Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Wide receiver Jordan Shipley and cornerback Nate Clements are off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list after participating in Monday's practice. Both took part in drills except for the full-team ones.
Clements, who started 15 games in his first season with the Bengals, said he was cleared to practice Monday morning after missing the offseason workouts due to an abdominal strain.
“I had been going pretty hard the last couple days in shoulder pads on the other field to really work it, push it and it felt great. So they cleared me [Monday],” Clements told Cincinnati reporters, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I was able to get out there and participate a little bit. It felt good just being competitive, going up against the guys. It was a good thing.”
Shipley, who tore the ACL in his left knee last Sept. 18 at Denver, will compete with Andrew Hawkins and Mohamed Sanu to be the team's slot receiver.
“Honestly, I didn’t really know what the plan was. I didn’t make the plan, obviously. They re-evaluated me today and said it looked like it was time to go,” Shipley said. “I think [Tuesday] I’m full, like everything.”
Hensley's slant: The big news here is the return of Shipley because it was just a matter of time before Clements suited up for practice. There was some thought that Shipley would remain on PUP to start the season, a move that would've sidelined him for the first six games. Shipley is considered the favorite to win the slot receiver job and should see a lot of snaps in the preseason.
BROWNS: Browns rookie linebacker James-Michael Johnson made two interceptions in Monday's practice. “He looked good on the goal line and the linebackers crew, much like the O-line and D-line, where you might say before you put the pads on, that there are all these guys bunched up,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur told the team's official website. “I think the pads tend to separate the linebackers in what we think and he’s had a couple good days. He really has.” Hensley's slant: Johnson has a good chance to make an immediate impact for the Browns if he continues this growth. With Scott Fujita suspended for the first three games, Johnson can be a starter for the season opener by beating out Kaluka Maiava. Selected in the fourth round three months ago, Johnson has impressed early with his athleticism.
RAVENS: The Ravens gained one player and lost one on Monday. Offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie reported to training camp but didn't practice, and No. 2 tight end Dennis Pitta likely broke his hand. Pitta is expected to be sidelined until the Sept. 10 season opener against the Bengals, according to the Carroll County (Md.) Times. Davon Drew will likely move into the backup role. Hensley's slant: The first major injury of Ravens training camp didn't sideline a starter, but it did hurt one of the team's most valuable backups. Pitta, one of Joe Flacco's closest friends on the team, ranked second on the Ravens with 17 catches on third down last season. He also scored three touchdowns in his final six games.
STEELERS: Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley is still surprised that the Steelers ranked first in the NFL in total defense, pass defense and points allowed. "The ranking was high and I don't even think we played good defense last year," Woodley told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We didn't get that many turnovers, we didn't get to the quarterback that much, so I don't know how we were ranked that high. If we were ranked that high last year, we're definitely going to make some big stuff happen this year." Hensley's slant: The two areas where the Steelers have to improve are sacks and turnovers. They ranked 17th in the NFL with 35 sacks and finished last in the AFC with 15 takeaways. Increasing the pressure on quarterbacks will lead to more hurried throws, which will lead to more turnovers.