AFC North Hot News

The Ravens are circling Byron Leftwich like vultures, the Steelers talk to Sammy Knight and the Bengals do Bengal-like things. It's all in Hot News from TheInsiders' AFC North sites. Included are Hot News items on players the Cleveland Browns have been looking at - news items you can't see anywhere but Bernie's Insiders!


Bernies Insiders

Grey Ruegamer: Center works out for Browns

NFL sources tell Bernies Insiders that Grey Ruegamer, who served as the Patriots backup center in 2002, has worked out for the Browns this week. No word yet on how well the workout was received.


Kevin Dogins: Works out for Browns

Dogins, a center with the Chicago Bears, worked out for the Browns this week. He is one of several offensive linemen who have been in Cleveland this week.


Jamar Nesbit: Visits with the Browns

NFL sources have told TheInsiders that Jamar Nesbit visited with the Browns this week. No word regarding how the visit went yet.


Nick Barnett: Browns present at workout

Nick Barnett, who has scheduled a trip to Cleveland, discussed a recent workout for the team in the Oregonian. While a number of teams watched Barnett work out, the ones he recalls specifically were the Packers, Vikings, and Browns. The Packers send Mike Sherman to visit, and the Browns and Vikings sent their linebacker coaches.


Corey Parlet: Works out for Browns, Patriots, others

The Cleveland Browns are leaving no stone unturned in attemptint to get the most out of the 2003 draft (and subsequent UDFA signing period). One of the prospects that has gotten some attention from them is FB Corey Parlet, who they timed at 4.5 in the 40 last month.

An article from the Associated Press indicates that the Browns are among the teams who have watched Parlet work out. Other teams who have inquired are the Patriots, Bears, Broncos, and Panthers.


Jim Brown: Amer-i-can Helps Out in Long Beach

According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Jim Brown's Amer-i-Can program is going to make a difference in the California community.
According to an article on the newspaper's web site:

"Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown on Friday announced the launch of Long Beach's first peace squad, a group of local youth set to clean alleys, paint over graffiti and participate in community activities."

"The squad is made up of about 30 young adults who have completed Brown's 60-hour self- improvement program, Amer-I- Can, and are ready to change their lives and make a difference in the community. "


Lance Nimmo: Will visit Browns

According to published reports, WVU tackle Lance Nimmo will visit the Cleveland Browns during the next week. Nimmo is one of several offensive tackles who have visited with team officials.


Tim Couch: Stalked by Ratbirds?

Brian Billick's desire for ex-Browns doesn't seem to stop at Jamir Miller and Corey Fuller. According to Jeff Schudel (Lake County News-Herald) in an article not on the web, Billick "would love to get his hands on Tim Couch should the Browns release him June 1, as several GMs expect the Browns to do despite Davis' vow to keep Couch and Kelly Holcomb."


Jamel White: Contract on Hold until After the Draft

Negotiations to extend the contract of running back Jamel White probably won't start until after the draft. The Browns essentially kept White off the restricted free agent market by giving him a first-round tender. No team was going to give up a first-round pick to sign him.

 


BYNERS INSIDERS

Jamir Miller: No time frame set for possible deal with Ravens

The Ravens continue to negotiate with Leigh Steinberg, the agent for free agent linebacker Jamir Miller, but Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is not offering any type of prediction on when a deal might be done. The Ravens chances of signing Miller appear to have improved with the recent signings of Dewayne Rudd by Tampa Bay and Vonnie Holliday by Kansas City. Both had expressed interest in Miller. "I don't know if [the other signings] impact us at all," Newsome told The Baltimore Sun. "It's just ongoing negotiations. The way negotiations go, I just can't put a time frame on it." As of now, it appears that the only other team interested in Miller is his former team, Cleveland, who is strapped against the salary cap. "Jamir is excited about the opportunity to play there," Steinberg said, of his client's interest in playing in Baltimore.

