BEHIND ENEMY LINES: AFCN Training Camp Update

AFC North

Training camp is in full force at The Castle as the Ravens are now in full stride with Training Camp 2013. With less than a week before the team plays its first pre-season game, the coaches are overseeing each practice with hopes that young players can step up and compete.

As always, you can read about each day at Ravens camp with daily articles by the RSR team in our Camp Notes section.

To take a closer look at the rest of the AFC North, let’s do a little reconnaissance behind enemy lines and see what the Browns, Bengals, and Steelers are up to during the dog days of summer.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Cortez Sidelined: Cornerback Cortez Allen was hoping to carry the “starter” label throughout camp former first stringer Keenan Lewis left the squad. Instead he’ll have to watch from the sidelines at least for the next few weeks. He was listed as the team’s starting left corner on Steelers.com, but after undergoing what Mike Tomlin called “minor knee surgery”, Allen will have to get the most out of a little R&R – rest and rehab. If all goes swimmingly, he’ll be back on the field before Pittsburgh’s week 1 match-up against the Titans.

No Timetable for Miller: Heath Miller started camp on the PUP list, and there is still no timetable for when the tight end might return. After having surgery on his knee, an injury suffered late in 2012, he’s trying to get comfortable and back to practice speed drills at full speed. He spoke with the media for the first time at the beginning of the week. You can see the full session HERE.

Bell Impressing: Drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Le’Veon Bell entered the Steel City primed to stake his claim as the starting running back. After rookie camps and a few practices, Bell is now running with the first team, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Bell is competing with Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer for carries and the rest of camp will decide the “starter”. It’s possible that the Steelers opt for the running-back-by-committee this year, but Bell has all the makings of an AFC North “smash-mouth back”.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Wide Receiver Injuries: A.J Green underwent an MRI after a scary moment in Bengals practice. He twisted his leg along the sideline and appeared to be significantly hurt. After results came back negative revealing only a bruised knee, the Bengals are now taking every precaution necessary including keeping Green out of the first preseason game. While the injury doesn’t appear serious, it’s something to keep an eye on.

Coach Marvin Lewis also said that receiver Andrew Hawkins has a sprained ankle, and does not know how long he will be out.

Iloka the Starter: You may not have heard George Iloka’s name before, but if the team’s first depth chart is any indication he could be the club’s starting safety. Taylor Mays was expected to run with the first team, but apparently Iloka’s play isn’t going unnoticed. We’ll have to see what he does in the 4-preseason games, but for now, it’s an interesting storyline that might be a sign of things to come for the young Iloka.

Hard Knocks Approaching: Tuesday night starts what promises to be entertainment for any football fan. The Bengals are the stars of HBO’s Hard Knocks, the exclusive “inside training camp” show that kicks off on Tuesday night. There has been a great deal of debate about the selection of the Bengals as the featured team, including many critics who wondered if the show puts Marvin Lewis’ squad at a competitive disadvantage. Training camp gets a whole lot more interesting when fans can get an inside look. Here’s a sampling.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Injury Updates: A scary scene unfolded in Cleveland early in the week when lineman Ryan Miller suffered a head/neck injury. He was attended to, put in an ambulance and taken to a local hospital where he was stabilized. The team subsequently announced that Miller would be OK.

Wide receiver Josh Gordon returned to practice on Friday after being out with patellar tendonitis, but other wide-out David Nelson left practice with an undisclosed knee injury. With a rather weak receiving corps, the Browns need all the help they can get.

Richardson’s Shin Keeps Him Out: Running Back Trent Richardson was kept out of practice on Friday and will not practice tonight during the team’s “Family Night Practice”. Coach Chudzinski said he was kicked in the shin and will err on the side of caution by holding his star RB out. The injury shouldn’t sideline Richardson for any pre-season games and the team expects him back by the beginning of next week.

Davone Bess Bringing a Mature Outlook: The Browns signed Bess with hopes that he could bring a veteran presence to an otherwise young squad. He’s been impressive during camp and is certainly acting like a veteran. Here’s a quote from CBS Cleveland that shows more of a leadership side of Bess:

“My whole career I’ve kind of been a lead by example type,” Bess said. “The more and more I hone in on my skills and being disciplined, showing up on time, taking notes, just doing the little things the more and more it will wear off on everybody else. The same thing, vice versa, I learn just as much from those guys as they learn from me. It goes hand in hand and at the end of the day it will make the team better.”

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