AFC North: 2012 AFC North projected starting lineup

The AFC North blog will project the starting lineups for every team in the division this week as training camps kick into full gear.


QB Joe Flacco: Remember the days when Ravens fans were actually clamoring for Troy Smith?

RB Ray Rice: One of three players last season with more than 1,000 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving (Doug Martin and C.J. Spiller were the others).

FB Vonta Leach: In two seasons with Leach, the Ravens ranked 10th and 11th in rushing.

WR Torrey Smith: His 17.4-yard per catch average ranked fourth in the NFL last season.

WR Jacoby Jones: He is listed as the No. 2 wide receiver right now. I wWouldn't be surprised if Tandon Doss or Deonte Thompson wins the job in preseason.

TE Ed Dickson: With Dennis Pitta out for the season, the Ravens need Dickson to revert back to his 2011 form (54 catches, five touchdowns).

LT Bryant McKinnie: He has not missed a game because of injury in his NFL career (span of 164 games).

LG Kelechi Osemele: He is the first rookie offensive lineman to start a full season for Ravens since Michael Oher (2009).

C Gino Gradkowski: If Gradkowski doesn't win the job, the Ravens will turn to A.Q. Shipley, a seventh-round pick by the Steelers in 2009.

RG Marshal Yanda: One of the best guards in the game is currently sidelined after having offseason shoulder surgery.

RT Michael Oher: Allowed one sack in four playoff games at right tackle last season.


LDT Arthur Jones: Restricted free agent will split playing time with veteran Marcus Spears.

NT Haloti Ngata: Healthy and in shape, Ngata looks primed for a bounce-back year.

RDE Chris Canty: The key piece in upgrading the Ravens' defensive line.

LOLB Terrell Suggs: Fully recovered from injuries (Achilles and biceps), Suggs wants to get back to Defensive Player of the Year status.

LILB Daryl Smith: The Ravens are fortunate to get a player like Smith after Jameel McClain's slower-than-expected recovery and Rolando McClain's retirement.

RILB Arthur Brown: The rookie second-round pick can run sideline to sideline like another former Baltimore linebacker.

ROLB Courtney Upshaw: The Ravens like Upshaw's impact on their run defense. It wouldn't surprise me if Upshaw played early downs, which would allow Elvis Dumervil to be rested for passing situations.

CB Lardarius Webb: Webb could be limited early in the season after having ACL surgery in October. But, by the end of the season, Webb will be a full-time starter.

SS Matt Elam: The rookie first-round pick has impressed the coaching staff early in training camp.

FS Michael Huff: He's five years younger than Ed Reed and averages $3 million less per season.

CB Jimmy Smith: He's competing against last year's starter in Corey Graham, but you get the sense that the organization wants Smith to step up and win the job.
The AFC North blog is continuing its series on projecting the starting lineup for each team in the division. The last team to cover is the Baltimore Ravens:


QB Joe Flacco: Only Tom Brady has more playoff wins by a quarterback in his first four years than Flacco.

RB Ray Rice: Has 31 games of 100 total yards since 2009, two more than any other NFL running back in that span.

FB Vonta Leach: Lead blocker for NFL leading rusher in 2010 (Arian Foster) and the league's second-leading one (Rice ) last season.

WR Anquan Boldin: Caught 57 passes last season, his fewest catches since the 2004 season.

WR Torrey Smith: Five of his seven touchdown catches were for 25 yards or longer.

TE Ed Dickson: His five touchdown catches ranked second on the team.

LT Bryant McKinnie: Allowed the most sacks on the team last season (8.5).

LG Kelechi Osemele: Second-round pick is competing against Jah Reid for Ben Grubbs' old spot.

C Matt Birk: Has started 96 straight games, second-longest active streak among centers.

RG Marshal Yanda: Graded out as the NFL's third-best guard behind Evan Mathis and Carl Nicks, according to Pro Football Focus.

RT Michael Oher: Has committed 30 penalties, including 18 false starts, in his first three seasons.


