- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Welcome to the offensive line edition of the wake-up call. The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers are adjusting to injuries to their starting lines, and the Cleveland Browns are dealing with bruised egos after a brutal effort last week. The Baltimore Ravens have injury issues as well on their line (center Matt Birk and right guard Marshal Yanda), but the hot topic in Baltimore is the decision at kicker. For further explanation, continue on to the wake-up call ...
BENGALS: Starting center Kyle Cook could have a serious foot injury, and there's a couple of clues that indicate that. For one, he's visiting a foot specialist and won't play in Thursday's preseason finale. The other tip-off is that the Bengals are bringing in veteran free-agent Jeff Faine, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. It could be an easy transition for Faine, who is familiar with a Jay Gruden offense. Faine joined the Buccaneers in 2008, when current Bengals offensive coordinator Gruden was an offensive assistant there. In other news, rookie cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick might not make his NFL debut in the preseason finale like he wanted. The first-round pick sat out Monday's practice with soreness in his injured knee.
BROWNS: The starting offensive line vows to have a much better performance in the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles than it did in last week's preseason game, when the first team gave up three sacks -- including two forced fumbles -- in the first quarter and committed four penalties in the first half. "If you take a bad pass-set against a guy, it doesn't matter how fast or slow he is, you're probably not going to be successful," right tackle Mitchell Schwartz told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "If you don't use your hands against a guy, you're not going to be successful. There's a lot of things that go into it, but a lot of stuff is correctable. I don't think were over-matched or anything like that."
RAVENS: Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Justin Tucker's age (he's 10 years younger than Billy Cundiff) and his performance this summer influenced the decision to give the kicking job to the undrafted rookie out of Texas. Harbaugh was adamant that Cundiff's last-minute miss in the AFC championship game wasn't a factor. "We brought Billy back [after that miss]," Harbaugh said. "If it had been [a factor] he wouldn't be back. We had confidence. Billy kicked well. Billy could very easily be the kicker here. He'll definitely be the kicker somewhere else." According to the Baltimore Sun, Tucker hit field goals from 61 and 63 yards in his first practice since earning the job. Harbaugh can say that monumental miss didn't weigh into his decision, but he has to feel some relief that he doesn't have to witness the home crowd's reaction when Cundiff missed his first field goal at M&T Bank Stadium.
STEELERS: First-round pick David DeCastro is scheduled for surgery on his right knee Wednesday, but it may not be a season-ending procedure. "It's sad, man, to see that happen," center Maurkice Pouncey told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "But it's a good thing it ain't season-ending. He'll be able to fight back toward the end of the year." The Steelers have given injured players the chance of playing later in the season. Pittsburgh used a roster spot on cornerback Rod Woodson and defensive end Aaron Smith for an entire year to give them a chance to play in the Super Bowl (Woodson played but Smith did not).
Welcome to the offensive line edition of the wake-up call. The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers are adjusting to injuries to their starting lines, and the Cleveland Browns are dealing with bruised egos after a brutal effort last week.