AFC North: Marc Bulger

Ravens: Backup QB plan

June, 6, 2012
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NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Baltimore Ravens' backup quarterback situation if Joe Flacco is injured and misses time.

The Ravens haven't been consistent in the amount of importance they've placed on the backup quarterback position recently. Baltimore went from having one of the most experienced and expensive backups in Marc Bulger in 2010 to a rookie sixth-round pick in Tyrod Taylor last season. Taylor has completed one pass in three brief appearances. To be fair, this spot has been irrelevant on the Ravens, because Flacco hasn't missed a start in his four-year career (73 starts, including the playoffs) and has proven to be among the most durable quarterbacks in the league. The Ravens added more veteran depth by signing Curtis Painter this offseason, although it's unknown whether he'll beat out Taylor for the No. 2 spot. Painter played last season under new Ravens quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell in Indianapolis, where he was benched after failing to win in eight starts.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Flacco goes out for extended period: 18.
The Baltimore Ravens are among three teams interested in Steelers free-agent quarterback Dennis Dixon, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The St. Louis Rams and Denver Broncos are also in the running for Dixon, who is not expected to return to Pittsburgh.

The Ravens have been inconsistent in how they've addressed the backup quarterback position recently. In 2010, Baltimore spent $3.8 million on Marc Bulger to have veteran insurance behind Joe Flacco. In 2011, the Ravens went with rookie sixth-round pick Tyrod Taylor.

One reason why the Ravens could go with Bulger in 2010 was the uncapped year, but it's definitely a major philosophical switch to go from a playoff-tested quarterback in Bulger to a raw prospect like Taylor. Of course, Baltimore hasn't needed a backup, because Flacco has never missed a start in his four-year career (64 straight, the third-longest current streak in the NFL). But the Ravens' playoff chances would get decimated if Flacco got hurt, and the team had to turn to Taylor for an extended period.

Dixon, 27, the No. 3 quarterback last season for Pittsburgh, has made three career starts in his four seasons with the Steelers. He has a 2-1 record, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Dixon's first start came against the Ravens in 2009, when his interception in overtime set up the winning field goal.

Here are the backup quarterback situations for the rest of the AFC North:

BENGALS: Cincinnati is set with journeyman Bruce Gradkowski. When Andy Dalton was hurt in last year's season opener, Gradkowski rallied the Bengals to a 27-17 win at Cleveland.

BROWNS: At this point, the Browns are going with Seneca Wallace, the team's backup for the past two seasons. But the depth chart could get moved around if Cleveland drafts a quarterback in the early rounds. If the Browns don't take a quarterback, Wallace won't be competing with Colt McCoy for the starting job, the team said.

STEELERS: Besides Ben Roethlisberger, the only quarterbacks on the roster are Troy Smith and Jerrod Johnson. The Steelers likely will bring back Byron Leftwich or Charlie Batch. The favorite to return is Leftwich, who reportedly drew interest from the Colts.

Poll: Tyrod Taylor Ravens' No. 2 QB?

August, 24, 2011
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Rookie sixth-round pick Tyrod Taylor is arguably the biggest surprise in Baltimore Ravens training camp. The first-year quarterback has consistently made plays in practice and in Baltimore’s two preseason games.

But in our latest AFC North poll, we ask our community if Taylor should be Baltimore's No. 2 quarterback this season? The Ravens have Super Bowl aspirations. That makes a rookie backup quarterback a risky proposition.

Ravens starter Joe Flacco hasn't missed a start in three seasons. Baltimore cannot guarantee that every year. Therefore, can the Ravens still win with Taylor if Flacco goes down for a few weeks?

Or should Baltimore sign a veteran No. 2 quarterback? Last season the Ravens paid a lot of money to Marc Bulger for insurance. But the pool of veteran quarterbacks is not as deep this summer.

Using our SportsNation poll, vote on whether the Ravens should trust Taylor as the team's No. 2 quarterback this season. You can also share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The offseason favorite to land the backup quarterback job with the Baltimore Ravens this summer was Marc Bulger. He held the spot last year, enjoyed his time with the Ravens and didn't appear interested in competing elsewhere for a starting job.

But Bulger retired Wednesday after an 11-year career, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Bulger thanked his former teammates and says he's going to focus on his charity work.

This leaves Baltimore empty-handed in its search for a No. 2 quarterback. Joe Flacco is the starter and rookie sixth-round draft pick Tyrod Taylor is second on the depth chart.

