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AFC North Notes: The issue is Ravens' O-line

Posted Jun 18, 2012

ITEM: Ravens O-line becoming team’s No. 1 issue
As the Baltimore Ravens were completing their mandatory three-day minicamp last week, Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun offered the opinion that the team’s offensive line is the No. 1 issue heading into training camp.

“Signing running back Ray Rice and quarterback Joe Flacco to contract extensions are no longer the biggest issues facing the Ravens heading into their 2012 training camp,” wrote Preston. “The Ravens have to find a good offensive line, not the bunch of no-names they paraded around in a three-day minicamp which ended Thursday.

“Except for left tackle Michael Oher and right guard Marshal Yanda, who were these masked men? Starting center Matt Birk was a no-show because of a recent surgery to repair varicose veins in his legs, and 2011 starting left tackle Bryant McKinnie didn’t participate because the Ravens thought it would be better for him to improve his conditioning instead of practicing.”

Earlier in the offseason, it had been reported that McKinnie was working to get his weight under control, and there were some indications that the plan was effective. A month ago McKinnie said he weighed 365 pounds and was trying to get down to 350. But when McKinnie was judged to be too out of shape to participate in minicamp, the questions that have dogged the man sometimes called Mount McKinnie returned.

“We will leave that between us. That’s something that is an in-house type of thing right now,” Coach John Harbaugh told Preston when asked what McKinnie has to do to be on the field the first day of training camp. “Bryant has done a good job, he’s worked hard.”

With McKinnie a non-participant, Michael Oher took all of the repetitions with the first team on the left side, and it was reported that he looked comfortable and confident when working with recently signed veteran left guard Bobbie Williams.

It also was reported that a company that gave McKinnie a loan during the lockout has obtained a $4.3 million judgment against him.

ITEM: Are Browns, Brown making up?
For some time now, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown has criticized the Cleveland Browns, President Mike Holmgren and even rookie running back Trent Richardson.

But just one week after an appearance on NFL Network in which Brown questioned Holmgren’s commitment to the team, suggested owner Randy Lerner should be more involved, and repeated his opinion that Richardson is an ordinary player, Holmgren said at a press conference that he would be willing to welcome Brown back if he would be willing to re-unite with the team.

“It’s an interesting thing,’’ said Holmgren. “Jim is one of my childhood heroes, I’ve said that. He was a fabulous player. I think when I came in here, my very first press conference, he was the first guy that I shook hands with. How the Browns view Jim Brown hasn’t changed and will never change.

“I would love to see Jim Brown walk in right now or come to the Legends thing, be a part of this. The NFL Network, bless their hearts, they felt the need to rehash some stuff and because Jim’s role changed here, I could see where he got a little upset with me, perhaps, but I think Trent Richardson is going to be pretty good. Did he really say that? What did he mean? It’s all that kind of stuff. I would like Jim Brown to come and be a part of this and feel comfortable doing that and I would welcome him with open arms.”

Brown told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in response, “If that’s what Holmgren said, it just shows a lot of class on his part. I’ve always been attracted to anyone who has the class to reach out. I have nothing to hold me back from being a positive person in any type of circumstances. I am a Cleveland Brown, but it’s always up to those in control to decide what they want to do.”

ITEM: An extension for Marvin Lewis seems unlikely
According to a report on Cincinnati.com, the chances of Coach Marvin Lewis going into the season without an extension are likely.

When asked on Thursday after the Bengals’ final minicamp practice if he had discussed his contract with President Mike Brown, Lewis said the two have not spoken about it in awhile. Lewis received a two-year extension at the end of the 2010 season after the Bengals finished 4-12. In 2009, the Bengals won the AFC North Division title, and then in 2011, the Bengals finished 9-7 and qualified as a Wild Card.

Lewis has a record of 69-77-1, which includes three postseason losses.