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)
Good afternoon all. I'm back on the chat. So let's get to it.
Whats the best team in this division
James Walker (4:02 PM)
Kyle, I've said in the AFC North blog that I'm going to hold off until training camp and the preseason to make my firm prediction for 2010. But right now I'm leaning towards the Bengals and Ravens at the top of the division. I'm just not sure yet which team I think will be No. 1.
Mike Pedersen (Boulder, CO)
Hey J-Dub! Welcome back!How do the Bengals look at FB this year? Is it their biggest question mark?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Hey, Mike. I wouldn't say it's their biggest question mark. I'm still more concerned about Cincinnati's O-line in pass protection, especially with Andre Smith not out there. With a deep WR corps, I anticipate the Bengals using a lot more three WR sets this year, which will take some of the pressure off the FB position. But it's early.
scott columbus,oh [via mobile]
what do you think the browns are go to do at quarterback the two they just picked up sucks? and the defense that's a hole different story.
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Don't be so down on your Browns, Scott. Head coach Eric Mangini didn't fully commit to a starter, but it's going to be Jake Delhomme. He's a veteran that Cleveland really needs to come through this year to have a chance. It's risky, considering last year. But the Browns like what they've seen from him so far.
Josh (Florida )
Where do you think T.O. and Albert Haynesworth will end up ? Also how do you think the Giants and the Finz will do this year ?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
My guess is Haynesworth ends up in Detroit or is forced to stay in Washington. Owens, it will probably take a key injury somewhere in camp for him to sign with a team. That could happen anywhere.
who going to be the third receiver for steelers this year?
James Walker (4:09 PM)
Antwaan Randle El will be the third WR in Pittsburgh.
Mr. Slick (Illinois)
Hello Mr. Walker. Do you forsee vincent jackson coming to the AFC north via a trade from San Diego? I would like to see him in a cleveland browns uniform.
James Walker (4:13 PM)
Every time a WR comes available, Browns fans ask if their team will get him. From everything I'm hearing, Cleveland is fairly comfortable in the young group that they have. Yes, they could use a veteran. But I don't anticipate Cleveland giving up draft picks and a big contract extension at this point. We will see if anything changes.
James (Oregon, OH.)
James, just wondering how Bengal draft choices Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins looked in mini camp last week. Do you see them contributing this season.
James Walker (4:17 PM)
James, defensive linemen are some of the hardest players to gauge with no contact. Their whole game is based around contact in the trenches, so I can't accurately say either way. I remember the coaching staff getting on Dunlap a little bit for his technique. But physically, they both look the part. It's just going to be a matter of effort and technique.
Rob Bergeron (Lexington, KY)
Bengals kept three TE's last year. Do you see them keeping Coffman,Gresham, and Kelly? Along with Benson, Bernard, and Leonard. With Leonard being the fb. This would allow them to keep an extra WR. See this happening?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
I think the Bengals have to keep three tight ends on the 53-man roster. Three do not have to be active on Sundays. But you need an extra one on the team in case one gets injured.
Hines Ward might be my favorite Steeler of all time. How many more years does he have left in the tank.
James Walker (4:20 PM)
If Hines Ward wins a Super Bowl this year, I think he will walk away. But I don't anticipate Pittsburgh going all the way. So he may play 2-3 more seasons.
John (Ft. Worth, TX)
Can the Steelers go .500 during Ben's suspension?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
Yes, they can go .500. I think that's a realistic bar to set. Anything more (3-1, 4-0) is a bonus.
AZ (Rochester, MN)
What do you think of Antonio Bryant in Cinci? Seems like an upgrade of Coles, but is that all we can say?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
I covered Bryant when he was in Cleveland, and he can play. When I saw him in minicamp, though, he didn't look 100 percent. He may have been slowed a bit coming off knee surgery, although I cannot confirm that. It will be interesting to see where he is physically in about five weeks.
