AFC North: Mohamed Massaquoi

Here are some happenings over the weekend for each AFC North team:

RAVENS: Baltimore is preparing for Kansas City's press coverage with cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Stanford Routt. "They had a little bit of a switch from last year," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron told The Baltimore Sun. "It will be interesting to see. I am sure they’ll have some things they’ll change coming into this game. They made a complete switch in their secondary approach."

BENGALS: Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle who spent the past 11 seasons as the Bengals’ secondary coach, isn't surprised by the development of Andrew Hawkins. "But it does scare me because I have to go up against it this week,” Coyle told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “I knew early on that he was going to be a special player. He is a great hard worker, has talent and also has heart and is tough.” Hawkins is third on the team in receptions (15) and second in receiving yards with 247.

STEELERS: Pittsburgh will rotate outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley to avoid any fatigue in the fourth quarter, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazettereports. Harrison and Woodley will be spelled by Chris Carter and Jason Worilds, respectively, as they look to chase down the elusive Michael Vick. "I have to come off," Harrison said. "It's no need being out there, being dog-tired, and not be able to do what's necessary to play the position. You want to stay fresh. You don't want to go out there and play every snap in the first half and come out sluggish in the third and have nothing left in the fourth."

BROWNS: Browns wide receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin were ruled out with hamstring injuries by the team after being listed as doubtful on Friday. Greg Little and rookie Josh Gordon will start, according to The Plain Dealer. "I plan to take full advantage of it," Gordon said said.
A lot of interesting topics to cover in the wake-up call. The running back in Baltimore is getting called out for talking too much and the running back in Cincinnati is getting put on notice for fumbling too much. If you're into some good chatter, check out the blog later this morning. NFC East blogger Dan Graziano and I talk about the upcoming Eagles-Steelers game in a post called "Double Coverage." Until then, let's talk about the wake-up call ...

RAVENS: Ray Rice often leaves an impression on defenses with a big run or a touchdown. Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali, however, remembers Rice's big mouth. “I don’t remember a lot of running backs talking that much trash,” Hali told Baltimore reporters in a conference call, via The Baltimore Sun. “Usually, running backs are quiet and get their job done, but he’s one of those guys – he’s a mouthful. [San Diego Chargers quarterback] Philip Rivers talks a lot of trash. Maybe I would compare him to Philip Rivers.” Rice, who is known for being good-natured, said he got into it with one player with the Chiefs in a 2010 playoff game. “I usually don’t let anybody get to me, but that one guy was playing very dirty,” Rice said.

BENGALS: The Bengals aren't going to keep giving the ball to running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis if he continues to fumble. Green-Ellis has now put the ball on the ground three times in his past 28 touches after not fumbling in his first 589 touches in the NFL. “It’s very uncharacteristic of him. It’s not in his history. It’s not in his DNA. But sometimes they happen,” offensive coordinator Jay Gruden told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Obviously, we’re on him, he’s on himself and hopefully it doesn’t continue. It can’t continue because obviously he’s a feature back. It can’t continue or he won’t be a feature back.” Let's see if Green-Ellis' attempts drop with backup Bernard Scott returning after being inactive last week.

STEELERS: Rookie Chris Rainey, a fifth-round draft pick, was the most exciting Steelers player in the preseason, scoring on 41-yard run and a 57-yard catch (he also had touchdowns on two punt returns called back because of penalties). Rainey, though, has been quiet in three regular-season games. He's had 10 touches on offense (six runs, four receptions) and five total returns. Rainey told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he expected more action but said, “I’m a rookie, man, and that’s all it is. I’ve talked to guys that were rookies recently, and they just said, ‘You’ve got to be patient, man.’ It’s just like being a freshman [in college] again.”

BROWNS: Receiver-returner Josh Cribbs intends to suit up Sunday even though his wife and brother both want him to stop playing. According to The Plain Dealer, Cribbs' wife cried hysterically after he was knocked unconscious by a blow to the head last Thursday. "I feel great," said Cribbs, who was limited in practice. "I've had no symptoms and I'm ready to play [Sunday] against the Giants. I'm not scared of taking another hit." Cribbs, who suffered a concussion on the hit from Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, doesn't remember the collision. He's only watched it once on tape. The Browns may need Cribbs more this week because receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin missed practice with hamstring injuries.