LDE Art Jones: Battling Pernell McPhee for the spot left by Cory Redding, who signed with the Colts.

NT Terrence Cody: Ravens ranked second against the run in Cody's first full season as a starter.

RDT Haloti Ngata: Went to third Pro Bowl after 65 tackles (led Ravens' defensive line), five sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

LOLB Courtney Upshaw: First-round pick is the leading candidate to take over for Jarret Johnson.

LILB Ray Lewis: In Lewis' 16 seasons, the Ravens have held teams to less than four yards per rush every year.

RILB Jameel McClain: Free agent re-signed with the Ravens for $10.5 million over three seasons.

ROLB Paul Kruger: Logical replacement for this spot until Terrell Suggs recovers from his Achilles injury.

LCB Lardarius Webb: Best season in NFL led to a six-year, $50 million deal from the Ravens.

SS Bernard Pollard: Fourth-leading tackler in the regular season had 12 stops in the AFC title game.

FS Ed Reed: Three interceptions were his fewest ever in a 16-game season for eight-time Pro Bowl safety.

RCB Jimmy Smith: Last year's first-round pick expected to surpass Cary Williams for the other starting cornerback spot.
The AFC North blog is continuing its series on projecting the starting lineup for each team in the division. Next up is the Pittsburgh Steelers:


QB Ben Roethlisberger: Only fourth quarterback who began his career in the Super Bowl era to reach 80 wins in 113 starts (Tom Brady, Roger Staubach and Ken Stabler were the others).

RB Isaac Redman: Favorite to replace Rashard Mendenhall, who is expected to start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

FB David Johnson: Let's see how much the fullback gets onto the field in Todd Haley's offense.

WR Mike Wallace: Restricted free agent wants a long-term deal after becoming first Steelers wide receiver to start a Pro Bowl since John Stallworth in 1985.

WR Antonio Brown: Last year's team Most Valuable Player became first player in NFL history with at least 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 return yards in the same season.

TE Heath Miller: His 12.4 yards per catch were a career high for the seven-year veteran.

LT Mike Adams: If he isn't the starter here as a rookie, the second-round pick should be at this spot by next season.

LG Willie Colon: The Steelers thought about moving Colon from tackle to guard last season. The addition of Adams makes it more viable this year.

C Maurkice Pouncey: Ankle injuries have hurt the Pro Bowl lineman in his first two NFL seasons.

RG David DeCastro: The first-round pick could flip to left guard but he played primarily on the right side at Stanford.

RT Marcus Gilbert: He continued to get better and better every week as a rookie last season.


LDE Ziggy Hood: Now that Aaron Smith is gone, Hood is ready for a full season of starting.

NT Casey Hampton: Could start on PUP, which would push Hood to nose tackle and Cameron Heyward into the starting lineup.

RDE Brett Keisel: He's more than just a beard. His 37 quarterback pressures led the Steelers last season.

LOLB LaMarr Woodley: Had nine sacks in his first eight games before hamstring injury slowed him down.

LILB Larry Foote: Will compete with Stevenson Sylvester for James Farrior's spot.

RILB Lawrence Timmons: Last season showed he is more comfortable playing inside linebacker than outside.

ROLB James Harrison: Has produced at least 8.5 sacks in five straight seasons.

LCB Ike Taylor: Topped the Steelers with 20 passes defensed, which was seven more than anyone else on the team.

SS Troy Polamalu: Second among safeties in interceptions (19) since 2008.

FS Ryan Clark: Led the Steelers with 100 tackles, nine more than Lawrence Timmons.

RCB Keenan Lewis or Cortez Allen: The starting spot left by William Gay, who signed with Arizona in free agency, is up in the air at this point.
The AFC North blog is continuing its series on projecting the starting lineup for each team in the division. Next up is the Cleveland Browns:


QB Brandon Weeden: If a 28-year-old rookie doesn't start right away, there has to be a problem.