What is your evaluation of Matt Jones performance at WR last week?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
Matt Jones looked a step or two slow to me, and certainly not like the freakish athlete he was coming out of college. I don't know if it's the rust from taking a year off or he's working to get his legs back under him. But from what I saw, he has a ways to go.
AZ (Rochester, MN)
What's your take on Wallace in Pitt? He seems as primed as any WR in the NFL for a breakout season.
James Walker (4:29 PM)
I'm really high on Mike Wallace. I think he has a lot of potential. He may be the fastest player in the division, but he's also a hard worker. Hines Ward is always in his ear about his route-running. So if Wallace continues to work on that, he will be fine.
James Walker (4:29 PM)
Wallace could be a good sleeper pick for fantasy leagues, especially later in the year when QB Ben Roethlisberger returns.
Any updates on a new contract for Marvin Lewis?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
Nothing new to report with Lewis. The Bengals have had a lot of their focus on negotiating with players like Johnathan Joseph and Cedric Benson. Cincinnati also has a lot of rookie contracts coming up.
Do you see the hype on the Ravens helping or hurting them?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
Good question, Bryan. History says hype will hurt the Ravens. But I think this year's team is talented enough to overcome and handle it.
David (Austin, Texas)
Any insight on how Colt Mcoy has been performing at OTA's
James Walker (4:36 PM)
I thought Colt McCoy looked average in minicamp. He did make some nice throws to rookie WR Carlton Mitchell. But for the most part McCoy played on the third team with a lot of people who probably won't make the Browns. So it's hard to tell.
What is your take on an 18 game season? Seems greedy owners want it to happen. I think players will be reluctant but may compromise. Roster spots will have to increase on game day.
James Walker (4:38 PM)
I haven't put too much thought into it, Vinnie. I'm not big on four preseason games, but I'm not sure 18 regular-season games are necessary, either. I've talked to players about this in the past and just about every one of them is against the idea.
Obviously with #7 gone for at least 4 games the Steelers are going to move to a run oriented offense. Is Mendenhall up for the challenge?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Rashard Mendenhall looks good this offseason. The problem is teams are going to stack the box. And I don't care who you are, running against eight defenders is tough. Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon will have to prove they can pass the football.
With all the Contracts coming up, Marvin Lewis,Cedric Benson, Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph is it possible to Re-sign all of them or is that to far-fetched?
James Walker (4:45 PM)
Leon Hall has two years left. So he's off the board, sort of speak. Lewis, Benson and Joseph are all down to their last year with the Bengals. So those deals are more urgent.
Brian (Reston VA)
The Browns seem to have a talented group of runningbacks (for once). Which runningback on the cleveland roster do you see starting week 1?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
I think Montario Hardesty is more of what the coaching staff likes: Big, physical and can run between the tackles. But he needs to continue earning the trust of the coaching staff. Jerome Harrison is more proven at this point.
If the Browns rebuilding goes well this time, and Colt McCoy proves to be a franchise quarterback, how many year do you think it will take to get them out of the basement of the AFC North?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
I only look at things year to year in the NFL, Stan. Because that's how drastic things change. Right now, this year, I think the Browns will have a hard time climbing to the top of the division.
How do you think clevelands secondary will pan out this year
James Walker (4:54 PM)
Cleveland has a lot of players, Justin, but most of them are young. Sheldon Brown will help. I'm not sure he's still a shutdown, No. 1 CB at this stage of his career. But he should bring a veteran presence that will help.
Would it be a fair to compare Joe Flacco's play style to that of Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan to that of Tom Brady?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
I don't see those comparisions. How does Flacco compare to Manning?
Jeremiah (Harm City)
I do not see where you came up with the idea the Ravens play better as underdogs than favorites when it is in fact the exact opposite
James Walker (4:58 PM)
Pay attention, Jeremiah. You don't have to look far. In 2008, Baltimore was coming off an awful season and had little expectations with a rookie QB. And the team advanced to the AFC title game and was a quarter away from the Super Bowl. Last year, a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon and the Ravens were 9-7.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Be sure to read the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter for constant updates.