It was a busy weekend in the AFC North. The Steelers lost their first-round pick. The Ravens parted ways with their former Pro Bowl kicker. There will be some more news later Monday, when teams have to get their rosters to the 75-player limit by 4 p.m. I'm not expecting any surprises. The big cutdown is Friday, when teams have to get down to 53 players. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Right now, it's time for your wake-up call:
BENGALS: First-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick, who has been battling a left knee injury suffered before training camp, wants to make his NFL debut in Thursday's preseason finale. "It’s very important to see where I stand,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. Kirkpatrick missed most of the offseason practices with a hamstring injury before sitting out all but one day of training camp with the knee injury. There was a time when Kirkpatrick was expected to be among the team's top three corners when the regular season began. Now, the Bengals may have to make him inactive for the first couple of weeks until he gets up to speed with the defense.
BROWNS: As the Cleveland Plain Dealer puts it, it sounds like Browns coach Pat Shurmur is leaning toward picking Colt McCoy as his backup quarterback over Seneca Wallace. This is based on Shurmur's glowing assessment of McCoy. "I gained an even greater appreciation of him, the way he's competed, the way he's handled the situation, let's just call it that," Shurmur said. "I'm very impressed with how he's doing. I think that's good for our team. He understands one of the primary things you need to understand as a backup at this point -- to be ready to play -- because you're ankle injury from being in there, and he's been on both sides of that coin and so he understands it." It's easy to be complimentary of McCoy, who has completed 75 percent of his passes this preseason and has recorded a 119.1 quarterback rating. If this is a true competition for the backup spot, he's won it on the field.
RAVENS: Former Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff, who was cut by the Ravens on Sunday, said he's "disappointed" by the team's decision but is excited about what lies ahead for him. "On a professional level, I had my best training camp to date and feel that I am kicking with more power and confidence than 2010," Cundiff wrote in a text to the Baltimore Sun's Edward Lee. "I was looking forward to helping the Ravens in their pursuit of a Super Bowl. However, now I will take that same drive and focus to my next team." I'll be giving my thoughts on some potential landing spots for Cundiff later this morning.
STEELERS: The final stats indicate defensive end Ziggy Hood had a solid showing against the Buffalo Bills: three tackles, a fumble recovery, a pass defended and a quarterback hit. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Hood was the most disruptive lineman on either side of the ball. What's been impressive about Hood has been his increased drive this preseason. "The longer I play, the more I can produce," Hood said. “I don’t want to keep coming off the field to take a blow.” This is the result of Hood's hard work in the offseason, when he reportedly lost 18 pounds of fat and gained 20 pounds of muscle.