Browns hurting at wide receiver

October, 1, 2012
10/01/12
4:49
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Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has been hurt by the drops of the Browns' receivers. Now, it's the Browns' receivers who are feeling the pain.

Half of Cleveland's wide receiver group missed Monday's practice. Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), Josh Cribbs (head) and Travis Benjamin (undisclosed) all sat out the first workout of the week.

That leaves the Browns with three healthy receivers on the active roster. Greg Little, Josh Gordon and Jordan Norwood have combined for 22 receptions this season.

The Browns' wide receivers have had problems with dropped passes this season. That's why the top two pass-catchers are running back Trent Richardson (15 receptions) and tight end Ben Watson (12).

There is a possibility that Cleveland will promote wide receiver Josh Cooper, a college teammate of Weeden, at the end of the week if the Browns don't get any of those receivers healthy.

"We'll have to see," coach Pat Shurmur said. "We'll make the roster as good as we can make it. We're going to put the guys on the field that can play and give us the best opportunity to win. If we've got to use three tight ends, if we've got to use two receivers, whatever the combination is, we've got plenty of plays and a lot of ideas and we'll put the guys out there that will give us the best chance to win."

Strong safety T.J. Ward didn't practice after undergoing surgery to repair his broken right thumb a couple of days ago. He could be out for one game.

Rapid Reaction: Ravens 23, Browns 16

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
11:46
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BALTIMORE -- A few thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 23-16 victory over the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday:

What it means: The Ravens (3-1) took a half-game lead in the AFC North over the Bengals (2-1) by winning their franchise-record 13th straight game at home, which is also the longest current streak in the NFL. Just like the controversial Monday night game, it came down to a shot to the end zone. But the regular officials didn't have to make a tough call like their replacement counterparts. Brandon Weeden's first pass to the end zone was knocked down and his second one sailed to the back of the end zone. It wasn't pretty, but the Ravens were playing their fourth game in 17 days and were taking on a division opponent in a steady downpour. One of two winless teams in the NFL, the Browns dropped to 0-4 for the fourth time in their history (1975, 1999 and 2009 were the other times). Cleveland has lost 10 in a row, their longest losing streak since losing 10 straight from 2008 to '09.

Celebrating in style: Ravens cornerback Cary Williams intercepted the first pass of his career and he made it memorable. He jumped a Weeden pass on the sideline and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown, which put the Ravens ahead, 23-10, late in the third quarter. Williams has been frequently picked on by quarterbacks this season.

Flacco on the move: Joe Flacco threw for 356 yards, but he also impacted the game with his legs. On third-and-goal in the third quarter, Flacco ran to the outside, where he put a move on Browns linebacker Scott Fujita before scoring on a 1-yard run. Flacco's fifth rushing touchdown of his career put the Ravens ahead, 16-7. Flacco's streak of 125 passes in the red zone without an interception ended earlier in the game.

Ravens' receivers stepping up: The Ravens wide receivers took advantage of the Browns not having their top cornerback Joe Haden, who sat out the third game of a four-game suspension. Anquan Boldin caught nine passes for 131 yards, and Torrey Smith had 97 yards receiving, including his third touchdown in five days.

Another critical drop by Little: It looked like wide receiver Greg Little was getting out of Pat Shurmur's doghouse until he dropped a potential touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Instead of getting the Browns to within 23-20, they had to settle for another long field goal. Wide receiver Travis Benjamin had a pass bounce off his chest while in the end zone in the final minute with the Browns down 23-16.

Richardson keeps up his streak: Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson didn't fare well against the Ravens' run defense, which didn't give him any holes. He finished with 47 yards rushing on 14 carries. Richardson, though, did score a touchdown in his third straight game. He beat Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain to the end zone after taking a pitch from Weeden.

Dawson from long distance: It seemed like last season with the Browns' Phil Dawson hitting long field goals. He converted from 51, 50 and 52 yards. This was his fourth from 50 or longer this year and his 11th since the start of the 2011 season.

