AFC North: Paul Krugar

Morning take: Maualuga consistent

December, 4, 2009
12/04/09
9:00
AM ET
Here are the most interesting stories Friday in the AFC North:
  • Cincinnati Bengals rookie linebacker Rey Maualuga is still going strong, making all 11 starts so far in his rookie year.
Morning take: I'm no scout, but it was pretty easy for me to see at USC that Maualuga was a player. I’m still surprised every AFC North team passed on him at least once. The Browns passed twice.
Morning take: It’s early, but it looks like Baltimore hit on its first three picks. Michael Oher, Paul Kruger and Lardarius Webb are all contributing to the team's playoff run.
  • Oakland Raiders quarterback and western PA native Bruce Gradkowski is looking forward to returning home.
Morning take: Last time I remember Gradkowski against Pittsburgh, he was with the Cleveland Browns in 2008 and things didn’t go very well.
  • San Diego Chargers tailback LaDainian Tomlinson needs 56 yards to pass Jim Brown on the career rushing list Sunday against the Browns.
Morning take: To do it in Cleveland would be a nice honor for "L.T." Against the Browns’ defense, he has a good chance to do it.

Inside the AFC North

May, 18, 2009
5/18/09
12:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are several notes and observations from within the division:

 
  Joe Robbins/Getty Images
  Steelers linebacker James Farrior plans to play without the neck protector he wore in 2008.
  • The Baltimore Ravens really believe rookie second-round pick Paul Kruger has a lot of potential. The Ravens were convinced Kruger, a rush defensive end from Utah, was a good fit for them early in the scouting process based on his college tapes and interviews. He confirmed many of those thoughts last week in minicamp with some good moves and a good motor. Kruger will be fighting for playing time behind some very good players in Baltimore, but the Ravens think he could a steal for them down the road.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Farrior recently said he plans to do away with the neck protector he wore behind his helmet for 2009. Towards the end of last season Farrior was having some neck issues and wore the protector for precautionary reasons. But Farrior never seemed fully comfortable with it, and now that he's rested and healthy, the extra support likely will stay on the sideline.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals' decision to be the latest team on HBO's "Hard Knocks" series this summer likely has a lot to do with improving the organization's image. In my different conversations with NFL people over the years, the Bengals are generally viewed as a poorly-run franchise. Some feel it's the worst-run franchise in the league. By completely opening their doors during training camp, it's an opportunity for the Bengals to show the league and the rest of the country how they operate. It should make for good television.
  • The Cleveland Browns are hoping the recent addition of Abram Elam, paired with teammate Brodney Pool, creates interchangeable parts at safety. Both players have versatility, and new head coach Eric Mangini doesn't want a traditional free safety who only plays the deep ball and a strong safety who only plays closer to the line of scrimmage. Ideally, Mangini is hoping Pool and Elam can do both well and blitz the quarterback when asked. Mangini wants as many versatile players on his defense as possible.

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