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AFC North: Training Camp Preview

Training camps are starting up and it’s time to take an honest look at each team in the AFC North team and certain players that are likely to make headlines. From this point forward, the NFL enters a mad dash to the regular season which leave about 40 days for coaches to prime their team for a Super Bowl run. Below are a few things to look out for from the training camp of each team.

 

Cincinnati Bengals (2013 record: 11-5)

The Bengals are looking pretty good going into camp and will probably spend more time grooming their younger players for back up roles. I expect rookie running back Jeremy Hill to receive a high number of reps and to begin preparation to take over Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis’ role as a short yardage specialist. Fans should expect incumbent signal caller Andy Dalton to be a little off the mark early in camp as he will be playing in a different system this year, implemented by new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Their defense should be sharp as usual and the play of defensive tackle Geno Atkins and the rest of the Bengals front seven to excite coaches and local fans attending camp.

 

Baltimore Ravens (2013 record: 8-8)

I expect the Ravens to have the sharpest camp in the division, mostly because their league high five off season arrests would draw league wide concern if they didn’t. Steve Smith and Torrey Smith should complement each other well and training camp should help the fans realize the potential of what should be a very dynamic receiving duo. Their biggest concern will be defense, as rookies Timmy Jernigan and C.J. Mosley will most likely have to play a significant number of minutes this season. Mosley comes into camp as an absolute steal, however Jernigan’s college game tape left a lot to be desired. Both players should see a high number of reps as coaches will want to take the proper amount of time to evaluate their talent.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (2013 record: 8-8)

Fans in Pittsburgh should probably have their programs and paper rosters out since they will see a lot of new faces in training camp. The Steelers are injecting a great deal of youth on offense as well as defense and fans will need to acquaint themselves to the role players of the future. Rookies Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt and and Shaquille Richardson are attempts by Pittsburgh to get younger on all three levels of their defense. Fans shouldn’t be concerned if they aren’t very sharp during camp, many analysts say it usually take a year or two in that defensive scheme to play great football. Offense should be fun to watch as well, Big Ben has a new target in rookie receiver Martavis Bryant. If Bryant can absorb Pittsburgh’s playbook, I expect him to have an immediate impact on this team.

 

Cleveland Browns (2013 record: 4-12)

Cleveland Browns training camp this year should shatter all-time training camp attendance records. Donte Whitner, Johnny Manziel, Josh Gilbert, and Donte Whitner give this team a level of star power that Cleveland football fans have never seen before. The play of Cleveland’s secondary should be interesting to watch for fans as Gilbert will compete with fellow rookie Pierre Decir for playing time at corner back. The biggest story of camp should be the play and composure of starting quarterback, Bryan Hoyer. He doesn’t have to impress in camp to be the starter, but if he does it should sell the fans on waiting a year or so before calling for Manziel be the starter. Aside from the quarterback position, the Browns have a very solid team and fans should be excited about their team’s playoff chances.

 

All training camp attendees should bring: Plenty of water, sunscreen, and a smart phone with a full battery (remember a selfie opportunity with an athlete can happen at any time). Also try to bring a level head, because I promise you will all see some sensational talent in these respective camps.

 

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