NFL Game Changers: AFC North

Join us as TTR Game Changers takes a tour through all 32 teams, identifying one player from every squad that I believe has a great chance of being a game changer in 2012.  To see the full series click here.

Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens are poised for another late season run, but injuries are threatening their season before it even begins.  If the Ravens defense is able to overcome the loss of Terrell Suggs it will be surprising to me.  So that is why I think the offense will really need to step up in a big way in 2012.  I believe that second year receiver Torrey Smith will make big strides again this year as he leads the team in receiving, but I think the team will be pleasantly surprised with the play of Ed Dickson.  The third year receiver has yet to have the impact that they envisioned from the young tight end, but I think he makes a splash in 2012.  Dickson caught 54 receptions for 528 yards and 5 touchdowns last season.  This year I think he could be in the 65-75 ball range with around 8 touchdowns.  His emergence this year will add a new element to Baltimore’s passing game that it has lacked since the early part of Todd Heap’s career.
Pittsburgh Steelers –  Pittsburgh is going to have a rough season this year, and I actually think that the Bengals could surpass them now.  The offensive line is in shambles.  Mendenhall is still injured.  Roethlisberger is already injured and the season is just starting.  James Harrison isn’t healthy yet.  They are running a brand new offense under Todd Haley and their best offensive weapon, Mike Wallace, just ended his lengthy holdout.      I have always said that I don’t trust players coming off a holdout, there are too many examples of players that only end up hurting themselves and their teams by holding out.  I love Wallace’s game breaking ability, but I just can’t trust him this season.  With that being said, I expect Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders to get even more work this year.  And I expect both to play well, but the Steelers reigning team MVP will lead this team once again in 2012.  Read more…

Antonio Brown will handle his contract situation differently than Mike Wallace

Philadelphia Eagles v Pittsburgh SteelersThe Steelers have a restricted free agent wide receiver this year in Mike Wallace, and they’re scheduled to have a restricted free agent wide receiver next year in Antonio Brown

Asked on NBC SportsTalk about Wallace’s continuing contract negotiations and about Brown’s own status as a player heading into the final year of his contract, Brown said he thinks he’s going to go about things differently next year than Wallace has this year.

“I want to finish out my contract this year and hopefully next year will take care of itself, but I definitely plan on being here and going about things, maybe in a different aspect because I respect the organization and the program that I’m in,” Brown said.

Brown said he anticipates being able to get a deal done early next offseason and participating in Organized Team Activities in 2013. Read more here…