AFC North: Darrelle Revis

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Cincinnati Bengals' 43-17 loss to the New England Patriots:

Green
Green goes to Revis Island: Bengals receiver A.J. Green knew he would have his hands full on the outside with cornerback Darrelle Revis expected to be matched up with him all night. Even if Green's expectations were reached, he still walked away from the game feeling as if Revis didn't get the best of him. "He did a good job," Green said about Revis. "But I didn't feel like he shut me down. I had steps on him. ... I didn't feel like he did anything special that I had never seen before." Green was targeted seven times and caught five hard-earned passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.

Defending high tempo: From the first drive through the last, the Patriots maintained a brisk pace to their offense. It was so brisk that it apparently caused some issues for the Bengals, who had little answer, particularly against the run. New England had more than 500 yards of total offense, and 220 yards of it came on the ground. A sizable chunk of their 500 yards came when the Bengals quick-snapped the Bengals. "They were just on the ball. We didn't have our calls in. We were still looking at the sideline trying to get a call in and they had their hands on the ball already, snapping before we were even ready," Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko said.

Humbled locker room: After the loss, the Bengals were mostly quiet as they changed quickly and slipped out of the locker room in order to make their charter that was expected to get back to Cincinnati around 4 a.m. ET. There wasn't much said about the defeat. Most players acknowledged that they knew the game had the potential to go the way it did. At least one also didn't think this game proved anything about the Bengals' performances in prime time. "We still don't think about it that way," offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "We think about the fact we came to New England and were going against a team that just got their teeth kicked in and were going to play their best game possible."

Lesson learned? Whitworth was quick to say he believed the loss could prove beneficial for the Bengals. Just like the Patriots, who lost last Monday in blowout fashion, 41-14, the Bengals can't drop two in a row. "This is how championship football goes," Whitworth said. "If you lose a game, you bounce back the next week and you make somebody pay for it. That'll be our job next week."

Revis trade doesn't materialize

March, 12, 2014
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The Browns pursued cornerback Darrelle Revis via trade, but nothing was completed because Revis would not agree to a pay cut, according to several reports.

The Browns made an effort, though.

The odd thing is Revis may wind up taking a bigger pay cut (he would have made $13 million in Tampa Bay), but he'll be able to choose the team that pays him.

The Bucs are expected to release Revis this afternoon to avoid paying a $1.5 million roster bonus. At that point any team in the league can sign him, including the Browns. The chatter has him going to New England.

For the Browns the challenge in signing him increases due to the competition.

However, the Browns now can officially sell Revis on joining a potentially outstanding secondary that would include him, Joe Haden and Donte Whitner. It's been a long time since the Browns could sell something that appealing.

AFC North injury report

September, 14, 2012
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Here are the updates on the injuries that matter the most:

BROWNS AT BENGALS

Browns: Rookie LB James-Michael Johnson (ribs/oblique) is out and TE Ben Watson (thigh) is questionable. Watson played last game with the same injury, but Jordan Cameron seems to be slowly taking over the tight end spot. RB Trent Richardson (knee) is among the six starters listed as probable.

Bengals: LB Thomas Howard (knee) and first-round CB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) are out. Howard will likely be replaced by Vontaze Burfict, Vincent Rey or Dan Skuta. DE Carlos Dunlap (knee) and backup RB Bernard Scott (hand) are both questionable. Dunlap appears to be ahead of Scott at this point and could go about 10 plays in pass-rushing situations, according to the team's official website.

RAVENS AT EAGLES

Ravens: OLB Paul Kruger (back) practiced for the first time Friday and is considered questionable. Although he's optimistic, rookie second-round pick Courtney Upshaw is ready to replace Kruger in the starting lineup. S Ed Reed (hamstring) had a full practice Friday after being limited Wednesday and Thursday. He is probable and will start.

Eagles: Starting WRs DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Jeremy Maclin (hip) are both listed as questionable. They were limited in practice Friday after sitting out Thursday.

JETS AT STEELERS

Steelers: LB James Harrison (knee) and S Troy Polamalu (calf) both won't play, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac. Chris Carter is expected to start for Harrison, and Ryan Mundy will take over for Polamalu. RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is doubtful despite full participation in every practice this week.

Jets: CB Darrelle Revis (concussion) is out after not being cleared for contact. Kyle Wilson will start opposite Antonio Cromartie. TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) has also been ruled out. His snaps will be divided up between Jeff Cumberland and Konrad Reuland. OLB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) won't play and will be replaced by Garrett McIntyre.
Green
Here's another reason why Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is ready to take his game to the next level this season: He doesn't brush off his mistakes.

