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mesaSteeler
02-18-2010, 10:32 PM
Chat with James Walker
(Steelers questions only - mesa)
SportsNation
http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/30869/nfl-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!

More James Walker: AFC North blog | Chats | NFL index
James Walker
(4:00 PM)


Good afternoon, everyone. The NFL combine and free agency will be here before you know it. So let's get to some AFC North questions.

Robert (Latrobe, PA)

Let's assume that Hampton isn't franchised and is allowed to walk (unlikely, I know). Is Hood a potential candidate, at least for the short-term? I know he's more naturally a 3-4 DE, but if von Oelhoffen can do it, I bet Hood could at least be competent. Plus, guys like Jason Ferguson and Jay Ratliff have shown that you don't necessarily need a 325-pound guy in the middle to run the 3-4 successfully.

James Walker
(4:14 PM)
I seriously doubt Hampton walks for nothing. The Steelers are smarter than that. But in the event that happens, Chris Hoke or a draft pick would probably be the first candidates in line to replace the "Big Snack."

Pete (Maryland)

I know its early to speculate on the draft, but what about the Steelers grabbing LeGarrette Blount in the 3 - 4th round? He would be a great compliment to the smaller Mendenhall. Many scouts had him as a first round pick before the punching incident. What do you think??

James Walker
(4:17 PM)
I actually like Blount as a player. I just question his character. The combine and interview process will be huge for him to erase all of those doubts, because I think physically he can contribute for any team at the next level.

FRANK DEL CAMPO (CHINO HILLS, CA)
What do you think of the Steelers self imposing a salaray cap in 2010? Is this a wise thing to do or should they hit free agency hard like other teams will?

James Walker
(4:19 PM)
I think the Steelers planned this out carefully and are one of the few teams that can probably pull it off. They have never been about free agency anyway. So this isn't a surprise. I'm not 100-percent sure this could work long-term if the cap never comes back. But for right now, 2010, they should be fine.

Chris (Lynchburg, VA)
James, Do you think there is a possibility the Steelers could make a play for a top O-Line or D-Lineman in free agency if Casey Hampton doesn't sign?

James Walker
(4:22 PM)
Not likely. As I mentioned, the Steelers are not big players in free agency. To go for a guy like Vince Wilfork, etc. would be out of character for the type of money they would have to spend. They can just keep their guy (Hampton) with the tag if push comes to shove.

John (Los Angles CA)
James, there seems to be no talk about the Steelers looking at Terrence Cody to replace Snack next year. Is there a knack against Cody other than his weight that I haven't heard about?

James Walker
(4:31 PM)
The weight is the big thing, as you mentioned, Steve. Most teams view that as a multi-layered issue that goes into work ethic and desire to play football. Sometimes that's correct. Sometimes it isn't. But before the draft when teams are trying to offer you millions of dollars, if a prospect can't get in shape for that, then when will he?
Pierre (France)

luis (jersey)
do you think keenan lewis can become a productive corner this year, same quetion for joe burnette

James Walker
(4:36 PM)
Of the two, I think Lewis has more of the physical tools for Pittsburgh's system. He has the size that I think the Steelers are looking for. Burnett is probably a little quicker. I don't like to completely label players after one year (the Troy Polamalu rule). So let's see what they have this year.

Everyone, thanks again for your time this week. Remember to check out the AFC North blog for constant updates during the offseason.

Galax Steeler
02-19-2010, 05:12 AM
Thanks for the read Mesa

solardave
02-21-2010, 10:20 AM
Good read Mesa. I think some good points were made. Why would we want Woolfork anyway? I see him as a locker room nightmare.