It's the start of a long day for the AFC North blog. In just a little over 12 hours from now, the Browns and Ravens kick off from Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium. Because of that, I wanted to warn you that these two teams will dominate the blog. That's what happens when they're the only game in town. Now, it's time to get your wake-up call ...
BENGALS: The team's starting cornerbacks, Leon Hall and Nate Clements, both didn't practice Wednesday. Clements, who started at safety Sunday and was seen walking out of Paul Brown Stadium in a protective boot on Monday, has a calf injury. Hall didn't play with what was originally believed to be a left calf injury. An MRI has since determined that it’s a hamstring injury. “I’m going day-by-day,” Hall told the Cincinnati Enquirer before Wednesday’s practice. “We’ll see what happens, see how I’m feeling. It’s not too bad today. It’s a little sore." If Hall and Clements can't play against Jacksonville, Terence Newman and Adam Jones will start at cornerback.
BROWNS: Brandon Weeden will be without his most productive wide receiver. Mohamed Massaquoi has been declared out for Thursday's game against the Ravens. He tops the Browns wide receivers in catches (nine) and receiving yards (145) and ranks second in yards per catch (16.1). Just listen to Weeden on how valuable Massaquoi has become to the team. "[Massaquoi's] a guy that's been consistent all year," Weeden told The Plain Dealer. "He's a guy I have a lot of confidence in. I'm hoping comes back sooner rather than later. He's gonna be missed, but I think just consistency. He's a guy that doesn't make a bunch of mistakes and (he's) a competitor, a great teammate and kind of a leader for the rest of the receivers."
RAVENS: The inside linebacker who is getting the most snaps next to Ray Lewis isn't Jameel McClain. It's Dannell Ellerbe. According to the Ravens' official website, Ellerbe has played 65 percent of the defensive snaps. The reason is based on adapting to a pass-first league. "I think [Ellerbe] might be just a little bit better in the coverage aspect,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "Jameel is a very, very good run linebacker, but he does a good job in the pass defense too.” Ellerbe has taken advantage of the increased playing time, leading the team with 2.5 sacks and ranking second with 20 tackles.
STEELERS: It looks like linebacker James Harrison will miss his fourth consecutive game after leaving the Steelers practice facility before practice because his knee bothered him, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. "It's a little bit of a setback," agent Bill Parise told the paper after speaking to Harrison. "Hopefully, it's not something that will derail our plans." The Steelers have the next four days off for the bye before returning Monday. With each game that he misses, it makes Harrison look worse that he didn't have the surgery in the spring when the knee was an issue. Chris Carter and Jason Worilds, two young players who have replaced Harrison, have combined for one sack.