Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Wake-up: McKinnie making free-agent visits
By Jamison Hensley
Now that the draft is over, the AFC North blog is getting back to its usual routine. The weekly column will be posted around noon today and the chat will kick off at 2 p.m. As always, it's time to start with the wake-up call ...
RAVENS: Bryant McKinnie, who started every playoff game at left tackle for the Ravens, is continuing a two-day visit with the San Diego Chargers today after meeting and taking a physical for the Miami Dolphins. Asked how his visit with the Chargers was going, McKinnie told The Baltimore Sun in a text message: "It's cool." A source told The Sun that contract talks have yet to begin between the Chargers and McKinnie. If the Chargers did sign McKinnie, they would replace one former Ravens left tackle (Jared Gaither) with another. The Ravens still have interest in McKinnie but have penciled in Kelechi Osemele as their left tackle for right now.
BENGALS: Running back Rex Burkhead spent Monday at the White House just two days after the Bengals selected him in the sixth round of the NFL draft. Burkhead met with President Barack Obama in an effort to spread awareness for pediatric brain cancer, according to the team's official website. He befriended 7-year-old Jack Hoffman nearly two years ago early in Hoffman's battle with brain cancer. "He told me he'd be on the lookout and wished me the best of luck," Burkhead said of his talk with the President. "Hopefully I'll be back if we win the Super Bowl. I wish I told him that, but there just wasn't enough time."
STEELERS: Second-round pick Le'Veon Bell was the Steelers' top-rated running back in the draft, according to offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Running backs coach Kirby Wilson looked at tape of some of Bell's toughest games. "The games where the back isn't necessarily getting those big holes, so you can see what he's really capable of doing on his own," Haley said, via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Because, as we know, in the NFL the holes are a lot smaller. This is a big guy that can play like a big back, and yet also can get outside some and catch the ball." The Steelers view Bell as a three-down back.
BROWNS: Third-round pick Leon McFadden, a cornerback from San Diego State, already had a connection with the Browns even before he was drafted by the team. The quarterbacks coach at San Diego State is Brian Sipe, who quarterbacked the Browns from 1974 to 1983. "He’s very talented,” Sipe told the Akron Beacon Journal. “I had to train my quarterbacks to be able to throw against him, or I should say, stay away from him in practice.” McFadden is expected to compete for the Browns' starting cornerback job opposite Joe Haden.