Okay, here we are a week later and thus its time for some more updated news from the AFC North. Also, in case you missed it yesterday, here are some SI pictures from the Steelers camp:
Coach Mike Tomlin's first two draft picks last year, both linebackers, Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley, should have much bigger impacts this season now that they both have a year of seasoning under their belts. Woodley has already been named the starter at left OL taking Clark Haggans place. Woodley only got 80 snaps last season but managed to still get 4 sacks. He also added two more sacks in the playoff loss to Jaguars.
As mentioned last week, Timmons is battling for a starting job with Larry Foote at inside linebacker. Timmons is already a starter in the Steelers nickel package.
Team captain James Farrior likes what he sees out of the two young studs, especially in the versatility-required **** LeBeau defense.
I would be remiss if I didnt mention team MVP at lineback last year, James Harrison, who had 8 1/2 sacks as a first year starter.
For some reason the big news this week out of Clown camp is their punter Dave Zastudi who missed four of the teams first 5 games last year due to an oblique muscle pull. Special teams coach Ted Daisher says the injury nagged his punter all season long, but he is better, more flexible, working harder, and ready to go.
Daisher is also worried about his punt coverage team who was a disaster last year while Paul Ernster and Scott player(since released) filled in for the injured Zastudi. He has instituted new players on the punt coverage team this year, Beau Bell and Alex Hall, two new draft picks from April in hopes that youth and speed will make up for some lapses in discipline.
Coach Marvin Lewis says this year he wants the offense to be more run-oriented. Also Lewis is impressed with his defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer running the most aggressive defensive camp he has seen in his 5 years with the squad. Two players however, Antwan Odom due to injury, and unsigned rookie Keith Rivers have yet to be able to participate in the latest packages. Right now Arizona Cardinals castoff Brandon Johnson is taking Rivers spot and Frostee Rucker(say what?) is filling in for Odom.
The Bungles had their annual scrimmage and intrasquad game on August 1st and 2nd and there were a lot of notable offensive performances, but since it was against their own sad defense, not mention is worthy of this space.
News out of Ravens camp is injury related. 21 players have already missed at least one day of practice due to getting nicked up. The reason? Well players say the old Brian Billick camp was so laid back, but new coach Jim Harbaugh is running a much tougher training. Fortunately, none of the Ravens players who have been injured are going to suffer any long-term effects.
Most of the injuries have come during a time when the drills are supposed to be run at half speed. Some of the players dont have a half speed switch however, and the guys following the rules are the ones most often knocked on their cans.