AFC North preseason stock watch

August, 28, 2012
8/28/12
10:30
AM ET
A look at who's rising and falling this preseason:

FALLING

1. Bengals' interior offensive linemen: There's a chance that the Bengals will be without starting center Kyle Cook, who is seeing a specialist for his injured foot. It was only two weeks ago when Cincinnati lost left guard Travelle Wharton to a season-ending knee injury. The Bengals' plan of establishing a power running game in between the tackles has taken a hit because of these injuries. The Bengals aren't the only ones dealing with injuries the interior line. Steelers right guard David DeCastro, the team's first-round pick, is scheduled for knee surgery Wednesday.

2. Browns running back Montario Hardesty: Fumbling will always cause a running back's stock to plummet. When two of your fumbles this preseason -- both deep in Browns' territory -- lead to touchdowns, your stock crashes. Welcome to Hardesty's world. Head coach Pat Shurmur said Hardesty hasn't lost the job of filling in for Trent Richardson, but Hardesty has been splitting time with the first team this week with Brandon Jackson.

3. Ravens cornerback Cary Williams: Williams hasn't been as physical as last year, and it could be the result of undergoing offseason hip surgery. In the preseason opener at Atlanta, Williams allowed five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown in one quarter. In Week 2 against Detroit, he gave up a 57-yard catch to Calvin Johnson. Last week, he was turned around by Jaguars rookie receiver Justin Blackmon. Maybe Williams can see if the Ravens still have that three-year, $15 million contract on the table.

RISING

[+] EnlargeTorrey Smith
AP Photo/Gail BurtonTorrey Smith is building on a successful rookie campaign and leads all Baltimore receivers in catches and reception yards this preseason.
1. Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith: Fantasy owners should take note: Smith leads the Ravens in receiving this preseason with 11 catches for 146 yards. That's just in two games. He was held out of the second preseason game because of an ankle injury. Joe Flacco looked at Smith's direction often last week, when Smith caught eight passes for 103 yards. This doesn't seem like the makings of a sophomore slump for Smith.

2. Steelers running back Chris Rainey: This fifth-round pick has been the buzz of this year's draft class for the Steelers. Don't be surprised if Rainey scores the touchdown trifecta this year, reaching the end zone as a running back, receiver and a returner. Rainey has already displayed his breakaway speed this summer with a 41-yard run and a 57-yard catch. Maybe Maurkice Pouncey was right when he said Rainey was going to be the Steelers' version of Darren Sproles.

3. Browns quarterback Colt McCoy: He's either elevated himself to being the Browns' backup or he's significantly increased his trade value with his play this preseason. Among quarterbacks who have thrown at least 20 passes this preseason, only Seattle's Russell Wilson has a higher quarterback rating than McCoy (119.1). He's shown better accuracy than last season, completing 75 percent of his throws. He's also had better success throwing downfield, averaging 9.7 yards per attempt and completing three passes over 20 yards. McCoy could've sulked when the Browns gave the starting job to Brandon Weeden before the preseason. Instead, he has put the Browns in a position where they can't really cut him.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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AFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

Sunday, 11/23
Monday, 11/24