Kyle Boller: Ravens to get another look at him

The Ravens will get yet another look at Kyle Boller, when the California quarterback visits them on Thursday. Boller already had a private workout for the Ravens on March 27th that was attended by general manager Ozzie Newsome, head coach Brian Billick, offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh and director of player personnel Phil Savage. The 6'3 234 pound Boller has flown up draft charts this offseason thanks to his peformances at the Senior Bowl, at the combine, where he ran the 40 in 4.59, and at his workout, where among other things, he kneeled on one knee at the 50 yard line and threw a perfect strike through the goldposts some 60 yards away at the back of the endzone. The Ravens are expected to draft a quarterback in the first few rounds, perhaps as high as their first pick, 10th overall. The two quarterbacks that have been most tied to the Ravens so far this offseason are Boller and Marshall's Byron Leftwich, who is generally expected to be drafted before the Ravens first round pick.


Antwan Peek: Will visit the Ravens

Antwan Peek will be one of five draft prospects to visit the Ravens this week. The 6'2 246 pound defensive end, who runs the 40 yard dash in 4.62 seconds, would project as an OLB in the Ravens 3-4 defense. He is considered one of the best 3-4 OLB prospects and is expected to be drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round.


Montrae Holland: Will meet with Ravens this week

Florida State guard Montrae Holland will visit the Ravens complex in suburban Baltimore this week. The 6'1 333 pound Holland is considered one of the best guards in the draft and is expected to be drafted in the second or third round.


ReShard Lee: Will drop in on Ravens

The Ravens will entertain running back ReShard Lee at their training complex this week. Lee was second in rushing during the 2002 season for Middle Tennessee State, gaining 642 yards on 110 carries with 6 touchdowns. He left with two seasons of eligibility left available to him, joining the man who started ahead of him, Dwone Hicks in the draft. Lee (5'9 224, 4.6) is expected to get drafted very late, if at all.


Aubrayo Franklin: Will visit with Ravens

The Ravens will have 5 draft prospects in for a visit to their training complex this week, and one of those five is Tennessee defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin. The 6'1 307 pound Franklin is considered a late round prospect and would likely project to defensive end in the Ravens 3-4 defense.


Byron Leftwich: Ravens saw what they wanted to see

The Baltimore Ravens had a strong contingent at Byron Leftwich's workout on Monday, and those that are talking came away impressed with what they saw from the former Marshall star quarterback. "He looked healthy, and that's the big thing we were looking for," coach Brian Billick told The Baltimore Sun. "We didn't want to see him go out there and limp around. From that standpoint, he passed the test." Leftwich fractured his left tibia last November, the second year in a row that he had sustained that injury. "We wanted to find out if he could move around," Eric DeCosta, Baltimore's director of college scouting, added in an interview with BaltimoreRavens.com. "He had a good workout and he proved that he was healthy. I think he's in the mix." The Ravens are expected to take a quarterback on the first day of the draft, perhaps even with the 10th pick overall in the first round. It is generally felt that Leftwich will be off the board by that spot. The other highly rated quarterback who has been most tied to the Ravens in regards to the draft is Californa's Kyle Boller.


Dameon Hunter: Scores TD in NFL Europe debut

Dameon Hunter got some playing time in the first game of the NFL Europe season, and the running back was able to run the ball 9 times for 22 yards and caught one pass for 13. He also scored a touchdown on a 4 yard run early in the fourth quarter to give his team, the F.C. Barcelona Dragons, a 13-12 lead. Eventually, the Dragons lost the game to the Frankfurt Galaxy 15-13. Hunter, an undrafted free agent from Utah who made the Ravens final 53 man roster for 2002, was allocated by the Ravens to NFL Europe.


Randy Hymes: Re-signs with Baltimore

The Ravens have re-signed wide receiver Randy Hymes. Hymes, who was mostly a quarterback in college, played in six games for the Ravens, starting the last two of the season. During those last two games, he showed promise, catching 5 passes for 112 yards. The 6'3 211 pound Grambling State product was an exclusive rights free agent.


