I have a flight back to AFC North headquarters this morning and the Ravens and Steelers kick off the preseason tonight. In short, I'm keeping the wake-up call to short links.
BENGALS: Rookie first-round pick Kevin Zeitler expects to feel some butterflies in Friday's preseason opener, when he will start at right guard. Zeitler believes he's more prepared after going against Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins in training camp. “It’s been tough. He’s almost unblockable,” Zeitler told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He’s just a special player. I’m assuming they’re all like that, or even better. I’m just trying to prepare as best as I can.”
BROWNS: Cornerback Joe Haden repeatedly declined comment on an ESPN Cleveland Radio report that the NFL is reviewing a failed drug test, which could result in him being suspended for four games. "It's really a league matter. I can't comment on it now," Haden told reporters. Asked if he expected to play in the opener on Sept. 9, he said, "I really can't say anything."
RAVENS: About a dozen players won't play in Thursday's preseason opener at Atlanta because of injuries, a list that includes center Matt Birk (back) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (back). But older players like linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed could be given the night off despite being healthy. "Some of the more senior veterans guys won’t play at all by design,” coach John Harbaugh said, via the team's official website.
STEELERS: Free-agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress is willing to take one-year contract for the veteran minimum to play this year, but the Steelers have shown no interest yet, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. There has been media speculation that the Steelers might consider a reunion with Burress, the Steelers' first-round pick in 2000, because wide receiver Mike Wallace continues his lengthy holdout.