AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Bengals

  • Per Geoff Hobson of the team website, Bengals WR A.J. Green confirmed he was unlikely to play the final two games, but his ankle injury shouldn’t linger into next season according to the specialist: “I feel good just getting confirmation from him. Knowing there’s no effect on my future. I never thought it would be that bad that I could never play at a high level. Just hearing him saying it made me feel a lot better.”
  • Green maintained his relationship with the Bengals is good and he would be open to returning for a 10th season in Cincinnati if negotiations go well: “Nobody ever pushed me. I’ve felt no pressure to come back and play. But you know this is a business. You never know. This could be my last big deal. I have to make sure everything is right and then we go from there. But I’ll be ready to go.”
  • Green said he didn’t think he would sit out for the entire season if the Bengals used the franchise tag on him and were unable to come to an agreement, but he left open when exactly he would report. 
  • The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. believes the Bengals will end up using the franchise tag on Green before signing him to an extension during the summer after OTA’s, though it’s possible he could also be traded. 
  • The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. writes he doesn’t see the team keeping QB Andy Dalton especially if they take a quarterback high in the draft. 
  • Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick is another player who likely won’t return, per Dehner. 
  • Dehner says there’s a strong chance Bengals RB Joe Mixon holds out for a contract extension next year. 

Browns

The Browns’ loss to the Cardinals on Sunday guaranteed that Cleveland wouldn’t finish with a winning record after entering the 2019 season with high expectations with a loaded roster. One of those talented additions, Browns RB Kareem Hunt, pointed to effort as one of the reasons Cleveland lost Sunday, and failed to meet expectations in the bigger picture. 

“Yeah, I feel like there were some plays that everybody didn’t leave their 110% out there the whole play through the whole play, through the whole whistle,” Hunt said via Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. “And we’ve all got to do that if we want to be successful.”

  • The Athletic’s Jay Glazer says Browns WR Odell Beckham won’t force himself out of Cleveland because he’s not a confrontational guy, and his exhortations to other teams to “Come get me” are for them to do the work and offer what it takes for the Browns to trade him. 
  • NFL Media’s Aditi Kinkhabwala reveals that Beckham also told the Steelers to “come get me.”

Ravens

Steelers

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster appeared to be on track to return to the starting lineup before suffering a setback with his knee injury in practice Thursday. Smith-Schuster still took part in a warmup before Pittsburgh’s Sunday night game against the Bills, and while he said he felt good enough to play, he’s focused on staying patient to avoid suffering a more serious injury that jeopardizes his 2020 season. 

“My mind is telling me I want to go out there. My body is telling me I want to go out there, but I don’t want to go out there and mess it up to the point where I’m out for a whole another year because of my knee,” Smith-Schuster said via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Joe Rutter. “I’m taking it slow and playing the game smart.”

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