AFC North Notes: Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Browns

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce says the Browns are getting a good player and a great teammate in RB Kareem Hunt

“He’s an unbelievable player,” Kelce said via Mary Kay Cabot. “It ripped our hearts out when he got released from Kansas City, but to see him get another chance, I would hope, and I would think he’s going to make the absolute most of it.”

Hunt will miss the first eight games of the season after the NFL suspended him for violating its personal conduct policy. Hunt was released by the Chiefs last year after a video was released showing him kicking and shoving a woman. 

“The biggest thing was as much as you try to stay away from the actual situation that happened, Kareem has been nothing but a good friend and a good teammate,” Kelce said. “He’s been in the community trying to make a difference in other people’s lives. That’s what’s real. Everyone has things that go wrong in their lives. It’s how you come out of those situations that determine your true character. I think I’ll just leave it as that. What we said is true. Kareem, I hope he makes the best of his situation.”

Ravens

Ravens DT Michael Pierce took responsibility for coming into minicamp out of shape. 

“Throughout the offseason, I tend to lift more than run,” Pierce said per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “Being a noseguard, I want to be strong or whatnot. I, honestly, just mismanaged my running a little bit.”

Ravens HC John Harbaugh approached Pierce following the team’s stretching session and pulled him off the field. He later said Pierce wasn’t ready to practice “from a safety standpoint and for his own health.”

“Out of respect for Coach Harbaugh, he’s been nothing but a fair guy, he just wanted me to get in with the strength and conditioning staff and do more running before camp comes,” Pierce said.

Pierce re-signed with the Ravens as a restricted free agent this offseason but didn’t attend the team’s offseason conditioning program or voluntary OTA’s. 

“At the end of the day, you expect a team leader to come back in better shape than I did,” Pierce said. “That’s a mistake on my behalf I have to correct. I don’t want to get into much more than that.”

Steelers

With WR Antonio Brown in Oakland and RB Le’Veon Bell in New York, it’s been a quiet spring for the Steelers for a change. 

“You know it’s been a little crazy the last few years, maybe more so than usual that we’re used to dealing with,” Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger said via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “So to kind of get back to quote-unquote normalcy is kind of nice.”

Of course, the flip side of that coin is replacing the significant production Bell and Brown had on the field. The Steelers already played a year with RB James Conner filling in admirably for Bell. Now they’ll see if a combination of new players, like WRs Donte Moncrief and third-round rookie Diontae Johnson, and returning players stepping into larger roles, like WR James Washington and TE Vance McDonald, can do the same to replace Brown. 

“I’m excited. I really am excited about what we have,” Roethlisberger said. “You know we put a lot of work in and that’s what it’s going to take. It’s going to take a team effort, and we’re all going to give everything we have and see where it goes. We can’t predict the future, but we can predict we’re going to give everything we have.”

Moncrief, in particular, has made a good first impression as a potential No. 2 WR after coming in as a bargain-bin free agent. 

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect when he came in,” Roethlisberger said via the Athletic’s Mark Kaboly. “I didn’t know him and now just getting to see his work ethic, the type of person he is, his desire to be great, his knowledge of the offense already. We’ll do no-huddle stuff and I’ll give him a signal and I’ll be like, ‘You good?’ and he’ll be like, ‘Yeah.’ He is in with coach (Darryl) Drake every single morning, pretty much all day.”

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