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Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Wake-up: Browns' Cribbs wants bigger role

By Jamison Hensley

As far as the game plan for this week, I will be making the final stop in the AFC North training camp tour Wednesday, when I head up to see the Steelers. I've been spending the past couple of days out at Ravens camp and will post the award-winning camp confidential on Joe Flacco and the gang on Friday. Don't worry, Steelers Nation. The camp confidential on the Black and Gold will run Sunday. As for today, here's the wake-up call:

BENGALS: Safety Taylor Mays returned to practice with a new helmet that has increased padding inside after suffering a head injury in practice. Mays, who said he's only had one  concussion over the past five years, injured his head when he collided with cornerback Terence Newman instead of wide receiver Stephen Hill. On the play, Mays was trying to follow the advice of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. "Coach Zim has been in my head pretty tough about lowering my strike zone and not go in for a big hit. To do the right thing," Mays told the team's official website. "That's something I need to work on. Don’t hit him in the head and try to get my head of out of there as much as I can." Hensley's slant: Mays remains in a closely contested battle at strong safety with Jeromy Miles. I'm still wondering whether veteran cornerback Nate Clements is still in the plans at this spot. He was splitting reps there during my training camp stop last week.

BROWNS: Josh Cribbs didn't exactly like it when coach Pat Shurmur referred to him as "a special teams player who plays receiver." And he hasn't enjoyed watching his playing time on offense getting cut down after being the team's second-leading receiver last season. "I'm not OK with that," Cribbs told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "My reps being depleted, I'm not OK with it. I have no problem playing my role at a high level and doing what they ask of me, but I'm not complacent at all."  Cribbs has been working with the first-team offense in three-receiver sets because of injuries to Mohamed Massaquoi (concussion) and rookie Travis Benjamin (undisclosed). Hensley's slant: Shurmur isn't one of the more popular guys with the wide receivers these days. Massaquoi recently disputed Shurmur's assessment that he had a concussion, and now Cribbs is irked at the coach's assessment of his role on the team. I'm just not sure how you can get Cribbs on the field as a receiver because rookies Benjamin and Josh Gordon are a bigger part of the future plans.

RAVENS: Outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw, the team's top pick in the 2012 draft, has returned from a shoulder injury but he has been limited in team drills. He isn't sure whether he'll be cleared for Friday's preseason game, which could lead to more playing time for Albert McClellan. “[McClellan’s] done nothing to make you think that he couldn't be a starter, the way he played and the way he practiced,” coach John Harbaugh said, via the team's official website. “He's played really, really well. That makes it interesting.” Hensley's slant: McClellan is not one of the Ravens' big-name players, but he's among their most versatile. He caught the team's eye as a pass-rusher and then filled in for Ray Lewis last season at inside linebacker. Now, McClellan is trying to win a starting job at outside linebacker.

STEELERS: Offensive coordinator Todd Haley isn't revealing much of the game plan in the preseason. So, no one should draw conclusions from the lack of downfield throws and the increased screen passes in the preseason opener at Philadelphia. "Not a lot of game planning will go into these games," Haley told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We've decided we're going to stay in training-camp mode because you need every day you can get with some of the [practice] limitations you have these days. We'll be focusing and emphasizing certain things in these games and trying to get better at them. We were pretty limited with our formations, but out of those formations we had multiple things we were doing or trying to do. There will be little more to it than that, generally speaking." Hensley's slant: The bigger question is whether the offense changes without their intended starting fullback, David Johnson, who was injury-waived Monday after tearing his ACL. Pittsburgh signed veteran tight end Justin Peelle, who has played fullback in the past. But the Steelers are expected to start Will Johnson, who was out of football last year.