The AFC North blog would be remiss if it didn't make a special acknowledgement of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Joe Greene leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. Greene announced his retirement from the Steelers' player personnel department after spending the last nine years as a special assistant for pro and college personnel for general manager Kevin Colbert.
"There are very few people in the history of the NFL who have had a greater impact on one franchise than Joe Greene has had on the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement. “As a player, Joe was the cornerstone of the greatest defense of all time. As a coach, Joe helped Chuck Noll finish his tenure as head coach. Then we were fortunate to have Joe rejoin the organization in our player personnel department for the last nine years, which included two more Super Bowl championships. Joe has been an inspiration in this organization in many different capacities over so many years. We will miss Joe Greene, but he will certainly continue to serve as an ambassador of this organization for many years.”
After a tip of the hat to perhaps the greatest Steeler of all-time, we'll continue with the wake-up call ...
RAVENS: Inside linebacker Rolando McClain has pleaded guilty to a window tint violation stemming from his arrest in January following a traffic stop, The Baltimore Sun reported. In exchange, the city has dismissed the charge of providing false information to police, which stemmed from him signing an expletive on the citation instead of his real name. He is due in court on July 9 for his most recent arrest on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Asked about McClain at the Baltimore Sun Sports Forum, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said, "We think he warrants a second chance."
BENGALS: The Bengals started the 2012 regular season with 11 undrafted free agents, which represented 21 percent of their roster. The current group of undrafted players can draw inspiration from wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, who played two seasons in Canada, got cut by the Rams and spent two weeks on the Bengals practice squad before earning a spot on an NFL 53-man roster. "I know (what) it entails. It’s a long process, it’s stressful," Hawkins told the team's official website. "There’s so much that goes into it but a lot of it is out of your hands. In some ways they have to come in and bust their butt. But in a lot of ways it is the luck of the draw.”
STEELERS: Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that the signing of free-agent offensive tackle Guy Whimper likely indicates that the Steelers are moving on without Max Starks, who has started 62 games over the past five seasons. I'm not so sure about that, based on Whimper's track record. He led the NFL in sacks allowed in 2011 with 14 and gave up four sacks in six starts last season. This sounds like the return of Jonathan Scott to me. So, while I'm not predicting Starks will return to the Steelers, I don't think the addition of Whimper precludes that -- especially if Whimper gives up a couple of sacks in the preseason.
BROWNS: New linebacker Paul Kruger said the Browns are "on the right track" after spending the the past month working out in the weight room and conducting on-field drills in the team's offseason program. "The biggest thing I’ve seen is the effort is off the charts," Kruger told the team's official website. "People are working hard. Everybody’s into it. It’s just a good mentality right now. That’ll take you a long ways. All the other stuff will fall into place. When camp starts, you’ll know exactly where you’re at as far as moving together as a defense or an offense. I think we’re giving a lot of effort and preparing well.” In other news, the Browns had a second player arrested this offseason. Rookie defensive end Armonty Bryant was arrested and charged with driving under the influence less than a week after being drafted in the seventh round by the Browns.