Scary moment: Already playing without leading receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), the Browns lost another receiver when Josh Cribbs was knocked out of the game with a head injury. Cribbs' helmet was dislodged on a punt return when linebacker Dannell Ellerbe hit his head with his right shoulder, which also forced a fumble. Cribbs got up on his own power and walked off the field before going to the locker room.

What's next: The Ravens travel for just the second time this season, playing at Kansas City. The Browns are at the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
It's the start of a long day for the AFC North blog. In just a little over 12 hours from now, the Browns and Ravens kick off from Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium. Because of that, I wanted to warn you that these two teams will dominate the blog. That's what happens when they're the only game in town. Now, it's time to get your wake-up call ...

BENGALS: The team's starting cornerbacks, Leon Hall and Nate Clements, both didn't practice Wednesday. Clements, who started at safety Sunday and was seen walking out of Paul Brown Stadium in a protective boot on Monday, has a calf injury. Hall didn't play with what was originally believed to be a left calf injury. An MRI has since determined that it’s a hamstring injury. “I’m going day-by-day,” Hall told the Cincinnati Enquirer before Wednesday’s practice. “We’ll see what happens, see how I’m feeling. It’s not too bad today. It’s a little sore." If Hall and Clements can't play against Jacksonville, Terence Newman and Adam Jones will start at cornerback.

BROWNS: Brandon Weeden will be without his most productive wide receiver. Mohamed Massaquoi has been declared out for Thursday's game against the Ravens. He tops the Browns wide receivers in catches (nine) and receiving yards (145) and ranks second in yards per catch (16.1). Just listen to Weeden on how valuable Massaquoi has become to the team. "[Massaquoi's] a guy that's been consistent all year," Weeden told The Plain Dealer. "He's a guy I have a lot of confidence in. I'm hoping comes back sooner rather than later. He's gonna be missed, but I think just consistency. He's a guy that doesn't make a bunch of mistakes and (he's) a competitor, a great teammate and kind of a leader for the rest of the receivers."

RAVENS: The inside linebacker who is getting the most snaps next to Ray Lewis isn't Jameel McClain. It's Dannell Ellerbe. According to the Ravens' official website, Ellerbe has played 65 percent of the defensive snaps. The reason is based on adapting to a pass-first league. "I think [Ellerbe] might be just a little bit better in the coverage aspect,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "Jameel is a very, very good run linebacker, but he does a good job in the pass defense too.” Ellerbe has taken advantage of the increased playing time, leading the team with 2.5 sacks and ranking second with 20 tackles.

STEELERS: It looks like linebacker James Harrison will miss his fourth consecutive game after leaving the Steelers practice facility before practice because his knee bothered him, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. "It's a little bit of a setback," agent Bill Parise told the paper after speaking to Harrison. "Hopefully, it's not something that will derail our plans." The Steelers have the next four days off for the bye before returning Monday. With each game that he misses, it makes Harrison look worse that he didn't have the surgery in the spring when the knee was an issue. Chris Carter and Jason Worilds, two young players who have replaced Harrison, have combined for one sack.

AFC North injury report

September, 26, 2012
9/26/12
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Here's the final injury report for Browns-Ravens and the first one of the week for Bengals-Jaguars:

BROWNS AT RAVENS

BROWNS: Out: WR Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), TE Alex Smith (head) and LB James-Michael Johnson (ribs-oblique). Questionable: DB Ray Ventrone (hand). Probable: CB Sheldon Brown (chest), WR Josh Cribbs (knee), G Jason Pinkston (ankle), DE Frostee Rucker (wrist), RB Trent Richardson (knee) and LS Christian Yount (shoulder).

RAVENS: Questionable: OT Jah Reid (calf). Probable: LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (knee), CB Lardarius Webb (knee).

BENGALS AT JAGUARS

BENGALS: Did not practice: CB Leon Hall (hamstring), CB Nate Clements (calf), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee), TE Donald Lee (quad), RB Bernard Scott (ankle), OT Andrew Whitworth (knee). Limited: CB Jason Allen (thigh), DE Carlos Dunlap (knee), C Jeff Faine (hamstring) and FS Reggie Nelson (shoulder).

AFC North Game Day: By the numbers

September, 23, 2012
9/23/12
9:00
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Here are some numbers to remember heading into Sunday's AFC North games:

1 -- Sack needed by linebacker LaMarr Woodley to become sixth Steeler to reach 50 for his career.

