AFC North teams overcoming injuries

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
9:03
AM ET
The AFC North has won a total of 24 games, the second-highest in the NFL and the most in the conference. But it's been far from easy.

There have been points where the injuries were starting to pile up faster than the victories. But none of the AFC North teams have used this as an excuse. Some players might have even used the injuries as motivation, believing this is their chance to prove that the teams are more than one-man shows.

Here's a look at the top players currently sidelined around the division:

BENGALS: Wide receiver A.J. Green (hyperextended knee), who leads the team in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Andre Caldwell replaced him and caught three passes for 63 yards in Baltimore, including a 49-yard touchdown. Green could return as soon as Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. He wanted to play against Baltimore but he deferred to the team doctors, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

BROWNS: Peyton Hillis (hamstring) and Montario Hardesty (calf), the top two running backs currently on the roster. Chris Ogbonnaya doesn't have NFL starter talent, but the Browns have been getting as much out him as possible. He's gained 90 and 115 rushing yards the past two weeks. Hardesty could come back Sunday after being a game-time decision Sunday, and Hillis is scheduled to return to practice this week.

RAVENS: Inside linebacker Ray Lewis, who leads the team in tackles. Dannell Ellerbe started the game and Albert McClellan came in after Ellerbe got hurt. The player who stepped up was Jameel McClain, who started alongside Lewis the past two seasons. He kept hitting the gaps and finished with a team-high nine tackles. Lewis reportedly could miss two to three more games, but don't ever count him out, especially when the next game is a prime-time one.

STEELERS: Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring), the Steelers' sacks leader. James Harrison, who returned at the exact time when Woodley went down, recorded three sacks against Baltimore. The Steelers rank 10th in sacks despite losing Woodley and Harrison for a combined eight games. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau indicated Woodley could come back after this week's bye.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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