Green told the team's official website that he watched his dropped touchdown pass about 20 times on his iPad on the team's day off. "I don't like to drop anything. Once it hits my hand, I figure I've got to catch everything," Green said. "It was good to get back out there and catch some balls [Sunday], just to get it out of my mind. It's still in the back of my mind."

Perhaps Green was just stunned that he was so open against Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. On second-and-goal, Green ran free of Revis on a slant route for what should have been an easy touchdown catch.

"I just have to be able to finish, right?" Green said. "It was a great ball. It hit me right in the hands."
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the team isn't close to signing free-agent wide receiver Braylon Edwards, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

A move wouldn't happen until next month because Edwards is still rehabbing his knee. He is expected to be ready for training camp.

“We’re pretty full with players and we’ll keep seeing if there are guys who are released who can help us and make us competitive,” Lewis said. “We want to strike the balance with the young players too. I don’t want to fill up our 90 spots with all old players. We’ve got to have some young guys to help supplement the draft picks and so at the end of the day you have an opportunity of guys trending up. We don’t want to have too many guys on the other side of their careers.”

Lewis doesn't think Edwards would disrupt chemistry because the receivers room belongs to A.J. Green, adding "it's his offensive football team and he has come back with that attitude."

Hensley's slant: The Bengals have the cap room to take a chance on Edwards. Cincinnati needs a No. 2 wide receiver and a target with experience. No wide receiver on the team has more than 65 career receptions. Edwards has 341 catches (but just 15 last season) and has averaged 15.6 yards per reception for his seven-year career.

BROWNS: Phil Taylor's agent said the defensive tackle is remaining positive while awaiting results of the MRI. Taylor injured his pectoral muscle Thursday while lifting weights. "Phil is staying positive. He's got a great attitude," Peter Schaffer told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "He'll either be 100 percent [when the results come in] or if he needs surgery, he'll come back 100 percent. Things happen. Phil is going to be fine either way. If he misses time, he'll come back strong." Hensley's slant: The surprise contributor of the 2012 draft could be defensive tackle Billy Winn, a sixth-round pick out of Boise State. He slid in the draft because of questionable work ethic, but his skills could make him the top candidate to fill in for Taylor.

RAVENS: Fellow cornerback Lardarius Webb has high expectations for Jimmy Smith, last year's first-round pick. Smith's rookie season was thrown off course after he basically missed the first five games of the season with an ankle injury.“He can make a huge step,” Webb told the team's official website. “With his talent, his knowledge, I think he’s going to be a Pro Bowl corner coming up next year.” Hensley's slant: It was only last month when Webb said he wanted to be better than Darrelle Revis, so he obviously likes to think big. But as I said at that time, Smith has a chance to be better than Webb this season. Smith has the size and speed to be a shutdown cornerback.

STEELERS: Ben Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he majored in education at Miami (Ohio) because he wanted to teach and coach. He received his degree last weekend. “I still may want to coach, still like to be a coach," he told the paper. "I wouldn’t rule teaching out, but I’d say it’s unlikely.’’ As the Post-Gazette pointed out, Roethlisberger would have to serve as a student-teacher if he wanted to teach. Hensley's slant: Just imagine the pressure on the quarterback for the team Roethlisberger would be coaching. You see the Super Bowl rings when Roethlisberger is holding the play-calling sheet, and you know you can't leave the game unless you have two or three broken bones. Those are some high standards to meet.
Cedric Benson & Ike TaylorUS PresswireSteelers cornerback Ike Taylor, left, and Bengals tailback Cedric Benson are pending free agents.
The lockout has reached 71 days and counting, which continues to push back NFL free agency. This also means the league is bracing itself for an unprecedented whirlwind of player movement this summer once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

With that said, here are seven questions and answers to get you up to speed on free agency in the AFC North:

Question No. 1: Will the Cincinnati Bengals re-sign tailback Cedric Benson?

Benson
Benson
Answer: Yes, all signs are pointing toward Benson returning. With back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Benson has been a good fit in Cincinnati. He had issues last season with former offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, who was fired, and now Benson is excited about returning to the Bengals. As a 28-year-old running back, there will not be a huge market for Benson. Therefore, Cincinnati wouldn't have to overpay to keep Benson. With a rookie quarterback (Andy Dalton) likely starting this upcoming season, new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden says he wants to run the ball early and often, which has to be music to Benson's ears.