The Ravens like Taylor. But realistically, Baltimore is trying to make a Super Bowl run this season and needs veteran insurance in the event Flacco is injured for several games.
Here are the most interesting stories Friday in the AFC North:
  • Pittsburgh Steelers tailback Rashard Mendenhall lost his endorsement contract with Champion following his controversial tweets on the death of Osama bin Laden and the events of 9/11.
Morning take: This was not a surprise, as Mendenhall received a lot of heat nationally all week. If players can lose endorsements over Twitter, they really need to be careful when using that medium.
Morning take: It's questionable if the Bengals can get this kind of offer. But if so, they should take it immediately. Trying to prove a point to a quarterback willing to retire is not worth passing up a golden opportunity to improve the franchise.
  • Here is a list of top free agents the Cleveland Browns have to choose from this offseason.
Morning take: The status of some of these players could be altered depending on what happens with the new collective bargaining agreement. But overall, it's not a deep group of elite talent.
  • Speaking of free agency, the Baltimore Ravens will search for a veteran quarterback behind starter Joe Flacco.
Morning take: The Ravens drafted the athletic Tyrod Taylor in the sixth round, but he's more of a project. Baltimore needs someone similar to Marc Bulger to help remain competitive in the event Flacco goes down.
Here are the most interesting stories Monday in the AFC North:
  • New Cleveland Browns rookie tight end Jordan Cameron showed off his athleticism in an entertaining video with NBA star Blake Griffin.
Morning take: Basketball has translated well for NFL tight ends, as evident by former hoop stars Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez. Cameron is raw but it's clear he has some ability.
  • Speaking of Jordans, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jordan Palmer doesn't want to be written off yet. He wants to compete for a starting job with new draft pick Andy Dalton.
Morning take: Credit the enthusiasm, but it's clear the Bengals don’t have a lot of confidence in Jordan Palmer as a starting quarterback. Competition or no competition, the Bengals drafted Dalton to win the job.
  • The Baltimore Sun reports the Ravens will not pursue tampering charges against the Arizona Cardinals for their reported "understanding" with pending free-agent quarterback Marc Bulger.
Morning take: Most tampering cases are difficult to prove, but this is especially true during a lockout. Is it me, or is Baltimore getting hit right now from all different directions?
Morning take: Backup roles are likely, and that's usually how it works in Pittsburgh. But an injury or two could force some of its rookies into starting roles. So they have to stay ready.

AFC North links: Impact of proposed rules

March, 21, 2011
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Baltimore Ravens

Former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner says he thinks Marc Bulger would be a good fit in Arizona.

Cincinnati Bengals

Peter Vermes, the coach of the Kansas City MLS franchise, on the likelihood of Chad Ochocinco landing a roster spot after his tryout: "I'm going to be totally honest with you, it's a long shot from a soccer perspective, but we have brought in guys with lesser physical tools than this guy. This guy is the man, from that perspective, and we'll see the rest."

If LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson is still available at No. 4, the Bengals may be hard-pressed to pass him up.

Cleveland Browns

Proposed rules changes on kickoffs could have a drastic impact on what has been a strength for the Browns.

Are the Browns really interested in trying to draft Cam Newton?

Pittsburgh Steelers

Proposed rules aimed at further protecting quarterbacks may have an adverse effect on how Ben Roethlisberger plays.

Despite the ongoing lockout, the Steelers are still requiring full payment from season-ticket holders by May 2.

Morning take: Ravens' backup QB?

February, 9, 2011
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Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC North: Morning take: Pending free agent Marc Bulger may get an opportunity to play elsewhere next season. I think the Ravens need a veteran backup to Flacco, though, as opposed to a rookie from the draft.
  • The Arizona Cardinals are pursuing Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton.
Morning take: The Steelers are bound to lose someone from their top-flight coaching staff, and it appears Horton may be that person. He's the favorite for Arizona's defensive coordinator opening.
Morning take: I don't agree with a lot of these AFC North picks. But click the link and formulate your opinion.
Morning take: This is an interesting question, because everyone in Cincy will go through an adjustment period. Simpson was just catching on after three years and now has to start anew.
Here are the most interesting stories Friday in the AFC North:
  • After being demoted to backup center this week, veteran Justin Hartwig is concerned about his future with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Morning take: The writing was on the wall when the Steelers used a first-round pick at Hartwig's position. With Maurkice Pouncey getting rave reviews, Hartwig’s best chance for playing time might be to try right guard.
  • Cincinnati Bengals receiver Antonio Bryant is holding out hope, despite his knee injury.
Morning take: There is a lot of speculation about whether Bryant will be released. With no salary cap this year, the Bengals have more freedom to pull off a drastic and surprising move.
Morning take: Jackson received another scare after having last season end with the same ailment. But this one isn't nearly as serious.
  • It's been a smooth transition for Marc Bulger, who fits in well as the Baltimore Ravens' No. 2 quarterback.
Morning take: Bulger gives the Ravens good insurance in case something happens to Joe Flacco. So far this looks like a smart decision by Baltimore.
A team-by-team look at the most indispensable players (non-quarterbacks) in the division.

