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Around the AFC North: Preseason Week 2

NFL: New York Giants at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens were generally impressive during their 31-7 victory in Miami last Thursday. As we inch closer to the 2017 NFL regular season, let’s take a gander around the rest of the AFC North:

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Pittsburgh rallied in the second half to defeat the Falcons 17-13 on Sunday. Each of the Steelers offensive triplets - Roethlisberger, Brown and Bell - were sidelined, in addition to two-fifths of the starting offensive line and a couple marquee defenders in Ryan Shazier and Mike Mitchell.
  • Similar to the Ravens most recent showing, the Steelers were buoyed by a healthy pass rush and splash plays on special teams. However, the first string defense allowed Atlanta to convert on better than 80-percent of their third down attempts.
  • All-Pro tailback Le’Veon Bell continues to holdout due to a contract dispute, and is not expected to join the team until after the third preseason contest. Rookie James Connor did well in his stead by approaching 5-yards per carry.
  • Dangerous wideout Martavis Bryant has returned from a lengthy suspension and knocked the rust off with a pair of early receptions.
  • Second-year starting nose tackle Javon Hargrave suffered a concussion against the Falcons. He is currently in the concussion protocol and has sustained multiple concussions during his young career.

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Cincinnati fell 30-12 against Kansas City at home. Their offense did not find the end zone on Saturday, as both offensive tackles struggled to hold the Chiefs capable pass rushers at bay in the first half. Their first-team defense displayed shoddy tackling and poor communication in coverage.
  • Starting safety Shawn Williams dislocated his elbow during the Bengals exhibition. The injury is expected to sideline him for four-to-six weeks, including a Week 1 meeting with the Ravens..
  • Speed merchant John Ross has yet to make his professional debut, but has joined practice after offseason shoulder surgery.
  • In a battle between former first round picks for a Week 1 start at cornerback while Adam Jones is suspended, William Jackson appears to hold an edge over Darqueze Dennard.
  • Rookie defensive end Jordan Willis was projected as a late first or early second round pick by many draft analysts before the Bengals snared him in the third round. He has been impressive so far, notching a pair of sacks over the first two preseason games.

Cleveland Browns

  • In their only scheduled primetime game of the season, Cleveland hosted the Giants on Monday night with Brock Osweiler at quarterback. Osweiler’s downfield inaccuracy prompted Hue Jackson to put rookie DeShone Kizer under center before the end of the first quarter. Expect Kizer to be anointed the starter by October.
  • On the other side of the ball, the Browns first-team defense looked rather solid. The defensive line collapsed the pocket frequently, the linebackers stuffed the run and the defensive backs punished the Giants receivers after the catch.
  • Offensive lineman Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio and Cameron Erving were held out of the preseason game against the Giants. Their absences are making it tougher for the Browns to develop chemistry on a line with some expensive new faces.
  • Running back Isaiah Crowell also missed the game due to a groin injury.
  • Starting defensive tackle and former top-12 draft pick Danny Shelton has a knee injury that is expected to sideline him for three to six weeks. This timeline puts his availability in doubt for the Week 2 matchup in Baltimore.