- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Another potential candidate in the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator search is Alex Van Pelt.
The Steelers are among four teams who have "inquired" about Van Pelt, according to The NFL Network. Van Pelt, a former University of Pittsburgh quarterback, has been the quarterbacks coach at Tampa Bay for the past two seasons. He served as the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator in 2009.
Pittsburgh also interviewed former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley yesterday, according to the team's website.
Hensley's slant: By the Steelers continuing to look at outside candidates, it's appearing less likely that they'll promote quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner, who is presumably Ben Roethlisberger's choice. If it comes down to Haley or Van Pelt, the clear choice is Haley after how he orchestrated the passing game in Arizona a few years ago.
BENGALS: Former NFL coach Tony Dungy said quarterback Andy Dalton is "definitely legit." Dalton was selected in the second round last year because he doesn't have great size or arm strength. “He’s smart and accurate," Dungy told the team's website. "The game wasn’t too big for him and that’s what you look for.” Hensley's slant: Dalton will excel with a strong supporting cast. The Bengals have the pieces in place with wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham. Cincinnati needs to upgrade at running back and the No. 2 receiver spot in order for this offense to take another step forward.
BROWNS: Gerard Warren's work ethic was questionable at best during his four seasons with the Cleveland Browns. But his attitude has certainly turned around with New England, Patriots coach Bill Belichick told the Canton Repository. “Gerard has been very professional,” Belichick said. “He’s been with us for two years, and his career has had its own path. But I really feel like he’s settled into our team and our program. He’s one of the most respected guys on the team. He works hard. He’s tough. He wants to be on the field.” Hensley's slant: Warren has been able to put together an 11-year NFL career when other Browns' first-round busts (Courtney Brown, Tim Couch and William Green) never played beyond a couple seasons after leaving Cleveland. It's surprising, but impressive nonetheless.
RAVENS: The Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck says the Ravens should sign quarterback Joe Flacco to a new contract sooner than later. "Let's just agree to agree that Flacco already is the greatest quarterback in Ravens history," Schmuck wrote, "and there's no reason for the team to question that as it enters serious negotiations on a long-term contract extension." Hensley's slant: If Lee Evans had held onto that ball, Flacco would have thrown the winning touchdown pass to propel the Ravens to the Super Bowl. So, Flacco was certainly good enough to get the Ravens to the sport's biggest game. The scary part is committing all of this money to Flacco when he remains incredibly inconsistent, from game to game and from quarter to quarter.