AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Steelers


  • The Athletic’s Jay Morrison writes that Bengals WR Tyler Boyd looked impressive during the spring and reinforced his case for a new contract. 
  • Bengals second-year DE Sam Hubbard looks ready to step into the starting lineup, per Morrison. 
  • The whole secondary impressed during OTA’s, but Bengals DC Lou Anarumo highlighted free-agent signing CB B.W. Webb as a standout. 
  • With RB Joe Mixon out, sixth-round RB Trayveon Williams was impressive during OTA’s, according to Morrison. 
  • Morrison says undrafted rookie QB Jake Dolegala looked much better than fourth-round QB Ryan Finley during OTA’s, as Finley in particular really struggled. 
  • Morrison mentions that the Bengals didn’t elaborate further on first-round OT Jonah Williams“ding” that kept him out of the end of OTA’s, but that Williams looked noticeably disappointed during an interview. 
  • Second-year LB Malik Jefferson has been slowed by a toe injury and is still working with the third-team defense a year after being taken in the third round. 


Former Brown CB Joe Haden, now with the division-rival Steelers, says he can’t help but look at Cleveland and wish they’d been able to put together that kind of team while he was still there. 

“Every year I was here, I always felt like ‘this is going to be the year.’ No matter who the quarterback was, we were like, ‘he’s good enough to be a professional quarterback, he can make it happen for us,’” Haden said via’s Mary Kay Cabot. “I’m not in any way upset, but like I’m like ‘damn, if I was there, that sure would’ve been sweet.’”

Haden added the Browns’ talent on paper was undeniable, but they’ll face a challenge translating that to success on the field. 

“Obviously with talent coming to the team, everybody understands how good they can be,” Haden said. “You all got to put it together, but with Baker [Mayfield] being a young quarterback, Odell [Beckham], Jarvis [Landry], bringing great defensive pieces, Myles [Garrett], it’s talent. It speaks for itself. On paper, it looks amazing. So that’s the thing, just making sure that they stay together and work together as a team. That’s going to be one of the biggest things. But as far as outside looking in, it looks amazing for sure.”


While the Steelers have tended to funnel all the work to just one running back, they’re considering taking more of a committee approach this year between James Conner, Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell.

“I know it is unrealistic, but I want to feel just as good as I do early in the season as late in the season when these games matter the most in November and December and into the playoffs, hopefully when we are playing for it all,” Conner said via the Athletic’s Mark Kaboly. “I have to be at my best. I have to be full-speed. If that what it takes — splitting up the carries — then that’s what we are going to do.”

Conner served as the Steelers’ bell-cow running back early in the season, but Samuels also showed he could produce as a runner and receiver when Conner missed time due to injury. 

“The game has developed to the point where you have to use the skill set of your guys,” Steelers RB coach Eddie Faulkner said. “If you have guys who do something pretty well and you can use them to help your team and find ways to get them touches and balls, that’s what you have to do.”

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