AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Steelers

     

Bengals

Bengals QB Jeff Driskel said he is playing wide receiver in their training camp practices but is still focused on competing at quarterback. 

I’m still competing at quarterback,” Driskel said, via Jay Morrison of The Athletic. “That’s what I want to be. That’s what I think I can be. But I just want to show that I can add value to this team in other ways and show that I want to contribute and can contribute.

Bengals HC Zac Taylor confirmed that Driskel is still competing at quarterback but pointed out the team wants to take advantage of his athleticism. 

Let me make this clear: He is not out of the quarterback competition by any stretch,” Taylor said. “He just feels like he can help us and we feel like he can help us on special teams, and you saw him take a couple of reps at receiver. He’s a great athlete. He’s 232 pounds. He’s explosive. He has good hands. Those guys are hard to come by. We’ll keep giving him a look. But it doesn’t change. He goes to quarterback meetings. He goes to quarterback individual (drills). He still takes his reps. That does not cut into that at all.”

Bengals DL Andrew Brown didn’t have the rookie season he was anticipating. A hamstring injury neutered his chances at the final roster and the 2018 fifth-round pick landed on the practice squad after he was cut. The week he was primed to earn a call-up to the active roster, he broke his hand in practice and finished the year on injured reserve. So far, though, Brown has had a much different start to his second preseason, racking up three quarterback hits and a sack in the Bengals’ preseason opener against the Chiefs. 

“That was very difficult for me,” Brown said via the Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. Knowing what you can do but having to hold it in. It’s just like a ticking time bomb just waiting. Just finally being able to show that I belong at this level is amazing.”

Browns

When the Browns traded G Kevin Zeitler this offseason, the expectation was that 2018 second-round G Austin Corbett would step into the resulting hole at right guard. So far through camp, that hasn’t happened, as Corbett has been unable to set himself apart from the competition at guard and recently started taking reps at center. Corbett says he’s not out of the running yet, though.

“It’s also a mental test, let’s see if you can handle this,” Corbett said via Scott Petrak of the Chronicle-Telegram. “Sixteen games, it’s a long year, you have to be ready for it all. That’s what competition’s about. We’re seeing who can break and who’s going to come out on top.”

Browns G Joel Bitonio, who went to the same school as Corbett and preceded him as Nevada’s starting left tackle, said the young player just has to keep his head up and trust his talent, even if things don’t go according to plan and he’s not the starter Week 1. 

“Just keeping working at it. It’s the NFL and you never know when it’s your time to get called,” said Bitonio. “I told him you’re a good football player. Have fun playing the game. Don’t stress about things. Everybody comes into different situations, but he’s a mentally tough guy. He’s still on the right path.”

  • According to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal, Browns WR Odell Beckham is dealing with a hip issue that’s not a hip pointer as reported by ESPN, which is why he sat out joint practices with the Colts Wednesday. 
  • ESPN’s Tony Grossi observed G Eric Kush play the majority of starting snaps with the first-team offense at right guard, but also saw the Browns rotate in sixth-round OL Drew Forbes and OT Kendall Lamm at that spot. 
  • Browns HC Freddie Kitchens says they still haven’t finalized who will start at right guard: “I never said we weren’t rotating. We didn’t put a [official] starting line out, didn’t put a [official] depth chart out. We’re trying to find the right combination, seeing who takes the job.”

Steelers

Steelers first-round LB Devin Bush burst onto the scene with his performance in Pittsburgh’s preseason opener with 10 tackles. It was a performance that reminded the team of the player they took Bush to replace. 

“I thought it was a very solid performance,” Tomlin said via Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Really [it was] kind of reminiscent of Ryan Shazier’s performance in his first home preseason game a number of years ago in terms of production and getting around and making a number of plays.”

  • Steelers WR Donte Moncrief returned to practice after breaking his ring finger during the first padded practice. (Mark Kaboly)

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