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Thursday, September 13, 2012
Wake-up: Maualuga knocks Richardson

By Jamison Hensley

It's great to be back on the AFC North blog after taking some time to get settled with the new addition to the Hensley family. I'm happy to announce my son, Jackson Lawrence, was born last week. While my wife thinks we named our child after his grandfathers, everyone here knows he was really named after two of the best young linebackers in the division, D'Qwell Jackson and Lawrence Timmons. But we'll keep that in the AFC North blog family. I would also like to thank my bosses at ESPN.com for giving me the time off to really enjoy the experience of being a new father. Now that we're all updated, let's see what is going on in the division with the wake-up call:

BENGALS: Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga didn't come away impressed after watching tape of Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson. “He can run you over and you can miss a tackle, at the same time, from what we've seen he didn't do nothing spectacular,” Maualuga told CBSSports.com. “From running screens, missing passes, trying to find a hole when he's running the ball. He just didn't do anything spectacular from what I've seen.” I double-checked and made sure this was Maulauga and not Jim Brown talking. This is funny because Maualuga "didn't do nothing spectacular" in the season opener against the Ravens. He managed five tackles in a game where he got continually blocked by Ravens fullback Vonta Leach.

BROWNS: Cleveland is adjusting to life without cornerback Joe Haden, who has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Sheldon Brown (shoulder) will start after fully participating in practice Wednesday and nickelback Dimitri Patterson will step into the starting lineup. In passing situations, Buster Skrine will enter the game on the outside while Patterson covers the slot receiver. “Joe’s a hard guy to replace,” linebacker Scott Fujita said. “I think he’s one of the top five or six cover corners in the league now. He’s so competitive. He challenges every single throw. It’s going to be tough on him and tough on us.” The biggest challenge for the Browns is finding someone to slow down Bengals receiver A.J. Green.

RAVENS: Baltimore has moved past winning the season opener and turned its focus to not losing its momentum. “Two-straight years we’ve gone to the second game, and we’ve lost,” coach John Harbaugh told reporters, via the team's official website. “That’s happened two years in a row. So, that’s probably a stat we’ll concern ourselves with right now.” Last season, the Ravens followed up a rout of Pittsburgh with a 13-point loss at Tennessee. In 2010, Baltimore delivered an emotional win at the New York Jets only to fall at Cincinnati, where the Ravens managed one touchdown and four turnovers. That's why the emphasis heading into the Week 2 matchup at Philadelphia is mental focus.

STEELERS: Wide receiver Mike Wallace is looking forward to playing against the Jets' man-to-man press coverage. "I like to see anybody who lines up in my face," Wallace told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I don't care who it is." Just like the past two games against the Jets, Wallace expects to line up against cornerback Antonio Cromartie and not Darrelle Revis. But Wallace hasn't been a good barometer for success against the Jets. In 2010, Wallace caught seven passes for 102 yards in a regular-season loss to the Jets and was limited to one catch for six yards in a win over New York in the AFC Championship Game.