AFC North Roundup: More Injuries for Ravens, Steelers LB a Charitable Man, Bengals Play in London

In this week's AFC Roundup, the injury bug strikes the Baltimore Ravens again, a Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker pays it forward and the Cincinnati Bengals head to London in 2016

It’s bad enough that the Baltimore Ravens have just three wins to their name this season, the worst start the franchise has ever experienced. But what transpired to get to the third win in Week 11 makes the team’s defeat of the St. Louis Rams feel more like a loss. First, starting running back Justin Forsett suffered a season-ending forearm fracture in the first quarter of the contest. Then, quarterback Joe Flacco was rolled up on near the end of the fourth quarter, and though he finished out the game, he won’t be finishing out the season—the Ravens placed him on injured reserve on Tuesday with a torn ACL and MCL

Flacco, who has never missed a game in his eight seasons in the NFL until now, completed 266 passes this year for 2,791 yards and 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. He had to deal with the knee injury suffered in training camp by Round 1 pick, receiver Breshad Perriman, that kept him off the field all season, the Achilles’ tendon tear suffered by top wideout Steve Smith earlier in the season and the fact that his favorite target, tight end Dennis Pitta, may never play football again. Now, he’ll be replaced by Matt Schaub, with the Ravens also signing Jimmy Clausen this week to serve as the team’s backup. 

Javorius Allen will be the team’s primary running back for the rest of the year. Prior to his injury, Forsett had rushed 151 times for 641 yards and two scores, and also caught 31 passes for 153 yards. Allen, meanwhile, has had 64 carries this year, for 249 yards and has caught 13 passes for 106 yards. Injuries have been a problem for the Ravens this year. Linebacker Terrell Suggs suffered an Achilles tear of his own this year and center Jeremy Zuttah was also placed on injured reserve recently with a torn pectoral muscle. With the injury bug biting the Ravens hard, it’s not surprising they have been limited to so few wins.

Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Arthur Moats is Big on Charitable Giving

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on Tuesday that Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebacker Arthur Moats has donated 35 percent of his 2015 salary and around 26 percent of his signing bonus to his alma mater, James Madison University. For Moats, the gift is nothing new.

Fowler notes that Moats and his family have long been giving of their money to charitable foundations and “causes that inspired him,” around 10 percent of their income per year after tithing to their church. It began in Buffalo, where as a member of the Bills he earned around $420,000. He donated nearly 12 percent of that, and then another $100,000 in 2013. This year, he’s donating nearly $300,000 to JMU, to improve the campus’ Convocation Center, the basketball arena (which also holds other events) and scholarship funds for studio arts. 

Moats, who says that his family is “frugal” and saves well for the long term, explained his budgeting process thusly: “Every year, we’ll set a budget out. We’re making this much, how much do we want to donate? Then we decide on a number—who do we want to have an impact on? What can we do to spice it up since we have more money to donate? Then we pray about it, bounce some ideas off each other.”

JMU is close to Moats’ heart—it’s where he met his wife, where he played college football which afforded him a career in the NFL and taught him how to be “a stable adult.” As such, Moats wanted to include scholarship funds in his donation because, "I’ve been on the opposite of that, where you're trying to scrounge enough change together to buy from the dollar menu, wondering when the Pell Grant money will kick in.” 

Cincinnati Bengals: Bengals Play in London in 2016

The NFL announced on Wednesday its slate of games to be played in London, England during the 2016 season and the Cincinnati Bengals are taking part in one of them. They will serve as the home team at Wembley Stadium on October 30 (Week 8) against Washington. Twenty-one other NFL teams have already played in London since the NFL’s International Series began in 2007. 

A statement released by Bengals team President Mike Brown reads in part, “We are proud to be a part of the NFL’s initiative to grow our game abroad, and we believe this game will be a source of pride for Cincinnati as well. It will provide a strong platform for our region’s culture and recent progress.” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is also enthusiastic about the development, saying, “We’re proud to show off the NFL game. And we always look for ways to keep a long season fresh and exciting for players. I know our players will respond well to this opportunity.”

There will be two other regular-season games played in London next year. The Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Indianapolis Colts at Wembley on October 2 and the St. Louis Rams will host a to-be-determined opponent from the NFC at Twickenham Stadium. 

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