Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Derrick Mason retired from football five months ago, but it appears that he now wants to do so as a member of the Ravens.
The team announced a news conference for Monday afternoon that will include Mason, general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh. Mason, 38, is the Ravens' franchise leader in receptions (471) and yards receiving (5,777).
Mason was released by the Ravens before the 2012 season. He decided to join the New York Jets instead of re-signing with the Ravens that season and was eventually traded to the Houston Texans.
Hensley's slant: I will provide my extended take on this later this afternoon when the news becomes official. It just seems a little strange that Mason has opted to retire as a Raven when he spent more seasons with the Tennessee Titans (eight) than he did with the Ravens (six). Mason had some excellent seasons with Baltimore, but I don't really put him in the same category as other players who retired as Ravens (like Jonathan Ogden and Matt Stover).
BENGALS: Starting running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis believes it's too early to tell how the carries are going to be divided up on the team. Last week, backup running back Bernard Scott said he expected to come close to splitting attempts with Green-Ellis. “Everyone is at the bottom and working themselves up the depth chart. We have a very good group right now,” Green-Ellis told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It's not just about me and Bernard splitting carries right now because you don't know who the starters are going to be.” Hensley's slant: This attitude is much different than the one last year's starter Cedric Benson had. Benson made it known that he didn't like sharing time with Scott. Maybe that's one reason why Benson is no longer with the team.
BROWNS: Jim Brown hasn't been overly impressed by running back Trent Richardson, but Browns strength and conditioning coach Kent Johnston is among those who are. “You know that old term, country-boy strong? He is country-boy strong,” Johnston told the Canton Repository. “Trent’s the type of guy who, if he never touched a weight, he’d be a strong man. But he has really enhanced that by the work he put in at Alabama. And what we want to do ... he has a strength and power ratio right now that can allow him to be elite, physically. I want him to maintain that, and I would like to work on things that can help him stay durable.” Hensley's slant: Richardson's toughness will get tested in a division with Ray Lewis and James Harrison in it. His ability to take a hit will be a big factor in whether he succeeds in the AFC North. The backs that bounce to the outside (like Rashard Mendenhall) often don't reach their full potential in this division.
STEELERS: Safety Troy Polamalu not only acknowledges the dangers of playing football. He thinks about it on game days. "People are paralyzed on a football field. People die ... You just never know when it's going to be your last moment," he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I was the kind of guy who would never talk to my wife on game day. Now I'm the guy who's like, 'I love you.' I want my children to know I love them because I don't know what's going to happen out there. I'm not trying to play the martyr here. I love football. It's something we choose to do. We all know how much of a gamble it is to play this game." Hensley's slant: Polamalu is one of the hardest hitting defensive backs in the NFL. He continues to play tough even after numerous head injuries. But these comments shouldn't surprise anyone. He's also one of the game's deep thinkers. You have to wonder if the seven-time Pro Bowl player has a timetable in mind when he plans to call it quits.