Wake-up: Safety is AFC North's hot topic

A quick programming note: I will be attending tonight's preseason game between the Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers and will provide my observations following the game. You can watch all the action on ESPN. Here's a look at what is happening around the division -- with a focus on the safety position -- in your wake-up call ...

RAVENS: The Ravens are close to determining whether rookie first-round pick Matt Elam or veteran James Ihedigbo will start opposite Michael Huff. Secondary coach Teryl Austin said that the team will “probably” know the winner of the competition after Thursday’s preseason game. “It’s a heck of a battle for the starting safety spots between those three guys and, as always, we'll put the best people on the field, the people we feel give us the best chance to win,” Austin said, via The Baltimore Sun. “And when we make that determination — probably after this weekend — we'll know who our starters are.”

BENGALS: Safety George Iloka is expected to miss his second preseason game after injuring his wrist last week, when he took a swing at Jordan Campbell and connected with the linebacker's helmet. Iloka, who started the preseason opener, is wearing a splint on his right arm. “It’s unfortunate for George because he had worked himself into having a chance to be on the field, from classroom work to field work to now and understanding the playbook,” defensive backs coach Mark Carrier told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “But it’s self-inflicted. He knows that because he hears it from me every day. Every day I asked him, ‘What did you learn?’ He said, ‘Don’t be stupid.’ It’s tough for him because he understands he put himself in position to get the reps, and he put himself in the situation not to have the reps.”

STEELERS: Rookie running back Le'Veon Bell is expected to be out six weeks with a Lisfranc injury, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The Steelers said earlier in the day that they were waiting for a second medical opinion on the right foot Bell injured Monday night, and they ruled him out for the team's preseason game Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs. The second-round pick was listed as a co-starter with Isaac Redman on last week's depth chart. Coach Mike Tomlin declined to talk about Bell's injury after Wednesday's practice, telling reporters he would address all injuries at his Thursday news conference.

BROWNS: A day after naming Brandon Weeden the starting quarterback, the Browns officially announced Tashaun Gipson as their starting free safety. “It was definitely a grind, a battle coming into camp,” Gipson said, via The Akron Beacon Journal. “This is what I set my goals for and I’m just blessed that coach Chud and the coaching staff gave me that title and instilled that trust in me. My mindset is not going to change just ‘cause I am the starter. It doesn’t mean I’m going to relax on my craft. I’m going to continue to try to get better each day. I’m going to continue to grind out there like I’m competing for my job.”