Keeping an Eye on the Enemy

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But they certainly aren't the only team making improvements. The Ravens don't have to look far to realize that while they may be better in 2010, so might be some of their closest rivals.

The Cleveland Browns have made widespread changes. The Cincinnati Bengals have added a big-name wide receiver of their own and the Pittsburgh Steelers have retained all of their key free agents and added several more.

Add it all up and it could spell an even tougher AFC North than last year, when two division teams reached the playoffs and the Steelers were barely left out.

"We've got to have our heads on a swivel this year," running backRay Rice said. "I think we've got the best division in football – definitely the most physical."

Cleveland, who finished the season 5-11 after winning its final four games, has been ultra-active under first-year team president Mike Holmgren.

The Browns' free agency period began somewhat modestly when they signed former Ravens tackle Tony Pashos. Soon after they inked linebacker Scott Fujita, who is fresh off winning the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

Then Cleveland really heated up. The Browns signed one of the most productive tight ends on the market in Benjamin Watson, brought in backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, then made a huge move by signing veteran quarterback Jake Delhomme.

That led to jettisoning quarterback Brady Quinn, a former first-round pick, to the Denver Broncos. Cleveland also traded its 2006 first-round pick, linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, to the Oakland Raiders for a third round draft pick and released quarterback Derek Anderson. In all, Cleveland now sits on a whopping 12 picks in the upcoming draft.

"You can't look at them the same, that's for sure," Rice said of the Browns. "They were tougher than people thought last year."

The Bengals' most-noteworthy offseason addition has been wide receiver Antonio Bryant. Bryant is one year removed from a 1,248 receiving-yard season and has two 1,000-plus yard seasons to his name.

Cincinnati retained many of its pieces on defense, a unit that ranked fourth in the NFL in average yards per game (one spot behind Baltimore). Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer signed a three-year extension and the Bengals brought back veteran safety Roy Williams and defensive tackle Tank Johnson.

The Steelers, who historically haven't been known to be too active in free agency, have retained two integral elements on defense in nose tackle Casey Hampton and safety Ryan Clark. They also signed five free agents as well, including linebacker Larry Foote, safety Will Allen, wide receivers Antwaan Randle El and Arnaz Battle and offensive tackle Jonathan Scott.

"The biggest thing for us is we've got to study all these new players," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "We want to know the teams in our division better than anybody else we play."

Stay tuned, because free agency isn't over and the draft is right around the corner. One thing is for sure, the AFC North will look quite different in 2010.

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