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Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Wake-up: Andre Smith eyes 'tip-top' shape

By Jamison Hensley

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

Offensive tackle Andre Smith continues to look in "terrific shape" as the Cincinnati Bengals began their fifth week of offseason conditioning, according to the team's official website.

Smith, who reported at 330 pounds, hopes to lose another five pounds.

"Last year I wasn't in as good [of] shape as I could have been, but it was the smallest I'd been in the NFL so I was able to maintain it playing the game," Smith said. "This year I want to be in tip-top shape. Put together strength and wind so I can breathe."

Hensley's slant: Smith, the sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft, looked like a bust after starting five games in his first two seasons. But he was one of the most improved players in the AFC North last season. In 2011, Smith gave up two sacks and was called for one holding penalty.

BROWNS: Even though the Browns didn't practice with pads, quarterback Brandon Weeden called running back Trent Richardson "a freak" by the third day of rookie minicamp. "Just look at him," Weeden told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Whatever he is, 5-[foot]-10, 225 pounds and he's 2 percent body fat. He's got a special ability when the ball's in his hands. You can tell when you hand it to him, he takes it from you. He runs hard, and I'm really anxious to see him when he puts the pads on." Hensley's slant: The most important part of camp for Richardson was that he was on the field. The third overall pick said he's 100 percent after undergoing a minor knee scope after the college season. He did practice with a rubber sleeve on his left knee, but it was considered precautionary.

RAVENS: Wide receiver Torrey Smith told the Carroll County (Md.) Times that he has fully recovered from surgery in February to repair a double sports hernia that he played through last season. He has been cleared for offseason workouts and the team's June minicamp. "Yeah, I'm good," Smith said . "I've been running routes. I'm good to go. I'll be doing everything. I played in my [charity] basketball game and had like five dunks." Hensley's slant: Smith had three catches of at least 29 yards in the month of December. That's impressive considering he did that while playing injured. Plus, the ability of Jacoby Jones (averaged 16.5 yards per catch last season) to stretch the field could free up Smith even more.

STEELERS: Rookie seventh-round pick Kelvin Beachum received his Master’s degree from SMU and delivered the commencement address for his class at SMU’s Simmons School of Education & Human Development on Saturday. The offensive lineman earned his Masters in Liberal Studies with a concentration on organizational behavior in only 16 months. “I don’t know the statistics on how many people go into the NFL with their Masters, but to be able to succeed on the football field and in the classroom go hand in hand for me,” Beachum told the team's official website. “You have to work hard on the football field and in the classroom just to be able to stay on the field.” Hensley's slant: While other teams in the division are making headlines with injuries, the Steelers continue to make news with their players earning degrees (quarterback Ben Roethlisberger attended his commencement earlier this month). Beachum's next goal is to make an improving Steelers offensive line. He could become the third rookie to earn a spot along with David DeCastro and Mike Adams, the team's top two picks of this year's draft.