AFC North Notes: Smaller is better for Smith

ITEM: Andre Smith still trying to get smaller
Fans of the NFL draft process will never forget. It's an image that has been burned into their memories, that visual of a shirtless Andre Smith running a 40-yard dash.

The Cincinnati Bengals made the Alabama tackle a first-round draft pick, and Smith continues to work on the body that made him a laughing-stock that day. He recently weighed in at 330 pounds, and he told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com that he hopes to get down to 325.

"Last year I wasn't in as good (of) shape as I could have been, but it was the smallest I'd been in the NFL so I was able to maintain it playing the game," Smith said. "This year I want to be in tip-top shape. Put together strength and wind so I can breathe."

Smith finds himself in a contract year, because the Bengals didn't pick up a $6 million option back in August to extend the contract he signed as a rookie for two more years.

"They made the decision and I had a good season (in 2011) so I'm just going for the snowball effect and get even better this year," Smith said. "It's a big year for me and the Bengals organization. We've got a good schedule with a lot of tough teams and I'm just going to play and let my film speak for itself."

Smith's first two NFL seasons were spoiled by injuries, and his critics can make the claim that those injuries resulted from a poor level of conditioning.

"I want to be a dominant run blocker. I want to get back to what I was in college," he said. "Disciplined at all times. I'm happy and healthy. The goals are to get deep into the playoffs, not just make it, but get in and win, and personally just trying to stay healthy."

ITEM: Moch suspended for four games
Jason La Canfora of NFL.com reported via Twitter that Bengals linebacker Dontay Moch, a 2011 third-round pick, has been suspended for four games for using a banned substance, pending appeal.

In August of 2011, Moch suffered a broken foot in the Bengals' first preseason game.

ITEM: Trent Richardson has no plans to change
Cleveland Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson said on NFL Network's Total Access that he won't avoid contact and will continue to run through tackles, despite the toll that is likely to take on his body.

"I'm not going to change my game," Richardson said. "That's who I am. That's how I got here, that's how I made the progress to be who I am today. So when it comes down to it, I'm still going to do what I do. I have a lot of pride in my football and the football skills God blessed me with. I'm just here to make a big difference on this team, so I'm trying to get everybody on the same page."

Richardson said staying healthy in the NFL is more about what is done off the field.

"Just make sure I stay in that training room as far a recovery-wise and make sure I'm eating the right stuff, taking care of my body," Richardson said. "Really outside of the game just make sure I'm staying on schedule; keeping progress, building on and staying in the weight room."

ITEM: For Reed, "it's about respect"
The Baltimore Ravens already know they will have to open the 2012 season without Terrell Suggs, and Ed Reed continues to make news by intimating he might retire.

Reed said back in April that although his plan for 2012 is to play for the Ravens, but then  he added the qualifier that those plans could change. he plans on playing, those plans could change. Last week, Reed told Adam Schein of SiriusXM NFL Radio that he's "not 100 percent committed right now to playing this year."

Whenever he talks about ending his NFL career, Reed mentions his health, but he occasionally will mix in the issue of his contract. Reed is scheduled to earn $7.2 million this season, and Reed doesn't believe that's enough for a player of his stature. That's where the respect becomes a factor.

"The truth of the matter is, it's about respect," Reed said. "It's about getting respect, and it's a business."

Meanwhile, quarterback Joe Flacco has been getting some questions about the offense's ability to carry the team for the time it takes Suggs' Achilles tendon to heal.

"I want us to get in more of a mind-set where we have to score points," Flacco told Ravens.com. "Should this be something that makes us do that? No. We shouldn't feel any more pressure because we don't have (Suggs). We still have a great defense and we still have a great team. But having said that, if it does put more pressure on us, if we do feel like we have more pressure on us and we need to score more, I don't think that's a bad thing."

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