AFC North: AFC Roster Analysis 2013

Most significant move. One of the major storylines this summer was the kicking battle between Shayne Graham and Brandon Bogotay. Who won? Nobody. The Cleveland Browns will continue their search for a kicker after cutting both on their roster, which makes not re-signing Pro Bowl kicker Phil Dawson even more questionable. Graham was 3-of-3 on field goals this preseason, even making a 50-yarder, but sat out the preseason finale with a stiff back. The Browns could take a look at Dan Carpenter or Billy Cundiff. "We gauged the preseason games and weren’t completely satisfied," coach Rob Chudzinski said after the cuts were announced.

The Browns only have four wide receivers because Josh Gordon is suspended for the first two games. Cleveland chose Josh Cooper, a former teammate of Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State, over David Nelson. It wasn't a surprising decision because Nelson was rarely on the field. He was coming back from an ACL injury suffered last season. The Browns also kept all three quarterbacks: Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer.

Going the undrafted route. Nearly 10 percent of the Browns' roster right now is made up of undrafted rookies. Five survived the final cutdown: safety Josh Aubrey; offensive linemen Caylin Hauptmann and Martin Wallace; and linebackers Paul Hazel and Eric Martin. Aubrey beat out sixth-round pick Jamoris Slaughter, who was cut, for one of the final spots on the roster. One reason why the Browns kept so many undrafted rookies is because they only had five draft picks this year. Slaughter was the only draft pick to get waived. Hauptmann and Wallace are two of 12 offensive linemen to make the team. The Browns have 25 players who have two years of experience or less.

What's next. The top priority, of course, is signing a kicker. The Browns are light at cornerback with only four (Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, Chris Owens and Leon McFadden). That could be one area of focus when looking at the waiver wire. The Browns also may want to upgrade at backup running back. They lost Dion Lewis and Montario Hardesty to injuries this month, which leaves Brandon Jackson as the No. 2 running back.

Here are the moves the Browns made to get down to the league limit of 53 players:

Contract terminated: K Shayne Graham.

Waived: TE Dan Gronkowski, OL Aaron Adams, DB Akeem Auguste, K Brandon Bogotay, LB Justin Cole, RB Jamaine Cook, DL Hall Davis, WR Tori Gurley, LB James-Michael Johnson, WR David Nelson, WR Naaman Roosevelt, DL Brian Sanford, DB Jamoris Slaughter, LB Justin Staples, OL Braxston Cave, WR Mike Edwards, DB Abdul Kanneh, RB Miguel Maysonet, DB Kent Richardson and P/K Colton Schmidt.
Most significant move. The Bengals surprisingly cut John Conner and kept Orson Charles. This means the Bengals aren't going with a traditional fullback. The Bengals will use two tight ends in their primary formation with Jermaine Gresham and first-round pick Tyler Eifert. When the Bengals need a lead blocker, they'll go with Charles, who is more of an H-back. Conner worked with the starting offense in the preseason finale and was the lead blocker on Giovani Bernard's one-yard touchdown. He also played a part in the top rushing attack in the preseason.

Cincinnati also cut offensive tackle Dennis Roland, who joined the Bengals in 2008 and played in every game for the previous four seasons. Rookie fifth-round pick Tanner Hawkinson made Roland expendable. And, as expected, the Bengals parted ways with defensive end Dontay Moch, a disappointing third-round pick who never produced a tackle in two seasons with the team. The release of quarterback John Skelton means Josh Johnson is the backup to Andy Dalton.

Surplus at two spots. Most expected the Bengals to choose between Ryan Whalen and Dane Sanzenbacher. But they kept both. Sanzenbacher helped his cause by producing big plays as a receiver (averaged 20 yards on five catches) and punt returner (71-yard touchdown) in the preseason. The Bengals are carrying seven wide receivers for the second straight season. They did waive Cobi Hamilton but the rookie sixth-round pick is expected to go on the practice squad.

The Bengals decided to keep five safeties, the same amount as cornerbacks. George Iloka is listed as the starter with Reggie Nelson, but rookie third-round pick Shawn Williams will likely be the eventual starter. Like wide receiver, Cincinnati was expected to choose between Taylor Mays and Jeromy Miles for the fourth safety spot and it kept both. Miles survived because of his play on special teams.

What's next. The Bengals likely will put wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (ankle) on the injured reserve-designated to return list, but they can't make the move until after 4 p.m. Tuesday. Based on its numbers at linebacker, that's the position Cincinnati will look at on the waiver wire. The Bengals are currently carrying five: James Harrison, Vontaze Burfict, Rey Maualuga, Jayson DiManche and Vincent Rey. The Bengals will probably sign linebacker J.K. Schaffer, the leading tackler in the preseason, on the practice squad after waiving him Saturday. The Bengals may add a sixth cornerback.

Here are the moves made by the Bengals to get down to the league limit of 53:

Waived: FB John Conner, TE-LS Bryce Davis, S Tony Dye, OT Reid Fragel, WR Cobi Hamilton, RB Dan Herron, C T.J. Johnson, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, CB Onterio McCalebb, DE Dontay Moch, CB Shaun Prater, WR Taveon Rogers, WR Roy Roundtree, LB J.K. Schaffer, QB John Skelton, DT Terrence Stephens, G John Sullen, LB Bruce Taylor.

