ITEM: Ravens' O-line already in adjustment mode
The team's starting left tackle last season – Bryant McKinnie – is on the reserve/did not report list and is being fined $30,000 per day according to published reports. McKinnie, who has had a history of problems with his weight, had his chiropractor talk to Ravens officials but he has not. McKinnie told Baltimore radio station, WNST, that he had an "accident" and would say more after reporting to camp.
The most recent development in this saga is The Baltimore Sun received a text message from McKinnie that said the player would report to the team on Monday, July 30 – a scheduled off day for the rest of the Ravens. Before being able to practice, McKinnie will have to pass the team's conditioning test, which cannot be considered a sure-thing at this stage, especially after his history and the Ravens' decision to have him work on his conditioning rather than practicing with the team during minicamp in mid-June.
The team's starting right tackle last season – Michael Oher – has been moved over to the left side. A celebrated left tackle coming out of college – and the subject of the movie titled "The Blind Side" – Oher has found more NFL success as a right tackle to this point in his young career.
Two years ago, Oher was moved to left tackle to replace the injured Jared Gaither, and he was prone to penalties and had some dramatic missed assignments. The most notable of those came on a play when Troy Polamalu sacked/stripped Joe Flacco in the fourth quarter of a December game to set up the Steelers' winning touchdown in a victory that helped Pittsburgh win the AFC North title.
Partly because of those struggles, Oher was moved to right tackle for 2011 and McKinnie was signed and allowed to play himself into shape on the left side. Oher had a much better season in 2011, and the Ravens won the AFC North title by sweeping the Steelers.
To take Oher's starting spot at right tackle, the Ravens have turned to rookie Keneche Osemele, the team's second-round pick in last April's draft.
"We definitely feel like he is a guy we could plug in and he can start," said Coach John Harbaugh. "I would say that about the other two players, too, about Ramon Harewood and about Jah Reid. But K.O. is talented, he's tough, he's really smart. (Offensive line coach) Andy Moeller is doing a great job with him. Absolutely, yes."
Said Osemele, "Right now, it'll come down to practices and reps and stuff. I still don't have it down 100 percent. So right now, I'm just trying to learn from the older guys, but come September, I'll be ready."
ITEM: Marvin Lewis bans Twitter
Cincinnati Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis has banned his players from tweeting during training camp and was reported to have consulted team leaders before imposing the ban. Lewis said the move was made in an effort to get the players to focus during a training camp to be held at the team's downtown practice facility.
So far, there have been no violations.
"I don't think it's something where we're trying to fine guys $10,000 if they Twitter something," said offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, who doesn't have a Twitter account. "I think we're just more saying, 'Let's let our focus be on what we do.'"
Like all coaches, Lewis is wary of players spreading information about injuries through social media, and the issue could have come to a head when rookie cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick – one of the Bengals' two No. 1 picks – tweeted before camp opened that he had a leg injury.
"I don't see how tweeting is going to help us win a football game," Lewis said. "So it's part of being selfless right now. It's not best for our football team to be involved in that. It's best that we just take care of ourselves and not announce what we're doing or not doing, or who did this or who did that, and commenting on what's going on in other spots. Let's be football players."
ITEM: 'For Sale' sign should come down quickly
According to a report in The Plain Dealer, Randy Lerner's sale of the Cleveland Browns to Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam III – an original member of a group of investors assembled by Dan Rooney and Art Rooney II to assume control of the Pittsburgh Steelers – could be approved before the start of the regular season in September.
The same report identifies former Eagles President Joe Banner as an integral part of the Haslam group, which the newspaper concluded could mean the Browns are in for another front office shakeup. Banner, whose tenure as Eagles president ended in June, would most likely come in as part owner and team president, according to the report. If that's the case, it would spell the end of Mike Holmgren's reign in the third year of a five-year contract that pays him an estimated $8 million a year.
Coach Pat Shurmur was hired by Holmgren in early 2011, and after working as a rookie under the weight of an NFL lockout, he could be in a win-or-else situation in 2012. And he's in this situation coming off a 4-12 season and facing 2012 with a rookie quarterback as the presumptive starter.
"Pat grew up in this business," Holmgren said Saturday. "He's a big boy. He understands what's going on. You are judged on your record and how you do. That's just the way it is."
In football matters, Shurmur is already rotating linebackers as the team prepares for the three-game suspension of Scott Fujita because of his role in Bountygate. The Browns also put three players on the physically unable to perform list – starting DT Phillip Taylor, who is to be out until midseason with a torn biceps; starting DT Ahtyba Rubin, who was reported to have a slight pelvic tear surgically repaired in early June; and backup fullback Eddie Williams.