The NFL, perhaps more than any professional sport, is a league filled with replaceable players. By sheer numbers, fielding 22 players on offense and defense makes it difficult for a single cog to be above the team, especially for non-quarterbacks.

But there are several players vital to AFC North teams. Here are four difference-makers in the division:

AFC Indispensable
Chris Morris for ESPN.comTroy Polamalu helps take the Pittsburgh defense to another level when he's on the field.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: TROY POLAMALU

To define Polamalu's importance, look no further than last season. Pittsburgh missed the playoffs in 2009, mostly because its defense was unable to hold leads in the fourth quarter without its star safety in the lineup.

Polamalu missed 11 games with a left knee injury, and it appeared the other 10 defenders were overcompensating for Polamalu's absence by blowing routine assignments. Polamalu provides a calming influence, and his greatness can be measured by his teammates playing at a higher level when he's in the game.

Steelers defensive coordinator and 2010 Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau recently said he cannot find a weakness with Polamalu. He's athletic, smart, instinctive and excels against the pass and the run.

Pittsburgh's defense without Polamalu is good (No. 5 in 2009), but with Polamalu, it might be the best in the NFL.

CLEVELAND BROWNS: JOSH CRIBBS

Where would the Browns be without Cribbs?

For starters, you probably can erase two or three wins from last year's 5-11 record. Cribbs also might have saved Browns head coach Eric Mangini's job.

Cribbs was one of the few bright spots for Cleveland last season. He made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner, but his ability to run the Wildcat also added a new wrinkle to the Browns' struggling offense, which finished last in the NFL in 2009.

The Browns plan to expand Cribbs' role, both in the Wildcat and as a receiver. The more the team is able to get the ball in his hands, the better.

Despite Cleveland adding pieces in the draft and free agency, Cribbs remains the Browns' most-feared player. He's also a locker-room leader and, perhaps, the new face of Cleveland sports now that LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat.

BALTIMORE RAVENS: RAY LEWIS

Lewis, 35, is no longer the Ravens' best player. That distinction could be shared by Ray Rice, Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata. But Lewis' leadership still makes him Baltimore's most indispensable player.

Lewis remains the heart and soul of a team many feel is a Super Bowl contender this year. Physically, the Ravens are stacked with talent at nearly every position. But there's no one in the locker room who can replace Lewis' role as the motivational leader.

On the field, Lewis made his 11th Pro Bowl last season, recording 134 tackles and three sacks. Backups Dannell Ellerbe or Tavares Gooden would be significant drop-offs if Lewis were injured. On the other hand, the Ravens have plenty of quality replacements ready for Rice, Reed and Ngata. Even Joe Flacco has a capable backup in veteran quarterback Marc Bulger.

CINCINNATI BENGALS: CEDRIC BENSON

Cincinnati is a team better defined by the sum of its parts. But if I had to pick the most important non-quarterback, it would be Benson.

The Bengals have two very good cornerbacks: Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph. They have plenty of receivers, including two who have put up Hall of Fame-caliber numbers in Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. But Benson is the workhorse who makes it all work. Benson opens things up for the passing game, which was inconsistent last season, and he moves the chains to help keep the defense off the field.

Second-year tailback Bernard Scott will help Benson carry the load this year. He showed positive flashes as a rookie, but the former sixth-round pick remains unproven. With Cincinnati expected to pass more, Benson might not match his career-best 1,251 rushing yards from last season. But that doesn't make him any less important.

AFC North preseason recap

August, 22, 2010
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Three AFC North teams played their second preseason game Saturday night.

