Trench battles define this division 

August, 28, 2006
08/28/06
12:01
PM ET
There isn't a division in the league that can match the AFC North's nose tackles for sheer bulk and power. Although only the Browns and Steelers play the true 3-4 with a true nosetackle, the Bengals' Sam Adams and the Ravens' Haloti Ngata usually will line up on the center's shoulder and be expected to push the line of scrimmage and eat up space in the middle -- similar responsibilities to nosetackles Ted Washington (Browns) and Casey Hampton (Steelers). This foursome accounts for more than 1,400 pounds of run-eating bulk, and each player's performance will be instrumental in slowing down the power running games of the teams in this division.

Hampton is far and away the best player -- and athlete -- of the bunch. He is the prototypical nosetackle who not only can anchor against multiple blockers but also can provide a little pass rush while flashing the amazing ability to track down slow-developing running plays on the sidelines.

Ngata, Baltimore's first-round pick this year, also is quite talented, but he has yet to prove that he can handle the rigors of the position for an extended period of time. He will be given every opportunity to show his stripes, but nosetackle traditionally is not an easy position to transition to for a rookie.

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