Question No. 2: Will the Pittsburgh Steelers re-sign Ike Taylor?

Taylor
Taylor
Answer: This is a tough one. Although I wouldn't be surprised either way, my sense is Taylor will not return to Pittsburgh in 2011. He's 31 and the Steelers would rather avoid the going rate for good cornerbacks on the open market, which is currently $8-10 million per year. Taylor says he wants that market value, and he has a much better chance of getting it somewhere else. Taylor already has two Super Bowl rings and this is his final chance to land a big contract. So no one should fault him for leaving. The Steelers will spend money on their front seven but do not value cornerbacks all that much, as evidenced by their recent draft history.

Question No. 3: Will Nnamdi Asomugha land in the AFC North?

Asomugha
Asomugha
Answer: The overall answer is no. I do not expect Asomugha to land in the AFC North. But if any team in the division has a fighting chance to get Asomugha, it's the Baltimore Ravens. Asomugha has a history with new Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who coached Asomugha for two seasons (2005-2006) with the Oakland Raiders. Oakland led the NFL in pass defense in 2006, as Pagano helped Asomugha develop into a star. That connection, along with Baltimore being a contender, could put the Ravens on Asomugha's radar. But money could get in the way as Asomugha is slated to become one of the league's highest-paid players. This summer, Baltimore also is expected to make Pro Bowl defensive lineman Haloti Ngata one of the highest paid at his position, and it's difficult to envision the Ravens fitting in both contracts.

Question No. 4: Will the Browns be aggressive in free agency?

Edwards
Edwards
Answer: Yes. The Browns have deep pockets and a lot of needs, which is usually a formula for teams to make significant moves in free agency. The Browns will have plenty of cap space -- if there is a cap -- so look for them to land at least one or two key additions. We mentioned two potential targets recently in defensive end Ray Edwards and safety Donte Whitner. Cleveland won't be able to compete with Pittsburgh and Baltimore until it closes the talent gap, so the Browns need impact players. Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Browns is competing with other aggressive teams and convincing free agents why they should join a rebuilding team this season.

Question No. 5: Which players are on the chopping block?

McGahee
McGahee
Answer: There are several interesting names to keep an eye on in the division. The two near-certainties are Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco and Ravens running back Willis McGahee. Both likely will be cut whenever a new collective bargaining agreement is reached because of their declining production and high salaries. Both are scheduled to make $6 million next season, and the Ravens and Bengals will be eager to slash that off their books and allocate those resources elsewhere. Also, Cleveland Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme and Bengals defensive ends Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom could be additional salary casualties in the AFC North.

Question No. 6: So where will Ochocinco end up?

Ochocinco
Ochocinco
Answer: The Bengals don't want Ochocinco, but there should be several teams interested in his services. Ochocinco, 33, is no longer a Pro Bowl-type receiver. But he can still be a solid threat and fits best on a contending team as a complementary weapon. In my opinion, the best fits for Ochocinco are the New York Jets and New England Patriots. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis has publicly campaigned to get Ochocinco to New York, and Ochocinco himself has said he would love to play for the Patriots; he has a good relationship with coach Bill Belichick. Both teams are expected to be contenders next season.

Question No. 7: Will the Bengals trade quarterback Carson Palmer?

Palmer
Palmer
Answer: That decision is up to Bengals owner Mike Brown, and I don't see him changing his mind to make a move. From Day 1, Brown has been consistent in saying he has no intention of trading Palmer, who threatened to retire. There was a small ray of hope after the draft, once the Bengals landed Dalton, that Brown could have a change of heart. But he ended that speculation this week. I think it's a mistake for the Bengals to not at least field offers for Palmer and determine if the value is there. Palmer seems serious about his trade demands and it wouldn't do Cincinnati much good to have Palmer sitting at home in California. Multiple draft picks in 2012 could help the future of the Bengals franchise, but it appears Brown is more worried about setting a precedent for other unhappy players to leave. For now, it looks like the ball is back in Palmer's court to either return to Cincinnati or retire.
Here are the most interesting stories Monday in the AFC North:
  • Would Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, who likely will be released, be a good fit with the New York Jets?
Morning take: I like this potential pairing. New York is a contender and a big enough market to handle Ochocinco's personality. It also doesn't hurt that Jets star corner Darrelle Revis has been campaigning for Ocho.
Morning take: Cleveland could use more depth behind its starters. D'Qwell Jackson (pectoral) and Scott Fujita (knee) are coming off season-ending injuries, so the Browns need protection.
Morning take: I don't see it. Parker is now 30, injury prone and really hit a wall the last two years. But that doesn't mean Parker didn't have a great career in Pittsburgh.
Morning take: Zbikowski (4-0) will face Mike Howell (2-1), who at least has a winning record. We will see if this opponent can last more than a round with Zbikowski.
Our popular and successful Power Rankings series continues next week with another interesting category that is sure to spark debate. Next week we examine who are the top-10 defensive players in the NFL.

