Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
Here are seven AFC North notes and observations from last weekend's preseason games:
If you were surprised by the sudden air-it-out attack from the Baltimore Ravens' offense in Saturday's preseason win over the Carolina Panthers, don't be. Baltimore's coaching staff is still guaging quarterback Joe Flacco's ceiling heading into his second season. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is never afraid to experiment and chose the third preseason game to see how much Flacco and his unit could handle as a pass-heavy offense. As a result, the offense looked pretty good and Flacco finished 23 of 28 for 247 yards and a touchdown. Baltimore's pass-run ratio overall Saturday was 39-to-28. Don't expect that to happen much in the regular season. But at least Cameron knows he's more comfortable switching identities if the proper situation calls for it.
With the Ravens airing it out constantly, it was surprising to see how well rookie right tackle Michael Oher kept Carolina Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers under wraps Saturday. Flacco dropped back 28 times with the first team and Peppers finished the night with just one tackle. To Peppers' credit, he did get one hit on the quarterback once the ball was released. But other than that it was a very quiet night for Peppers against Baltimore's up-and-coming first-round pick.
The way the Cleveland Browns beat the Tennessee Titans, 23-17, over the weekend is the exact blueprint Cleveland needs in order to win games in the regular season. The Browns hustled and played very smart football, while the Titans completely lost sight of the fundamentals. Cleveland blocked a field-goal attempt, forced a fumble near the goal line before halftime, recorded a "pick six" off Vince Young and recovered another fumble on a kick return. Despite all of these advantages for Cleveland, the more talented Titans still made it a one-possession game where a late touchdown would have won it.
While many often focus on Brady Quinn's throwing arm, a very underrated part of his game is his mechanics and attention to detail. Quinn works very hard on the little things and he displayed a full range of skills against the Titans. His pocket presence allowed him to avoid being sacked. His footwork helped make Cleveland's multiple screens work. Quinn also sold the play-action fake well on his best throw of the night-a 20-yard touchdown pass to receiver Braylon Edwards. In all it equaled an 11-for-15 performance for 128 yards, one touchdown, a 121.0 passer rating, which may have won him the starting job.
In his recent comments this weekend, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer (ankle) didn't seem optimistic that the team's medical staff will allow him to play Thursday against the Indianapolis Colts. That is compliant with what we reported last week via a source. The team is going to wait for another day or so to make its final decision for Thursday's game. But we're told as early as last week there were internal discussions about taking extra precaution by sitting Palmer for the remainder of the preseason. That leaves me to believe the team will go forward with that train of thought to make sure Palmer is 100 percent by the Sept. 13 opener against the Denver Broncos.
Cincinnati rookie first-round pick Andre Smith checks in with the AFC North blog after signing with the team. He believes getting in football shape with be his toughest challenge. The first-year offensive tackle hasn't played in an actual game since December. But Smith believes getting acclimated to the playbook won't be much of an issue. We will have more on Smith Monday afternoon.
Pittsburgh rookie free-agent tailback Isaac Redman has slowed since his solid preseason debut against the Arizona Cardinals. Saturday against Buffalo, Redman rushed for 31 yards on 13 carries (2.4 yard average). His longest run was for five yards. Redman also has just 34 rushing yards in the past two preseason games. The Steelers like his potential. But barring another push late, Redman is a bubble candidate for the practice squad. That means Pittsburgh would risk losing Redman to a waiver claim. But if not, the Steelers would be more than happy to continue to develop him throughout the season in the event another tailback goes down.