3 -- Sacks by Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson last Sunday, a career high.

4 -- Career touchdowns by Browns tight end Ben Watson against the Bills.

6 -- Times in which Ravens running back Ray Rice has produced more than 100 total yards in a seven-game span in the regular season.

7 -- Bengals' wins in their past eight games against non-division opponents.

8 -- AFC North-leading sacks by the Browns, two more than any other team in the division.

9 -- Interceptions by Bengals cornerback Terence Newman against the Redskins, his most against any team.

16 -- Wins by the Ravens in their past 17 home games, the best mark since the start of the 2010 season.

19 -- Division-leading tackles by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

44 -- Wins by the Steelers in the 48 games where Ben Roethlisberger has posted a quarterback rating greater than 100.

61 -- Games played by the Ravens since having a losing record. That ranks second to the Patriots, who have gone 145 games.

67 -- Yards receiving needed by tight end Heath Miller to become eighth Steelers to record 4,000 career receiving yards.

77.4 -- Andy Dalton's completion percentage last Sunday (24 of 31), the second-highest of his brief career.

90 --Yards receiving by Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi last Sunday, the third-most in his career.

167 -- Yards rushing by Rice, which leads the division by one yard over BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Weekend mailbag: Rise of Massaquoi

September, 22, 2012
9/22/12
7:30
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As far as my Sunday plans go, I'm staying in Baltimore for the Sunday-night showdown between the Ravens and Patriots. If I were Lee Evans or Billy Cundiff, I wouldn't watch the game. There's probably going to be a lot of replays from the AFC championship game. On another topic, I'm getting some quality mail these days. In other words, fewer expletive-filled complaints and more thoughtful questions. Here's a sample ...

Jesse, from Erie, Pa., writes: The Steelers are yet again lacking turnovers. Do you think this will be a common theme throughout the season or will they pick up the slack?

Jamison Hensley, from AFC North headquarters, responds: The lack of turnovers has been a surprise to me. The Steelers made this a point of emphasis in training camp after an NFL-low 15 takeaways last season. What has hurt the Steelers over the past two seasons are the injuries to their two best pass-rushers, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

Of the Steelers' 19 games the past two seasons, Harrison and Woodley have been on the field together for six. Turnovers increase when quarterbacks are forced to rush their throws. The only way to do that is to get a consistent pass rush. That won't happen until the Steelers can get Harrison healthy.




Torey, from Parma, Ohio, writes: After the first two games, it seems like Mohamed Massaquoi is on a different level than the rest of the Browns receivers. He seems to be the only one getting open and has provided reliable hands thus far. Is it possible that he has become the receiver us Browns fans have always hoped he would be?

Jamison Hensley, from AFC North headquarters, responds: Most wrote off Massaquoi because he didn't seem to be the same receiver after taking that nasty hit from Harrison. Now, after two games, he's on pace to more than double last year's total of 31 catches. The key is he's getting open. He's separating from receivers unlike most of his first three seasons with the Browns.

Massaquoi said the difference is he's healthy. I have another theory: contract year. For some players, it takes getting into the final year of their deals to get them to reach their potential. Massaquoi will be a free agent after this season, so he knows this year will be a big factor in determining his value.




Logan, from Owings Mills, Md., writes: Why is Anquan Boldin such a non-factor for the Ravens almost every game? He may have three games all season were he is clearly the best wide receiver on our team out there. The rest he is invisible. Tell me if I'm being too harsh.

Jamison Hensley, from AFC North headquarters, responds: Boldin certainly has not met expectations when the Ravens traded third- and fourth-round picks to Arizona for the wide receiver and a fifth-rounder. Baltimore thought he would produce at least 80 receptions, which he had done in five of seven seasons with the Cardinals. Instead, Boldin's receptions went from 64 in 2010 to 57 last season.

In 2011, he was held to less than 65 yards receiving in nine of 14 games. So he makes more of an impact than just three games but not by much. Given his production, Boldin is being overpaid at $6 million this season. The Ravens have to decide whether he's worth $6 million in 2013, which is the final year of Boldin's contract.