There are a lot of wrinkles to this debate. For example, how do you rank a great linebacker such as Patrick Willis next to a great safety like Troy Polamalu? How would defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, who dominates the line of scrimmage, compare to cornerback Darrelle Revis, who shuts off one half of the field? These are all factors we have to consider when ranking the most dominant defensive players.

But our community doesn't have to wait for next week. Share your thoughts below on how you would rank the top defensive players in the NFL. ESPN.com will have its top-10 list complete on May 24.
John BaldwinScott Boehm/Getty ImagesThe Bengals, Ravens and Browns could all use a reciever with Jon Baldwin's skills.
The Baltimore Ravens are looking for big playmakers at receiver. The Cincinnati Bengals are going through a youth movement at the position, and the Cleveland Browns need legitimate threats for quarterback Colt McCoy any way they can get them.

Could former University of Pittsburgh receiver Jonathan Baldwin be the answer?

While first-round locks A.J. Green and Julio Jones get most of the pre-draft hype, Baldwin joins an athletic group of receiving prospects that includes Kentucky's Randall Cobb and Maryland's Torrey Smith. Each of the aforementioned trio is vying to be the next receiver off the board behind Green and Jones.

Baldwin is 6-foot-4, weighs 224 pounds, jumped 42 inches at the combine and can run. He has drawn comparisons to fellow Pittsburgh alum Larry Fitzgerald, whom Baldwin has worked with leading up to the draft.

Could the Ravens, Bengals or Browns use a Fitzgerald-type of playmaker on offense? Absolutely. All three division teams and the neighboring Steelers attended Baldwin's pro day at the University of Pittsburgh last month.

Baldwin caught 110 passes for 1,933 yards and 13 touchdowns during his final two seasons with the Panthers. Baldwin's abilities combined with playing a position of need make him a potential candidate for the AFC North in this month's draft.

Baldwin grew up in Aliquippa, Pa., a hotbed for football talent. He's the latest prospect to come out of a city that was also once home to Darrelle Revis, Ty Law and Sean Gilbert. According to Baldwin, regularly seeing and hearing about those players growing up provided motivation to work harder.

In addition to working with Fitzgerald, Baldwin also has used his hometown connections to get plenty of one-on-one time with Revis, the Jets' Pro Bowl cornerback.

"He's helped me a lot. He pushed me hard," Baldwin said of Revis. "It's just a lot of things I learned from him, such as different ways to beat press coverage. He's the best press corner in the NFL, I feel. He also told me things that he knows when a guy runs a certain route, because he does this or he does that, so I would know not to do that against defensive backs. ... It just makes it a lot better when you have the best defensive back in the National Football League giving you advice."

In the latest mock draft from ESPN's Todd McShay, Baldwin is the fourth receiver taken in the middle of the second round, behind Green, Jones and Cobb. Here is a summary of Scouts Inc.'s pre-draft report on Baldwin:
"Elite [ball skills]. Displays natural and strong hands and catches the ball away from his frame. Body control is excellent and can make tough catch outside of frame look easy. At his best catching the ball up high where he can use his long arms and ability to elevate. Tracks the deep ball effortlessly and will cause matchup problems in one-on-one jump ball situations. Flashes ability to pull in acrobatic one-handed catch."

According to Kevin Weidl of Scouts Inc., Baldwin must continue working on his route-running at the pro level. But Baldwin's physical tools are impressive.

[+] EnlargeJon Baldwin
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicJon Baldwin's ability to track deep balls sets him apart from other receivers in this draft class.
"There's no one like him, I would say outside of A.J. Green, who tracks the deep ball better than him," Weidl said. "Baldwin and Green are at another level in this class in terms of going down the field, tracking, adjusting and playing the ball. He can be a mismatch down the field."

Baldwin honed much of his big-play ability from playing basketball since the fourth grade. He had early aspirations of playing in the NBA and was a very good hoops prospect in high school. In fact, Baldwin played in all-star games against current pro players such as Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, Memphis guard O.J. Mayo and San Antonio Spurs forward Dejuan Blair.

