AFC North

2012-07-10 11:36:35
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports

Mendenhall eyes return

Steelers

The Steelers have a new offense to install before the season, so watching how that plays out will be the story of their training camp. Todd Haley usually brings a pretty good balance to his offense but early reports are it could be a little more pass-heavy for the Steelers. This is something fantasy teams should keep an eye on before the start of the season. The offense gets to work starting July 27 at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Penn.

Position battle: This really isn't a position battle with Isaac Redman fully expected to start while Rashard Mendenhall gets healthy, but Jonathan Dwyer is a player to watch in camp. He is in much better shape and making a push for more playing time. Dwyer could challenge Redman for some carries and might be worth some fantasy consideration late in drafts if he impresses during camp and preseason action.

Injury watch: Rashard Mendenhall is another player that suffered an ACL injury late in the season. He is likely to begin the season on the sidelines but should be ready after a few weeks. Isaac Redman will open the season as the starter and could grab hold of the job for good with a solid showing. Mendenhall is a question mark for the coming season.

Browns

Cleveland continues to be a franchise in flux. The Browns are in rebuild mode but hope to be close to finally turning the corner. The big key for a turnaround will be the quarterback spot. And the Browns hope they found a dependable No. 1 in Brandon Weeden. He likely is the story of camp, tracking his progress as the likely starter. Weeden and the rest of the team get things started July 28 at the Browns Training Facility in Berea, Ohio.

Position battle: The Browns took Brandon Weeden in the first round, hoping to have found their starting quarterback for the next several seasons. Weeden isn't your typical rookie, coming into the league at age 28. He has a little more experience than a normal rookie. Colt McCoy has started the last few years but did little to distinguish himself in that role. He will battle Weeden to start but all signs point towards the rookie winning the job.

Injury watch: Defensive tackle Phil Taylor tore a pectoral muscle during offseason workouts and could miss much of the season. Right now, it looks like it will be December before Taylor can return. This is a big loss for the Browns as Taylor does a good job clogging the middle. He is a big help in run support. He'll be missed while he is on the sidelines.

Ravens

The Ravens continue to be on the verge of great things but can't seem to get over the hump in the playoffs. Quarterback Joe Flacco is under much of the scrutiny for the Ravens, so he is a player to watch during training camp. Baltimore fans will keep a close watch on Flacco. The defense also is aging some, so that is another storyline to watch to see if they can continue to play at a high level. Baltimore reports to camp July 26 at the Ravens Training Facility in Owings Mills, Md.

Position battle: The top backup running back spot is one to watch in Baltimore this training camp. Bernard Pierce and Anthony Allen are the top two candidates for the job with Pierce the favorite. But nothing is written in stone right now, so this competition is open for the Ravens. And if you draft Ray Rice, you'll want the No. 2 back in Baltimore later in your draft as insurance.

Injury watch: Linebacker Terrell Suggs suffered an Achilles' injury during the offseason. He claims he'll return at some point during the season but the chances of that seem slim. Suggs is a long shot to play this year. And if he does, it will be after the halfway point of the season. He is a huge loss for the Ravens' defense.

Bengals

Cincinnati was a surprise team last season but that won't be the case this year. They have a lot of young talent and should be in contention for a playoff spot once again this year. It will be interesting to see how much more Andy Dalton progresses at quarterback after having a big rookie season. He'll be the most watched player in camp for the Bengals. Dalton and the rest of his teammates get started July 27 at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky.

Position battle: A.J. Green is the legit No. 1 for the Bengals at receiver but after him, it is far from set for the Bengals. Right now, it looks like rookie Mohamed Sanu might be the favorite to start opposite of Green. But Jordan Shipley, Brandon Tate and Armon Binns should be in the mix to start as well. Shipley is the best fit for the slot but if the others don't show much in camp and preseason, don't discount Shipley to start.

Injury watch: Cornerback Leon Hall is recovering from surgery on his Achilles. He has a chance to be near full strength for the start of camp, which is good news for the Bengals. Hall isn't a starting corner but gives the Bengals great depth at the position. He is a capable starter serving as a backup for the Bengals.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Jeff Paur at jeff@rtsports.com

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