- 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:
Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie doesn't feel the scrutiny that followed him being held out of mandatory minicamp practices is deserved.
"I'm going to show up at the weight I'm supposed to be and handle my business and get everybody off my back," McKinnie told the Carroll County (Md.) Times. "I want to get this work done, come in at the right weight and shut everybody up. I'm only nine pounds away."
McKinnie added, "I'm getting in shape. I'm lower now in my weight than any time last year. I think people got the wrong idea about why I wasn't out there last week."
McKinnie said he currently weighs 354 pounds and wants to get down to 345 pounds. His focus has been cardiovascular workouts, not weight lifting.
"It's the type of cardio you do to keep the wind going," McKinnie said. "It's not doing as much banging on the knees. My whole goal is to slim down. It's about working smart based on losing weight."
Hensley's slant: McKinnie played all 16 games last season around the 360-pound range, and this took its toll on him. He got off to a strong start for the Ravens, but his play tailed off late in the season. Maybe the Ravens are focusing on conditioning to avoid a repeat of last season.
BENGALS: Cornerback Adam Jones still remembers getting burned by Texans receiver Andre Johnson on a 40-yard touchdown pass in the playoffs last season. "That game left a bad taste in our mouths, especially in mine," Jones told the Dayton Daily News. "I had a double-move put on and I haven’t forgotten that play. And I knew that play was coming. I was tired, forgot my technique and that's the type of stuff that will happen. I'm doing everything in my power to make sure that doesn't happen again. That play is a mental note and at the top of my board." Hensley's slant: Jones has been working with the first-team defense all offseason because Leon Hall (Achilles) and Nate Clements (abdominal) have been sidelined with injuries. There is a chance he could be pushed back into the starting lineup if Hall isn't ready to start the season. Not counting that touchdown given up in the playoffs, Jones allowed 16 receptions in eight regular-season games, according to Pro Football Focus.
BROWNS: The Canton Repository compared the 22nd overall picks in the 2007 draft (Brady Quinn) to the 2012 one (Brandon Weeden). One of the biggest disparities is the pedigree of the targets for each quarterback. Quinn’s top three targets were 2005 No. 3 overall pick Braylon Edwards, 2004 No. 6 overall pick Kellen Winslow and veteran Joe Jurevicius. Weeden’s are 2011 No. 59 overall pick Greg Little, 2009 No. 50 overall pick Mohamed Massaquoi and veteran Ben Watson. Hensley's slant: Browns officials are banking that Weeden's strong arm will improve a pedestrian group of pass catchers. But there should be concern that this group of targets will hurt Weeden's productivity because no one has the speed to consistently get open. The Browns have to address the wide receiver position either in free agency or the draft next season. This team can't continue to ignore playmakers in the passing game.
STEELERS: The returning wide receivers are trying to fill the leadership void left by Hines Ward, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "In this business, the older guys fizzle out, and the younger guys have to step up," wide receiver Antonio Brown said. "We have to set the pace for the wideouts, let them know what we learned from Hines and lead the way." Hensley's slant: The player who needs to replace Ward as a leader on offense is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He's a two-time captain who has led the Steelers to last-minute victories. This is the time for Roethlisberger to assume control on the field, in the locker room and in the meeting rooms.