AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Bengals

Bengals fourth-round rookie QB Ryan Finley looked a lot like a fourth-round rookie quarterback making his second-ever start on Sunday. He completed just 13 of 31 passes for 115 yards and an interception. Still, Bengals HC Zac Taylor said he doesn’t have any intentions of going back to QB Andy Dalton yet. 

“Ryan is our starter this week for Pittsburgh,” Taylor said via John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I have a hard time looking beyond that. We feel like he’s going to give us an opportunity to win this week.”

Taylor made the move to Finley not because Dalton was the biggest problem with the winless Bengals, but because the team needed to see what it had with Finley before presumably drafting another quarterback this April. Still, Taylor is at least trying to maintain the appearance of competitiveness. 

“We wouldn’t play Ryan if we didn’t feel like he didn’t give us a chance to win the game,” Taylor said. “He wouldn’t be on the field. I see enough really encouraging things from him, whether it’s his preparation over the course of the week, how he’s practicing, the difference between Week 2 to Week 1, in a lot of those areas. You can see his confidence starting to grow. Now he’s playing different styles of defenses each week. Each one gives you certain things and other things that would frustrate you, and you need to learn from them.”

  • The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia lists Bengals WR A.J. Green as one of his top-50 potentially available free agents in 2020
  • Finley agreed with WR Tyler Boyd‘s criticism that he should have looked his way more often, particularly on a key fourth down late in Sunday’s loss to the Raiders: “I’ve got to give him a shot to make a play. Period.” (Ben Baby)
  • Green remains day-to-day, but did not practice Wednesday. (Geoff Hobson)
  • Bengals OT Cordy Glenn returned to practice and could start at left tackle this week despite being fined by the team earlier this season as the two battled over Glenn’s recovery from a concussion. 

Browns

  • According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Browns TE David Njoku is unlikely to play this week despite being eligible after returning from injured reserve unless he looks better than anticipated. 
  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Browns S Morgan Burnett underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair his ruptured Achilles’ tendon by orthopedic specialist Dr. Robert Anderson and is expected to make a full recovery.
  • Browns HC Freddie Kitchens said he likes S Juston Burris“hyper focus.” (Scott Petrak)
  • Kitchens says he’s also been impressed with fourth-round rookie S Sheldrick Redwine‘s progress. (Petrak)
  • Browns DE Myles Garrett had his appeal for his suspension heard in New York today and should receive a decision in the next day or two. (Dianna Russini)

Ravens

Ravens CB Marcus Peters won’t have to wait long after being traded to Baltimore this year to face his old team. The Ravens will play the Rams on Monday night just a few weeks after shipping Peters out, but Peters says he’s gotten over it quickly. 

“That’s done for me,” Peters said via the Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer. “I’ve been here for four [now five] weeks. Just trying to play football.”

It’s helped that Peters has made a massive impact since joining the Ravens, with two interceptions returned for touchdowns. He’s helped fuel a defensive turnaround for Baltimore that has the Ravens as firm Super Bowl contenders. 

“He’s really accommodated himself to playing the style of defense that we want to play in the back end,” Ravens HC John Harbaugh said. “The way we play our techniques and our coverages, the way we relate to routes in both man and zone coverages, he’s really smart. He picks it up just like that. He understands the value of working hard at the fundamentals and technique and working together back there, and he’s just been seamless. That’s probably the part I appreciate the most.”

  • The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia lists Peters and Ravens LB Matt Judon on his top-50 potentially available free agents in 2020.
  • Ravens G Marshal Yanda says he hasn’t made a decision about whether or not he’ll retire following the 2019 season: “I’m not looking ahead right now. You live in the moment. I’m not worried about that at all.” (Jamison Hensley)

Steelers

  • The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly mentions Steelers LB Mark Barron and DE Anthony Chickillo as potential salary-cap casualties for Pittsburgh this offseason. 
  • The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia lists Steelers LB Bud Dupree on his top-50 potentially available free agents in 2020.
  • ESPN’s Brooke Pryor reports that Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, who’s also in the concussion protocol, was seen in the locker room with a large brace on his left knee. 
  • Smith-Schuster is not expected to play against the Bengals this week. (Jeremy Fowler)
  • Steelers RB James Conner (shoulder) and third-round rookie WR Diontae Johnson (concussion) are also expected to miss this week’s game. (Adam Schefter)
  • However, Johnson was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice according to a teammate. (Pryor)
  • A Steelers representative joined C Maurkice Pouncey‘s appeal for a three-game suspension. Pittsburgh is upset because it believes Pouncey was suspended three games to keep him out of the rematch against Cleveland in a few weeks. (Dan Graziano)

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