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Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wake-up: Saban likes Richardson, Browns

By Jamison Hensley

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

It appears that I'm not the only one who thinks the Browns should take Alabama running back Trent Richardson. His college coach, Nick Saban, feels Richardson would be a great fit for Cleveland.

"He'd be great in the community, he'd be a great player for them and he's somebody that I think a lot of young people could really relate to for the kind of person he is, the example he sets," Saban told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "If they wouldn't be excited, they really should be."

At Alabama's pro day, Saban talked about Richardson to Browns coach Pat Shurmur, who was an assistant under Saban at Michigan State for three seasons.

"He's one of the lowest-maintenance great players I've ever had the opportunity to coach," Saban said.

Hensley's slant: I'm not among those buying reports that the Browns are deciding between wide receiver Justin Blackmon and quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Richardson has the toughness to play in this division and the elusiveness to spark the Browns' offense.

BENGALS: Wide receiver Jordan Shipley is still recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee that occurred in September. He hopes that he'll be able to practice when minicamps begin on May 22 and is confident he'll be ready for training camp this summer. “I’m planning on doing all the workouts with the guys," Shipley told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Some days I feel really good and other days I feel close. At this point in the process, it is based on how you feel that day. Some days I am 100 percent.” Hensley's slant: The Bengals didn't add a wide receiver in free agency, which means Shipley has a shot at the No. 2 job if he can get healthy. But the odds of him winning that spot decreases significantly if the Bengals draft a wide receiver in the early rounds.

RAVENS: The team will work out three quarterbacks on Thursday: Kyle Boller, a 2003 first-round pick by the Ravens; Dennis Dixon, the Steelers' third-string quarterback last season; and Curtis Painter, who started eight games for the Colts last season before getting benched. The Ravens are likely to sign one of the three quarterbacks based on the workout results, according to the Baltimore Sun.“Everybody competes for every spot every year, every practice, and [backup quarterback] Tyrod Taylor is no different,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said earlier this month.”But we like him a lot.” Hensley's slant: If the Ravens want the backup with the most upside, they should sign Dixon. If they are looking for the most experienced backup, they should go with Boller. But don't discount Painter, even though his 2011 stats were horrible. He played last season under Jim Caldwell, who is now Baltimore's quarterbacks coach. That might give the edge to the 27-year-old Painter.

STEELERS: Steelers free-agent offensive tackle Max Starks said his recovery from ACL surgery is ahead of schedule and he's getting his strength back. He suffered the injury in the playoff loss at Denver. Starks posted on his Twitter account that he will "be playing for someone this season, but I know it won't be until I'm 100% structurally sound. I'm on pace to be ready by Mid July for play!" Hensley's slant: Starks saved the Steelers last season when he returned, and he would probably be a fallback option for the team again this season. My take is the Steelers are looking to get younger on the offensive line and will take a tackle at some point in the draft. But, if Starks is healthy enough to play, he would be a upgrade over backup Jonathan Scott.