RB Trent Richardson: No Madden curse with this running back, just the pressure of being the No. 3 overall pick.

FB Owen Marecic: Two concussions in his rookie season have to be a concern.

WR Greg Little: He finished with 14 drops, tied for second-most in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi: Was second-most targeted player but finished with fifth in receptions.

TE Ben Watson: Suffered three concussions in 2011 but insists he'll continue playing.

LT Joe Thomas: Most consistent performer on Browns' offense went to his fifth Pro Bowl last season.

LG Jason Pinkston: Allowed one sack in 16 starts as a rookie last season.

C Alex Mack: Not even a midseason appendectomy could slow him down last season.

RG Shawn Lauvao: Committed four false starts and three holding penalties last year.

RT Mitchell Schwartz: The second-round pick was the highest-rated right tackle in this draft.


LDE Jabaal Sheard: The second-round pick recorded 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.

LDT Phil Taylor: Has strong potential but was up-and-down as a rookie last year.

RDT Ahtyba Rubin: Remains one of the more underrated interior linemen in the league.

RDE Frostee Rucker: Free agent from the Bengals will help slouching run defense.

SLB Scott Fujita: His 50 tackles last season were a career low.

MLB D'Qwell Jackson: Overcame injuries to land a five-year, $42.5 million deal that includes $19 million guaranteed.

WLB Chris Gocong: Has produced 145 tackles in two seasons with the Browns.

LCB: Joe Haden: Finished sixth in the league (and second in the AFC North) with 19 passes defensed in 2011.

SS T.J. Ward: Last year's strong season was cut short by a foot injury.

FS Usama Young: Sheldon Brown could take this spot if he converts from cornerback.

RCB Dimitri Patterson: His play at nickel back warrants a promotion into the starting lineup.
It's only days removed from the draft, and no AFC North team has taken the field for a practice yet, but that won't stop us from looking ahead. Each day this week, we'll project the starting lineup for a team in the division. Let's start with the Cincinnati Bengals:


QB Andy Dalton: The Who Dey Nation asks, Carson who?

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: He's the prize of the Bengals' free-agent period.

FB Chris Pressley: Agreed to a two-year extension in March.

WR A.J. Green: He's been working out with Larry Fitzgerald this offseason.

WR Jordan Shipley: The No. 2 wide receiver job is wide open, but I'm giving the nod to Shipley if he's fully recovered from his knee injury.

TE Jermaine Gresham: First Bengals tight end since Dan Ross from the early 1980s to post two seasons of 50 receptions or more.

LT Andrew Whitworth: He often goes overlooked in a division with Joe Thomas in it.

LG Travelle Wharton: A free-agent signing from the Carolina Panthers, where he started 99 games in eight years.

C Kyle Cook: Enters fourth season as the Bengals' starting center.

RG Kevin Zeitler: First-round pick was possibly best run-blocking guard in the draft.

RT Andre Smith: The big question is whether he can continue the progress he made last season.


LDE Robert Geathers: Recorded 29 tackles last season, his lowest since his 2004 rookie season.

NT Domata Peko: Led defensive line in tackles for second straight year.

RDT Geno Atkins: Topped all NFL interior linemen with eight sacks last season.

RDE Michael Johnson: Regains his starting job after Frostee Rucker signed with the Browns in free agency.

SLB Manny Lawson: Returned to Cincinnati for a one-year, $2.1 million deal.

MLB Rey Maualuga: He could be facing a suspension from the NFL for his latest off-the-field incident.

WLB Thomas Howard: Led team in tackles in first season with the Bengals.

LCB Nate Clements: He has to fight off first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick to keep his starting job.

SS Taylor Mays: His job looks safe after the Bengals didn't take a safety in the first four rounds of the draft.

FS Reggie Nelson: Re-signed with the Bengals this offseason for $18 million over four years.

RCB Leon Hall: If Hall (Achilles injury) isn't ready to start the season, Bengals can turn to Kirkpatrick, Terence Newman or Adam Jones.