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)
Let's discuss the AFC North, shall we?
With it looking like both Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb will be ready by the opener, if not necessarily at full speed, do you still expect the ravens to sign another corner before the season begins?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
If both corners are back healthy, I think that lowers the chance of Baltimore adding anyone significant. There really aren't any solid CBs on the waiver wire at this point. A trade is probably the best way to get a decent player. But Baltimore seems optimistic both players could be ready early in the season.
John (Park City)
Hey James,So what do you make of Harrison or Hardesty in Cle? Does it look like 50-50? And if one goes down to injury, will the other likely get the majority of carries. I have the Cleveland running game covered with both.
James Walker (4:04 PM)
Montario Hardesty has been injured all of training camp. So he has fallen behind in the rotation. It's been a mix of Jerome Harrison and Peyton Hillis right now. Hardesty had a good spring but has to work his way back into the lineup.
Tim (Bakersfield, Ca)
Do you know if players get paid if the season is locked out?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
No, Tim. If there's no football next season, players do not get paid.
Who will be the surprise dynamic defender on Pittsburgh's always-potent squad?
James Walker (4:06 PM)
Pittsburgh's defense is pretty well-known at this point, Derek. There are a couple backups who could surprise, like Keenan Lewis and Ziggy Hood.
Who is the most relevant fantasy player on the Browns?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Kicker Phil Dawson or Josh Cribbs.
Jason (moon twp pa)
How do you view Pouncey as a starting center this year??
James Walker (4:10 PM)
I have been really impressed in Maurkice Pouncey in the preseason. He is relentless and plays to the whistle. In my opinion, I would play Pouncey at the position he's most comfortable, which is center. But Pittsburgh also is looking at him at right guard.
With Byron and Dixon playing well do you think the Steelers will release veteran Charlie Batch to make room for a roster spot?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
I think Batch is safe until Ben Roethlisberger comes back in October. At that point, there will not be a reason to keep four QBs.
Mikey P (Boulder, CO)
Yo J-Dub! Who do you think is doing the best job of following in the footsteps of Mike Wallace and Bernard Scott this year in the AFC North? In other words who are the bigger rookie surprises so far?
James Walker (4:13 PM)
There are several rookies that stand out. I think Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley have a chance to do well right away. I also like Terrence Cody and Pouncey, as I mentioned earlier. T.J. Ward and Geno Atkins are also playing well in the preseason. It's early, but it appears the AFC North produced a good rookie class.
Who is the biggest fantasy sleeper in the AFC north?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
I like Steelers WR Mike Wallace. He's our pick for breakout player in the AFC North.
Jon (San Diego)
How do you see Pouncey's rookie season comparing to Cleveland's Alex Mack from last year?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
Part of it depends on where Maurkice Pouncey plays. Mack was put into his natural position at center right away. He struggled early but eventually worked out the bugs and finished strong. I think Pouncey should be put in one position and not be moved around unless it's needed.
Can we officially say that Andre Smith is a bust?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
I don't throw out the bust label after one season for anyone. The NFL is too difficult to expect everyone to be a star early. But I will be watching Smith closely this year. He's not off to a good start.
Matt (Hudson, OH)
James, love the blog. Do you think the Browns have shown anything in the first two preseason games to make you think they won't be a bottom feeder in the league this year?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
I wouldn't get too excited or too down on the preseason. But I'm still picking them fourth in the AFC North. I think one thing that stands out is Jake Delhomme is looking solid. That would be huge for Cleveland.
Do you think this is the year Redman finally makes the 53 man roster? He's been awful impressive, and the Steelers RB depth is somewhat suspect.
James Walker (4:23 PM)
I've been writing about Isaac Redman making the team since last year when the Steelers struggled in short-yardage situations. Pittsburgh is really lucky no one noticed him on the practice squad. But I think that luxury is gone this year. The Steelers need to put him on the 53-man roster, or they could lose him.
Is it a forgone conclusion that Big Ben's suspension will be reduced to 4 games?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
That's expected to be the case, Robert. Roethlisberger has done and said all the right things since his suspension. An announcement should be coming soon.
From: Panther Fans; To: Browns Fans: Enjoy Jake, but when he has a 4 pick game, just remember, we told you so.
James Walker (4:27 PM)
The Browns play the Panthers this year. Take your pick.
Rick (New Jersey)
James, could you please provide your definition of the 'Troy Polamalu Rule'?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
The "Troy Polamalu Rule," which was created in Pittsburgh, says you never define a player a "bust" after one rookie season. Polamalu didn't start off fast in Pittsburgh, and now he's one of the top defensive players in the NFL.
James Walker (4:30 PM)
Sometimes it takes a couple years to adjust to the NFL game.
