AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Bengals

  • The Okeechobee sheriff’s office announced Bengals CB Mackensie Alexander‘s father was found alive and well Thursday morning. 
  • According to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, Bengals RB Joe Mixon has been kept off the field in recent days because of migraine headaches. The team is optimistic he’ll be back soon. 
  • Bengals WR A.J. Green said his hamstring is getting back to 100 percent and he’s working on his conditioning: “For me, it’s just working back to the full speed I was before I got hurt.” (Ben Baby)
  • Green believes if he’d suffered his current injury during a game he would have been able to keep playing. (Baby)
  • Green has also been blown away by how first-round QB Joe Burrow has mastered the playbook: “Joe is just picking that thing up like it’s nothing.” (Baby)

Browns

Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. said he expects to have better chemistry with QB Baker Mayfield this season given it is their second year together.

“Of course, I’m going to say [the chemistry] is going to be better than last year,’‘ Beckham said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “It’s kind of a day-by-day approach, and we’ll see what happens when we get out on the field. As far as him, he looks great – mentally, physically. He has like a four-pack now. He’s doing great. He’s just in a good place. As a teammate and as a guy who has always been a fan of Baker and as a brother, it’s great to see him in this place.”

Regarding his comments in July that he wanted to have a big season, Beckham said he is “ready to go” and is finding ways to improve. 

“Just ready to go,’’ Beckham said. “Like I said, one of the biggest things for me is taking it one day at a time. Finding something each and every day to work on. Finding a way to get better and not just come out here and ‘Practice, OK check. Meetings, check.’ No, like really finding a way to be better. I feel pretty good. Like I have been saying to other people, I’m gearing up. Just trying to do daily deposits and put something in the bank each and every day.”

Browns OC Alex Van Pelt praised Beckham for a recent play in practice where he caught a ball over two defenders. 

“It was really good,’’ Van Pelt said. “It was a heck of a play by Odell. … We’re going to give Odell and those receivers as many chances. If we get in a one-on-one situation, we’re going to give those guys the opportunity to have a chance to go up and make plays on the ball. Odell is going to do that nine out of 10 times.”

Ravens

  • CBS Sports analyst and former agent Joel Corry writes the Ravens did not formally suspend S Earl Thomas for conduct detrimental to the team and the veteran’s guarantees don’t contain language referencing conduct or fines as triggers to void. 
  • Corry says the Ravens are attempting to void the $10 million they owe Thomas this year by citing Paragraph 11’s reference to personal conduct to supersede Thomas’ guarantees for skill, cap and injury guarantees. 
  • Thomas explains all NFL teams must provide a written notice of termination to players that checks boxes for why the player was released. The five boxes are failure to maintain satisfactory physical condition, failure to make a full disclosure of a physical or mental condition during a physical, lack of skill, personal conduct and for salary cap purposes.
  • Thomas’ contract was guaranteed for skill, cap and injury, which is generally considered fully guaranteed in NFL circles. 
  • Corry expects the NFL to hotly contest this with a grievance to avoid NFL teams exploiting a loophole with personal conduct to void guaranteed money. Its outcome will likely depend on if Baltimore can prove a consistent pattern of behavior with Thomas and how the team has handled similar circumstances in the past. 
  • Once the grievance is filed, a $4 million placeholder charger will be placed on Baltimore’s cap. Thomas’ deal also included offsets from any new contract he signs that could further lower his impact on the Ravens’ cap. 

Steelers

  • The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly notes he’s been impressed with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in his return from an elbow injury and that OLB T.J. Watt looks even better and could be a defensive player of the year candidate. 
  • Kaboly adds third-round OLB Alex Highsmith looks like an immediate contributor as a rookie, while TE Zach Gentry has noticeably improved from his rookie season. 
  • Kaboly writes WR Ryan Switzer has been one of the best at his position in camp while new addition Ray-Ray McCloud has stood out immediately. Second-round WR Chase Claypool has also been impressive. 
  • However, Kaboly writes WR JuJu Smith-Schuster hasn’t done much and has been hard to find even when he’s been in practice. 
  • Kaboly gives a slight edge to Steelers OT Chukwuma Okorafor in the battle to start at right tackle. 
  • Steelers QB Paxton Lynch, WR Deon Cain, RB Wendell Smallwood, OLB Tuzar Skipper and DL Chris Wormley have all struggled during camp in Kaboly’s opinion and are firmly on the roster bubble. 
  • Roethlisberger says he usually tries to downplay how well the rookies are doing to catch opponents by surprise. But the cat is already out of the bag with Claypool: “It doesn’t look like he’ll be able to sneak up on anybody now.” (Brooke Pryor)
  • Steelers OC Randy Fichtner noted they have a lot of versatility at backup running back but they still plan to roll with RB James Conner as the feature back: “When James is healthy he is as good as anyone we’ve had here.” (Ray Fittipaldo)
  • Steelers S Marcus Allen worked some with the inside linebackers as Pittsburgh looks for depth in that area. (Pryor)
  • Steelers fourth-round RB Anthony McFarland is in the concussion protocol. (Pryor)
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