Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
The Ravens have targeted Lions free-agent linebacker Isaiah Ekejiuba as their next special-teams ace, according to the Carroll County (Md.) Times.
The St. Louis Rams and Dallas Cowboys are also interested in Ekejiuba, 30, who was placed on injured reserve after three games last season when he hurt his shoulder. Undrafted coming out of Virginia, Ekejiuba played his first five seasons for the Oakland Raiders before joining the Lions in 2010.
The Ravens have yet to sign a free agent from another team this offseason. Baltimore has had three players in for visits, and all three signed elsewhere. The latest was wide receiver-returner Ted Ginn Jr., who re-signed with the San Francisco 49ers last night.
Hensley's slant: The Ravens need to address special teams because they could lose three of their top four tacklers from last season. Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski have already left in free agency, and three-time Pro Bowl performer Brendon Ayanbadejo is a free agent. The Ravens could also look at Jaguars free agent Kassim Osgood, who is another veteran special-teams standout.
BENGALS: Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said you shouldn't judge recently signed running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis solely by his statistics, especially his ability as a receiver. “Hasn’t been asked to do a whole lot because he’s been playing behind the greatest quarterback in NFL history in Tom Brady,” Gruden said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “BenJarvus can suit many different styles and he is a consistent performer. He can run inside or outside, he can catch and he can get you the tough yards.” Hensley's slant: Green-Ellis only caught 26 passes in 53 games with New England. As the Enquirer pointed out, Green-Ellis was often the fourth or fifth read for Brady. In Cincinnati, there are going to be times when he is Andy Dalton's primary one.
BROWNS: LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, a candidate to be taken fourth overall by the Browns, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he will undergo surgery Friday to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist. It's unknown how long the surgery will sideline him from participating in football activities. Considered the top defensive player in this year's draft, Claiborne said he injured his wrist in an overtime victory over Alabama on Nov. 5 and played the rest of the season with the injury. Hensley's slant: I don't think this really impacts the Browns' decision with their first first-round pick. Cleveland needs playmakers on offense and has to choose between taking running back Trent Richardson or wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
STEELERS: It's hard to believe that restricted free agent Mike Wallace reportedly wants a better contract than the one given to Larry Fitzgerald ($120 million over eight years). He couldn't really be demanding that, right? Well, it's worth noting that shortly after word spread about the report, Wallace posted this message on Twitter: "Dnt believe everything u hear!" Hensley's slant: It's uncertain whether Wallace was actually responding to the report because he didn't give the tweet any context. But, giving the timing of the message, I think it's safe to assume Wallace was disputing this pricey, and honestly outrageous, demand.