Inside the AFC North

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are some thoughts and observations this week from within the division:

  • The addition of third-year quarterback John Beck is an interesting move for the Baltimore Ravens. It now crowds the field behind starting quarterback Joe Flacco. This either means the team will get rid of veteran Todd Bouman and go with a very inexperienced quarterback group next year. Or Baltimore will have to make a choice between Beck and backup Troy Smith. My guess is the team goes young, which would display the confidence the team has in Flacco's knowledge of the offense in just his second year.

  • Pittsburgh Steelers starting defensive end Brett Keisel told the AFC North blog this weekend that there have been no contract discussions with the team to date. This likely means Keisel will go into the 2009 season playing out the final year of his deal. He joins an impressive list of 2010 free agents for the Steelers, which also includes defensive tackle Casey Hampton, safety Ryan Clark, tailback Willie Parker and left tackle Max Starks.

  • It appears Cincinnati Bengals rookie second-round pick Rey Maualuga may have to try outside linebacker initially to get the most playing time. A natural inside linebacker, Maualuga would have a tough time supplanting defensive leader Dhani Jones right away in the middle of the defense. Jones led the Bengals with 116 tackles in 2008 and also is responsible for making a lot of calls on the defense, which could be rough for the rookie.

  • There seems to be some early optimism in Cleveland Browns rookie running back James Davis. The Clemson product had a productive college career before the late emergence of C.J. Spiller. The Browns could certainly use help in the backfield to spell starter Jamal Lewis. So Davis, a sixth-round pick, will get plenty of opportunities to prove his worth this offseason.