Inside the AFC North


Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are several notes and observations from within the division:

  • The AFC North blog has great news for Baltimore Ravens fans: Quarterback Joe Flacco's arm doesn't get fatigued. Since January's AFC Championship Game, we've asked numerous people about this because Flacco played 16 games as a rookie in 2008, plus three playoff games and offseason workouts. Every quarterback is different in how his arm responds to the yearlong grind, but those around Flacco say he's the type of player who can "throw all day." His effortless motion is one reason Flacco hasn't suffered any stress on the arm. Flacco's age (24) also helps.

  • We recently had a good chat with Cleveland Browns great Doug Dieken during the team's organized team activities (OTAs). The topic was Cincinnati Bengals No. 6 overall pick Andre Smith and the decision to play the rookie at right tackle. According to Dieken, who made the Pro Bowl as a left tackle in 1980, the major difference in the two positions is the ability to move in space, which is vital when protecting the blindside of a quarterback. Dieken surmised that the Bengals probably are more confident in Smith's physical strength as a run-blocker than his feet and pure athleticism to pass protect for Carson Palmer. Dieken also said it's much easier to make the transition from left tackle to right tackle than vice versa. That begs the question if Smith can successfully switch to the left side, if needed, later in his career.

  • Speaking of the Browns, they would get a big boost if the suspension of the "Williams Wall" is upheld in court. Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams are both facing four-game suspensions at the start of the 2009 season following the use of StarCaps, which in it contained a banned supplement. Cleveland hosts Minnesota in the season opener. The NFLPA is currently appealing the suspensions.

  • Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was at a recent Cleveland Cavaliers playoff game cheering for LeBron James & Co. While it may seem odd at first, it's sometimes easy to forget that Roethlisberger is an Ohio native who happens to star for the Browns' biggest rival. Pittsburgh is by no means a basketball town, but a decent number of NBA fans in Steelers country actually root for the Cavs and occasionally make the easy trip to attend games. It turns out Pittsburgh's starting quarterback is one of them. The Cavs were eliminated from the playoffs Saturday by the Orlando Magic.