AFC North Notes: Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Browns

Ravens

  • While the shutdowns are widely seen as impacting rookies as they transition to the NFL, the Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec says there are other younger veterans on the Ravens it also impacts, including DBs Anthony Averett and Iman Marshall who are competing to round out Baltimore’s depth in the secondary. 
  • Zrebiec points out Ravens LB Tyus Bowser likely would have worked as a starter on the field during OTA’s if LB Matt Judon had skipped OTA’s while on the franchise tag. Bowser and 2019 third-round LB Jaylon Ferguson have an opportunity to step up for a Baltimore team in need of edge-rushing help. 
  • Zrebiec lists Ravens RB Justice Hill, DT Daylon Mack, G Ben Powers, QB Trace McSorley and WR Jaleel Scott as players who will now have fewer opportunities to distinguish themselves in crowded position groups. 

Steelers

As Steelers RB James Conner enters the final year of his rookie deal in 2020, an extension does not seem to be in the tea leaves before the start of the season. Conner broke out in his second season with nearly 1,500 total yards as he almost seamlessly replaced former Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell. But an inability to stay healthy — he’s missed nine games since taking over as the starter — has the organization wanting to see more before committing to Conner. There’s no reservation on Conner’s part, though. He played his college ball at Pittsburgh, where he won a battle with cancer, and he doesn’t want to play football anywhere else. 

“It would be hard, it would be hard to put another helmet on. Just because of everything and what this city means to me,” Conner told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “The city I played my college ball in, the city I had my life saved in, became healthy. The city I got drafted to and I want to be able to say the city I brought a championship to. It would be hard. I’m Pittsburgh through and through. But like I said, I’m big on my faith so I’m always going to end up doing and being where I’m supposed to be through the Lord’s guidance and direction. We’ll see. We’ll take it one day at a time; I’m staying in the moment.”

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