NFL Nation: Nick Sorensen
- Are the Pittsburgh Steelers lacking discipline? Their first-team defense uncharacteristically had four personal fouls Sunday in a 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos. Two were by second-year cornerback Keenan Lewis, who was subsequently benched and earned a spot in coach Mike Tomlin's doghouse. Lewis also made a bad situation worse by reportedly punching through a glass sign after the game. If you add cornerback Ike Taylor's fight last week against the New York Giants that cost him $10,000, Pittsburgh is having problems keeping its cool lately.
- I'm noticing an unusual amount of players losing their helmets this preseason. The two most high-profile occurrences were with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Sunday with Steelers linebacker James Farrior. Both players suffered cuts to the head and were knocked out of the game. These are not isolated incidents. I've seen several preseason games this summer where helmets are dangerously flying off at an alarming rate.
- Baltimore's pass protection is not as sharp as expected. The Giants recorded five total sacks against the Ravens Saturday and the pocket overall wasn't consistently solid. At times, it was miscommunications. Other times New York simply outplayed Baltimore up front. We're not convinced Tony Moll is the answer at right tackle. Giants defensive end Justin Tuck had his way with Moll on several occasions. Baltimore tackles Oniel Cousins and/or Jared Gaither need to get healthy quickly.
- We liked what we saw from Haruki Nakamura covering receivers in the slot. For a safety, he has pretty quick feet to keep up with receivers and make plays on the ball. Nakamura is considered an experiment in the slot until Baltimore's secondary gets healthy. But based on his performance, it's looking pretty good so far.
- The Cleveland Browns have an update on safety Nick Sorensen. The bad news is he suffered a concussion Saturday against the Detroit Lions. But the good news is he is improving. Sorensen was not at practice Monday, and according to Browns coach Eric Mangini he will be resting for "a while."
- Speaking of Mangini, this will be his first year putting together a 53-man roster with new president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert. Cleveland currently has a mix of players leftover from the previous Mangini-George Kokinis regime and the new Holmgren-Heckert regime, setting up an interesting dynamic this week. Mangini will have his input and opinion on who stays and who goes, but Heckert and Holmgren will have the final say.
- Cincinnati's receiver position is somewhat clearer now with Antonio Bryant's release. Cincinnati has a lot of depth at receiver, where six (maybe seven) could make the team. Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, Jordan Shipley and Andre Caldwell are four locks. But at least two roster spots remain open for receivers Quan Cosby, Jerome Simpson, Matt Jones and Dezmon Briscoe. An educated guess is Cosby is in, making it a three-way tossup between Simpson, Jones and Briscoe.
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
Here are the most interesting stories Sunday in the AFC North:
- Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback and pending free agent Byron Leftwich says he's not ruling out a return to Pittsburgh.
Morning take: Leftwich is saying all the right things at this point, but I'm not buying it. He wants to start and he will seek that chance, starting on Friday.
- The Baltimore Ravens and pending free agent safety Jim Leonhard could be parting ways this offseason, according to general manager Ozzie Newsome.
Morning take: The Ravens do not want to overpay Leonhard, who earned the right to get starter money, but would have to compete with Dawan Landry if he stayed. Newsome correctly expects another team to offer Leonhard the kind of money he's seeking.
- Has Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree, who has a fracture in his left foot, improved his likelihood of becoming a Cincinnati Bengal?
Morning take: My first reaction to this story was "no way." Then I realized the Bengals just franchised their kicker, so I guess anything is possible.
- Did the Cleveland Browns make a wise move in not franchising safety Sean Jones?
Morning take: Yes, but I thought a transition tag should have been under consideration. Cleveland likely has a better replacement in mind because Nick Sorensen as your starter will not cut it in the AFC North.
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