Monday, August 13, 2012
Wake-up call: Steelers' Brown, Taylor fight
By Jamison Hensley
The start of the preseason turned into weekend at the fights in the NFL. Chad Johnson, formerly Chad Ochocinco and formerly of the Dolphins, has been accused by his wife of head-butting her during an argument in front of their home. But this incident with the ex-Bengals receiver shouldn't overshadow what happened with a couple of Steelers players during Sunday's training camp practice. There was also a battle Sunday between Browns coach Pat Shurmur and Twitter. We'll explain it all in our wake-up call:
BENGALS: Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (knee) and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (foot) are expected to be held out of Thursday's preseason game at Atlanta, but those starters could practice later in the week, coach Marvin Lewis said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. Undrafted rookie Vontaze Burfict filled in for Maualuga with the first-team defense Sunday. Strong safety Taylor Mays (concussion) could return to practice Monday. Hensley's slant: The Bengals have to be very careful with Green-Ellis because they're unsure whether backup Bernard Scott will be available for the season opener in Baltimore. Scott has a cast around his hand and it's believed he'll be ready shortly after the preseason. Still, no one knows if that means Scott will suit up for the regular season. That's why the Bengals have to play it safe with Green-Ellis.
BROWNS: Like another AFC North coach, the Browns' Pat Shurmur isn't a fan of Twitter, especially when a player uses it to contradict him. That's what happened this weekend, when wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi disputed Shurmur's announcement that he had suffered a concussion. Unlike Lewis, Shurmur doesn't plan to ban Twitter. "You know how I feel about tweets and twitters, No. 1," Shurmur said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Yeah, I don't like them. That's my policy. I encourage them not to and I think it's important that they don't. I don't think you can totally harness social media. I've come to that realization. But what I can do is encourage and inspire them to be very professional and not talk about Browns business. That's just my feeling on it. That's a big thing to harness, social media." Hensley's slant: I'm all for athletes being able to freely express themselves on Twitter. But they have to be smart about it. It probably wasn't the best idea for Massaquoi to get on Shurmur's bad side, especially when the Browns can easily replace him in the starting lineup with Josh Gordon.
RAVENS: Tight end Ed Dickson doesn't necessarily agree with the timetable that he will miss the remainder of the preseason with a sprained right shoulder. He is trying to get rid of the soreness in the shoulder and believes it's improving on a daily basis. “If it so happens that I come back early, I definitely want to get some work in and I want to take advantage of those opportunities in the preseason games to get my chemistry down with Joe before the opener,” Dickson told the Baltimore Sun. “But I’m aiming to be ready when it counts.” Hensley's slant: You get the sense that Dickson has this urgency to return because he doesn't want to lose his hold on the starting job to Dennis Pitta, who is also expected to be ready for the regular season after breaking his hand. Dickson was the preferred tight end target early last season, but Pitta was the more effective tight end later in the season.
STEELERS: It was Round 2 at Steelers training camp, where wide receiver Antonio Brown and cornerback Ike Taylor were involved in their second fight of the summer. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sunday's incident began when Taylor stepped in front of an end-zone pass for Brown and tried to pull the ball away. After wrestling for it on the ground, the players jumped to their feet, and Brown threw a punch at Taylor. Then, following practice, Taylor went after Brown in the middle of the field, where general manager Kevin Colbert and others had to separate them. Holding an icepack to his forehead, Taylor eventually walked off the field with Brown. Hensley's slant: It's a fine line for coaches because you don't want players to fight but you want to see them being competitive in every drill. If a third altercation occurs between Brown and Taylor, head coach Mike Tomlin can't chalk it up to "those things happen" like he did Sunday. Brown and Taylor are the best at their positions on this team. Tomlin can't allow them to keep butting heads (sorry, Chad Johnson).