AFC North Stock Watch

September, 20, 2011
9/20/11
1:00
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FALLING

1. Joe Flacco, Ravens quarterback: The fourth-year starter completed fewer than half of his passes at Tennessee, the first time that has happened in a game since a Week 2 loss at Cincinnati last season. When Flacco gets time in the pocket, he can make every throw. His biggest problem is handling pressure and making plays when the pocket collapses.

2. Bengals defense: It's hard to justify giving up 100 yards to a backup running back and a backup wide receiver. Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga acknowledged he missed some tackles as he adjusts to being a middle linebacker. The Bengals are also missing cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who went to Houston in free agency. There's been a drop-off at that position with Nate Clements.

3. Domonique Foxworth, Ravens cornerback: The Ravens were banking on Foxworth to be recovered fully from last year’s knee surgery and take back his starting job. But he doesn’t have confidence in the knee, the major reason why Baltimore is considering sitting him for a period. The Ravens remain committed to giving him time to bounce back even if he isn’t living up to his $4.4 million salary.

RISING

[+] EnlargeA.J. Green
Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesA.J. Green is quickly developing a rapport with quarterback Andy Dalton.
1. Andy Dalton-A.J. Green connection in Cincinnati: This year’s draft is already paying dividends -- the Bengals’ second-round quarterback frequently is hitting their first-round wide receiver. Dalton completed 10 passes to Green for 124 yards in Denver, including one spectacular touchdown. A young quarterback develops faster when he has confidence that his targets will make plays.

2. Mike Wallace, Steelers wide receiver: The most dangerous receiver in the division has jumped out to a stellar start, recording 100-yard games in the first two weeks of the season. Sure, he’s a little off pace from his lofty goal of 2,000 yards this season (he’s only on track for 1,864 yards). It’ll be interesting to see how defenses attempt to slow him down because it won’t be easy.

3. Evan Moore, Browns tight end: He’s caught defenses off guard in the past with his deceptive athleticism. But no one is overlooking Moore these days. He’s gone from a player who was cut by the Green Bay Packers in 2009 to someone who is living up to a two-year contract extension. Moore became the first Browns tight end with a touchdown catch in each of the first two games of a season since Ozzie Newsome did it in 1979.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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