- 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:
While once again addressing the comments made by Jim Brown that he was "ordinary," Browns running back Trent Richardson recently revealed a lofty goal.
“I want to be the best thing that ever happened to Cleveland,” Richardson told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I want to be that type of all-time guy when it comes down to it.”
Based on Richardson's comments, it seems like new offensive coordinator Brad Childress will use Richardson in ways similar to Adrian Peterson when he was head coach of the Vikings.
“They’re doing a lot of stuff with me as far as coming out of the backfield,” Richardson said. “They’re really putting me out there to showcase everything. There ain’t no sugarcoating. I’m going to get the ball. I’m going to catch the ball. I’m going to block. I’m going to do everything I can and they’re going to put me in the best situation. I want to be that guy they don’t have to take off the field.”
Hensley's slant: Richardson will have a very successful rookie season if he can maintain this confidence after going against top-notch run defenses in the Steelers and Ravens. The Browns just have to be wary of wearing him out this year. Of course, Cleveland needs Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson to remain healthy in order to spell Richardson.
BENGALS: The new blackout rules -- which allows teams to reduce their listed capacity by as much as 15 percent -- wouldn't have helped the Bengals too much last season. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, blackouts would've been lifted for two games (Colts and Browns) at most under these revised guidelines. Last season, the Bengals had a league-high six blackouts and were one of four teams to average less than 85 percent of capacity for home games. Hensley's slant: There are a couple of factors working in the Bengals' favor to reduce blackouts this year. Cincinnati boasts an attractive home schedule that includes the defending Super Bowl champion Giants and Cowboys as well as the return of Carson Palmer (Raiders) and Chad Ochocinco (Dolphins). And there's been increased buzz about the team after last year's surprising playoff run, which has led to selling out the $40 per game season-ticket packages.
RAVENS: Defensive end Pernell McPhee said he's ready for more playing time in his second NFL season. He is expected to compete with Art Jones for the starting spot left by Cory Redding, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent. “I could have handled more snaps [last year],” McPhee told the Ravens' official website. “We had a veteran group, and a lot of guys I respect. … Cory would say, ‘Hey young gun, go in there and do your thing. I’ll handle the run. You handle the pass.’ We had that understanding.” Hensley's slant: Endurance is a question mark for McPhee, who was the surprise of the draft class after recording six sacks as a rookie. He didn't record a sack in his final six games, including two playoff games. According to Pro Football Focus, he played just 25 snaps in the postseason.
STEELERS: Backup running back Jonathan Dwyer will spend the next four weeks at a performance center in South Florida so he can report to training camp in the best shape of his brief NFL career. "I am just realizing how much it takes to get where you are in this league and how hard you have to work and push yourself," Dwyer told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "This is my year to prove something to myself, the league, to the organization, that I am worth more than what I was." Conditioning issues caused him to plummet to the sixth round of the 2010 draft, and reporting 20 pounds overweight to last year's training camp led to him being inactive for the first four games. Hensley's slant: This is the season that the Steelers need Dwyer to be focused and in shape. With Rashard Mendenhall expected to miss a significant amount of the 2012 season, Dwyer has to be ready to step up as the No. 2 back behind Isaac Redman. He can't afford to drop the ball when faced with such a prime opportunity.