Byron Leftwich: Billick and Newsome among those at his workout

Byron Leftwich finally had his audition for NFL scouts on Monday in Florida. The Marshall quarterback had been unable to work out due to a fractured left tibia sustained last November. According to NFL.Com, Leftwich measured up at 6'5 and 3/8 and weighed in at 236 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash twice between 4.85 and 4.92 seconds, and also ran a 4.50 short shuttle and a 7.71 three-cone drill. The Washington, D.C. native took all his snaps from center, which was important to scouts, as he had played most of his college career in a shotgun. Leftwich seemed to show no ill effects of his leg injury, showing no limp during his workout and showing good movement while rolling out to both his left and right. At least four head coaches and two GM's of teams drafting in the top 10 were represented at the workout, including Ozzie Newsome and Brian Billick of the Ravens. According to NFL.Com, Billick, in particular, seemed to be impressed with Leftwich's movement during his workout. The Ravens pick 10th in the draft and it is believed they are considering selecting a quarterback with their pick. They have already had a private workout with California's Kyle Boller, generally considered the third best quarterback behind Leftwich and USC's Carson Palmer, who most feel will end being taken by Cincinnati with the first pick. It is unclear whether the Ravens will have a private showing with Leftwich as well.

David Kircus: Ravens work him out

The Ravens worked out David Kircus last week. The 6'1 180 wide receiver, who starred for 2002 NCAA Division II champion Grand Valley State, is considered a mid to late round prospect.


Brian Griese: Likely to be too expensive for Ravens

According to a published report, Brian Griese is leaning towards signing with the Dolphins when he is released by the Broncos in June. Griese, whose father, Bob, was a Hall of Fame quarterback for the Dolphins, is looking for a similiar deal to the one Jake Plummer received from Denver (7 years, $40 million). That high price tag is will probably eliminate the Ravens, who likely won't go any higher than the $1.5 million or so first year salary they were offering Jeff Blake, from being a serious bidder for Griese. The Ravens are also expected to draft a quarterback in the first or second round.


Anthony Wright: Re-signs with Ravens

According to a web report, quarterback Anthony Wright signed a one year contract worth $605,000 on April 5th to remain with the Ravens. Wright, who was a restricted free agent, could possibly challenge for a backup spot to presumed starter Chris Redman. However, the Ravens are expected to select a quarterback high in the NFL draft later this month, and are also expected to bring in a more seasoned veteran to possibly compete with Redman for the starting job.


STEEL CITY SPORTS

Sammy Knight: High ticket item?

Not only has Sammy Knight returned to his pregnant wife without a contract, but the Steelers don't believe they'll sign the veteran free agent before the draft, if at all. Steelers officials have put the prospect of signing Knight at less than 50-50, citing Knight's overinflated opinion of his financial value. Whereas linebacker James Farrior was interested in playing for a playoff contender and accepted minimum wage and a $1.7 million bonus for a three-year contract prior to last year's draft, Knight still believes he's worth more than the $1.9 million salary he was due before opting out of his contract with the New Orleans Saints.


Sammy Knight: Steelers Host Free Agent Safety

Spurned last month by free agent safety Dexter Jackson, the Steelers began the process of trying to fill the hole in their secondary Wednesday when they hosted Sammy Knight at their practice facility in Pittsburgh.

Knight, a Pro Bowl strong safety in 2001, spent the first six years of his career with the New Orleans Saints, for whom he started 89 games.

But he voided the final season of his contract with the Saints after meeting performance and playing-time thresholds. Knight had been scheduled to earn a base salary of $1.9 million in 2003.

"Any time a player gets a chance to opt for free agency and get out on the market to see what's going on, it's always a good thing," said Knight. "Just because you can see what else is out there.

"I was in New Orleans for six years and that's all I knew was the New Orleans Saints. I wanted to opt out and see what else was out there in the league, see what other teams were doing and kind of test the market."

