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Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Wake-up: Not turning Flacco into Manning

By Jamison Hensley

Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

New Ravens quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell is turning his focus to Joe Flacco after a decade of working with the Colts' Peyton Manning.

But no one should expect Caldwell to morph Flacco into Manning.

“Everybody’s different,” Caldwell told the team's website. “[Flacco] has his own strengths, and what we want to try to do is accentuate those. I'm not here to make him like any other quarterback in this league, like Peyton Manning or Brad Johnson or the other guys I’ve coached. That’s not my goal. He is who he is. What we want to do is just help him perfect what he does well.”

In three years as the Colts head coach, Caldwell faced Flacco three times. The most recent meeting was in December, when Flacco threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns.

“We knew he was dangerous because we knew he could make all the throws,” Caldwell said. “He could make all the finesse throws, all the intermediate throws, and under duress. He’s a tough guy to handle.”

Hensley's slant: Still not sold on how much Caldwell will raise Flacco's game. It's difficult to tell how effective Caldwell was as the Colts' quarterbacks coach when he worked with a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Manning. But it was a good move to add a quarterbacks coach this year after the one-year experiment of Cam Cameron overseeing the position.

BENGALS: Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, a former defensive backs coach in Cincinnati, might lure a couple of Bengals free agents to Miami. Among the possibilities listed by the Miami Herald were: safety Reggie Nelson and defensive tackle Pat Sims. "[Coyle] somehow got Nelson, an early-round draft bust in Jacksonville, to play well in Cincinnati," the Herald's Armando Salguero wrote. "Maybe Nelson might be the answer to getting some plays out of the Miami free safety spot." Hensley's slant: The loss of Nelson would hurt because he is one of the top three free agents the Bengals would like to re-sign. But Coyle would like to bring a veteran along who is familiar with his system and style. Luckily for the Bengals, they have plenty of cap room to sign a replacement if Nelson does leave.

BROWNS: The Canton Repository's Steve Doerschuk suggests that the Browns keep running back Peyton Hillis and pursue quarterback Matt Flynn and wide receiver Pierre Garcon in free agency. That would allow Cleveland to fill other holes in the draft, where they have three of the top 37 picks. Hensley's slant: Signing Flynn would make a lot of sense. He would make more of an immediate impact than any of the rookie quarterbacks, and the Browns would have the freedom to draft the best player that falls to the No. 4 pick. This has the potential to backfire if Flynn becomes this year's Kevin Kolb and Baylor's Robert Griffin III becomes this year's Cam Newton.

STEELERS: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook says it's time for the Steelers to realize that they owe wide receiver Hines Ward nothing. "There is no room in pro sports for sentimentality or loyalty, not when so much money is at stake and the pressure to win is so great," Cook wrote. "Unfortunately, Ward's inevitable parting from the Steelers looks as if it will be awkward with hurt feelings for Ward." Hensley's slant: This is the bad part about the business, because you want to see all of the stars finish their careers with one team. But that rarely happens these days in the NFL. Just ask another longtime wide receiver, Jerry Rice, who finished his career with the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks and not the San Francisco 49ers.