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Friday, April 13, 2012
Wake-up: Steelers want to expand Heinz

By Jamison Hensley

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to expand Heinz Field by 3,000 seats, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority board signed off on the resolution to explore the addition, and the Steelers can now take that proposal to the NFL for approval next month.

All seats would be added in the stadium's south end zone near the scoreboard. While the team has yet to decide how to pay for construction of the new seats, the Post-Gazette reported that possible sources could include revenue from a surcharge on tickets.

In other news, versatile backup offensive lineman Trai Essex re-signed on a one-year deal and left guard Doug Legursky signed his $1.26 million restricted free-agent tender.

Hensley's slant: It's surprising that the Steelers haven't expanded sooner. In terms of capacity, Heinz Field (65,050) is the seventh-smallest venue in the NFL and the smallest in the division -- ranking behind Cleveland Browns Stadium (73,200), Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium (71,008) and Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium (65,535). I'm sure kickers would like the stadium to expand by another 10,000 seats if that means enclosing the open-end part of Heinz.

BENGALS: Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is making it seem like recently signed free agent cornerback Terence Newman could make a bigger impact than many expect. Newman turns 34 during the season and was reportedly picked on by quarterbacks toward the end of last season. "If he can still run and get out of breaks, I know he can do some big things for us in this defense," Zimmer told the team's official website. "I don't know what's happened lately, but all I know is I've talked to enough people in Dallas that I trust that say he can still run. And I'm talking to people who saw him every day in practice and that means more to me than anything. We'll see how he is when he gets here, but I'm excited to have him." Hensley's slant: With the most salary-cap room in the NFL, the Bengals aren't hurting themselves by adding Newman and seeing firsthand whether he can still contribute. But he has something to prove. According to Pro Football Focus, Newman rated 57th out of 66 cornerbacks who played at least half of his team's snaps.

BROWNS: Pro Football Weekly analyst Nolan Nawrocki doesn't think the Browns will take Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the fourth overall pick, but he believes the team has Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden on its radar. “I do think Weeden is a guy they are targeting, and whether they select him with the 22nd or the 37th pick, I think he would definitely bring more size to that position,” Nawrocki told the Akron Beacon Journal. “He ran a similar style offense at Oklahoma State. I think he’s flown under the radar a little bit." Hensley's slant: I'm in favor of upgrading the Browns' quarterback position, but Cleveland missed out on its best chance to do so when it failed to trade up for Robert Griffin III. The Browns' focus should be on upgrading the talent around the quarterback position. If the right prospects are available, the Browns should attempt to get a running back, wide receiver and right tackle with their first three picks.

RAVENS: Former Ravens coach Brian Billick revealed that one of the biggest busts in NFL draft history was the one the team liked the most. In talking about how quarterbacks rise up draft boards, Billick told ESPN Radio (via the Baltimore Sun): "We did a pretty decent job, and obviously they continue to do a phenomenal job in Baltimore, with Ozzie Newsome and his group. JaMarcus Russell was the highest-rated player I’ve ever seen on any of our boards. So we all missed on JaMarcus Russell. Make no mistake.” Billick was Baltimore's head coach for nine drafts (1999 to 2007). Hensley's slant: This is nothing more than a cautionary tale because the Ravens drafted No. 29 in the 2007 draft and never had a chance at taking Russell. While the Ravens were off on Russell, that was a draft where they picked up two Pro Bowl guards in Ben Grubbs (first) and Marshal Yanda (third) as well as Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain (fourth round).