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Steelers Opponents: AFC North Roster Developments

July 28, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Sean Spence (51) reacts on the field during training camp at Saint Vincent College. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
July 28, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Sean Spence (51) reacts on the field during training camp at Saint Vincent College. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

I was planning to wait until after today's roster cuts to write this, but given some of the significant roster changes earlier this week, not to mention changes forced by injuries in this week's games thus far, I decided to go ahead and write Part 1 of this week's wrap. I'll sort through the massive changes necessitated by tonight's cuts over the weekend.

The big non-injury news this week in my opinion was in Baltimore, so let's start with the Ravens. Along with eight camp bodies the Ravens cut kicker Billy Cundiff. Six years ago Cundiff was on three different teams in one season. He stuck with a single team in 2007 (the Falcons) and 2008 (the Chiefs.) He was on three different teams in 2009, but finally stuck with the Ravens. In 2010 he was arguably the best kicker in the league, with an unbelievable touchback rate, back when the kickoffs were from the 30-yard line. In 2011 he shanked the kick which would have moved the AFC Championship game into overtime, sending the Ravens back to their lockers and the Patriots to their meeting with destiny the Giants. In 2012 he is history with the Ravens. So goes the life of the kicker. If the Football Outsiders guys are correct about kickers tending to revert to the mean, I guess that's what happened.

As for the camp bodies, they cut only one defensive player, Jordan Maybin (CB, Northwestern, UDFA.) They cut a whole slew of offensive players:

QB: Chester Stewart (Temple, UDFA)

WR: Patrick Williams (3 year vet, UDFA in 2009); Devin Goda (Slippery Rock, UDFA)

TE: Davon Drew (Ravens' fifth round pick in 2009, has been on the practice squad ever since;) Patrick Scales (1 year vet, UDFA in 2011) Scales is actually a long-snapper.

C: Cecil Newton (UDFA in 2009, on multiple teams including UFL stint)

G: Addison Lawrence (UDFA, Mississippi State)

Now to the injuries. Courtney Upshaw, the Ravens' first pick in this year's draft (they traded down to the second round) has a shoulder injury, his second of the summer, and will get an MRI today. TE Bruce Figgins also sprained his shoulder, and two other backups, G/C Justin Boren and TE Matt Balasavage sustained ankle sprains. Both he and Figgins are 2012 UDFAs, so they are probably history, but time will tell.

Finally, the Ravens made various IR/PUP moves, but the only ones of interest (to me, at least,) are these: Ryan McBean, former Steeler, former Bronco, etc., and supposedly the happiest man in the NFL, was put on IR with a broken ankle. In news which has undoubtedly greatly heartened Ravens fans and which has also undoubtedly struck a chill into the hearts of opposing QBs, Terrell Suggs has been put on the PUP list. This indicates he'll almost certainly be able to play in 2012.

Next up, the Bengals.

The defensive backfield for the Bengals continues to struggle as CBs Brandon Ghee, Shaun Prater, and Taveon Rogers were placed on IR last week. (This was before the league rule change, so it will be interesting to note whether any of them are put back on the active roster for the start of the season and then returned to the new, less stringent IR.) They were joined on IR by S Robert Sands and G Travelle Wharton. That's a lot of guys on IR, although some of them may end up waived/injured. The Bengals also made four cuts last week, and thus only had to cut two more players earlier this week.

But the newer injury news for the Bengals is their center, Kyle Cook, who sustained a foot/ankle injury in the Preseason 3 game. He is probably out for the season. They have signed C Jeff Faine in his place, and this is a big step down, at least at the moment.

And last night's game added to the angst for Bengals fans, if only temporarily. QB Andy Dalton got hit in the elbow by Colts' DE Robert Mathis and his arm went numb. He motioned to the sidelines that he was hurt, and they yelled at him to go down so that they would get an injury timeout. Apparently he dropped "like a sack of potatoes," and for a short while the Bengal fans saw their season pass before their eyes. But he's fine. The only other injury in that game was backup ILB Dan Skuta, who had "concussion-like symptoms."

The camp bodies who were cut were almost all on offense:

QB: Tyler Hansen (UDFA, Colorado)

WR: Justin Hilton (UDFA, Indiana State) Kashif Moore (UDFA, Connecticut)

RB: Aaron Brown (sixth-round pick for the Lions in 2009, cut near the end of last season)

G: Matt Murphy (2011 UDFA, Colts practice squad in 2011)

DE: Luke Black (UDFA, Fairmont State)

The Browns continue to deal with injuries as they put five players on IR this week (again, prior to the new rules.) The biggest name was also not a surprise: LB Chris Gocong was placed on IR. But DT Phil Taylor was placed on the PUP list, and so will presumably return sooner rather than later this season, which is good news for the beleaguered Browns.

The other players to be IR'd were also defensive players: LB Emmanuel Acho, DEs Auston English and Marcus Benard, and CB Antwuan Reed. They acquired DE Ernest Owusu from waivers.

They made nine cuts at the beginning of the week, most of them on offense:

WR: Owen Spencer (2011 UDFA) Jermaine Saffold (UDFA, Missouri State) Bert Reed (UDFA, Florida State) Carlton Mitchell (2 year vet, signed as UDFA by Browns in 2010)

T: Matt Cleveland (UDFA, Idaho) Jake Anderson (UDFA, University of Akron)

LB: JoJo Dickson (2011 UDFA)

CB: Emanuel Davis (UDFA, East Carolina)

P: Spencer Lanning. Lanning gets his own paragraph, because this is pretty crazy. He played in the Browns' first three preseason games, including in their loss to Philadelphia on August 24. The Browns cut him on the 26th, the Jets picked him up off waivers on the 28th, and he played in the Jets' game vs. Philadelphia last night. The Jets lost that game as well, although they did manage to get a touchdown for the first time all preseason...

Finally, the Steelers. I won't elaborate much, as this is a Steelers blog and all of this information is available, much more comprehensively. The big acquisition news was of course Mike Wallace signing his tender and reporting. Time will tell how effective he is. I hope he was a little jealous when Emmanuel Sanders caught that beautiful Charlie Batch pass in the end zone last night. The big injury news was the loss of third-round pick LB Sean Spence. It's not quite as bad as the Browns, who have lost their first round picks for the past three years to injury this summer (although it looks as if Richardson will be back for the season opener), but right now I keep waiting for the next 2012 pick to go down. Fortunately fourth-round pick Alameda Ta'amu, who is next in line, appears to be the most expendable of the top four picks, as Casey Hampton actually played a few snaps last night. Knock on wood...

Of the cuts the Steelers made this week, none of them were terribly surprising. I was sorry to see S Myron Rolle cut, but he didn't make a sufficient case for himself to stay. K Daniel Hrapmann made a great case for himself, and hopefully will be picked up soon by another team. The cut we may live to regret is Mortty Ivy, but hopefully he clears waivers. We're running out of LBs at a simply alarming rate.

That should do it for the moment. The next post will feature a black border around it, if I can figure out how to do that. This is my least favorite time of the football year—to see those shining young faces turned away to wander out into the cold and dark. I can't even imagine how Mike Tomlin and Co. are going to make some of the very difficult decisions they have to make today. I'm just glad it's him and not me...