As we reach the first day of August and exactly one week from the Steeler's Preseason opener against the Eagles I would like to take a look at where each team in the North stands:
According to coach Tomlin there are only three starting spots that have real competition going on right now. Two are on the O-line, but not for Alan Faneca's replacement. That job has already been given to Chris Kemoeatu. The two competitive spots right now are at center and right tackle. The favorite to win the job at center is Justin Hartwig who the Steelers signed after being released by Carolina. The battle at right tackle will be between Willie Colon and Max Starks, a job Willie won last year at this time after Starks had started there the previous two seasons.
Didnt I mention a third competition? That would be at ILB where Larry Foote's hold on that position is being challenged by second year man Lawrence Timmons.
The only other positional dilema Mike Tomlin sees is whether Ryan Clark has recovered fully from a spleen removal last year to hold his position from Anthony Smith at free safety.
News from Cleveland camp is their fans are chanting "Superbowl!, Superbowl!" while the players are just going through their warm-up drills. Could overconfidence be an issue this year? RB Jamal Lewis says coach Romeo Crennel keeps this team very humble through the leadership in the lockerroom of veterans like himself.
Derek Anderson states he has worked out harder this offseason that at any other time in his life knowing what is expected of him and this team this year. Not only has he been getting routine Thai massages to increase his flexibility, he has really gotten into running, weightlifting, and continuously throwing the pigskin.
Chad Johnson showed up on time despite his whiny offseason rants to be traded. Johnson even refused to talk to the media which is the exact opposite of what he normally does whenever he senses a camera less than a mile away he can shove his gold grill up to.
Carson Palmer says he has spoken with Ocho about needing to be on the same page this year and they seemed to have come to an agreement to put whatever was said in the offseason behind them and move forward as one of the best tandems at QB-WR in the NFL.
You cant talk about Ravens camp without bringing up rookie QB Joe Flacco and his confidence that he believes he is going to be the immediate starter over Kyle Boller. So far, Flacco has been the more erratic one and Kyle Boller the steady and poised veteran both in running the regular offense and the two-minute drill. Troy Smith? Well he seems to have great days and horrible days back to back for no rhyme or reason. One day he is connecting regularly on bombs and the next day he is fumbling the snap multiple times. First-year coach Jim Harbaugh says he will wait unti right up to the last minute before the Sept. 7th opener against the Bengals before naming his starter at QB.