Brandon, from Hamilton, Ohio, writes: What are the chances the Bengals can turn around that defense and put enough wins together to make a playoff run? And is it just the fault of a lack of pass rush or were they more a flash in the pan last year?

Jamison Hensley, from AFC North headquarters, responds: I'm not going to write off the Bengals after two games. But Cincinnati hasn't inspired confidence with its play, especially on the defensive side. The Bengals' consistently strong play on defense was the main reason why Cincinnati reached the playoffs last season. The Bengals can turn it around if Carlos Dunlap can reach his potential and their cornerbacks step up their play. Dunlap, who is expected to play his first game of the season after being sidelined with a knee injury, can be a special player if he can shake the injury bug.

The Bengals did everything they could to add depth at cornerback by signing veterans Terence Newman, Adam Jones and Jason Allen before drafting Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round. Newman has looked his age (34) and Kirkpatrick has been injured throughout offseason workouts and the preseason. Cincinnati needs to get back on track defensively over the next four games, all of which come against inexperienced quarterbacks: Washington, Jacksonville, Miami and Cleveland.


Poll results: Passing game surprises

September, 21, 2012
9/21/12
3:30
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Two weeks into the regular season, there have been some pleasant surprises in the passing games for the AFC North teams. The biggest surprise, according to our SportsNation poll, has been the Bengals' Andrew Hawkins.

He received 38 percent in a poll that drew 4,980 votes. Hawkins, the Bengals' slot receiver, leads the team in receiving yards (142). Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi was second with 25 percent.

Here are some comments from voters:

Auto4Short, from Eglin Air Force Base: "I'm going with Hawkins. All the talk about Jermaine Gresham, Brandon Tate, or Armon Binns having to step up to fill the void Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell left and we have Hawkins being the one taking advantage of this. He is a home run threat any time he gets the ball in open space."

Charlie, from Kentucky: "Not to take away from Dennis Pitta or Massaquoi's acheivements, but I think for most fans Hawkins has to not only be one of the biggest surprises in the division, but in the entire league. He showed promise toward the end of last season, and definitely benefits from having A.J. Green opposite him, but I think he really could blossom into one of the big time playmakers in the division. I mean, that catch and run vs. the Browns was just sensational!"

Legion of Moose, from Western Pa.: "Mohamed Massaquoi, Browns. He has proven over the last few years to not be the go to guy in Cleveland. The others are either unproven or somewhat expected to perform."

Poll: Surprise of the passing game

September, 19, 2012
9/19/12
1:35
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The biggest disappointment in the division has been the play of the defenses. The biggest surprise has been the production from some unexpected players in the passing game.

After two games, slot receiver Andrew Hawkins leads the Bengals in receiving yards (142), not A.J. Green. Hawkins was on the roster bubble this summer before beating out Jordan Shipley.

SportsNation

Whose production the first two weeks has been the biggest surprise in the passing game so far?

  •  
    38%
  •  
    16%
  •  
    20%
  •  
    26%

Discuss (Total votes: 5,063)

Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi tops the Browns with 131 yards receiving and a 16.4-yard average. He was expected to get bumped out of the starting lineup by Josh Gordon after last year's disappointing season.

Tight end Dennis Pitta ranks first on the Ravens in catches (13) and receiving yards (138) after missing most of the preseason with a broken hand. He was the second tight end taken by the Ravens in the 2010 draft (Ed Dickson was the first one).

Wide receiver Mike Wallace is tied for first on the Steelers with two touchdowns and is second in both receptions (nine) and receiving yards (111). These numbers come after Wallace skipped all of the offseason workouts and training camp.

Record your vote and give me your reason why by sending me a note to my mailbag. Your comment could be used later in the week when I post the results of the poll.

AFC North's best bargains

September, 5, 2012
9/05/12
3:20
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On Monday, the AFC North blog addressed who got paid the most in the division. Now, let's look at the other end of the salary spectrum. This blog entry is all about the starters (and specialists) who average less than $1 million per season over the life of their contract.

