AFC North: AFC Roster Analysis 2011

Cleveland Browns cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
9:40
PM ET
Check here and here for a complete list of the Cleveland Browns' roster moves.

Surprise moves: I may be on an island with this one, but I thought offensive tackle Branndon Braxton had a chance to make the team. Braxton is raw, but the Browns are thin on the offensive line. They could have taken on a project. Braxton has good size and decent feet.

Cleveland also released third-string quarterback Jarrett Brown. He had the strongest arm on the team and showed flashes. The Browns are hoping to get him back on the practice squad.

Terminating the contract of Demetrius Williams was a mild surprise. The former Baltimore Raven is experienced and made a few plays in camp. But it wasn't enough to take playing time away from youngsters like rookie receiver Greg Little.

No-brainers: Cornerback Coye Francies is a 2009 draft pick under former coach Eric Mangini who barely hung onto a roster spot for two years. But with the coaching change, you had the sense Francies' days were numbered. He was released.

There was only one tailback spot open behind Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty. Armond Smith beat out Quinn Porter in a close race that came down to the final preseason game.

Tailback Brandon Jackson (toe) also was put on injured reserve. Jackson, a free-agent pickup from the Green Bay Packers, will be out for the season.

What's next: The Browns will scan the waiver wires in search of depth. The preseason proved depth is desperately needed at several positions, particularly on the offensive line. Cleveland's backups have been thoroughly outplayed in exhibition games. This team isn't built to sustain many injuries.

Pittsburgh Steelers cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
5:18
PM ET
Check here and here for a complete list of the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster moves

Surprise move: I liked cornerback Crezdon Butler. He performed well for the Steelers and made a very strong case to make the team with his performance in the preseason. This was probably the most surprising cut in the AFC North on Saturday.

Offensive lineman Tony Hills was a candidate to start just a couple weeks ago, which made his release pretty surprising. But Hills didn't perform well after numerous opportunities the past few years. The Steelers ran out of patience.

Punter Jeremy Kapinos was edged by Steelers veteran Daniel Sepulveda. Both had solid preseasons. Kapinos has a good chance to land somewhere else.

No-brainers: Despite showing flashes, Tyler Grisham had no shot with Pittsburgh's numbers game at receiver. The Steelers are very deep at the position. Receivers Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery were guaranteed to make the team.

The same goes for running back John Clay, who couldn't work his way past talented running backs Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore. Jonathan Dwyer beat Clay for the final spot with a productive preseason.

What's next: The Steelers won't do much. Their roster is stable and the team escaped the preseason relatively healthy, with the exception of backup quarterback Byron Leftwich (broken arm) and cornerback Ike Taylor (broken thumb). At most, Pittsburgh could add a player or two for depth, perhaps on the offensive line.

Cincinnati Bengals cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
4:37
PM ET
Check here for a complete list of the Cincinnati Bengals' roster moves

Surprise move: The biggest surprise was a suspension. Starting guard Bobbie Williams will be out four games for violating the NFL's performance enhancement policy. Williams brings stability and leadership to the Bengals. He will be out until Cincinnati's game Oct. 9 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Bengals also cut offensive lineman Max Jean-Gilles. The team went after Jean-Gilles in free agency, but he didn't perform well in the preseason. Cutting cornerback Brandon Ghee was a mild surprise after the Bengals spent a third-round pick on him last year.

No-brainers: Fui Vakapuna began training camp with a chance to win the starting fullback job. But he was thoroughly outperformed by new starter Chris Pressley.

Dan LeFevour beat out Jordan Palmer for the No. 3 quarterback role. But LeFevour didn't do enough to warrant the Bengals' keeping three quarterbacks. Cincinnati cut LeFevour and used the extra roster spot on another position. The Bengals also terminated the contracts of cornerback Jonathan Wade and defensive end Victor Adeyanju.

Cornerback Adam Jones (neck) hasn't practiced this summer and will start the year on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Linebacker Keith Rivers (wrist) also will be out for a significant period of time.

What's next: The Bengals have plenty of cap room if they want to make a move. They recently spent money on their own players by giving extensions to cornerback Leon Hall, left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center Kyle Cook.

Cincinnati is going young this season. But it wouldn't hurt the Bengals to scan the wires to see what's out there.

Baltimore Ravens cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
3:34
PM ET
Check here for a complete list of the Baltimore Ravens' roster moves.

Surprise move: Cutting linebacker Tavares Gooden wasn't a surprise from a production standpoint. But I was somewhat surprised the Ravens gave up on him. Baltimore took Gooden in the third round of the 2008 draft. Fellow Miami Hurricane Ray Lewis tried to take Gooden under his wing, but Gooden was hampered by injuries and inconsistency. The Ravens were tired of waiting.

Running back/kick returner Jalen Parmele was beat out by seventh-round pick Anthony Allen for the third tailback spot. Receiver LaQuan Williams also rode the wave of a great training camp and preseason to make the team as an undrafted rookie.

No-brainers: The Ravens were too deep at tight end to keep Davon Drew. Second-year players Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta were locks, and Kris Wilson made more plays in the preseason to win the final roster spot at tight end.

Third-string quarterback Hunter Cantwell had a chance to showcase his skills with plenty of playing time in the final preseason game. But Cantwell struggled and was released. The Ravens wisely chose to use the roster spot on another position.

What's next: The Ravens still have to complete a contract extension with Pro Bowl defensive lineman Haloti Ngata. Getting rid of the franchise tag would free up several million dollars in cap room to make another solid signing or two. The Ravens were expected to have this completed weeks ago.

Baltimore hasn't been shy this offseason in improving its roster. So look for the Ravens to try to add depth and patch up some holes.

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