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AFC North: Preseason Highlights

The first week of preseason action is completed and here’s a look at a few key points from each AFC North game. Each team gave a strong showing and most importantly, stayed healthy.

Baltimore Ravens (23-3 win vs. SF)

The wide margin of victory should tell people exactly how well the Ravens offense executed against one of the deepest defensive units in the NFC. Quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor were accurate in their showings, but a dominant rushing attack is what helped secure victory. Taylor, along with seven other rushers combined for 237 yards on 48 carries. Running backs Bernard Pierce and Luis Taliaferro shined during the game, and combined for 108 yards of that total. Rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley’s first game was the best among any Ravens defender, Mosley finished with five tackles and a sack.

Cincinnati Bengals (41-39 loss vs. KC)

Bengals fans were in for a high scoring affair when tuning in to their first game of the preseason. Backup passer Jason Campbell received the majority of the work under center and offered a lack luster performance. Campbell threw two tocuhdowns and two interceptions (which were returned for touchdowns) before leaving the game with an elbow injury. Rookie Darqueze Dennard played a great game at corner back that featured five tackles and a sack. While this loss may frustrate some, the good news is that the starters should get more reps next week to give viewers a better feel for what the 2014 Bengals are really like.

Cleveland Browns (13-12 loss vs. DET)

The Browns game received much hype as fans took their time getting  a look at both Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel to see which passer is the favorite to emerge as the starting quarterback. Hoyer proved to be the more accurate of the two, a couple dropped passes prevented him from throwing the only touchdown between the two passers. Manziel started slowly but eventually gained confidence with the second team offense. He looks to have the stronger arm and definitely is the more mobile  passer. The biggest concerns stemming from the game is his zeal to escape the pocket if he’s uncomfortable and refusal to keep his eyes down the field while scrambling. Fans should still expect to see Manziel start the next preseason game for the Browns as coach Mike Pettine is looking to name a starter by week three.  On the defensive side, rookie Pierre Desir struggled for most of his first game as he’s trying to acclimate himself to the NFL rules on defensive holding. While they did lose this game late, the Browns are poised to make the most preseason headlines by far.

Pittsburgh Steelers (20-16 loss NYG)

The rookies stole the show for the Steelers in week one of the preseason. Dri Archer gave fans an early preview of his devastating speed with a couple of receptions and a long run after his last catch as well as taking a few carries out of the backfield. Martavis Bryant was given the spotlight, but came up a little short with his performance. Bryant had just one catch on three targets and two fumbles. Fifth round selection, Jordan Zumwalt had five tackles and looked very good during his time in the game. The only concern is that neither defensive unit had an answer for the Giants rushing attack, which gained over 170 rushing yards. Look for them to try to set a more physical tone as they enter their second preseason game.

Fans should be excited for the second round of preseason games for each of these teams. The starters are bound to take more snaps and hopefully leave a lasting impact on the game. This week will also have big implications on position battles throughout this division. My advice to fans is not to fall in love with any rookie or new acquisition just yet, as sometimes players roles may change after the second week of the preseason.

 

 

 

 

 

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