I'm old school at heart so I'm not a fan of artificial surfaces or domed stadiums in football. Two teams in the division already play on the fake stuff (the Ravens and Bengals) and now the Browns are exploring the possibility of adding a roof to their stadium. What's next for the Browns? Adding cheerleaders? OK, let's not go down that road. Time to proceed to the wake-up call ...
BENGALS: Jeromy Miles has taken over for Taylor Mays at strong safety, playing 48 of a possible 67 defensive snaps last Sunday, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Miles pointed out that Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III’s best throw is off play action and is deep down the middle of the field, an area that could frequently be Miles' responsibility Sunday. “He helps in any way he can," coach Marvin Lewis said of Miles. "He’s one of those guys that ‘does windows.’ He does as much as he can, and he’s one of the nuts and bolts of the operation. He’s strong, he’s tough, physical, smart enough, fast. He’s still a young, developing player.” Miles has made plays this season, but the Bengals need to address this position better next season.
BROWNS: Soon-to-be Browns owner Jimmy Haslam informed Cleveland City Council members that he would consider a retractable roof for Cleveland Browns Stadium, The Plain Dealer reported. Browns coach Pat Shurmur didn't endorse the idea. "I like the setting that we present on gameday here," he said. "I'm not really trying to visualize anything at this point. Some of the charm, at least what I've experienced so far here in Cleveland, is kind of the late season wintery setting." Playing with snow on the field is part of Cleveland's football identity. The focus should continue to be constructing a winning team, not an impractical roof.
RAVENS: Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata called the Ravens defense, which ranks 27th in the NFL, "definitely a work in progress." Baltimore is coming off a game in which it gave up 486 yards to the Eagles and now faces a Patriots offense that ranks No. 6 in the league. “We have a lot of new faces in our front seven," Ngata said, via CSN Baltimore. "We’re just trying to get used to each other. Once we continue to jell more, I think we’ll seem more dominant.” The Ravens have finished ranked in the top 10 in defense from 2003 to 2011, when they were No. 3.
STEELERS: Teammates were impressed by Rashard Mendenhall in practice Wednesday, although it doesn't mean the Steelers running back will make his debut Sunday. “He made a cut on the back side of a zone (blocking scheme) and just took off,” guard Willie Colon told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It kind of reminded me of the old Rashard. He actually looked more explosive. He looked fast. Everything I saw was a good sign.” Mendenhall has yet to be cleared to play after having ACL surgery in January. Without Mendenhall, the Steelers rank 30th in the NFL in rushing, averaging 70.5 yards on the ground per game.