Wake-up call: Lawson returns to Bengals

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
8:00
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Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

Free-agent outside linebacker Manny Lawson officially reached an agreement to return to the Bengals, owner Mike Brown confirmed to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

No details of the agreement were reported. Lawson, 27, started telling teammates Tuesday night that he was coming back to Cincinnati.

In his first season with the Bengals, he finished fifth in tackles with 78. A first-round draft pick by the 49ers in 2006, Lawson signed with the Bengals in 2011 less than a week into training camp and started 15 games for them.

“We’re glad to have him back and keep going along,” head coach Marvin Lewis said.

Hensley's slant: This is a solid signing for the Bengals because Lawson exceeded expectations last season. He missed just two tackles against the run and did not have a penalty called against him all season, according to Pro Football Focus. What also stands out is his play against the top two teams in the division. Lawson averaged 9.5 tackles in games against the Ravens and Steelers.

BROWNS: Rams coach Jeff Fisher considers the Browns "a potential trade partner" in the first round of the draft even after St. Louis turned down Cleveland's offer to move up to the No. 2 pick and selected quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Rams, who are now at No. 6, are interested in moving up to presumably take Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. "Again, I don't see anything happening until draft day," Fisher said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Hensley's slant: The Browns, who own an NFL-best 13 draft picks already, could acquire more by moving back two spots. The risk, however, is missing out on two offensive playmakers. If the Rams take Blackmon at No. 4, the Buccaneers are expected to select Alabama running back Trent Richardson at No. 5.

RAVENS: How long will the Ravens' AFC championship loss to New England sting? "It will be there forever," owner Steve Bisciotti told the team's official website. When asked what the Ravens need to do to reach the Super Bowl, Bisciotti suggested praying before adding, "We didn’t have a glaring weakness last year. We should have been in the Super Bowl. We believe we would have beaten the Giants, of course." Hensley's slant: Bisciotti knows how tough it is to win a Super Bowl because he followed Art Modell as the team's majority owner. Modell had to deal with "The Drive" and "The Fumble" while he was in Cleveland. Bisciotti has to live with whatever you want to call the crucial mistakes made by Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff.

STEELERS: The Steelers' overtime proposal -- making playoff rules apply to all games -- passed at the NFL owners meetings. But their attempt to make the horse-collar tackle illegal on a quarterback in the pocket was rejected. The Steelers were the only team to vote against a new rule that allows every turnover to be reviewed by replay, the way scoring plays were added last year. "As far as we're concerned, that's why you have the coaches' challenges," team president Art Rooney II said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Now you're going to have coaches challenging [a spot] -- a gain of 5 yards instead of 4 yards, stuff like that." Hensley's slant: While I'm in favor of using technology to make sure the correct calls are being made, I'm strongly against slowing down the game. Not only will there be more stoppage of play to review turnovers but coaches can use their challenges more liberally (as Rooney explained). This is the unfortunate price of accuracy.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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