BALTIMORE: The Ravens will open the regular season hosting the Bengals (Sunday) and Steelers (Sept. 11) and visiting the Browns (Sept. 21), and in doing so will become the only team in the NFL to open 2014 with three straight division games.
Coach John Harbaugh suspects his team might be up for such a challenge.
"I love our team," Harbaugh said. "I love the way they work. I love the way they treat one another. I love the way they believe in one another. I believe in this football team. There's no question in my mind this team is destined for some very special things."
Suspended safety Will Hill (six games) and suspended running back Ray Rice (two games) don't count against Baltimore's 53-man roster … Two undrafted rookies cracked the Ravens' first 53-man roster – offensive tackle James Hurst (North Carolina) and inside linebacker Zachary Orr (North Texas) … Among the casualties in the cut to 53 were veteran guard A.Q. Shipley, who started nine games last season, and outside linebacker John Simon, a fourth-round pick in 2013.
CINCINNATI: Coach Marvin Lewis was likewise enthusiastic in assessing what he'll have at his disposal this season.
"I think we have another very hard-nosed, hard working group," Lewis assessed. "I think that plays well."
The Bengals had 13 new faces upon the cut to 53, including seven rookies and one undrafted rookie (Stanford fullback/tight end Ryan Hewitt).
Parting ways with running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis left Cincinnati with a combined 219 NFL carries among its four running backs … All five cornerbacks on the Bengals' initial 53-man roster were former first-round draft picks (Leon Hall, Terence Newman, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Darqueze Dennard) … Right offensive tackle Andre Smith didn't play a snap in the preseason (concussion) ... Running back Rex Burkhead (knee) and wide receiver Marvin Jones (foot) aren't expected to be available for a couple of weeks.
CLEVELAND: Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer hasn't forgotten the couple of weeks he spent with the Steelers during the 2012 season and isn't likely to, either.
Check out photos of the Steelers' current 53 man roster.
"I will always have a special place in my heart for Pittsburgh because (the Steelers) gave me a job at a time when no one else would," Hoyer said. "I will always be thankful for that but at the same time I think I'm on the right side of the rivalry now."
The Browns kept four of their undrafted rookies on their cut to 53, wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (Abilene Christian), running back Isaiah Crowell (Alabama State), fullback Ray Agnew (Southern Illinois) and cornerback Robert Nelson (Arizona State), and they added another who had been signed and cut by the 49ers (running back Glenn Winston, Northwood) … Coach Mike Pettine characterized the cut to 53 as follows: "I wouldn't read too much into where it stands right now. The roster situation right now is very fluid. I would think that it would be for the most part settled by the time we take the field on Wednesday." … The early indications in Cleveland were that rookie first-round pick Justin Gilbert and veteran Buster Skrine would share the cornerback position opposite Joe Haden in Sunday's opener against the Steelers. Skrine recently underwent thumb surgery.