Scouting the AFC North: Ravens Well-Rested, & Chuck Pagano’s Mark on the North


Aug 30, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano shakes hands after the game with Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeated Cincinnati 20-16. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the Colts as he deals with leukemia. Pagano is in his first NFL season as a head coach after spending one season as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator, where he had the third-ranked defense in the NFL in 2011. The Ravens are currently rank 23rd in the NFL. The news hit hard in the Ravens’ locker room where Pagano has maintained close relationships with the players he once coached.

Ironically, former Steelers Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will serve as interim coach. He had previously been with the Steelers since 2004, and was the offensive coordinator since 2007. He was unceremoniously let go this past offseason after head coach Mike Tomlin said he wanted to bring Arians back, but was overruled by ownership.

Colts Owner Jim Irsay acknowledged Monday that as Pagano deals with his leukemia, he is unlikely to fully return as the teams’ head coach this season.

Following a stretch of four games in 18 days after beating the Browns last Thursday, the Ravens didn’t hit the practice field until Monday as the team took an extended rest period, and now they’ll get to play the lowly Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The Ravens can’t get too cocky however. They’ll play three of their next four games on the road, and have  lost six of their last 10 games on the road, so no road game for them is an easy one.

Linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu continue to participate in practice for the Steelers after missing both of the team’s last two games. Harrison has yet to play this year, and Polamalu has been sidelined with a calf injury. Both players are expected to suit up Sunday vs. the Eagles. Harrison took it a step further yesterday as he made this proclamation on twitter:

Half of the Browns’ receivers missed Monday’s practice. Mohamed Massaquoi(hamstring), Josh Cribbs (head) and Travis Benjamin (undisclosed) all sat out the first practice of the week.

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