Preseason football is here -- and while wins and losses mean nothing, individual performances can mean everything. As the preseason slate progresses, Bucky Brooks will be assessing the performances of notable players, handing out grades to provide context for the prior week's on-field action.
Below, find report cards for one key player from each AFC North team following Week 3's preseason action.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: Terrance West, running back. The third-year pro continued to solidify his grasp on the Ravens' RB2 job with another strong performance Saturday against the Detroit Lions. West rushed for 43 yards on seven carries while displaying strength, power, balance and body control as an effective "grinder" between the tackles. Despite his failures in previous spots (Cleveland and Tennessee), West is looking like a solid option for the team to turn to behind Justin Forsett. GRADE: B
CINCINNATI BENGALS: Alex Erickson, wide receiver. The loss of several pass catchers during the offseason has created an opportunity for UDFAs (undrafted free agents). Erickson has fully seized his chance, contributing two touchdowns in three preseason games, including a 21-yard scoring grab from AJ McCarronagainst Jacksonville on Sunday. As a crafty route runner with superb timing and instincts, Erickson has a knack for getting open between the numbers -- and that's a skill that could make him an effective WR4 in the Bengals' spread sets. GRADE: B
CLEVELAND BROWNS: Josh Gordon, wide receiver. The former All-Pro receiver showed no signs of rust in his first game action since being suspended in February 2015. He snagged a pair of deep balls from Robert Griffin III (Gordon finished with two receptions for 87 yards, including a 43-yard score) against the Buccaneers on Friday, exhibiting outstanding ball skills and tracking ability. Most importantly, Gordon flashed the acceleration and burst to run away from defenders on vertical routes. With RGIII intent on pushing the ball down the field, the return of Gordon (he is suspended for the first four games of 2016) and the emergence of Terrelle Pryor could allow the Browns to thrive with a "bombs away" approach. GRADE: A
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Landry Jones, quarterback. A week after struggling mightily against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jones bounced back with a strong performance Friday against the New Orleans Saints. He completed 19 of 22 passes for 206 yards and a score, displaying nice touch and ball placement on his throws. Jones dropped a beauty to Sammie Coates on a corner for an 8-yard touchdown; the duo also connected on a 58-yard play that set up a field goal. Considering how badly Jones played earlier in the preseason, the strong showing in the official dress rehearsal could alleviate the concerns the team might have about the QB2 position. GRADE: B+