"I used to do some pretty sick dunks when I played," Baldwin said.

Baldwin started playing football in the ninth grade, which is when his focus began to shift. But you can still see his basketball skills translate to the gridiron. Baldwin often grabs the ball over defenders at its highest point, a coveted skill in the NFL. Now Baldwin is trying to prove through workouts and interviews that he can be a slam-dunk prospect.

"The process is very unique and I'm enjoying it," Baldwin said. "I'm going to different visits to talk to different guys and different coaching staffs to let them know me and understand me better."

Baldwin doesn't have any elaborate draft plans. He will stay home in Aliquippa with his family and wait for his name to be called.

Whether an AFC North team turns in a card with Baldwin's name on it remains to be seen. But it appears the Ravens, Browns and Bengals could use a player such as Baldwin.
Once trash-talking rivals, Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco and New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis continue their offseason campaign to become future teammates.

Ochocinco said recently that he would love to play for coach Rex Ryan and the Jets, and Revis has been welcoming with open arms. The star cornerback further discussed the possibility of bringing Ochocinco to New York on ESPN's "First Take" on Friday.

Ochocinco
Revis
"We're good friends off the field, and you're always trying to better your team and trying to get over that hump," Revis said of Ochocinco. "We lost in the last two AFC championship games, and we need to get over that hump."

Is Ochocinco the right player to get New York to the Super Bowl?

Ochocinco is 33 and coming off a down year in Cincinnati where he recorded 67 receptions for 831 yards and four touchdowns. The Jets also have two younger, playmaking receivers in Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards who are pending free agents.

Currently, the Bengals have no interest in listening to offers for franchise quarterback Carson Palmer. But for the right price, they don't seem opposed to moving Ochocinco. He has one year left on his contract, and the Bengals are rebuilding and looking to go younger at the position.

When Ochocinco suffered an ankle injury late last season, inexperienced receivers Jerome Simpson, Jordan Shipley and Andre Caldwell stepped up and led the Bengals to a 2-1 finish.

Champ Bailey helps Johnathan Joseph

February, 23, 2011
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On Tuesday the Denver Broncos signed veteran cornerback Champ Bailey to a four-year contract extension reportedly worth $43 million. The deal will serve as a measuring stick in the Cincinnati Bengals' negotiation with pending free-agent Johnathan Joseph.

Bailey
Bailey
Joseph
Joseph
Bailey's deal proves how expensive it is to keep good cornerbacks. At 33, Bailey is no longer considered an elite, shutdown corner. But he's still solid and commanded an average of just under $11 million per season from Denver.

The timing of Bailey's deal helps Joseph more than it helps the Bengals. Joseph, like Bailey, is not in the category of Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha but fits somewhere in that next tier.

If Bailey is worth $11 million per season, you have to believe Joseph's representation feels their client is worth $8-$10 million per season. Over the past two years Joseph, 26, has more interceptions (nine) than Bailey (five) and is seven years younger.

Would the Bengals be willing to pay that much to keep Joseph? Based on Cincinnati's history with free agents, it's questionable. Cincinnati also signed cornerback Adam Jones to a team-friendly, two-year contract in 2010 for insurance.

Cincinnati is not expected to use the franchise tag, because it's projected to cost $14 million for cornerbacks in 2011. Therefore, Bengals have less than two weeks to work out a deal with Joseph before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens have made their first major moves of the 2011 offseason by designating LaMarr Woodley and Haloti Ngata their respective franchise players.

Could the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals be next?

With the franchise deadline looming on Thursday, teams only have a few more days to decide on tagging players. Although the future of the franchise designation remains unclear with labor uncertainty, some teams are protecting themselves by still tagging top players.

Ngata and Woodley were no-brainers. But the choices are much more complex for Cleveland and Cincinnati.

For the Browns, they don't have any obvious free agents to tag. Kicker Phil Dawson and fullback Lawrence Vickers would be two sleepers, but both appear remote. The AFC North has tagged kickers two straight years (Shayne Graham, Jeff Reed) but neither worked, and tagging a fullback would be an even bigger shock.

For the Bengals, cornerback Johnathan Joseph and tailback Cedric Benson are two possibilities. Joseph is the team's biggest free agent. But the tag for cornerbacks could approach approximately $14 million thanks to big-money contracts signed by Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha in recent years. That would be a lot of money for the Bengals to invest for one year, especially since they hope to pay quarterback Carson Palmer $11.5 million in 2011. Benson is a good fit in Cincinnati but the Bengals probably don't anticipate paying him among the top five at his position.

