- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The rookie minicamps are over for the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. I wrote up posts on Ravens third-round pick Brandon Williams trying to make a mark as a Division II player and why Steelers first-rounder Jarvis Jones is happy he slid down to No. 17 in the draft. The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals hold their rookie minicamps later this week. For now, it's time for the wake-up call ...
RAVENS: Head coach John Harbaugh called the return of offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie "a big plus." He indicated that McKinnie will report to the team next week for the offseason conditioning program. Harbaugh didn't specifically answer the question about whether he's talked to McKinnie about his conditioning and his workouts this offseason. "I’m always pleased with conversations with Bryant McKinnie," Harbaugh said with a laugh, according to The Baltimore Sun. "I enjoy talking to Bryant. He’s one of my favorite guys. He’s a sterling conversationalist. We talk a lot about stuff -- a lot of different things, broad range of topics. I always enjoy that. I think he does as well.”
BENGALS: Head coach Marvin Lewis has been able to visit colleges during the pre-draft process the past two years because the current collective bargaining agreement pushed back the start of offseason workouts for NFL teams to the middle of April. This year, one of Lewis' stops was North Carolina, where he got an up-close look at future Bengals running back Giovani Bernard. “I think the draft is easy in my opinion, but you have to stay to your work and don’t deviate from it,” Lewis told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “I evaluate the guys the same way when I put on the tape. I don’t care what this guy says about him, I want to judge it for myself. Duke (Tobin) has done a tremendous job of moving into the role and directing this, integrating the coaches’ opinions and being more efficient at selections. It’s tight, it works.”
STEELERS: Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he's "getting after it" with his offseason conditioning. Nearly three months ago, an unnamed teammate called out Woodley, saying the reason he was always hurt was because he was out of shape. Woodley said Saturday that he's been training since the middle of February. "My thing was during the season when I hurt my ankle, I said that I wanted to come back stronger next year," Woodley said. "Some injuries you can't predict or avoid, but, during the season, I said this offseason I'd be determined to get after it."
BROWNS: According to The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto, the goal is for rookie third-round pick Leon McFadden and Chris Owens to split time as the outside cornerback opposite Joe Haden. The Browns want Buster Skrine to focus on covering slot receivers in their nickel defense. This played a factor in the Browns choosing McFadden over Tyrann Mathieu. The Browns saw Mathieu more as a nickelback and a returner. Also, "0ne top operative" with the Browns told Pluto that the team traded two picks in this year's draft (ones in the fourth and fifth rounds) because they didn't like the players available, not because they didn't trust the scouts hired by Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert.