AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers


Bengals HC Zac Taylor said that the team’s back-to-back three-point losses haven’t shaken their confidence and he believes they’ll return back to their 2021 form. 

“Totally different team. There’s a confidence here that you can’t just manufacture. It’s an earned confidence and our guys know that we’ll get back on the right track,” said Taylor, via Geoff Hobson of the team’s official site.

Taylor thinks that they have the leaders in order to succeed and the team understands what changes need to happen. 

“I think it’s a mixture of both, to be quite honest with you. We know that we’ve got great players. We know that the character is where it needs to be, a lot of the leadership. Guys understand what our issues have been and how solvable they are, and that we just need to go forward and put together a better, complete game. I feel really good that everyone’s on the same page and we’ll work in that direction,” said Taylor. 

Taylor added that adjustments must be made during the early portion of the season and they must find ways to better complement each phase of the game. 

“I think in the early stages of any season you’ve got to adjust and you start to get into your groove. That’s going to come for us as a team, I’m very confident in that. So far through two games, we just haven’t complemented each phase the way that we need to, but it’s two games into a long season. I’m confident that we’re going to get there in very short order,” said Taylor. 

  • Bengals RT La’el Collins (back) was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday but Taylor said there’s still a good chance he plays in Week 3: “We feel good about him playing.” (Jay Morrison)


Browns WR Amari Cooper reflected on the Jets’ recovered onside kick in Week 2 which enabled New York to score the game-winning touchdown and believes he could’ve done more in the situation.  

“It was my play to make and I didn’t make it, to sum it up in a few words,” Cooper said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Either grab it or batted it out of bounds. We could do either.”

Cooper thinks that teams have begun developing more ways to execute onside kicks, which makes it more difficult for the receiving team. 

“It’s a relatively new style of onside kicking the ball now,” Cooper said. “Usually they pop it up in the air and you go grab it, get hit or whatever like that. But it’s kind of a new way of teams onside kicking the ball to where you don’t really know if it’s going to go 10 yards it’s moving at an awkward angle, more difficult to locate the ball and make a play on it. Because on one hand you want to get to the ball as fast as possible but on the other hand you don’t want to misjudge the ball. So it’s just more difficult. But at the end of the day you’ve gotta make those type of plays.”


Ravens STs coach Randy Brown compared K Justin Tucker to a number of legendary players across the world of sports based on his ability to stay focused on clutch moments. 

“I equate him to Mariano Rivera, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods,” said Brown, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN. “They’re the guys who want the ball at the end of the game and the end of their tournament. Justin’s ability to focus, and his need for the ball at the end of the game, is really what sets him apart from others.”

Tucker recalled converting an NFL record 66-yard field goal in last year’s game against the Lions. 

“I looked up and I realized these [goal] posts are pretty far away,” Tucker said. “I’m going to have to find a little something extra to get the ball to go. I just decided, ‘What the hell. I’ll just back up a little extra half a step, let it rip and see what happens.'”

Tucker added that he doesn’t consider NFL records when kicking field goals and tries to keep things simple based on advice he received from his agent and grandfather. 

I really try not to think about that stuff,” Tucker said. “I really try to make it a point to take it one kick at a time. That’s something that I heard from my agent [Rob Roche] coming out of college, and it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten, right next to my grandfather when I was trying out for the high school varsity team; he said, ‘Justin, just kick the damn ball.’ So, between those two principles — less is more, simple is better, I guess.”


Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick pointed out the importance of having a high catch rate as a defensive back. 

“[DB] coach Grady Brown, he says it all the time, ‘We are receivers as DBs. We have to have a 100% catch rate, but we catch almost 100% less passes than what the receiver catches,” Fitzpatrick said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “It’s important to get as many catches as the receiver does, whether it be straight on or distracted or the two at once. I think it’s important to get your hands used to securing the ball.”

Fitzpatrick sees the benefit of lining up in multiple positions around the field in order to confuse offenses. 

“I feel like when people know where I’m at they either choose not to go there or they scheme something away from me,” Fitzpatrick said. “But I think moving me around to get me in, in different positions — and I’m not saying every single play — but just give the offense different looks.”

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