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AFC Notes: Browns, Chiefs, Steelers

Browns

  • Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer mentions that the Browns starter at middle linebacker right now is likely Tank Carder after they traded Demario Davis to the Jets. However, Pluto adds you can “put an asterisk next to that.”
  • Pluto is hearing that Browns DC Gregg Williams plans to use a lot of nickel defense this year and is likely to let linebackers Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey loose.
  • According to Pluto, Cleveland intends to use first-round pick Jabrill Peppers as a strong safety, but the team currently considers the safety position to be “wide open.
  • Pluto adds that RB Isaiah Crowell has continued to impress and is currently in great shape. Pluto believes Crowell is next in line for a long-term extension from the Browns.

Chiefs

Chiefs QB Alex Smith tells the Kansas City Star he’s “shocked” by team’s recent decision to release veteran WR Jeremy Maclin.

“Jeremy is a really good friend, an amazing teammate, so still kind of just processing that he’s not going to be in there with us, a guy that’s done a lot for us the last two years, a guy I’ve grown really close to,” Smith said. “Jeremy’s a great person, a great teammate, a great player. On all those levels, just kind of letting that sink in, I guess.”

According to Smith, Maclin was playing through injuries last year, which resulted in his down season.

He played through a lot last year, played through injuries and pushed through trying to help this team,” Smith said. “Obviously as players we don’t get to make these decisions.

“For us, we have to move on a roll as a group. We obviously wish Jeremy well wherever he lands, and he’ll land on his feet.

Smith admitted that while the NFL is a business, moves like this are “very personal.

He and I have been playing a long time, been around this a long time,” Smith said. “They say it is a business, but obviously for us as teammates it’s not. It’s very personal.”

Steelers

  • According to Bob Labriola, both the Steelers and exclusive rights free agent LT Alejandro Villanueva are interested in a long-term extension.
  • Villanueva has yet to sign his exclusive rights tender with the Steelers, but has agreed to a participation agreement that will allow him to participate in OTAs and minicamp.
  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk makes the case that Villanueva deserves a new contract from the Steelers whether they believe he should play out the year under the exclusive rights tag or not.
  • Florio suggests that Villanueva should go year to year, as it’s possible a team may be willing to part with a draft pick to sign him away from Pittsburgh as a restricted free agent next year.