Drew Farrell (Baltimore)
will any of the teams sweep the division this year?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
Not this year, Drew. The division is too competitive.
Jason (severn, md)
What are the Ravens planning to do in order to sure up the pass defense that has given up quite a few passing yards in just the first 2 preseason games
James Walker (4:33 PM)
Getting healthy in the secondary is one thing. But the Ravens also had lapses by their linebackers covering over the middle. That's something the coaches will have to work with through film study. Baltimore is trying to blitz more effectively this year, so that can be one of the downsides.
How much playing time will Scott see behind Benson?
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Bernard Scott will get a pretty good increase over last year. The Bengals' coaching staff likes him as a change-of-pace runner. I think Scott and Benson could make a good duo.
Michael J (Ithaca, NY)
DO you think that 1, 2 or 3 teams from the AFCN will make the playoffs? I don't see more than 2, with the tough AFCE and the Saints on everyones schedule.
James Walker (4:37 PM)
I see no more than two teams making the playoffs. The AFC is pretty deep this year.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
How do you think that WR Jordan Shipley will do with the Cincinnati Bengals?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
I've been impressed with Shipley all offseason. He has a really good understanding of the game and is natural in the slot, which is what the Bengals needed. If Antonio Bryant doesn't return, Shipley should get a lot of playing time and I think he will be productive on third downs.
JW, besides ward have any other rookies from the browns impressed you?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
Ward has been the guy that stands out, Mitch. Joe Haden and Colt McCoy have struggled so far.
Can you see the Browns starting 2-0 and from there gaining momentum and surprising the league and being respectable (maybe 8-8)
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Those first two weeks against Tampa Bay and Kansas City could make or break Cleveland's season. Both are winnable games, so a 2-0 start could give the Browns momentum to compete the entire season. If they start 0-2, things will probably go downhill from there.
What's your take on Antonio Bryant, now that he has been mentioned. He seems to be the Pink elephant in the room. Do the Bengals have some medical staffers to fire? Do they cut their losses with AB?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
That's been a big mystery this summer, and the Bengals and Bryant are not willing to clarify what's going on. I've heard different things behind the scenes, but none that I'm confident enough to print.
Kovacs (Santa Monica)
Any way the Browns keep 4 tight ends (Watson, Moore, Royal, Smith)? Keep an extra tight end in lieu of an extra wideout?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
Hey, Kovacs. Three is probably the limit at that position. Ben Watson and Evan Moore are locks. I think Robert Royal also makes it as the third TE.
what do u think of the Bengals offense this year? Who has impressed so far on the offense?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
It's still a work in progress. Cincinnati has the pieces in place, but the team is still working to put it all together.
Paul (Ann Arbor)
Will the city of Cleveland even care about the Browns this season very much with the whole LeBron circus?
James Walker (4:49 PM)
You don't know very much about Cleveland, Paul. It's a Browns town, first and foremost. The Cavs were hot because they were doing well. But Cleveland always supports the Browns.
Michael J (Ithaca, NY)
Any insight for us on your season picks? If you don't want to tip your hand on a column, maybe some outside ideas for division ROY, MVP, defense or offense rankings, records, anything?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
All of that is coming soon, Michael. ESPN.com will have our NFL previews with picks starting next week.
Corey (South Dakota)
James, who do you think the Steelers should start at QB in Ben's absence, Dixon or Leftwich?
James Walker (4:51 PM)
I think it's too early to decide, but Dennis Dixon has earned a chance to show what he can do.
Is it just me or does Seneca Wallace almost look a little better in the preseason games? Not that Delhomme has looked bad either.
James Walker (4:54 PM)
Both QBs are playing well, Rob. In my time in Browns training camp, I thought Wallace had the better week. But that doesn't necessarily mean he's the best option.
Tho=ughts on Cincy TE Gresham?
James Walker (4:56 PM)
He's going to be a good addition to Cincy's offense. Gresham looks really natural running routes and catching the football. He's also making a very good effort to improve as a run blocker, which will make him an every-down TE. The Reggie Kelly influence is helping.
Tim K (Tampa, Fl)
What game are you going to attend on the opener?????
James Walker (4:57 PM)
I'm doing Atlanta@Pittsburgh Sept. 12, and Baltimore@NYJ on Monday night, Sept. 13. It's going to be a great weekend. I'm looking forward to it.
player (dayton ohio)
the bengals will be 12-4 this season and go to the super bowl and beat dallas 21 to 10 count on it
James Walker (5:01 PM)
That's quite a prediction, Player. We will see if you are correct. If not, we will probably run this in the "Remember last year" blog next offseason.
James Walker (5:01 PM)
Everyone, thanks for your time. Remember to check out the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter for constant insight and updates.