Contract terminated: OT Dennis Roland.

Physically Unable to Perform list: RB Bernard Scott.

Injured reserve: LB Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder).
Most significant move. The Baltimore Ravens kept seven wide receivers but Tandon Doss still didn't make it. Doss, a fourth-round pick in 2011, went from battling for the No. 2 wide receiver job at the start of training camp to not having a job by the end of the preseason. He never had the same chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco that rookies Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette did. Doss' stock with the Ravens plummeted in the third preseason game, when Flacco threw an interception because Doss ran the wrong route. The Ravens chose to keep both promising young receivers (Brown, an undrafted rookie; and Mellette, a seventh-round pick) and two receivers dealing with injuries (LaQuan Williams and Deonte Thompson).

The most surprising move was waiving running back Bobby Rainey, who scored two touchdowns in the preseason finale. It looked like Rainey was going to make the team after the Ravens waived Anthony Allen and Delone Carter. That leaves the Ravens with two tailbacks, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. Rainey likely will go on the practice squad.

Potential return. When Dennis Pitta dislocated his hip in the first contact practice of training camp, coach John Harbaugh ruled out the starting tight end for the season. Harbaugh later said there was a chance that Pitta could return, and it looks like the Ravens are going to give him a chance to do so. The Ravens decided not to put Pitta on injured reserve, which indicates that the team will put him on the injured reserve-designated to return list. But the Ravens can't use that designation, which can only be placed on one player, on Tuesday.

The Ravens currently have one healthy tight end on the roster: Dallas Clark. The hope is Ed Dickson, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, will be ready for the season opener. The Ravens cut veteran Billy Bajema and undrafted rookie Matt Furstenburg on Saturday. Baltimore will likely bring back Bajema when Pitta is put on IR-designated to return and sign Furstenburg to the practice squad once he clears waivers.

What's next. General manager Ozzie Newsome says a team can't have enough cornerbacks and he has a history of adding offensive linemen after the final major cutdown. At this point, the Ravens have four cornerbacks on the active roster: Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith and Chykie Brown. The fifth cornerback, Asa Jackson, is suspended for five games. The Ravens could use another cornerback, especially one who can make an impact on special teams.

Baltimore is carrying eight offensive linemen on the roster, but that could change. Center Ryan Jensen, who had foot surgery, could go on injured reserve. The Ravens need to upgrade with a backup offensive lineman who has the versatility of playing multiple positions.

Here are the Ravens' moves to get down to the league limit of 53:

Waived: S Omar Brown, WR Tandon Doss, TE Matt Furstenburg, DT Cody Larsen, G Antoine McClain, RB Bobby Rainey, J.J. Unga, RB Anthony Allen, CB Marc Anthony, ILB Nigel Carr, RB Delone Carter, ILB Brandon Copeland, QB Dayne Crist, OT Jordan Devey, OT Rogers Gaines, TE Alex Silvestro, C Reggie Stephens.

Contract terminated: TE Billy Bajema, QB Caleb Hanie.

Injured reserve: D.J. Bryant (knee).
Most significant move: The Steelers parted ways with Jonathan Dwyer, their leading rusher in 2012 and a player who looked like he would get a lot of carries for the first part of this season with Le'Veon Bell (foot) out and Isaac Redman hampered by a stinger. I thought the Steelers might keep an extra running back with Bell sidelined but injuries at tight end did not allow them to do that. The release of Dwyer is a signal that Redman will be fine for the regular-season opener and that the Steelers held him out of the last two preseason games as a precaution. It also shows they are comfortable with the smaller Felix Jones and LaRod Stephens-Howling complementing Redman, a power back, in the running game.

Unbalanced offense: The Steelers kept five receivers, including local product Derek Moye as their No. 5 wideout. Their 53-man roster also includes five tight ends, and they didn't have many other options than to keep that many players at the position. Heath Miller (knee) has been activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list but he won't be ready for the start of the regular season. The Steelers also didn't want to use their one exemption for the short-term injured-reserve list on Matt Spaeth (foot), which is why Michael Palmer joined David Johnson and David Paulson on the 53-man roster.

What's next: The Steelers, like every other team, will scour the waiver wire tonight to see if any available players can help them. It wouldn't surprise me if they look to bolster their depth along the offensive line, and Steelers fans are no doubt aware that Max Starks, the team's starting left tackle in 2012, was among those released by the Chargers. The Steelers kept only four cornerbacks, so they could be looking for help there. Teams are allowed to start signing players to their practice squad Sunday afternoon, and that is -- and should be -- a priority for the Steelers. There are a handful of developmental players, such as outside linebacker Alan Baxter, that I'm sure they would love to sign to their practice squad. And given the inevitability of injuries, they are going to need contributions from practice-squad players at some point during the season.

Players cut: RB: Jonathan Dwyer, Alvester Alexander; WR: Justin Brown, Reggie Dunn, Kashif Moore; TE: Jamie McCoy, Nathan Overbay; OL: Mike Golic Jr., Joe Long, Chris Hubbard, Joe Madsen; DL: Alameda Ta'amu, Brian Arnfelt; LB: Marshall McFadden, Alan Baxter, Brian Rolle, Terence Garvin; DB: Terry Hawthorne, Josh Victorian, Ross Ventrone, Devin Smith; P: Brian Moorman.

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