AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Bengals

At the beginning of the week, the word from Cincinnati was that Bengals WR A.J. Green would make his season debut this week after tearing ankle ligaments the first week of training camp. But when Green’s ankle swelled again at the start of this week, the veteran pumped the brakes on any return. 

“I can’t go out there when I’m not 100 percent,” Green said via the Athletic’s Jay Morrison. “It makes so sense for me to put myself in that situation to where I can have another time hurting (it), just like I did my toe. It’s all about make sure I’m taking care of myself first. Everything else comes after that.”

Another complicating factor is Green’s contract status. 2019 is the last year of Green’s contract, but negotiations died off after his injury in camp. They have not yet resumed despite Green saying he would like to stay in Cincinnati, and Green doesn’t feel he needs to rush to get back to the field to prove anything. 

“I don’t really care about (the contract negotiations),” Green said via Morrison. “If they’re worried about me not playing or not being healthy, then there’s 32 teams out there. I’m not really worried about that situation.”

Bengals HC Zac Taylor has pushed back against any thought that Green is intentionally sitting out this season given his contract status and the fact that the Bengals are 0-8.

“I 100 percent believe he wants to be out there,” Taylor said via Morrison. “He’s’ one of the most genuine and honest players in this league. I trust whatever he says.”

  • According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, the Bengals rescinded a two-year deal for Buccaneers LB Shaquil Barrett because of concerns about his shoulder injury. Barrett is tied for the NFL lead with 10.5 sacks in eight games. 

Browns

For a number of reasons, the Browns tandem of QB Baker Mayfield and WR Odell Beckham has not blossomed the way many thought it would when Cleveland traded for the star receiver. Beckham has just one touchdown so far in 2019 and been taken out completely of some games. Mayfield said the Browns have realized they need to do a better job of getting the ball to Beckham. 

“I think people have this picture-perfect thing where it was going to be sunshine and rainbows and he was going to have a whole lot of one on ones,” Mayfield said via Pro Football Talk. “It is Odell Beckham. He is going to have double coverage, and we have to find ways to format things to get him the ball and force-feed him early on to where he can make an impact before we can have the perfect look to have a shot play. That is something we have learned the hard way, but I think as the weeks have gone on, we are continuing to improve on how to get the ball to him.”

Cleveland’s offensive struggles have led to numerous suggestions of how they could make adjustments to right the ship. One has been Browns HC Freddie Kitchens ceding play-calling duties to OC Todd Monken so he can focus more on the head-coaching aspects of his job. Monken, however, says that’s not an option. 

“I came here knowing that I wasn’t going to be calling the plays, so it’s really a non-issue,” Monken said via Scott Petrak of BrownsZone.com. “Like I always say, when you’re an assistant coach, and you take on a job, that was discussed before I came. So the bottom line is, I came knowing those parameters, so in the end, like any assistant, you do exactly what the head coach asks you to do and this is what he asks me to do on a daily, weekly basis, that’s what I do. So at this point, that hasn’t even been discussed. It’s been discussed more outwardly than it has inwardly, if that even makes sense.”

Ravens

Ravens DC Don Martindale praised CB Marlon Humphrey‘s willingness to tackle and make plays in the backfield. 

“There aren’t many corners that say, ‘I want to have a game-changing hit. I want to have a tackle for loss,’” Martindale said, via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. “There aren’t many corners in the league that do that, and Marlon does.”

Ravens’ veteran CB Jimmy Smith said Humphrey began “studying last year” and improved his knowledge of the game. 

“He picked up the studying last year a lot,” Smith said. “You get in here, and you’re a cornerback, based on your athletic ability. That’s the first thing; you just rely on your athletic ability. I think this year, he’s relying on both, just knowing the game and he’s playing a different position this year, which is making him study a lot more. Playing nickel is not like playing corner, really. It’s just making him that much of a better player.” 

Steelers

  • According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, former Steelers sixth-round rookie LB Sutton Smith received $8,000 for his one day on the practice squad. 
  • Steelers signed RB Darrin Hall to their practice squad. (NFLTR)
  • Steelers released LB Sutton Smith from their practice squad. 

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