While the other teams in the AFC North are preparing for minicamps next week, the Cleveland Browns have been busy on and off the field during their workouts this week. The Browns signed two players (see below) and welcomed guard Jason Pinkston back to the practice field after a blood clot cut short last season for him. Let's see how the other division teams are faring in today's wake-up call ...
RAVENS: Everything is going well with left tackle Bryant McKinnie, according to The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston. He's hearing word that McKinnie has been attending the team's offseason conditioning workout sessions and his weight is down. Preston thinks there are other concerns with the offensive line. "The Ravens need to work on timing issues, especially in the middle of the offensive line with new center Gino Gradkowski and guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele," Preston wrote. "If Gradkowski performs well, the Ravens' offensive line could be one of the strong in the conference -- providing McKinnie keeps working hard."
BENGALS: Rookie linebacker Brandon Joiner, who recently served eight months of a three-year sentence for aggravated robbery, has an unlikely supporter -- Arkansas governor Mike Beebe. Joiner and Beebe both attended Arkansas State. "He's a good guy. This is the kind of story you like to talk about," Beebe told the team's official website. "Kids mess up. They do foolish things. We probably have all done stupid things when we're young. He went over the line. He did what he had to do. He paid his dues. He's a class guy."
Meanwhile, a warrant has been issued for the arrest of former Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson in South Florida. A circuit judge issued a warrant May 7 against Johnson for failing to report to his probation officer. Johnson received a year of probation last September after pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge involving his former wife, reality TV star Evelyn Lozada.
STEELERS: The Steelers signed their first draft pick from this year's class, reaching a deal with safety Shamarko Thomas. He was the first of two fourth-round picks for Pittsburgh. The Steelers traded next year's third-round pick to the Browns so they could draft Thomas. At Syracuse, Thomas started 39 games, recording 263 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. The Steelers, who have less than $2 million in salary-cap room, won't be able to sign all nine of their draft picks this month. Pittsburgh gains an additional $5.5 million next month because it designated guard Willie Colon a June 1 cut.
BROWNS: The Browns signed quarterback Brian Hoyer and running back Brandon Jackson, according to The Plain Dealer. Both are likely competing for backup jobs. Hoyer signed a two-year deal with his hometown team after stops in New England, Pittsburgh and Arizona. Hoyer, 27, was released by the Cardinals five days ago. Jackson, who is primarily a third-down back, signed a one-year deal to return to Cleveland. Both deals have yet to be announced by the Browns. I will provide my thoughts on the addition of Hoyer later this morning.