AFC North: Thomas Clayton

Warm-up: Is Ray going to play?

November, 20, 2011
Here's your game-day warm-up:

BALTIMORE -- Will Ray Lewis play today or will the Ravens linebacker miss his first game since 2007?

That's a big question heading into today's Bengals at Ravens game. There was a report that Lewis will be sidelined by a toe injury, but coach John Harbaugh said he wouldn't rule out Lewis because of his history of overcoming injuries. Lewis is officially questionable.

If Lewis can't play, the Ravens would go with Dannell Ellerbe. While the Ravens would miss Lewis' experience, Ellerbe has always had NFL starter talent but his work ethic has been a question mark. That would mean the Ravens' two starting inside linebackers (Ellerbe and Jameel McClain) are undrafted players.

Baltimore would have missed Lewis' leadership if this was a few years ago, but the Ravens are starting to rely on their next generation of leaders in Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata.

As far as ESPN's expert picks, all but one selector had the Ravens over the Bengals. They were split over whether the Browns would beat the visiting Jaguars.

Here are some storylines heading into today's AFC North games:
  • BENGALS: Who replaces Leon Hall? Cincinnati is expected to go with Kelly Jennings, who has good speed but can struggle against bigger receivers. Adam Jones will likely be the third cornerback. Another possibility to replace Hall is Brandon Ghee, who was promoted from the practice squad. He was a third-round pick a year ago and could work himself into some major playing time.
  • BROWNS: The offense would get a big boost if running back Montario Hardesty can return from a calf injury. He is considered a game-time decision. Hardesty, who has starter ability, is a major upgrade from marginal NFL talents in Chris Ogbonnaya and Thomas Clayton.
  • RAVENS: Tom Zbikowski could get a chance to replace struggling David Reed on kickoff returns. The Ravens are looking for someone who will take care of the ball after watching Reed fumble three times in the past two weeks. Chris Carr is another option.
  • STEELERS: The Steelers are at their bye with a 7-3 record, the same mark they had last year when they advanced to the Super Bowl. "I wouldn't necessarily say I'm pleased," head coach Mike Tomlin said of the record. "I'd be pleased if we were 10-0, but we're not. We are what we are."

AFC North evening notes

November, 1, 2011
Here are some notes around the AFC North:

BROWNS: The team signed running back Thomas Clayton, who had two stints with the Browns last season, after a tryout and waived wide receiver Brian Robiskie, 2009 second-round pick. Robiskie had touchdown catches in the final three games of last season but was buried on the depth chart this year. Clayton will add depth at running back, where there have been injuries to Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty.

RAVENS: The team placed linebacker and special teams player Prescott Burgess on injured reserve but didn't announce any addition to the roster. Burgess, who led the Ravens in special teams tackles the past two seasons, had been cut twice and brought back both times.

STEELERS: After a team source told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that LaMarr Woodley is out for the Steelers' game against the Ravens, the linebacker said on a social media outlet, "Don't count me out yet. Big game on Sunday." Woodley, the AFC sack leader, injured his hamstring last Sunday. ... Head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed linebacker James Harrison (eye) has been cleared to practice. “We’ll reevaluate him a little later in the week,” Tomlin said. Harrison posted on Twitter that he would not play against the Ravens. ... Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who replaced injured Hines Ward (ankle), will have his left knee evaluated. Ward is expected to return to practice this week.

Browns add WR Demetrius Williams

October, 26, 2010
The Cleveland Browns added a receiver who should be very familiar to AFC North fans.

Cleveland announced Tuesday that it signed former Baltimore Ravens receiver Demetrius Williams. The team also claimed running back Thomas Clayton off the New England Patriots' practice squad and released James Davis and Yamon Figurs.

Williams played for the Ravens from 2006-09 and was cut earlier this year. He showed flashes of talent in Baltimore but had problems staying healthy. But Williams may have a shot to stick in Cleveland, because receiver is one of the team's biggest needs.