As the Ravens prepare to welcome Cam Newton and the Panthers, their AFC North rivals are setting up their blueprint to knock off the reigning Super Bowl Champions.
Let’s take our weekly view “Behind Enemy Lines.”
Individual Player News and Notes: Carlos Dunlap is back at practice after suffering concussion-like symptoms, putting to rest any concern of lingering issues. Also returning to the field was Michael Johnson, Dunlap’s counterpart on the defensive line, who was dealing with a sore back.
The team released Aaron Maybin, the former New York Jets defensive prospect, who is now known as a significant bust. Also released was wide receiver Tyrone Goard and cornerback Troy Stoudemire.
Running Backs Shining: AFC North defenses need to be prepared, because the Cincinnati running backs could be a match-up nightmare all year long. “The Law Firm,” BenJarvus Green-Ellis, is going to be his typical self, but for the first time, he’s going to have a complement that will make him even more effective.
Giovanni Bernard was a force in college, and it appears as though he is going to continue to do big things in the NFL. He showed off against the Titans in the previous preseason game, impressing with his speed when he burned linebacker Zach Brown in space. “BJGE” is still going to be the leading back, but just like with Bernard Pierce in Baltimore, there is little drop-off from the starter to the backup.
Injury Scare for Mingo: Injuries in football are inevitable. In a full-contact sport where 250+ pound athletes are drilling each other on every play, guys are going to get hurt. For the Browns’ first-round pick Barkevious Mingo, his first NFL injury was a rather scary one.
According to NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling, Mingo suffered an injury that could have been fatal if he had kept playing.
Mingo was reportedly coughing up blood after suffering a bruised lung after a blow to the chest. He didn’t play the rest of the game, something that could have been life-saving, according to Wesseling’s article.
It’s not clear if Mingo will be ready for week one—he certainly won’t be rushing back.
Addressing the O-Line: We talked about the injury troubles for the interior of the offensive line last week; this week the team addressed the gaping hole by acquiring seasoned veteran guard John Moffitt.
Moffitt should start right away for the team on the right side. The 6’4” guard was traded for Brian Sanford in the player-for-player swap.
Offensive Line Troubles: If you watched last night’s Steelers-Redskins game, you saw the chaos that was the Steelers offensive front. As usual, Ben Roethlisberger went down several times including two sacks where Redskins came in untouched. For the Ravens, the revamped pass rush is going to be vital in these rivalry games, but on the Pittsburgh side, things need to shape up swiftly.
Along with the pass protection, the run blocking struggled mightily against Washington’s first-stringers. The expectations aren’t looking any more positive heading into 2013 and one thing still remains in question—can Roethlisberger stay healthy for a full season?
Bell Injured: After the massive disappointing injuries at the tight end position, the Steelers find themselves concerned at another spot, this time at running back.
After missing the opener with a knee injury, rookie Le’Veon Bell suffered a foot injury that might leave Jonathan Dwyer to take the load for the rest of the pre-season—possibly longer. He’ll have an MRI today to confirm the length and severity of the injury.
With already two injuries under his belt before his first regular season snap, can the Steelers trust Bell to carry the load that was once Rashard Mendenhall’s?
Preview of the pre-season week three matchups:
The Bengals head to “Jerry World” to battle the Cowboys at 8:00 on Saturday.
The Browns take on Andrew Luck and the Colts in a true test of what their starters can bring to the table at 7:00 on Saturday.
Pittsburgh hosts Alex Smith and the newly renovated Chiefs at 7:30 on Saturday.