Here's a look at the lowest-paid projected starters (and specialists) in the AFC North in terms of average per year:

BENGALS

WR Armon Binns: $415,000

P Kevin Huber: $486,350

DT Geno Atkins: $565,613

WR Brandon Tate: $631,920

DE Carlos Dunlap: $754,500

S Taylor Mays: $824,500

DE Michael Johnson: $875,255

BROWNS

S Eric Hagg: $520,100

G Jason Pinkston: $577,00

FB Owen Marecic: $612,000

G Shawn Lauvao: $672,630

WR Greg Little: $831,875

WR Mohamed Massaquoi: $908,931

S T.J. Ward: $966,250

RAVENS

DE Arthur Jones: $449,527

OLB Albert McClellan: $465,000

K Justin Tucker: $480,000

TE Ed Dickson: $625,833

OLB Paul Kruger: $687,500

NT Terrence Cody: $727,500

WR Torrey Smith: $847,308

STEELERS

P Drew Butler: $481,667

RB Isaac Redman: $540,000

NT Steve McLendon: $540,000

OT Marcus Gilbert: $806,854

OT Max Starks: $825,000
I'm about to begin my trip up to Latrobe, Pa., for the final stop of the AFC North training camp tour. There have been plenty of laughs along the way but no tears because there's no crying in football (unless you're Dick Vermeil). The plan is to still have our weekly chat at 2 p.m. as long as I'm settled in at St. Vincent College by that point. The Steelers practice in the afternoon, and I'm looking to put up some observations by the evening. My early-morning travel has forced me to turn in the abbreviated version of the wake-up call:

BENGALS: Left guard Travelle Wharton, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason opener, has no doubts that he'll be able to come back in 2013 even though he'll be 32 next season. “I’m just going to attack this surgery as if I was a 21-22-year-old,” Wharton told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I just want to be healthy and attack this thing going into this rehab and surgery with an open mind and get through it." Wharton's cap number in the second year of his three-year deal is $3.375 million.

BROWNS: Despite coach Pat Shurmur repeatedly saying Mohamed Massaquoi sustained a concussion in the preseason opener, the Cleveland wide receiver contends he never developed a symptom and was removed from the game as a precautionary measure. Shurmur was upset when Massaquoi first contradicted his assessment on Twitter over the weekend. "Tweeting is a new-age thing," Massaquoi told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Pat's a little older, so he doesn't really understand it. But we're gonna keep certain things in house as far as Twitter goes. We're not gonna give any game plans or anything like that or give too many updates which may hinder something that we're trying to do. But Twitter's fun. Hopefully. I can get Pat to get [an account]."

RAVENS: After allowing Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones to produce 109 yards receiving in one quarter in the preseason opener, the Ravens get Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson in their next game Friday. “The biggest thing is you have to forget it and go on,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said, via the team's official website. “I wouldn’t say it’s all secondary. We need to put more pressure on the quarterback in those situations. It’s never one thing. You see a guy getting beat deep because that’s what you see.” Pees said he was optimistic that outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw (shoulder) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (back) will play against Detroit.

STEELERS: There apparently won't be a Round 3 in the training-camp fight between wide receiver Antonio Brown and cornerback Ike Taylor. After their second skirmish of camp, Brown said he and Taylor went to breakfast on their day off and "ironed out our differences." The players never revealed what led to their on-field confrontations. "Can't say what stemmed from what," Brown told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It's camp. We've been here for two weeks now. Guys are getting aggressive and competing against each other. What's important is we're on the same team, and we go to bat for each other. I root for him just as he roots for me on Sundays."
The start of the preseason turned into weekend at the fights in the NFL. Chad Johnson, formerly Chad Ochocinco and formerly of the Dolphins, has been accused by his wife of head-butting her during an argument in front of their home. But this incident with the ex-Bengals receiver shouldn't overshadow what happened with a couple of Steelers players during Sunday's training camp practice. There was also a battle Sunday between Browns coach Pat Shurmur and Twitter. We'll explain it all in our wake-up call:

BENGALS: Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (knee) and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (foot) are expected to be held out of Thursday's preseason game at Atlanta, but those starters could practice later in the week, coach Marvin Lewis said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. Undrafted rookie Vontaze Burfict filled in for Maualuga with the first-team defense Sunday. Strong safety Taylor Mays (concussion) could return to practice Monday. Hensley's slant: The Bengals have to be very careful with Green-Ellis because they're unsure whether backup Bernard Scott will be available for the season opener in Baltimore. Scott has a cast around his hand and it's believed he'll be ready shortly after the preseason. Still, no one knows if that means Scott will suit up for the regular season. That's why the Bengals have to play it safe with Green-Ellis.

