Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
The criticism from fans and the media is nothing like the shots that Browns quarterback Colt McCoy is taking on the field.
McCoy has been sacked 13 times in the first six games of the season and has been hit 38 times, which is the sixth-most in the NFL. As The Associated Press pointed out, the teams whose quarterbacks have been hit the most (St. Louis, Seattle and Miami) have all had their starters knocked out of games.
“He’s fine,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “I was just with him and he looked good. I didn’t see him run today, but he was walking straight.”
It would probably take an injury to force McCoy out of a game. Browns president Mike Holmgren supported McCoy as his starter for this year, but he was noncommittal beyond that.
“I see that as a great thing,” McCoy said of Holmgren's comments. “I think that’s how he sees every person on our team and if he wouldn’t have said it, I would have said the same thing. I evaluate myself after every game and especially after every season. You have to go back and look at things that were good and bad."
Hensley's slant: No one can question McCoy's toughness, but they can certainly question his arm strength. His 5.46 yards per attempt ranks 33rd in the NFL. Cleveland won't scare many defenses if McCoy can't prove he can beat them deep.
BENGALS: The Bengals players didn't criticize Carson Palmer in their first comments since the disgruntled quarterback got traded to Oakland. “You hope that guys go and do well but I’m worried about guys in this locker room and how they play,” Whitworth told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “I think more guys are excited to hear about the draft picks we got and the future of this team is better.” Hensley's slant: Come on, Bengals. Admit that you grinned just a little bit when Palmer threw three second-half interceptions. Tell us you laughed when one of his picks was returned for a touchdown. People have taken so much pleasure in the Bengals' misery over the years that they should be able to do the same when the tables are turned.
STEELERS: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook said that Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith could go down as one of his most favorite sports figures of all-time. Smith needs neck surgery, which could end his career. "If I could be like him and live my life like he lives his, I'd die a happy man," fellow Steelers defensive lineman Brett Keisel once said. Hensley's slant: It's a sad ending for Smith, whose past three seasons have been cut short by injuries. But his body obviously has worn down after playing a full 16-game season for eight years.
Note: The Ravens weren't included because of multiple blog posts from Monday night's game.