Here are some thoughts and observations:

Pittsburgh Steelers 24, New York Giants 17

The Good
  • The quarterback play was solid across the board for Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger made his 2010 debut and completed 6 of 8 passes for 76 yards and one interception with the first-team offense. His interception was thrown short on a deep pass intended for receiver Mike Wallace, which was Roethlisberger’s only poor pass of the night. Byron Leftwich had his best preseason game, throwing for 95 yards and a touchdown. His 68-yard bomb to Wallace in the second quarter was the highlight of the game for Pittsburgh. Dennis Dixon continued his sharp preseason by completing 7-of-8 passes for 82 yards. Dixon also added 27 yards rushing, as he pushes for more opportunities with the first team.
  • Reserve tailback Isaac Redman continues to make a strong impression. "Red-zone" lived up to his nickname with a tough, 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He recorded 34 yards on six carries and averaged 5.7 yards per attempt. The AFC North blog predicted this week that Redman will make the 53-man roster, and he continues to help his case.
The Bad
  • Steelers No. 1 cornerback Ike Taylor was ejected in the first quarter following his fight with New York receiver Hakeem Nicks, who also was ejected. Sure, it's the preseason, but Taylor is a veteran who should know better. Pittsburgh cannot afford to lose its top cornerback under these circumstances in the regular season.
  • The defense was pretty good overall, but there was one drive by New York that will get some attention in Pittsburgh's film room. Third-string quarterback Rhett Bomar marched the Giants 75 yards for a touchdown against Pittsburgh's first-team defense. The Giants were short-handed with starter Eli Manning (head) and backup Jim Sorgi (shoulder) sitting out. The defensive standards are always high in Pittsburgh, which is why the Steelers have to be disappointed that New York's third-string quarterback had a successful drive in the first half.
Baltimore Ravens 23, Washington Redskins 3

The Good
  • Baltimore linebacker/defensive end hybrid Terrell Suggs is rounding back into form. Suggs was consistently in Washington's backfield Saturday, recording a sack, a tackle for loss and an additional hit on the quarterback. Baltimore's pass rush looks improved, and Suggs' resurgence from a poor 2009 season is a big reason. Baltimore had four sacks and seven hits on the quarterback.
  • Backup quarterback Marc Bulger had his best preseason game. He completed 13 of 16 passes for 130 yards. Bulger was solid during my time in Baltimore's training camp last week, and it's clear he's solidified the No. 2 quarterback job behind starter Joe Flacco.
The Bad
  • Despite the low point total, the Ravens allowed 206 passing yards to Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb. Backup Rex Grossman threw for 195 yards. Nineteen of Washington's 20 first downs were passing, and the Ravens allowed five pass plays of 23-yards or more. Baltimore doesn't have many weaknesses, but opponents will continue attacking the secondary until the Ravens prove they can cover receivers consistently.
  • Baltimore's offense stalled on third down. The Ravens were 1-for-10 in third-down efficiency. That number should be better with all the weapons Baltimore has on offense. But putting everything together remains a work in progress.
Cleveland Browns 17, St. Louis Rams 19

The Good
  • Starting quarterback Jake Delhomme continues to play well. Despite a slow start, Delhomme put up good numbers for the second straight preseason game, completing 12 of 16 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Delhomme handled the rainy weather conditions in Cleveland well, and was decisive. He zipped a 6-yard pass to tight end Ben Watson through good coverage for a second-quarter touchdown.
  • One Browns player who stood out was fullback Lawrence Vickers. He punished Rams linebackers and defensive backs. The Browns like their big package with Vickers blocking for running back Peyton Hillis, who had a team-high 12 carries for 51 yards.
The Bad
  • Cleveland did not take care of the football. The Browns are a bad-weather team, but sure didn't play like it. Cleveland had five turnovers (three fumbles, two interceptions) and didn't force any on defense. Browns head coach Eric Mangini despises sloppy play, and the Browns must play much smarter.
  • Surprisingly, the Browns' pass rush didn't show up. Cleveland had zero sacks against the shaky offensive line of the Rams, who are projected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season. St. Louis passed 34 times without allowing a sack.

Camp Confidential: Baltimore Ravens

August, 19, 2010
8/19/10
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ESPN.com NFL Power Ranking (pre-camp): 5

WESTMINSTER, Md. -- Pro Bowl talent? Check.

Plenty of depth? Check.

A budding quarterback and tremendous coaching staff? Check and check.

