Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Wake-up call: Ngata questions ranking
By Jamison Hensley
Happy Fourth of July to everyone in the AFC North blog family. I hope everyone gets to celebrate the holiday with family and friends. There will still be posts today, but the weekly chat won't be held because of the holiday. The chat has been moved to Thursday at 3 p.m.
As always, every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
BENGALS: The NFL Network takes a look at whether the Bengals did enough to improve with this year's draft class. The pick that stands out to analyst Charles Davis is third-round receiver Mohamed Sanu. "Sanu is already opening up eyes," Davis said. "A combination slot/outside receiver, [Sanu] is strong, compact with excellent hands [and] runs nice routes. This is a guy who people are looking at saying he could help out A.J. Green." Hensley's slant: This would be a good story if Sanu could end up the opening day starter. Remember he's the player who was drafted by the team about 24 hours after a prank led him to believe he was taken by Cincinnati in the first round. When the Bengals open training camp, Brandon Tate is expected to start off working with the first team as the No. 2 receiver.
BROWNS: Reserve defensive tackle Kiante Tripp is being held in a Georgia jail on a burglary charge, The Associated Press reported. College Park police spokesman Sgt. Jeff Hightower says Tripp was arrested with two others Sunday afternoon at an apartment in the Atlanta suburb of College Park. The arrest resulted from neighbors calling police to say that armed men were in the apartment. Officers arrived, heard the men through the locked front door, and then caught them fleeing through the back. Hightower says nothing was stolen. "We are aware of the incident involving Kiante Tripp,'' general manager Tom Heckert said in a statement released by the team. "We are currently gathering information related to it, and will not have any further comment at this time." Hensley's slant: This incident isn't going to help Tripp's chances of remaining with the Browns. He was already on the bubble after Cleveland drafted two interior defensive linemen this year. Tripp played in three games for the Browns last season, registering one tackle.
RAVENS: Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was ranked No. 9 in the NFL Network's list of top 100 players, which makes him the highest-ranked Raven. Ngata would argue otherwise. "I don't think I'm the best Ravens player," Ngata told the Ravens' official website. "The way we play together on this defense, we make each other better. I couldn't do what I do without [Terrell] Suggs and Ray [Lewis]. It's the same thing with those guys; they can't do what they do without us. I don't think there is a best player. We have so many good players and that's the recipe to a great defense." Hensley's slant: Ngata wasn't on top of his game in the second half of last season when a thigh injury affected his play. Still, he is clearly the core (and the future) of this defense along with Suggs. When offensive coordinators begin to game plan against the Ravens, trying to negate Ngata is among the top priorities.
STEELERS: Wide receiver-returner Antonio Brown sent his jersey to the Pro Football Hall of Fame to commemorate his place in history, according to MLive.com. The jersey is the one he wore in the Jan. 1 season finale when he became the first player in NFL history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards and 1,000 return yards in a season. In 2012, Brown had 69 catches for 1,108 yards, plus 737 kickoff return yards and 325 punt return yards for a Steelers-record 2,211 all-purpose yards. Hensley's slant: This was a breakout year for Brown, who was named the Steelers' Most Valuable Player in a vote by his teammates. The challenge now is to live up to heightened expectations. In his final 10 regular-season games in 2011, Brown became Ben Roethlisberger's favorite target and averaged 84.6 yards receiving.