Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC North [Print without images]

Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Wake-up: Is Polamalu the third-best safety?

By Jamison Hensley

Let's take a quick break from the arrests and federal investigation going on in the AFC North to talk about ballroom dancing. In my 13 years of covering the NFL, I have never written a sentence quite like that one, but I digress.

On Tuesday night, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones advanced to the semifinals of ABC's "Dancing With The Stars." He is competing against singer Kellie Pickler, gymnast Aly Raisman and Disney Channel star Zendaya for The Mirror Ball. The pressure is on Jones. Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, the last AFC North player to compete on the show, won two years ago.

Now, it's time for the wake-up call ...

RAVENS: Perhaps Rolando McClain's roster spot isn't as secure as once thought. The NFL Network is reporting that the recent comments made by assistant general manager Eric DeCosta -- that McClain deserved a second chance -- referred to signing the inside linebacker last month and not his most recent arrest. According to the NFL Network, the Ravens haven't made a decision on McClain, who is scheduled to appear in court July 9 on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest from an incident in April. Stay tuned.

BENGALS: Geoff Hobson of the team's official website wonders whether former defensive lineman John Thornton was the most influential signing in team history. Thornton anchored the Bengals' defensive line from 2003 to 2008 and brought the professionalism that Marvin Lewis wanted to instill in his first season as head coach. "When I came here, Marvin wanted leadership and he wanted guys to be extensions of the coaches," Thornton said. "Even though I wasn’t as talented as these guys right now, when you add professionalism and hard work to it, it kind of helps you. A lot of these guys have it all. They have talent, they work hard, they're in on their off days. These guys are productive, too. They've got it all right now."

STEELERS: In ranking the top five safeties in the league for ESPN, Ryan Clark put his teammate, Troy Polamalu, at No. 3. Clark listed Seattle's Earl Thomas and Tampa Bay's Dashon Goldson of Tampa Bay above Polamalu. “This was a decision for me,” Clark said, via The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Here is a guy I really want to put at No. 1, but he's had some injuries over the past few years and hasn't been as effective. He's a guy I feel like can be No. 1 if we get him back fully healthy.” Polamalu has missed 22 games over the past four seasons, including nine in 2012 because of a calf injury.

BROWNS: Four months after being fired as the Browns general manager, Tom Heckert was hired by Denver to be the team's director of pro personnel, the Broncos announced. Heckert will be responsible for scouting NFL players and directing the scouting of the Broncos' upcoming opponents. "With more than 20 years' experience in the NFL, Tom brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and insight to our personnel department," executive vice president John Elway said in a statement. Also, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam once again apologized to Cleveland fans. I'll comment more on this later in the morning.