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Thursday, May 19, 2011
Clayton: Bengals most hurt by lockout

By James Walker
ESPN.com

ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton wrote an interesting column Thursday examining which teams are most and least impacted by the NFL lockout. The only AFC North team listed was the Cincinnati Bengals, which Clayton ranked as the third team hurting the most.

I agree the Bengals deserve to be on this list. Any team with an inexperienced quarterback and new offensive coordinator should get heavy consideration, which is why I'm surprised Clayton didn't also include the Cleveland Browns. Both Ohio teams are in similar positions, and a case can be made the Browns are in a tougher spot, because they also have to learn a new 4-3 defense and have a rookie head coach in Pat Shurmur.

The Bengals and Browns both will switch to a West Coast offense, which is built on timing and precision. Quarterbacks and receivers are trying to get in sync on their own time. But it's hard to simulate organized practices without input from the coaches who devised the playbook.

Both Ohio teams will have a lot of ground to make up whenever this lockout ends, and right now I don't think you can separate one team from the other.