BROWNS: Like another AFC North coach, the Browns' Pat Shurmur isn't a fan of Twitter, especially when a player uses it to contradict him. That's what happened this weekend, when wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi disputed Shurmur's announcement that he had suffered a concussion. Unlike Lewis, Shurmur doesn't plan to ban Twitter. "You know how I feel about tweets and twitters, No. 1," Shurmur said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Yeah, I don't like them. That's my policy. I encourage them not to and I think it's important that they don't. I don't think you can totally harness social media. I've come to that realization. But what I can do is encourage and inspire them to be very professional and not talk about Browns business. That's just my feeling on it. That's a big thing to harness, social media." Hensley's slant: I'm all for athletes being able to freely express themselves on Twitter. But they have to be smart about it. It probably wasn't the best idea for Massaquoi to get on Shurmur's bad side, especially when the Browns can easily replace him in the starting lineup with Josh Gordon.

RAVENS: Tight end Ed Dickson doesn't necessarily agree with the timetable that he will miss the remainder of the preseason with a sprained right shoulder. He is trying to get rid of the soreness in the shoulder and believes it's improving on a daily basis. “If it so happens that I come back early, I definitely want to get some work in and I want to take advantage of those opportunities in the preseason games to get my chemistry down with Joe before the opener,” Dickson told the Baltimore Sun. “But I’m aiming to be ready when it counts.” Hensley's slant: You get the sense that Dickson has this urgency to return because he doesn't want to lose his hold on the starting job to Dennis Pitta, who is also expected to be ready for the regular season after breaking his hand. Dickson was the preferred tight end target early last season, but Pitta was the more effective tight end later in the season.

STEELERS: It was Round 2 at Steelers training camp, where wide receiver Antonio Brown and cornerback Ike Taylor were involved in their second fight of the summer. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sunday's incident began when Taylor stepped in front of an end-zone pass for Brown and tried to pull the ball away. After wrestling for it on the ground, the players jumped to their feet, and Brown threw a punch at Taylor. Then, following practice, Taylor went after Brown in the middle of the field, where general manager Kevin Colbert and others had to separate them. Holding an icepack to his forehead, Taylor eventually walked off the field with Brown. Hensley's slant: It's a fine line for coaches because you don't want players to fight but you want to see them being competitive in every drill. If a third altercation occurs between Brown and Taylor, head coach Mike Tomlin can't chalk it up to "those things happen" like he did Sunday. Brown and Taylor are the best at their positions on this team. Tomlin can't allow them to keep butting heads (sorry, Chad Johnson).

AFC North injury updates

August, 11, 2012
8/11/12
12:57
PM ET
Here are some injury updates after the preseason openers:

BENGALS: The fear is that left guard Travelle Wharton, a free-agent addition from the Panthers, suffered a season-ending knee injury, according to the team's official website. Clint Boling, a fourth-round pick in 2011, is expected to replace Wharton. ... Defensive end Carlos Dunlap and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga both sprained their right knees. Maualuga said he'll only miss a couple of days, and Dunlap declined comment on a timetable to return.

BROWNS: Head coach Pat Shurmur said Mohamed Massaquoi suffered another concussion, which is why the wide receiver was pulled from the game after the first offensive snap. Massaquoi disputed that he had a concussion on Twitter. “No! Precautionary! Cant wait to get back to work!” Massaquoi wrote.

RAVENS: An MRI revealed no structural damage to tight end Ed Dickson's sprained right shoulder, a source told the Baltimore Sun. He is expected to return for the Monday night season opener against the Bengals. ... Backup defensive lineman Ryan McBean broke his ankle and will need surgery, a source told The Sun. McBean, a free-agent pickup from the Broncos, was already going to miss the first three games because of a league suspension.

STEELERS: Fullback-tight end David Johnson confirmed to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he will undergo season-ending ACL surgery. The only other fullback on the roster is Will Johnson. ... Left tackle Mike Adams (knee) wouldn't say when he would return but indicated that it wouldn't be more than two weeks.

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