AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Bengals

Bengals HC Zac Taylor told reporters he doesn’t think his decision to turn to fourth-round rookie QB Ryan Finley for the back half of the season will affect WR A.J. Green‘s timeline in his return from an ankle injury. Taylor said Green, who hasn’t played or negotiated his contract since hurting his ankle on the first day of training camp, is one of the few players he talked to about the move ahead of time to make sure he’s on board. He has no concerns about Green’s professionalism. 

“He’s been motivated every single week since the injury occurred. Not for one second has anyone in this building doubted that there’s any other motivation there,” Taylor said via the Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. “He’s been hungry, and you can see it in his eyes. He’s one of the great people to be around. In this league, you’re fortunate to be around a pro like that, who is about the right things. A.J. is about the right things. He’s been doing everything he can to get back as quickly as possible. We’ll make sure that when he’s healthy, he’s back on the field.”

Taylor also said he wasn’t benching QB Andy Dalton for performance reasons despite the team’s 0-8 record. Teammates agreed, saying Dalton wasn’t the reason for Cincinnati’s poor start. 

“Nothing seems to be going right this season. It’s not Andy’s fault,” Bengals WR Tyler Boyd said via Geoff Hobson of the team’s official website. “There are plays he wishes he had back out there and every guy in this locker room feels the same way. The quarterback is just the most pressured position. I praise Andy for doing what he’s done here. He’s got great numbers. A Pro Bowler. He’s a No. 1 quarterback in my eyes.”

For his part, Dalton was frustrated that the news of his benching came with barely any time for him to find an alternative. His agent looked around the NFL to see if there would be any potential takers in a trade, but didn’t find anything. 

“It happened three hours before the trade deadline,” Dalton said via ESPN’s Ben Baby. “I wish they would have, at least if he was thinking about it, at least try to let me see if I could end up somewhere or at least see if there was interest in possibly getting traded. At that point, the way it was all handled, there wasn’t enough time to even have that happen.”

“Obviously there’s a lot to come in the next eight weeks and beyond after this year,” Dalton added when asked about the future. “I want to have an opportunity to play. I want to have an opportunity to be somewhere where I’m wanted. If that’s here, great. If it’s not, we’ll see. Right now, that’s not my focus. My focus is just playing my role on this team.”

  • Dehner believes the Bengals will trade Dalton this offseason to another quarterback-needy team. 
  • Green told reporters that he knows the team would not be 0-8 if he were playing. He’s hoping to play next week against the Ravens. (Tyler Dragon)
  • Green confirmed he would still like to sign a long-term deal with the Bengals but he doesn’t want to be franchise-tagged. (Dehner)

Browns

  • According to Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson, the Browns were furious with the way the Redskins handled negotiations for LT Trent Williams
  • Robinson says the Browns were willing to offer a first-round pick for Williams six weeks ago, but when Washington waited until 24 hours before the trade deadline to open negotiations Cleveland basically said “kiss my ass, you’re not calling me now.”
  • Browns claimed LB Tae Davis off of waivers from the Giants. (NFLTR)

Ravens

  • Per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, Ravens CB Jimmy Smith says he’s ready to play this week against the Patriots after missing the past six games with a knee injury.

Steelers

Despite a rough start to Monday night’s game against the Dolphins for Steelers QB Mason Rudolph, HC Mike Tomlin said he never considered replacing him with backup and former third-string QB Devlin Hodges. Rudolph’s first pass was intercepted and winless Miami held a 14-3 lead over Pittsburgh at one point in the first half. Yet Tomlin never lost confidence in Rudolph.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” Tomlin said via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We didn’t need to see that. We’ve been working with him going on a couple years. That’s just in his DNA. That’s one reason the guys rally around him and believe in him.”

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