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5 biggest storylines for AFC North teams entering training camp

Nick Roy / theScore

With NFL training camps getting underway in late July, theScore is examining the biggest storylines in every division across the league.

AFC (July 14-17)
East | South | West | North

NFC (July 21-24)
East | South | West | North

What will Lamar do as an encore?

Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens took the league by storm last year as they raced out to a 14-2 record only to be upset by the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round. Baltimore's vowed to make a deeper run in 2020, but can we really expect more from Jackson than what he delivered in 2019?

Entering the season, the Ravens installed a new offense around their young starting quarterback. It resulted in Jackson throwing for more than 3,000 yards and 36 touchdowns against just six interceptions, improving in accuracy and passer rating, and shattering the single-season rushing record for a QB with 1,206 yards and seven rushing scores.

At just 23 years old, Jackson is by no means a finished product. Still, improving on those numbers in 2020 would be a lot to ask. But if Jackson can match last season's brilliance with rookie weapons J.K. Dobbins and Devin Duvernay now in the fold, he could become the first player to repeat as MVP since Peyton Manning in 2009.

How will Burrow, young Bengals mesh?

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Cincinnati Bengals won the right to draft the best player in college football as a result of a disastrous 2019. The addition of Joe Burrow should immediately change the club's fortunes.

However, after an offseason unlike any other, it's fair to question how much Burrow has been able to gel with his new team. He's had plenty of time to acquaint himself with the playbook but didn't have the benefit of a rookie camp, minicamp, or OTAs to get on the same page as his teammates.

Not only will the rookie quarterback need to get the timing down with his offensive line and get comfortable with his backs and play-callers, but has he had a chance to throw a pass yet to A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, or Tee Higgins?

Teams will have little more than a month to prepare for the season. But trying to integrate a rookie quarterback will put Cincinnati at a further disadvantage.

Will Big Ben's return restore Steelers to prominence?

Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Pittsburgh Steelers saw their streak of six consecutive seasons with above-.500 records snapped in 2019. Losing Ben Roethlisberger to an elbow injury effectively ended their campaign in Week 2.

Big Ben was throwing to Steelers receivers in May and vows to be ready when training camp begins. But he's returning at 38 years old after missing almost a full season.

With Roethlisberger back under center, the Steelers are expected to contend for an AFC North title. The 17-year veteran can win games on his own and threw for more than 5,000 yards for the first time in his last full season. We'll soon find out if he has any miles left in his arm.

Can Mayfield regain his 2018 form?

Jamie Sabau / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Baker Mayfield's sophomore season was concerning. For all that he accomplished in his rookie year, particularly after Freddie Kitchens took over the offense, the pair couldn't replicate their success in 2019.

Mayfield's accuracy declined dramatically. He threw the second-most interceptions in the league with 21, and his 59.4% completion percentage placed him 41st among quarterbacks. He also had trouble clicking with offseason acquisition Odell Beckham Jr., as the star wideout had just two games of 100-plus yards and scored four touchdowns all season.

As a result, the Browns finished a disappointing 6-10 despite being a popular preseason pick to reach the playoffs at the very least.

Improvements along the offensive line should go a long way as Mayfield attempts to rebound. He was sacked 40 times last season, 15 more than in his rookie year. Now, he'll have the support of new starting tackles in Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills as well as a new offensive guru in head coach Kevin Stefanski.

Mayfield is surrounded by an enviable array of playmakers. The pieces are in place for the Browns to do what was expected of them in 2019.

Will Campbell push Ravens over the top?

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

The Ravens plugged one of their only holes with the trade for pass-rusher Calais Campbell.

Baltimore strolled to the NFL's best record last season but ranked 22nd in sacks and had just one in its early playoff exit versus the Titans.

Campbell totaled 31.5 sacks over the past three seasons, though he had just 6.5 in 2019. He's still effective at 33 and will provide support for Matt Judon in rushing the passer.

The Ravens added a proven defensive force to an already loaded roster as the club chases its third championship since the turn of the century.

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