There are plenty of reasons to buy into the Super Bowl hype surrounding the Baltimore Ravens this year. Most of the key ingredients are in place for Baltimore to make a deep postseason run.

On paper, this is perhaps the best collection of talent in Baltimore since the team's inception in 1996. It's certainly the most balanced, as last season's third-ranked defense joins quarterback Joe Flacco, Pro Bowl tailback Ray Rice and new receiver Anquan Boldin to give Baltimore a potentially high-scoring offense.

But expectations do not always equal results. Can the Ravens live up to the hype? First they must address these key issues.

THREE HOT ISSUES

Joe Flacco
AP Photo/Nick WassRavens quarterback Joe Flacco has plenty of weapons to be successful on offense.
1. Is Flacco ready to take the next step? There are plenty of weapons on offense, but it's up to the quarterback to make sure everything runs efficiently.

Flacco has improved every year in the NFL. He is entering his third season, and the Ravens expect him to take the next step to become a legitimate franchise quarterback.

There is no reason to believe Flacco will not make the jump this year from a good to great quarterback. He has the best receiving corps of his career, a top-notch running game and a quality offensive line. Perhaps the biggest challenge for Flacco is keeping everyone happy, as every starting skill player with the exception of the quarterback has been to the Pro Bowl.

2. Will the cornerbacks hold up? Baltimore's secondary issues are well-documented.

Top corner Domonique Foxworth (knee) is out for the season and starters Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb are both coming off major knee surgeries. Washington will make his 2010 debut Saturday against the Washington Redskins, while Webb is waiting to be cleared for practice. There's also no guarantee both players will instantly get back to their old form once they return.

Players like Cary Williams, Travis Fisher and Chris Carr have been filling in for the time being. But starting roles are simply too big for this group, and that won't cut it in the regular season. In this pass-heavy NFL, you need quality depth at cornerback, and it turns out this is Baltimore's one glaring weakness on an otherwise stacked roster.

3. Can Baltimore survive the AFC North? Here is a fact Ravens fans often ignore: At least two division rivals currently have Baltimore's number.

The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers have given Baltimore fits in recent years. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is 8-3 against the Ravens in 11 career starts, which includes last year's 2-0 sweep. Pittsburgh also is 4-1 (including playoffs) in its last five meetings against the Ravens. The only Baltimore win in that span came against the Dennis Dixon-led Steelers in overtime last November.

A deep postseason run would be a lot easier for Baltimore if it won the AFC North division. With that comes a home playoff game(s) and possibly a bye in the first round. But the Ravens will have to play more consistently against their division rivals this season.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

[+] EnlargeTom Zbikowski
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesRavens safety Tom Zbikowski is having an outstanding training camp.
The Ravens are not panicking over safety Ed Reed's offseason hip surgery, because Tom Zbikowski is having the best training camp of his career. The third-year safety is leaner and quicker this year, as Zbikowski continues to earn the confidence of the coaching staff.

Zbikowski has some natural instincts that the Ravens want to take advantage of. He's versatile enough to play in the box, and has very good timing and angles on blitzes. It's unknown if Reed will be ready for Week 1 of the regular season. The Ravens probably can't win a Super Bowl without Reed, but they can win in the short term with an improved Zbikowski.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Jared Gaither's offseason has been a disaster. The offensive tackle got off on the wrong foot by making contract demands, and things have gone downhill from there.

Right now Gaither has a back injury that's kept him out of camp. He also surprised the Ravens by reporting to the team much lighter than his usual playing weight.

