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Tuesday, August 30, 2011
AFC North Stock Watch

By James Walker

Let's see who's falling and rising after Week 3 of the preseason.


1. Cleveland Browns' ball security: The Browns were efficient for the most part during the first two weeks of the preseason. But something got into this team in last week's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Cleveland was sloppy and turnover-prone in Week 3. The Browns fumbled three times (lost two on special teams), and quarterback Colt McCoy threw an interception to Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel. The Browns don't have enough talent to overcome so many mistakes in the regular season. The Browns need to get back to playing smart, mistake-free football.

Torrey Smith
Ravens second-round pick Torrey Smith is still adjusting to the NFL game.
2. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens receiver: So far Smith doesn't appear ready to contribute right away to the Ravens. The rookie second-round pick has suffered some early drops and is thinking too much on the field. The hesitancy also is taking away Smith's biggest asset, which is his speed. Receivers often take time to adjust to the NFL. Smith has shown a few flashes but still has a ways to go.

3. Adam Jones, Cincinnati Bengals cornerback: When a significant trade is made in the NFL, that often means the team isn't confident with the player(s) currently on the roster. That's likely the case with the health of Jones, who continues to rehab from two offseason neck surgeries. The Bengals acquired former Seattle Seahawks corner Kelly Jennings this week. Jones missed all of training camp and the preseason. The Bengals were hoping Jones could make it back for Week 1. But Jones could be a candidate for the physically unable to perform list (PUP).


1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver: Brown exploded against the Atlanta Falcons last week. He recorded four receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, Brown has been the most impressive AFC North player in the preseason, according to our recent poll. He’s the favorite to land Pittsburgh’s No. 3 receiver role.

2. Tyrod Taylor, Baltimore Ravens quarterback: Taylor is another player whose stock continues to rise. The rookie had another solid outing against the Washington Redskins. Taylor threw for 125 yards and one touchdown and he led the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. The Ravens haven't officially named their No. 2 quarterback. But Taylor is making a very strong case.

3. Crezdon Butler, Steelers cornerback: Butler made a big impression on Pittsburgh's coaching staff with nine tackles and a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown against Atlanta. The Steelers need answers in their secondary before their Week 1 showdown against Baltimore. Starters Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden have been out with injuries. Younger players like Butler and Keenan Lewis need to step up.