It should be a busy Thursday here on the blog, but it won't compare to Sunday evening. All four AFC North teams are playing at 4:25 p.m. I will be covering the Steelers-Ravens game, which will be seen by 70 percent of the country because of the late afternoon start. Both Ohio teams, the Bengals and Browns, have later kickoffs because of their games on the West Coast. As you know, we start things early here with the Wake-up call ...
RAVENS: Quarterback Joe Flacco acknowledged that Ray Rice saved him when the running back took a short dump-off pass and converted a fourth-and-29. “We got away with one and I’ll be glad. I could have looked like a big-time idiot if we don’t get that play,” Flacco said, via The Baltimore Sun. “I kind of went out on a limb there to check the ball down on fourth-and-29. We don’t get that, everybody is crushing me: ‘What the hell is he doing checking the ball down on fourth-and-29?’ I don’t think that will ever happen again in the time that I play and it gets converted, especially on a check down like that. I am just happy it happened.”
STEELERS: Injuries could force the Steelers to start four offensive linemen at different spots than where they lined up the first time against Baltimore just a couple of weeks ago. According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey practiced at left guard, where starter Willie Colon is dealing with a knee injury. Doug Legursky, who started at left guard last Sunday, practiced at center. Also, right guard Ramon Foster practiced at right tackle a day after coach Mike Tomlin said rookie Kelvin Beachum would replace injured Mike Adams. It looks like Foster would shift to tackle and rookie first-round pick David DeCastro would make his NFL debut at right guard.
BENGALS: Quarterback Andy Dalton and linebacker Rey Maualuga have apparently responded the way coach Marvin Lewis wanted them to when he challenged them to step up as leaders a few weeks ago. Lewis put captain patches on their jerseys, the first time he has named permanent captains since 2010, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. “It just came to me one morning running that I should go ahead and put the Cs on their jerseys and make it known that way and continue to empower them to do the things I’ve asked them to do. But make it physical now, where everybody sees it,” Lewis said. Also, starting center Kyle Cook practiced Wednesday for the first time since injuring his right ankle in an Aug. 23 preseason game. There's a chance that he could return for the Dec. 9 game against Dallas.
BROWNS: Defensive end Frostee Rucker disputed the claim by Steelers tackle Max Starks that he was cutting the legs out from under the Pittsburgh offensive linemen. “I don’t understand it,” Rucker said, via The Akron Beacon Journal. “I’ve played for seven years. I never heard that. A defensive line cutting? What does that mean? We just made the plays to win the game. We didn’t say anything about holding or anything like that. We made the plays necessary to win the game. That’s what we went out there to do and we did it. We don’t come here with excuses when we lose games.”