- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Put any coach, general manager or player on a lie detector test and they'll tell you the real goal in the preseason is to come out with no injured starters. This rarely happens because there's always someone either going down with a severe knee injury or rolling an ankle.
Which players are the ones that teams can't afford to lose? Our friends at Football Outsiders put together a list of offensive players and four AFC North players were mentioned. It's an Insider article, so you'll need a subscription to read the entire piece. Here's a portion of what Football Outsiders had to say about the players in this division:
The Ravens' Ray Rice ranked No. 1 as the most irreplaceable running back: "Rice is the focal point for the entire Baltimore offense, in particular because he's so good as both a runner and a receiver."
The Browns' Trent Richardson was fourth on the running backs list: "Once upon a time, Montario Hardesty was talented enough to be worth a second-round pick by the Browns, but it has become clear his knees are made of duct tape."
The Ravens' Joe Flacco was No. 5 on the quarterbacks list: "A change from Flacco to Tyrod Taylor would be the opposite of a Cam Newton injury in Carolina. The Ravens would suddenly have a 6-foot-1 scrambling quarterback instead of a 6-6 pocket quarterback. There also isn't much evidence that Taylor would be very good."
The Bengals' A.J. Green was named the third-most irreplaceable wide receiver: "Even as a rookie, Green established himself as a stud receiver, but the rest of the Cincinnati receiving corps is all promise and no reality."
Put any coach, general manager or player on a lie detector test and they'll tell you the real goal in the preseason is to come out with no injured starters.