Lee Flowers, the Steelers' starting strong safety for the past five seasons, is an unrestricted free agent and the team has shown no interest in re-signing him.

The Steelers made a strong pitch to former Tampa Bay safety Dexter Jackson last month, but he took more money sign with Arizona.

With the NFL draft just over two weeks away, the Steelers would like to acquire a veteran safety to lower their need to fill that position.

The 6-foot, 215-pound Knight has 28 career interceptions, including five last season. The Steelers will also have former Arizona free safety Kwame Lassiter in for a visit later this week.

But their primary target at this point appears to be Knight, who has also drawn interest from the Miami Dolphins.

"The Steelers are a great organization and I wanted to come see what they were about," Knight said. "I definitely think they're interested also. It would probably be a great fit. I'm an aggressive guy, this is an aggressive defense. I'd like to bring a little leadership to this team. I'm sure they have a lot of great leaders already because they're successful every year."


Sammy Knight: Dolphins, Knight mutually impressed

Free agent SS Sammy Knight was impressed with his recent tour of the Dolphins' facility and visit with the coaching staff. It is expected that the Dolphins will make an offer quickly. "We're not going to be caught without a safety. He's a prime example of a guy who may have some shortcomings from a physical testing aspect, but because of his instincts and awareness he can overcome those shortcomings," said Dolphins Senior VP Rick Spielman. Knight, too, would like to strike a deal ASAP as he and his wife are expecting the couple's second child in the next few days. That deal could come today when Knight arrives in Pittsburgh for a visit. The Steelers would like to have a veteran SS onboard before the draft on April 26th.


Earl Holmes: Hitman finds home in Detroit

Former Steelers ILB Earl Holmes has signed a three-year deal with the Detroit Lions. Holmes spent the 2002 season with the Cleveland Browns -- the first of a five-year, $17.5M contract -- but was released in February. Holmes will earn $1.75M this year with the Lions.


Antwan Peek: Visits Steelers

University of Cincinnati DE Antwan Peek visited the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday. At 6'2", 246lbs, Peek is projected as an OLB in the Steelers' 3-4 alignment. The team will be looking for OLB depth in the draft, and Peek is among the best available.


Bengals Insiders

Neil Rackers: Seahawks showing interest

Seattle has some interest in Bengals restricted free agent kicker Neil Rackers, to the point where Rackers might visit the Seahawks. The Bengals have offered Rackers a $605,000 one-year tender and have first-refusal rights. The Seahawks appear to be unwilling to make an offer but would be more interested in signing Rackers were he first released by the Bengals.


Mike Green: Could jump to top depth chart

Tennessee's salary cap problems continue to benefit the Bengals and could pay another dividend in the near future. The Bengals on April 3 filled a major need by picking up fullback Mike Green on waivers from the Titans. Tennessee rescinded its one-year, $605,000 tender to Green on Wednesday, only hours after he had participated in a workout at its Nashville complex. Green, a three-year pro who played in 15 games last season, should jump to the top of the Bengals' depth chart at fullback – ahead of Terry Witherspoon and converted linebacker-tight end Chris Edmonds. The Bengals lost their top two fullbacks, Lorenzo Neal (Chargers) and Nicolas Luchey (Packers), in free agency. "It's a good situation for me because of the guys they lost," the 250-pound Green said Thursday night from Nashville. "Cincinnati is a team on the rise. They wore us out when we played then and they always got after us." Green, who played college ball at Houston, is 26 and was a seventh-round Titans draft pick in 2000. He started two games in 2002, rushed 21 times for 71 yards and had seven receptions. He is more than a blocker. In 2001, he was the offensive MVP of NFL Europe when he rushed for 1,057 yards on 183 carries for Barcelona. Green said he would come to Cincinnati on Sunday and have his physical and begin working out April 7.


Mike Green: Claimed off waivers

FB Mike Green was claimed off waivers by Cincinnati. The former Titans was brought in to provide depth after the Bengals lost Nike Luchey and Lorenzo Neal in free agency.


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