Street Talk IN THE HOOD: AFC NORTH PRESEASON UPDATE

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ITH takes a look at each AFC North team and what has occurred through the first 3 pre-season contests:
 
Baltimore Ravens
 
Preseason Schedule Date
Opponent
Monday, August 13
RAVENS 29 EAGLES 3
Sunday, August 19
GIANTS 13 RAVENS 12
Saturday, August 25
Redskins 13, Ravens 7
Friday, August 31
@ Atlanta Falcons
  • Many fans of the team are concerned that the rushing attack has been relatively unproductive during the preseason. RB Willis McGahee has been kept under wraps for the most part with a limited workload, receiving only 4 carries for 12 yards versus the Redskins. He has rushed for 35 yards on 14 carries in the 3 games played to date. During their game versus the Broncos Saturday night, the Browns chose to give RB Jamal Lewis 15 carries (for 46 yards). The New England Patriots rushed RB Lawrence Maroney on 9 straight plays at the start of their contest versus the Carolina Panthers. The contrast in approaches is noteworthy, and the feeling here is that each team has different philosophies about what they want to take away from these games that are as useful as the Orioles bullpen come September 10.
  • The team has historically limited the number of touches given to its #1 runner in pre-seasons past, and there’s little doubt that the productivity of the line by ground will substantially improve once Jonathan Ogden returns to the lineup.
  • One area that surely needs to be corrected on the offensive line is getting a better push at the point of attack in both the running and passing games. Too often this preseason we have seen rushers unable to find running lanes forcing QBs McNair and Boller to rush their reads as a result of pressure from opposing defenses that have pushed back the O-line.
  • Lastly, can the Ravens get the offensive line on the same page as it relates to the snap count? Too many long yardage situations have resulted from the repeated mental lapses triggering a plethora of 5-yard penalties for false starts and illegal formations.

Cincinnati Bengals

Preseason Schedule Date
Opponent
Thursday, August 9
Lions 27  Bengals 26
Saturday, August 18
SAINTS 27 BENGALS 19
Monday, August 27
Falcons 24 Bengals 19
Friday, August 31
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
  • After a sluggish start to the preseason by the offense, the Bengals finally showed some life this past Monday night in Atlanta. QB Carson Palmer tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to WR Chad Johnson and a 7-yarder to TE Daniel Coats, the first two touchdowns of the preseason for the first-team offense. "I thought it was OK, but we’re nowhere near where we want to be," Johnson said. Palmer finished the game with 15 completions on 22 attempts and a pedestrian 136 yards. RB Rudy Johnson gained 69 yards on 13 carries, including a 33 yard gainer. Look for Johnson to get a lot of carries for the Bengals this year as back-ups Kenny Irons and Chris Perry are out due to injury. The big news following the game was head coach Marvin Lewis’s pronouncement that injured right tackle Willie Anderson will take some snaps in this Wednesday’s practice, and is expected to see action in Friday’s preseason finale against Indianapolis at Paul Brown Stadium. Lewis said Anderson also got good work on the field before Monday’s game. Except for the big plays, the Bengals first defense played decently in the half. That’s a big "except," but they held the Falcons to 15 yards on nine carries in the first half, defensive tackle John Thornton had two sacks and his partner inside, Domata Peko, added another.
  • "Overall I’m pleased with a lot of things we did," Lewis said of Monday’s game. "Guys that hadn’t played a lot in this preseason got a lot of work, but we didn’t play attacking football. We’ve got to keep attacking – offense, defense and special teams."
Cleveland Browns
 
Preseason Schedule Date
Opponent
Saturday, August 11
BROWNS 16 CHIEFS 12
Saturday, August 18
LIONS 23 BROWNS 20
Saturday, August 25
Browns 17 Broncos 16
Thursday, August 30
@ Chicago Bears
  • The Browns starting QB derby continues into the last preseason game against the Bears. All 3 performed well against the Broncos in Cleveland’s narrow victory over Denver on Saturday night. Rookie QB Brady Quinn was 7 of 11 for 81 yards. His TD to WR Joshua Cribbs came at the expense of the Denver reserves. Charlie Frye started and went 5-of-7 for 68 yards while Derek Anderson was 7-of-9 for 74 yards. "All three quarterbacks played pretty decent tonight," said Crennel, who wouldn’t let on who was the leader in the starting QB derby. Crennel has said he might not name a starting quarterback until the week before the Sept. 9 opener. Thanks to what he called an "involuntary haircut," Quinn is no longer sporting his long, flowing locks as he joined the other Browns rookies in having his head shaved at the end of camp. Although conventional wisdom is he’ll start off the season carrying a clipboard, Quinn has done his best to earn the nod. After missing 11 days in a contract holdout, Quinn is 20-of-31 for 236 yards with three TD and no interceptions, albeit mostly against backups.
  • The Browns may have deeper concerns about their rushing defense. With Denver RB Travis Henry and Mike Bell sidelined; the backups had a feast rolling up 150 yards on the ground, as they rushed 31 times for a 5.1 yard-per-carry average. The 1st team defense also struggled; getting very little pressure on Broncos QB Jay Cutler.
  • Browns RB Jamal Lewis gained 46 yards and a TD on 15 carries. His longest rush from scrimmage was 9 yards. He also hauled in 2 receptions for 30 yards.
Pittsburgh Steelers
 
Preseason Schedule Date
Opponent
Sunday, August 5
Steelers 20, Saints 7, Canton, OH
Saturday, August 11
PACKERS 13 STEELERS 9
Saturday, August 18
Steelers 12 Redskins 10
Sunday, August 26
STEELERS 27 EAGLES 13
Thursday, August 30
@ Carolina Panthers
  • For the Steelers, a game at Carolina in which their regulars will be on the field only a series or two will end a very long preseason under new coach Mike Tomlin that included five games and lasted seven weeks. In the victory versus the Eagles, QB Ben Roethlisberger completed 13 of 25 passes for 242 yards and had 1 INT in one half of action. 5 Steelers’ receivers caught 2 or more passes as Roethlisberger spread out his throws to 7 receivers in total. Four of Roethlisberger’s completions went for 20 yards or longer. RB Willie Parker gained 32 yards on 10 attempts and scored a TD. The Steelers could have won more convincingly were it not for their 3 turnovers. The Eagles dominated time of possession (35 minutes to 25 minutes) yet the Steelers were able to dominate the scoreboard as the starters produced a 13-3 halftime advantage.
  • "It was a very interesting game for us tonight," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "Very rarely can a team get a win when you don’t win the time of possession and you lose the turnover battle. I like the way we smiled in the face of adversity tonight, but unfortunately, some of that adversity we created for ourselves, particularly early on, but I like the way this team fights. They stayed together and fought through a lot of tough situations, but that is just the nature of football."

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Eric Buckner

About Eric Buckner

Eric Buckner is a native of Baltimore and has lived in the area his entire life. A graduate of Towson University , Eric has been a student of professional football since the day he wept in his grandfather's bedroom after the Baltimore Colts were upset by the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. A loyal fan of the Colts and subsequently the Ravens, Eric's passion for the NFL is unwavering as evidenced by his near flawless attendance record at Ravens' games. He's missed only one preseason game -- back in 2005. We'll cut him some slack since he was on his honeymoon. You won't find Eric slacking when it comes to covering the AFC North for ProFootball24x7.com.   More from Eric Buckner

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