Wake-up: Will Steelers start Dwyer at RB?

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
7:00
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The Ravens are ticked off about their struggling defense. The quarterback in Cincinnati keeps throwing touchdowns to the wrong team, and the one in Cleveland keeps getting his passes knocked down. In Pittsburgh, injuries have put a major question mark at running back. It's safe to say that every team in the AFC North has some issues right now. Let's take a quick tour around the division with today's wake-up call:

RAVENS: Dean Pees, who is in his first year as the Ravens' defensive coordinator, couldn't hide his dissatisfaction with a defense that has dropped to 26th in the NFL. "It makes me sick," he said, via The Associated Press. "It's up to me and it's up to our staff to get this corrected." Pees also said he feels fortunate about the Ravens being 5-1 with the way the defense has been playing. "Let's be honest. We're not playing well enough, and to say it any other way would sound like a political debate," Pees said. Pees shouldn't take the blame for this. He's trying to do his best to generate pressure on the quarterback. But the Ravens just don't have the same type of talent in their front seven.

BENGALS: Our Blogger Blitz this week focused on quarterback Andy Dalton having three interceptions returned for touchdowns. CBS Sports points out that Dalton has actually had four picks returned for scores in his past seven games when you count J.J. Watt's interception in the playoffs last season. “I have a problem with them but it's not like it's all on the quarterback,” offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said. “I think you see Philip Rivers throw four, I've seen (Drew) Brees throw three, I've seen (Aaron) Rodgers throw them, I've seen (Tom) Brady throw them. Quarterbacks throw them. They anticipate throws. Sometimes, defensive guys make great plays, you know if you throw 40 to 45 times a game they are going to break on some balls, too. I'm not going to make him gun-shy by any stretch.”

STEELERS: Pittsburgh's top two running backs, Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (ankle), have yet to practice this week. If neither Mendenhall nor Redman practice Friday, the Steelers may turn to Jonathan Dwyer, who hasn't played the past two games since Mendenhall has returned from his knee injury. Dwyer, a sixth-round pick in 2010, said he would look forward to starting against the Bengals. "For every running back, their first start is always something special," Dwyer told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I'll just be excited to get out there playing again."

BROWNS: Brandon Weeden has more problems than leading the league in interceptions. The 6-foot-3 rookie quarterback also is tied for tops in the NFL in passes knocked down. The Browns have had five passes batted down in the past two games and seven this season, according to ProFootballFocus.com. A season ago, the 6-1 Colt McCoy had 13 passes rejected at the line in 14 games, according to The Plain Dealer. So, what can Weeden do better? "Make the ball round so I could curve it," said Weeden, a former minor-league baseball pitcher.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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