AFC North preseason team capsules (2012 records in parentheses):
OPEN CAMP: July 25
LAST YEAR: Made turnaround after late-season swoon to take AFC North. Then beat Colts, Broncos in double overtime in frigid Denver, Patriots at New England and, finally, held on to take Super Bowl over San Francisco.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: OLB Elvis Dumervil, DE Chris Canty, S Michael Huff, DT Michael Spears; rookie LB Arthur Brown, rookie S Matt Elam.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: LB Ray Lewis, C Matt Birk, WR Anquan Boldin, S Ed Reed, S Bernard Pollard, OLB Paul Kruger, CB Cary Williams, FB Vonta Leach.
CAMP NEEDS: Ravens need to find receiver to replace clutch Boldin and rework defense that lost several starters, but gained some capable newcomers. Also searching for leader in locker room and on field, someone who can step and replace experience, guidance and excitement that Lewis and Reed provided.
EXPECTATIONS: This isn't same team that won Super Bowl, but Ravens are confident additions they made will compensate for loss of several key players and enable them to contend for division title. Made key signing by retaining QB Joe Flacco, who has solid players in backfield in Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. Goal is getting back into playoffs and making serious run at second straight Super Bowl title, counting on Flacco to continue improvement, defense to successfully retool.
OPEN CAMP: July 25
LAST YEAR: Reached playoffs as a wild card for second straight season and lost at Houston in opening round for second consecutive year. Young defense led by Pro Bowl tackle Geno Atkins (12 1-2 sacks) finished sixth in yards allowed. QB Andy Dalton improved overall in second season, but struggled again in playoffs.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: LB James Harrison, rookie TE Tyler Eifert, rookie RB Giovani Bernard, QBs Josh Johnson and QB John Skelton.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: QB Bruce Gradkowski, DT Pat Sims, LB Manny Lawson.
CAMP NEEDS: Choose backup QB. Figure out how to work Bernard into rotation at RB behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Get Eifert acclimated quickly so he can be used in multiple TE sets. Come up with creative ways to help Harrison get pressure on quarterbacks. Make good impression on HBO's ``Hard Knocks.''
EXPECTATIONS: Bengals spent offseason keeping roster virtually intact, hoping they can reach playoffs for third year in row - something they've never accomplished. Then they want to break streak of futility in postseason, with last win in 1990 season, tied for seventh-longest such streak in NFL history. Bengals have enough depth and playmakers to contend for AFC North title. Anything less than getting back to playoffs and winning at least a game will be huge disappointment.
OPEN CAMP: July 26
LAST YEAR: Ben Roethlisberger's rib injury and series of late-game swoons sent Steelers spiraling to 2-5 finish and no playoffs for first time in three years. Defense ranked No. 1 for fourth time since 2007 but produced just 20 takeaways, 26th in league. Crowded backfield picture never came into focus, putting more pressure on Roethlisberger. Two-time Super Bowl winner made uncharacteristic mistakes in clutch situations against Dallas and Cincinnati in December.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Rookie RB Le'Veon Bell, rookie LB Jarvis Jones, rookie S Shamarko Thomas, QB Bruce Gradkowski, CB William Gay.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: LB James Harrison, WR Mike Wallace, CB Keenan Lewis, OL Max Starks, RB Rashard Mendenhall, NT Casey Hampton.
CAMP NEEDS: Some clarity at running back. Team let mercurial Mendenhall walk in free agency and grabbed Bell in second round of draft. Jones will begin camp in battle with Jason Worilds to replace Harrison; job is first-round pick's to lose. Wallace's departure leaves major void in speed at receiver, though Steelers insist group led by Antonio Brown can still get downfield when necessary.
EXPECTATIONS: Pittsburgh hasn't endured consecutive non-winning seasons since Bill Clinton was president (1998-99). Salary cap restrictions forced team to address immediate needs through draft instead of free agency. Bounce-back year is possible if offensive line and Roethlisberger remain healthy and Bell produces. Even with Harrison and Hampton gone, defense should remain competitive if S Troy Polamalu and LB LaMarr Woodley can return to Pro Bowl form after being limited by injuries in 2012.
OPEN CAMP: July 24
LAST YEAR: Announcement on first day of 2012 camp August that Jimmy Haslam was buying franchise from Randy Lerner sent shockwave through organization. One of league's youngest teams never recovered from 0-5 start. Top CB Joe Haden was suspended first four games, and Browns endured more than their share of growing pains under Pat Shurmur, who was fired after season. There were some bright spots: development of RB Trent Richardson, WR Josh Gordon, QB Brandon Weeden and RT Mitchell Schwartz, all rookies in `12.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: OLB Paul Kruger, QB Jason Campbell, WR Davone Bess, DL Desmond Bryant, OLB Quentin Groves, rookie OLB Barkevious Mingo, TE Gary Barnidge, WR David Nelson, K Shayne Graham, RB Dion Lewis.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: K Phil Dawson, WR/KR Josh Cribbs, TE Benjamin Watson, P Reggie Hodges, LB Scott Fujita, CB Sheldon Brown, QB Colt McCoy.
CAMP NEEDS: Healthy Richardson, Weeden to step up, and fewer distractions. Richardson was held out of OTAs and minicamps with shin injury, but said he will be on field from opening day of camp with no restrictions. He missed all of 2012 exhibition season coming off knee surgery, played majority of regular season with broken ribs. No denying his toughness, Browns are concerned about durability. Team has modified offense to fit Weeden's strengths. Haslam's ongoing legal troubles present background noise team doesn't need.
EXPECTATIONS: New coach Rob Chudzinski inherits better situation than previous regimes. He's got talent on both sides of ball, but needs time. Browns can't afford any significant injuries and must hope Weeden, far too inconsistent last season, can develop and thrive under coordinator Norv Turner. Defense is transitioning to 3-4 under former Cardinals coordinator Ray Horton, who has promised multiple attacking fronts. Gordon's suspension for first two games makes it imperative Browns find more offensive playmakers.
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