AFC North Notes: Green-Ellis, Fujita, McClain

ITEM: Bengals get their man at RB
The Cincinnati Bengals were in the market for a running back to replace Cedric Benson, an unrestricted free agent who also had worn out his welcome there. By signing BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Bengals believe they not only replaced Benson on the field but improved themselves in the locker room.

According to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Green-Ellis earned a reputation in New England as the quintessential Bill Belichick player when it comes to saying and doing the right things. That contrasts sharply with Benson, who complained when offensive coordinator Jay Gruden tried to rotate him with Bernard Scott last season.

Green-Ellis, 27 in July, posted career bests of 229 carries and 1,008 yards in 2010. He scored 24 touchdowns in the past two seasons and has not been charged with a fumble in 510 career carries.

According to Hobson, the Bengals are going to get away from having just one running back get the bulk of the carries. Green-Ellis will team with Scott and Brian Leonard, and Hobson believes the team will draft a running back in April as well. The Bengals also were considering Michael Bush of the Oakland Raiders, but decided on Green-Ellis.

ITEM: Holmgren pumps up Colt McCoy
The Cleveland Browns were unsuccessful in their attempt to trade for the second overall pick in the upcoming draft as part of an effort to pick either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, and so it appears as though the team is preparing itself to "love the one you're with."

"I know Colt (McCoy) as a person,'' Browns President Mike Holmgren told Dave Mahler on KJR in Seattle. "He'll respond as well as anyone in the world to this. I think he's a competitive guy. He understands this business. He and I had a really good talk before he left in the offseason. And he knew there was going to be competition coming into this next offseason and next training camp.

"I like Colt McCoy as a player,'' said Holmgren later in the interview. "I think he's a fine player and has a chance to be a fine player in this league. So, I'm not down on Colt McCoy at all. But I will always – and as long as I'm in a position like this – we are always going to look for quarterbacks. Make that pile a little bit bigger. Try to create some competition. To try and bring the best out of the people you already have.''

ITEM: Ex-Saints LB awaits word from Goodell
According to a report by Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain-Dealer, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita will find out soon if he'll be penalized for his involvement in paying teammates for big plays when he was a member of the New Orleans Saints in 2009.

Commissioner Roger Goodell levied heavy suspensions on Coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and assistant coach Joe Vitt, and also fined the franchise $500,000 and took away second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013. Goodell then said that "next up" are the players involved in the program, and that he's considering input from NFPLA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith on the punishments.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated wrote that Fujita said he paid Saints teammates for big plays, but not for intentionally injuring players. Citing a source, King wrote that Fujita and two other Saints defensive leaders contributed between $2,000 and $10,000 to the performance and bounty pool, which was administered by Williams. But Fujita told King that he handed the reward money directly to teammates, and that it was never for a bounty.

ITEM: Ravens hope McClain remains
Like most contenders, the Baltimore Ravens spend much of free agency trying to hold onto their own good players, and that's where the team is currently with linebacker Jameel McClain.

Since free agency began, the Ravens have lost starting defensive end Cory Redding to the Indianapolis Colts (three years, $10.5 million) and outside linebacker Jarret Johnson to the San Diego Chargers (four years, $19 million) as well as Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs (New Orleans Saints, five years, $36 million) and safeties Haruki Nakamura (Carolina Panthers, three years, $5.5 million) and Tom Zbikowski (Colts, three years, $5.5 million).

McClain, 26, joined the team as an undrafted rookie from Syracuse in 2008 and started 31 games the past two seasons. McClain also is credited for stepping up when Ray Lewis missed four games last season because of injury and the team went 4-0 during that span.

The Ravens would like McClain to return, and dialogue continues toward making that happen.

"Yeah, hopefully that will happen," McClain told the Carroll County Times. "That's up to the powers that be and my agent to figure out that happy medium. I'm staying patient. I'm waiting for the perfect move at the perfect time. Patience is a virtue."

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