Baltimore has already moved forward by making Michael Oher its left tackle, which is the most important position on the offensive line. But if Gaither doesn't straighten things out, the Ravens also may have to figure out what to do next at right tackle. We will explain their options below.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • Remember the name Oniel Cousins. He will be one of the most important Ravens in the next several weeks. With Gaither working to get back on the field, Cousins could do Baltimore a huge favor by playing well at right tackle. Marshal Yanda also is a possibility, but he's better suited as Baltimore's starting right guard. If Cousins proves to be the answer, the Ravens can maintain continuity with the other four spots on the offensive line.
  • [+] EnlargeHaloti Ngata
    AP Photo/Rob CarrRavens' Haloti Ngata looks like one of the league's top defensive linemen.
    By the end of this season, Haloti Ngata may be mentioned as the top interior defensive lineman in football. It's impressive watching Ngata routinely blow up offensive linemen in practice. He makes it look easy. In one sequence Wednesday, Ngata pushed rookie offensive tackle Ramon Harewood about 5 yards into the backfield. Ngata then yelled to the offensive coaches "get him out," because Harewood's best effort barely offered Ngata any resistance.
  • I would be surprised if Baltimore doesn't improve its pass rush this season. The "pressures" in camp look more crisp and aggressive this year. It also doesn't hurt that linebacker/defensive end hybrid Terrell Suggs is in great shape and motivated to have a bounce-back season. Last year, the Ravens were ranked 18th in the NFL with 32 sacks in 16 games. The Steelers (47), Cleveland Browns (40) and Bengals (34) all had more sacks in the division.
  • From what I saw this week, it's pretty clear Marc Bulger deserves to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Flacco. Bulger has a quicker release and more accurate arm than Troy Smith. Bulger still shows flashes of the Pro Bowl-ability he had in St. Louis and can make throws that Smith simply cannot. Bulger would be a better short-term fill in if Flacco goes down.
  • Webb looked good running and cutting on his surgically repaired knee while doing individual drills this week. He's yet to practice with the team but is very close to being cleared. Baltimore believes Webb could eventually develop into the team's best cornerback. But the team has to be careful and make sure he returns at full strength.
  • Despite the bad press rookie defensive tackle Terrence Cody received after failing his conditioning test, he is a force once he's on the field. Cody is hard to move in the trenches and has surprisingly good feet for someone his size. The Ravens are experimenting with Cody in various ways, including pairing him with Ngata and also giving Cody an occasional look at fullback in goal-line situations.
  • I thought I would see more from rookie receiver David Reed this week. Not to put unnecessary pressure on the fifth-round pick, but Reed generated a significant buzz in Baltimore during minicamp and organized team activities. My first impressions of Reed in training camp is that he's still inconsistent. Reed had some drops, but he also had one of this week's best catches by leaping over a defender in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Baltimore will need to see more of the latter.
  • Switching Paul Kruger to full-time defensive end and adding bulk is already paying dividends. Kruger looks more powerful and explosive this summer. The second-round pick was drafted as a linebacker/defensive end hybrid and couldn't find a role on the team his rookie year. Now he's more productive focusing on one position.

Reports: Ravens trading John Beck

August, 2, 2010
8/02/10
12:29
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Beck

Beck

Things are getting interesting in Baltimore. Various reports here and here are stating the Ravens are close to trading backup quarterback John Beck to the Washington Redskins.

In all likelihood this means Troy Smith's spot on the team is safe. There has been plenty of trade speculation surrounding Smith following the signing of Marc Bulger. But the Ravens found a suitor for Beck first.

If everything goes through, Baltimore would have a strong threesome of quarterbacks this year in starter Joe Flacco, Bulger and Smith.

(Update: The Ravens have announced they received cornerback Doug Dutch from Washington in exchange for Beck.)

AFC North links: Ravens' QB chemistry

July, 19, 2010
7/19/10
11:18
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Baltimore Ravens

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is wondering how the addition of backup Marc Bulger will affect team chemistry. Bulger, on the other hand, has accepted his role.

Flacco does think the 2010 Ravens team is the best one he's played on.

The Boston Globe scouts the Ravens. So does NESN's Jeff Howe.

Cincinnati Bengals

Breaking down the Bengals' tight ends.

In an Insider piece for ESPN.com, Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson looks at the Bengals' position battle at starting defensive end.

The Enquirer's Joe Reedy thinks any interest between Terrell Owens and the Bengals is one-sided.

The National Football Post's Matt Bowen thinks the Bengals are contenders.

Cleveland Browns

Joshua Cribbs is ready to take over the LeBron James role as Cleveland fan-favorite. ''I embrace it because I feel like some of the values I hold strong to myself are the same values that the city should hold strong to itself, and [it does],'' Cribbs told the Akron Beacon Journal.

It's the beginning of a new era in Cleveland ... again.

Rookie Montario Hardesty wants to be Cleveland's top back.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Former Pittsburgh great Terry Bradshaw isn't all that impressed with rookie Jimmy Clausen.

In a wide-ranging column, NFL.com's Michael Lombardi thinks the Steelers won't let LaMarr Woodley walk away when his deal is done and applauds the Mike Tomlin extention.

NESN.com's Jeff Howe previews the Steelers.

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