Monday, August 22, 2011
AFC North Stock Watch
By James Walker
Week 2 of the preseason is in the books for the AFC North division. Let's see who's stock is rising and falling.
1. Cincinnati Bengals' starters: Cincinnati's first team is getting hammered in the preseason. The Bengals are being outscored 41-10 in the first half when starters get a majority of playing time. That is inexcusable for the preseason. Starting slow is a habit the Bengals need to break. This team is too inexperience and not good enough this year to overcome these kind of deficits in the regular season.
2. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton: Cincinnati's second-round pick added two more interceptions Sunday night against New York. One interception was a drop and deflection from receiver A.J. Green, and the second was a pass that sailed too high. Dalton also had a poor exchange with tailback Cedric Benson that resulted in a fumble and a 17-yard loss. The growing pains continue for Dalton. He threw for 86 yards, two interceptions and had a 16.4 passer rating against the Jets.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line: Via injuries and inconsistent play, the Steelers' offensive line remains a work in progress. Two left tackles -- Jonathan Scott and Marcus Gilbert -- both went down with injuries in Pittsburgh's 24-14 preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Pittsburgh's offensive line also is having trouble keeping players off quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He played well but was sacked twice and hit several more times by Philadelphia.
1. Steelers' defense: Pittsburgh's first-team defense looked in midseason form with a healthy Troy Polamalu in the lineup. The Steelers baffled Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and forced three interceptions. Pittsburgh treated the first half like a regular-season game and was fast and physical. The Steelers return all 11 starters from last year, which is extremely valuable following the NFL lockout.
2. Browns quarterback Colt McCoy: Cleveland's second-year quarterback continued his solid preseason with a three-touchdown performance against the Detroit Lions. McCoy didn't throw for many yards (96). But he ran the offense efficiently for the second straight week.
3. Ravens receiver Lee Evans: It was a successful Ravens debut for Evans, who was recently acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Bills. He tied for the team lead with three catches for 68 yards in Baltimore's 31-13 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. The biggest play came on a hookup between Flacco and Evans for 43 yards. But Evans not only showed deep speed, he showed versatility. Evans' two other receptions came on a quick slant and out route for first downs.