AFC North Notes: Harbaugh backtracks on Spygate

ITEM: Burfict holds himself in high regard
There was a time when linebacker Vontaze Burfict was said to have the potential to be selected in the first or second rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft, but when the three-day pickfest was over, there had been 253 selections by the 32 teams over seven rounds and his name was not called.

Burfict will try to enter the league now as an undrafted rookie, and he believes the Cincinnati Bengals got themselves a real bargain by being the team to sign him.

"I know that I'm a first, second-round pick and the Bengals got a steal in the draft because nobody drafted me," Burfict told the Arizona State Press.

Burfict's 2011 season at Arizona State was the first part of his fall off most teams' draft boards, because the game tapes showed he had regressed as a player, and he committed a slew of personal fouls that cost his team, and those kinds of things are viewed as selfish acts by NFL coaches. Then Burfict did not do well at either the combine or at his pro day, and all of it combined to relegate him to the status of undrafted rookie.

But the Bengals took a chance on him, and Burfict said he likes Coach Marvin Lewis and is excited about playing for him, and he also said he's excited to play alongside Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga.

"I'm going to go in the first week and take notes of what he's doing," Burfict said of Maualuga. "I'm going to perfect my style of football. Hopefully, I'm either playing beside him, backing up or I'm starting. Either way, I'm happy to be on the team."

ITEM: Harbaugh issues statement softening Spygate comments
Baltimore Ravens Coach John Harbaugh found himself in the middle of a firestorm earlier this week after comments he made during a radio interview went viral.

Speaking on 97.9 FM in Baltimore, Harbaugh seemed to compare Spygate in New England with Bountygate in New Orleans.

"In the end, everything is brought before the light of day," Harbaugh said. "Even the thing in New England, no matter whether those things had any impact on whether they won their championships or not, they got asterisks now, it's been stained. So to me, it's never worth it. You've got to figure out ways to use the rules to your advantage."

Harbaugh said the Ravens organization therefore is always careful to be in compliance with all NFL rules and regulations.

"If you're cheating, in the end, you're going to get discredited," Harbaugh said. "It's just not worth it."

Some hours later – after Harbaugh's words elicited a rebuke from Tedy Bruschi on ESPN – the Ravens' coach issued a statement clarifying his original comments.

"I answered a question about playing within the rules and referred to the perception that the Super Bowl championships won by the Patriots and Saints have a stain," Harbaugh said via the statement issued by the Ravens. "My reference was to the perception out there that came as the result of the league's actions.

"I could have been more clear that I was referring to those viewpoints," the statement continued. "I totally believe that the Patriot and Saint coaches and players earned those championships. Bill (Belichick) and Sean (Payton) both know that …

"I called (Belichick) to remind him of my respect for him," Harbaugh said. "I also reached out to Tedy Bruschi, who rightfully defended those Patriots players and coaches on ESPN, to tell him that I agree with him that the Patriots earned every victory."

ITEM: Browns say no promises were made to McCoy
Shortly after the Cleveland Browns used the 22nd overall pick in the first round on 28-year-old quarterback Brandon Wheedon from Oklahoma State, a report surfaced the team had promised Colt McCoy before the draft that they would not use any of their picks on the position.

Coach Pat Shurmur said that report was "absolutely false."

"For the record, we don't consult our players about what we're doing in the draft," Shurmur told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "I think it's ridiculous to assume that we would say those things. I just want to be strong about the no."

There had been another report on the second day of the draft that the Browns were shopping McCoy in a trade, and one report took it a step further and identified the potential trading partner as the Green Bay Packers.

Cabot reports that a source said the team wants to take a little time to figure out what to do at a quarterback position that now includes McCoy and veteran Seneca Wallace as holdovers from 2011, plus the rookie Wheedon. According to Cabot's report, Wallace has two years left on his deal with salaries of $2.4 million and $2.85 million while McCoy will earn the NFL minimum in 2012-13 as part of the deal he signed as a rookie.

ITEM: Ravens sign Kemoeatu to a second tour
The Baltimore Ravens signed veteran nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu, who first played for the team in 2002-05, to a one-year contract.

Kemoeatu, 33, left the Ravens in 2006 for the Carolina Panthers as an unrestricted free agent when he signed a five-year, $23 million contract that included a $6 million signing bonus. He then signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the Washington Redskins in 2010, but he didn't play at all in 2011 after being released by the Redskins July 28.

Kemoeatu has had to deal with Achilles tendon and shoulder injuries, but he said he is healthy now and plans to play at least two to three more seasons.

"Ma'ake will be given an opportunity to make our 53-man roster," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "And if he does, he will provide added depth and help our ability to stop the run."

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