Good morning AFC North blog family. It's Friday and that means my predictions for Sunday's games and the always-popular Final Word will get posted later today. But let's not forget about the First Word, which we refer to as the wake-up call around these parts ...
RAVENS: Even team physician Andrew Tucker was surprised by Terrell Suggs' quick recovery from Achilles surgery. He acknowledged there was no certainty that Suggs would return this season and thought "at best" he would be back by November or December. “To get back to play this game at this level, in five to 5 ½ months is really extraordinary,” Tucker told the team's official website. “He’s set the standard for recovery from an Achilles rupture.” Tucker explains it was a combination of hard work, good doctors and rare genetics.
STEELERS: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette points out that Maurkice Pouncey has made the Pro Bowl multiple times just like past Steelers centers Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson. Unlike Webster and Dawson, Pouncey has yet to put together a lengthy consecutive-games streak. Pouncey missed Sunday night's game with a knee injury, the third time in his career that an injury has sidelined him. But Pouncey is expected to return for Sunday's game against the Redskins. "It's terrible, man," Pouncey told the paper. "You want to be out there helping your guys at every point, but injuries happen, and, sometimes, you just have to sit back and accept it."
BENGALS: The Bengals offensive line is ranked eighth in the league by Pro Football Focus (via the Cincinnati Enquirer). Cincinnati's highest-rated lineman is rookie first-round pick Kevin Zeitler, who is third among right guards. The worst lineman is center Jeff Faine, who was signed after Kyle Cook was injured. Faine is last overall and in pass blocking. He's 21st among the 34 centers in run blocking. As the Enquirer points out, six of the teams in the top 10 offensive-line rankings have losing records, including the Bengals.
BROWNS: There's a chance that the Browns could have a top pick in next year's draft and have a shot at taking West Virginia's Geno Smith and USC's Matt Barkley. But ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer believes there is no one in the 2013 draft that's more talented than Brandon Weeden. Dilfer is confident that new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has his franchise quarterback in Weeden. "From a talent, leadership, and intangibles standpoint, yes, they have the guy that deserves at least two years under their full leadership to build around," Dilfer told The Plain Dealer. "Given the right situation, Brandon Weeden could put the Browns back on the map."