- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Dick LeBeau will return as the Steelers' defensive coordinator in 2012, sources told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
LeBeau, 74, has been the team's defensive coordinator since 2004, his second stint with the Steelers. Considered the father of "zone blitz," LeBeau has long been regarded as one of the NFL's top defensive minds.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that he wanted both of his coordinators back and LeBeau had told him he wanted to return. The Pittsburgh defense finished first in fewest yards and points allowed.
Hensley's slant: The Steelers have decided not to get younger at defensive coordinator, but it will be interesting to see if they choose to get younger with personnel. The return of LeBeau ensures continuity. Plus, it would have been a shame to see LeBeau go out on a defensive performance like the one in Denver.
BENGALS: Now that the Bengals have a long-term go-to wide receiver in A.J. Green, the next step is to find the No. 2 option. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, it looked like the team would bring back either Jerome Simpson or Andre Caldwell (both of whom are free agents) but there is a chance both could be gone. “Of course, Jerome had moments of greatness and moments of what is going on?” offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said. Hensley's slant: Simpson and Caldwell are too undependable as route-runners, which is not what you want for a young quarterback like Andy Dalton. Look for the Bengals to find a more consistent presence in free agency. Cincinnati's passing attack already has a strong start with Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham.
BROWNS: Browns defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson will join the Dallas Cowboys as their secondary coach, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. The deal is expected to be finalized by Monday. Henderson, 42, will reunite with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan with the Cowboys. Hensley's slant: This might seem like a minor move, but the Browns' defensive backs improved in Henderson's three seasons. Cleveland's pass defense went form 29th to 18th to second this season. The new defensive backs coach has the luxury of coming into a situation with rising young talent at cornerback (Joe Haden) and safety (T.J. Ward).
RAVENS: Ravens right guard Marshal Yanda revealed that he had emergency surgery on his lower right leg on Christmas Eve and still played in the regular-season finale seven days later. Yanda’s leg swelled up and surgeons had to split the muscle to relieve the pressure. “It was a nasty scar and a [crappy] way to spend Christmas Eve, but that’s what it was,” Yanda said, via The Baltimore Sun. Hensley's slant: Head coach John Harbaugh called Yanda the toughest player he's ever coached, and everyone is finding out why. He's the Ravens' best offensive lineman and made the Pro Bowl this season. And, if there was any doubt, he will be starting Sunday's playoff game.
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:Dick LeBeau will return as the Steelers' defensive coordinator in 2012, sources told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.