The theme of Thursday's wake-up call is former players. Even though they're gone, they still generate interest. Other than the item on the Cincinnati Bengals, it's time to revisit some names no longer on an AFC North roster:
RAVENS: The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston doesn't think the Ravens should have signed linebacker Rolando McClain, who announced his retirement Wednesday. "The Ravens blew it on this one," Preston wrote. "They went out and signed a knucklehead who remained a knucklehead. At this point, we don't know why McClain retired at age 23, and to be honest, I'm afraid to ask. I really don't want to know, and I'm just glad he is out of here." Also, 2005 first-round pick Mark Clayton announced his retirement two months after saying he was ready to play again. A right knee injury had sidelined him all of last season. Clayton is 30 years old, seven years older than McClain.
BENGALS: The timetable hasn't changed for cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who isn't expected to participate in team drills until the start of training camp in late July, according to the team's official website. He is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Kirkpatrick has been able to do some individual drills while he rehabs. "It's the best he's moved since he's been here," secondary coach Mark Carrier said. "It's amazing what you can do when you don't have any pain. Remember, he's been hurt pretty much since he's been here, so he really looks good so far."
STEELERS: Former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace told the Miami Herald that his new quarterback (the Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill) can be just as good as his old one (the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger). "It's funny, they both played receiver at the beginning of college," Wallace said. "They both know what we [receivers] like to do out there, so the chemistry is there already. Both have strong arms. Ryan has a cannon, can really fling it." Wallace added that Tannehill "may be able to throw the ball a little farther than Ben." Maybe Wallace should wait to actually catch a pass from Tannehill in a meaningful game before making such comparisons. With Roethlisberger throwing him the ball, Wallace had more 40-yard receptions (27) than anyone in the NFL since 2009 and the most touchdown catches of 40 yards or longer (16).
BROWNS: Wide receiver-returner Josh Cribbs is officially an ex-Browns player after signing a one-year deal with the Oakland Raiders. Cribbs, who went to three Pro Bowls during his eight seasons with Cleveland, expressed no hard feelings with his former team. "I am going to be for them until we play them," Cribbs told ESPN's Josina Anderson. "They are great fans. I love them just as much as they love me. I hope they win this year. I hope they get the job done and reach greater heights. I hope they root for me as a player and I will be rooting for them from afar." This is a much better response than when Cribbs lashed out on Twitter toward the end of last season. The Browns will replace Cribbs with Travis Benjamin in the return game.