp and preseason, he is done unfortunatly, not Matt Jones. At DB, unless Adam Jones does somthing stupid (again) I see Trent or Jones being on the chopping block, not him. All I know is, there wil be some good players left on the street. Any chance they might trade Simpson?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
Jerome Simpson has just one catch in two years. Despite his draft status, I don't see much trade value for him. With Matt Jones, I think people automatically assume it's the Matt Jones of several years ago when he lit up the combine. From what I saw in minicamp, he has a ways to go to round back into form. That's why I put him at 40 percent.
James, what's up, it's been a while. Do you think the Browns could gain some momentum starting 2-0 and turn that into 7-8 wins this year? They've got Tampa and KC to start.
James Walker (4:12 PM)
The first two weeks are winnable games. But Cleveland is bad enough to lose those first two games as well. I think those games will be huge in terms of the Browns staying competitve the entire season.
Who's your "way too early pick" to win the AFC North?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
I'm not making a "way too early pick." But barring any major injuries in training camp, it will be the Bengals or Ravens.
Hardesty or Harrison, who gets the start? PS- You have been hating on the Browns pretty bad lately!
James Walker (4:18 PM)
I think Hardesty starts eventually. He has more of the qualities the coaching staff wants in a running back, particularly with size. I'm not sure he will get the job in Week 1, though. I don't hate on any team. I'm just telling you what I'm seeing. Cleveland's talent doesn't stack up this year.
Chris (Cincinnati, OH)
Can Greshman put Cincinnati's offense back on track?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
It's not going to be a one-man operation. But it's important for Jermaine Gresham to provide a good target for Carson Palmer over the middle. He has the potential to open up a lot of things for the Bengals if used properly.
Shoe (The Gem City, Illinois)
James, you made note earlier about the Steelers and LaMarr Woodley's potential free agency next season. SURELY they won't let him run free, would they?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
I can only report what's going on right now, and that's there will be no negotiations with LaMarr Woodley between now and the start of the regular season. To guess what's going to happen in November or January or March would just be speculation on my part.
The Heineken Machine (Columbus)
I'm very worried about Palmer - that Jets playoff game he couldn't hit the ocean...Do you think he's already peaked??
James Walker (4:26 PM)
This is another huge year for Carson Palmer. He's 30. A lot of QBs play well in their 30s, but not all. Palmer has weapons this year, so there shouldn't be any excuses.
Daniel (Green-ish Cubicle)
What under-the-radar WR do you think will be having a break out season this year?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Two in the AFC North that I like are Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace and Jordan Shipley in Cincinnati.
Chris (Cincinnati, OH)
Will Andre Smith show why he was drafted so high by the Bengals this year? O-line is key to help Palmer out.
James Walker (4:30 PM)
Smith hasn't done much of anything since foot surgery besides rehab this offseason. So I don't have a feel for where he is. It could take a while for Smith to get back into form, or he could be close. I really don't know without seeing him in practice. Smith is another player I will watch closely in training camp.
Do you anticipate any issues with getting the first round picks in the division signed on time?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
Not for the most part. The only potential worry would be with Joe Haden in Cleveland, and that's only because he's the highest pick (No. 7). A lot of money will be involved in that negotiation.
Tim K (Tampa, Fl)
Fantasy football question James- which RB do you take 1st out of the AFCN????? Touchdowns count most pts but yards and catches do factor in.........
James Walker (4:35 PM)
I would go with Ray Rice in FF. You don't know what's going to happen with Cedric Benson in terms of being suspended, and the Steelers/Rashard Mendenhall still has to prove they can get it done in the red zone.
Does Mike Holmgren have the toughest job in the NFL? Not only does he have to try to rebuild a franchise but he has to do it in a division that has 2 of the best front offices in football (Pit and Balt) and a 3rd team(Cincy) that seems to hve started to figure it out also.Holmgren can do a great job and still wind up last in the division for the next 4 years.
James Walker (4:37 PM)
It's really challenging for anyone that comes in. The Steelers and Ravens do not make a lot of mistakes when it comes to personnel. So at least half the division is always a factor. The Bengals did well last year, which doesn't help Cleveland. It's going to be a tough climb, and it's not going to happen overnight.
Daniel (Walkersville, MD)
Have you heard anything about who will be the starting Free Safety for the Ravens if Reed can't go? Can Zib get a shot?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Is there really a "Walkersville, MD"? I may have to go there one day and take a picture, then put it up on the blog. Ken Hamlin is probably the favorite if Ed Reed can't go in Week 1. Zbikowski did a good job last year and he will be factored in, as well.
What intra-AFC North division match-up are you looking forward to most this year?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
I think all the games against the Saints will be interesting. It will be good to see how a wide-open offense matches up with a rugged defense like Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. I'm looking forward to the Ravens-Jets game, as well. Rex Ryan will spice that one up.
Raashid (London, England)
James, for as well as Mike Wallace played last year, this year he's going up against no.1 or no.2 corners and defenses will be waiting for him, I'm concerned everyone in Steeler Nation has already pencilled him in for 1000 yds and filling Santonio's shoes fully. Do you think he'll live up to the hype ?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
I think expecting 1,000-yard season isn't fair to Wallace. He's a first-year starter that will be playing with a backup QB the first 4-6 games. I think he will fill in well. But let's pump the brakes a bit.
Any chance Coly McCoy sees the field in the regular season?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Hard to say. I can say a lot will have to go wrong since McCoy is the third-string QB. Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace would have to play very poorly and/or get injured. It's not completely out of the question. But it's not a safe bet, either.
David (Fontainebleau, France)
Hi James,With a potential suspension looming for Cedric Benson, do you think the Bengals make a play for Unga in the supplemental draft? If so, how do you see him fitting in with Scott, Leonard (if Benson should have to miss some time)?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
Good question. I'm going to get into that more in the AFC North blog tomorrow as we get closer to Thursday's supplemental draft. The short answer is the Bengals have shown some interest. A lot of people also don't know Unga was a college teammate of Bengals fullback Fui Vakapuna at BYU.
Mr. W (Dallas)
What are your thoughts on the Troy Smith to the Eagles rumor...? Do you think there is any chance that happens?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
I don't cover the Eagles, so I haven't looked into it. From Baltimore's perspective, the team would be open to dealing Troy Smith if the right offer came along.
Mr. W (Dallas)
I guess to further clarify what do you think Baltimore would consider "the right offer"
James Walker (4:54 PM)
Fifth-round pick or better. That was the tender price Baltimore placed on Troy Smith.
Is the 18 game shedule just a bargaining chip for the owners.2 extra TV weeks and one extra home game(for non season ticket holders) is a lot of cash but it would also more than likely mean a roster expansion and a bump up in salaries.Teams that are losing money now are not going to see much if any increase in money flow.
James Walker (4:56 PM)
From what I'm hearing, the 18-game schedule debate is legit. The owners really want it and most players are against it. Obviously there's a lot of negotiating to do between now and when a deal is reached. But I wouldn't be shocked to see an expanded regular season.
Paxton (Louisville, KY)
Who starts at LE on the Bengals' D toward the end of the season? Carlos Dunlap or Robert Geathers?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Robert Geathers is a starting DE now, and he's earned that right based on experience. Keeping his spot will be based on performance and staying healthy.
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Remember to check out the AFC North blog for constant updates.