AFC North Notes: Sweed works out for Bengals

ITEM: 'Tis the season for posturing
It is a tactic being employed at various places around the league, that being players threatening to skip offseason workouts, which are allowed to begin today. The players involved in this tactic are ones who either have been protected with the franchise tag or, in the case of a restricted free agent, with a tender offer requiring a significant draft pick as compensation.

In Baltimore, the players who apparently fall into this category are Ray Rice and Cary Williams.

According to a report by Steve Wyche of, Rice, who has been slapped with the franchise tag but has yet to sign the $7.7 million tender, won't be there when the Ravens' program opens today. According to Jason LaCanfora of, Williams, a restricted free agent, won't be reporting either.

Besides the obvious – that neither Rice nor Williams, or any other players in those situations, including Steelers receiver Mike Wallace, have any real leverage – what these players will be missing starting today hardly could be characterized as critical.

According to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, what actually starts today is something called Phase One of the offseason program. Phase One lasts for two weeks, and the activities are limited to "strength and conditioning" and "physical rehabilitation." Only strength and conditioning coaches may be present; other coaches may not attend or observe. Footballs cannot be used, with the exception of quarterbacks throwing to uncovered receivers. No helmets allowed.

In February, Coach John Harbaugh told that he was confident Rice won't hold out. "I would be surprised, just knowing Ray and I know how much he loves football. I think he understands there's not leverage to be gained by doing that. Guys who've done that haven't come out and played well. That would never be the way to get a contract here. That's not how the Ravens have operated."

In the case of Williams, he is still recovering from hip surgery and hasn't been cleared for football activities yet.

ITEM: Are Browns now thinking of trading down?
Many weeks ago, Browns President Mike Holmgren was bemoaning the fact his team was unable to work out a deal with the St. Louis Rams for the second overall pick in the upcoming draft. According to a recent report in the Plain Dealer, sources are saying the Browns might trade down.

The report mentioned the Rams, now with the sixth overall pick, and the Eagles, picking 15th, as interested partners. At least two other teams are in the mix, according to the report.

At the NFL Owners meetings last month, Rams Coach Jeff Fisher said he would consider trading up with the Browns. He didn't specify which player the Rams were targeting, but the team is interested in Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon.

The Eagles might be willing trade up, but nothing would happen until draft day, because the Vikings are also believed to be interested in trading down from No. 3.

Or at least, that is what somebody wants somebody else to believe.

ITEM: Limas Sweed works out for Bengals
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that former Steelers wide receiver Limas Sweed worked out for the Bengals last Friday.

A second-round draft pick by the Steelers in 2008, Sweed hasn't played since 2009. He tore his Achilles' tendon in training camp before the 2010 season and was placed on the injured reserve list. He was waived by the Steelers in 2011.

Sweed played in 11 games as a rookie in 2008, with six catches for 64 yards, but he also had a couple of spectacular drops in the playoffs. He had one catch for 5 yards in nine games in 2009. Sweed, from Texas, had 1,915 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns in college.

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