Therefore, expect Ohio's NFL teams to pass on the franchise tag this year.
PITTSBURGH -- Steelers receiver Hines Ward admits trips to "Revis Island" can be frustrating.

It's often a lonely place. The quarterback rarely looks your way and for four quarters there's not many opportunities.

[+] EnlargeHines Ward and Darrelle Revis
Karl Walter/Getty ImagesHines Ward (left) managed only two catches for 34 yards against Darrelle Revis in Week 15.
Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne found that out the hard way in the wild-card round. So did Deion Branch of the New England Patriots in the divisional playoffs.

Next up will be Ward, a 13-year veteran and future Hall of Famer who says he has some "old tricks" ready for Sunday's AFC title game against the New York Jets. In their previous meeting in Week 15, Ward was guarded primarily by Jets corner Darrelle Revis and caught just two passes for 34 yards. Ward was only targeted three times.

"Can he be beaten? Yeah, he can be beaten," Ward said. "But at the same time he's one of those guys you don't want to mess with. If you make a mistake he's a game-changer. A lot of quarterbacks just stay a away from him. So as a wide receiver you can get frustrated, because you're not even getting looked at when he's covering you."

With Revis on Ward, younger receivers such as Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown will have to make plays. The trio combine for just four years experience but have made plays all season. Wallace, one of the fastest players in the NFL, will primarily face the athletic Antonio Cromartie from the Jets.

But Ward, who has two Super Bowl rings, has been "Mr. Playoffs" for the Steelers. Ward caught a touchdown pass in the past week's win over Baltimore and hopes to get the best of Revis a few times, which would be big for the Steelers.

"For me, I just have to stay focused and not get frustrated," Ward said. "It's not about Revis against me. It's Steelers versus the Jets. So I have to go out there and work my tail off to get open.

"He's one of the best cornerbacks in our league. He's probably the best cornerback in our league. I look at it as a challenge."

Five things to watch: Bengals at Jets

November, 24, 2010
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The Cincinnati Bengals (2-8) will try to break their NFL-high seven-game losing streak on Thanksgiving night against the New York Jets (8-2).

Here are five things to watch for the Bengals:

1. Will they show up? Here is the hard truth: The Bengals aren't going to win many games the rest of the season. At this stage, it's about playing for professional pride and not embarrassing themselves like last week when the Bengals allowed 35 unanswered points to the lowly Buffalo Bills. Cincinnati hasn't won a game since Sept. 26, which is nearly two months ago. But there is still enough talent on this roster to compete and possibly pull an upset or two in the final six weeks. But if the Bengals decide not to show up against a playoff-caliber team like the Jets, this game could get ugly fast.

2. Can T.O. thrive on Revis Island? The rivalry started in Buffalo, and it continues Thursday with the Bengals. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis once called Bengals receiver Terrell Owens a "slouch," and Owens responded this week by saying Revis is an "average' cornerback. These two players simply don't like each other. The Jets will match the physical Revis on Owens, while cornerback Antonio Cromartie plays against Chad Ochocinco. For Cincinnati to pull the upset, its receivers have to win these matchups.

3. How bad is Carson Palmer hurting? Credit Palmer for not making any excuses for his performance this season, but the quarterback is quietly dealing with several injuries. He took a painkilling injection in his shoulder to play two weeks ago against the Indianapolis Colts, and this week he missed more practice time with a left foot injury. Expect a lot of pressure from the blitz-heavy Jets. Palmer has been sacked 17 times this season, which isn't a very high total. He's getting rid of the ball quickly while taking plenty of hits behind a subpar offensive line.

4. Will the Bengals eliminate mistakes? Owens said it best this week: "We have made enough mistakes the last six ballgames to last a lifetime." The Bengals are one of the sloppiest NFL teams this year. They've committed costly turnovers and penalties time after time and haven't been able to clean up that problem. Last week against Buffalo, Cincinnati had seven penalties and three turnovers. The Bengals have to play a lot smarter to have a chance on the road against the Jets.

5. How will younger players perform? At 2-8, the record provides an opportunity for Cincinnati's younger players to step up. Closely monitor rookies such as tight end Jermaine Gresham, receiver Jordan Shipley and defensive linemen Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins. With the Bengals due for a major offseason makeover, these young players need to develop and prove they're a part of Cincinnati's foundation in 2011. All four rookies have shown flashes but need to be consistently productive.

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