Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wake-up call: Roth says Browns lied to him
By Jamison Hensley
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Jaguars defensive end Matt Roth returns to Cleveland for the first time since leaving the Browns in free agency in August. He is second on the Jaguars with three sacks and has 10 pressures, a big reason why Jacksonville has jumped from No. 28 in defense last season to No. 4 this season.
He signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Jaguars after he felt the Browns were "playing games" with him when he was seeking a new contract during the 2010 season.
"At the time, they said they were doing no contracts, then I was finding out other guys were getting contracts underneath the table," Roth told The Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I was like, 'Well, the heck with it. I'm not gonna have people lying [to me].' So I wanted to go to another place where they'd tell the truth.
"I had no problem if they said they weren't going to do a contract, but don't tell me you're not doing contracts when you were. That's what I meant by games. But I couldn't say that at the time because you have to be a team player."
Hensley's slant: Maybe Roth and Peyton Hillis should trade notes on the difficulties of getting a new deal with the Browns. Roth sounds a little ticked off, so I probably wouldn't want to line up across from him this game. Good luck, Tony Pashos (who has allowed five sacks in six games).
BENGALS: With Adam Jones still missing practice with hamstring and groin injuries, it appears Kelly Jennings will replace injured Leon Hall at right corner, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Jennings, a first-round pick by the Seahawks in 2006, was traded from Seattle this year. His comfort level with the system has improved after a rough start (he missed three of the first six games with a hamstring injury). "I just like getting into a groove, which I feel like I'm starting to do now," Jennings told the paper. "I'm starting to settle down. That's on my side. This system relies on a lot of man-to-man, in guys' faces and challenging balls. That's what I like to do best." Hensley's slant: Jennings is a solid nickelback but he never established himself as a starter with the Seahawks because he was a matchup problem against bigger receivers. Look for the Ravens to attack him if he gets lined up against Anquan Boldin. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Bengals move Jones into that starting role once he's healthy.
RAVENS: Getting turnovers had been a strength of the Ravens' defense earlier this season. But the Ravens have only forced four of them in their past five games. Taking the ball away is important to the Ravens, although it's not the top priority. "What you don’t do, you don’t step outside the responsibility of the defense to try to create something that’s not there and give up a big play," coach John Harbaugh said, via The Baltimore Sun. "Because there are priorities in the pecking order, and the priority in the pecking order is to get a stop first. If we can get a turnover as we do that, we definitely want to do that.” Hensley's slant: The Ravens might be able to get some turnovers Sunday against Cincinnati if they're patient. Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton has taken care of the ball for the most part, but he's known to turn the ball over late. Five of his nine interceptions have come in the fourth quarter. He was picked off twice in the fourth quarter last Sunday against Pittsburgh.
STEELERS: Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger seems to thrive on pain, whether it's limping during a win against Tennessee or beating Cincinnati with a broken right thumb. "Ben is a tough guy mentally and physically," guard Ramon Foster told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "A lot of quarterbacks show their emotions, but with him you might only see a grimace whether he gets hit or breaks a thumb." Hensley's slant: The Steelers are letting Roethlisberger prove his toughness a little too much lately. He has been sacked five times in two of his past three games. For the season, Roethlisberger has been sacked an AFC-worst 31 times. Yes, he holds onto the ball too long. But Pittsburgh can't afford him taking all of these shots.