AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Bengals

Bengals owner Mike Brown extended his vote of confidence to HC Zac Taylor to bring him back for the 2021 season despite the lack of wins his first couple of seasons. Perhaps just as importantly, Bengals QB Joe Burrow is confident with the direction of the franchise under Taylor. 

“I think Zac’s going to be a really, really good coach,” Burrow said via Geoff Hobson of the team’s website. “Obviously we didn’t win as many games as we expected this year. We had a lot of key injuries that kind of prevented us from doing that, but with one more offseason I think next year’s going to be a lot of fun and we’ll take a big step.”

Browns

  • Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reports Browns OL coach Bill Callahan returned to the team from the COVID-19 protocols. 
  • Browns HC Kevin Stefanski declined to get into RB Kareem Hunt‘s past, as he’ll play the Chiefs for the first time since they released him for kicking a woman in a domestic dispute: “He’s done everything I’ve asked of him since the moment he and I met.” (Steve Doerschuk)
  • Browns RT Jack Conklin (hamstring), LB B.J. Goodson (shoulder) and TE David Njoku (hamstring) all missed practice Wednesday. (Scott Petrak)
  • The Browns are bringing in DT Joey Ivie for a visit this week. (Aaron Wilson)

Ravens

Last year, the Ravens set a number of franchise and NFL records as they ran through and around the NFL — literally — until being knocked out of the playoffs. This year, the Ravens entered with nowhere near the fanfare in terms of offensive potency, record or hype, but OC Greg Roman believes they’re in a much better position to accomplish their true goals. 

“Last year, we were able to go out and just boat-race teams quite a bit,” Roman said via via Daniel Oyefusi of the Baltimore Sun. “That’s great, I love that. Those days are fun, I love those postgame locker rooms when that happens. But the reality of it, that doesn’t happen all the time. You might fall behind, you might end up in a tough situation, get a couple whatever kind of calls out there, the ball bounces a funny way. And you’ve got to be able to overcome that and find different ways to find success in a game. So I think those are all very important things.”

  • Per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, Ravens CB Jimmy Smith said he was glad to go ahead and lock up his contract early for 2021: “I’m excited to be here and be a Ravens for life. It was one of my goals coming here and have another year to play for the Ravens.”
  • The Ravens are bringing in LB James Crawford for a visit this week. (Aaron Wilson)

Steelers

  • The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette says Steelers OT Chukwuma Okorafor is a candidate to replace Alejandro Villanueva at left tackle. Steelers OT Zach Banner is also a possibility if he re-signs with Pittsburgh. 
  • Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the Lions have not requested permission to interview Steelers GM Kevin Colbert.
  • Steelers HC Mike Tomlin acknowledged the loss to the Browns was an unexpected gut punch and it could lead to changes this offseason: “Didn’t anticipate being here in this position. Disappointed by it. Understand that we better make some changes in terms of things that we do — every aspect: personnel, schemes.” (Brooke Pryor)
  • Tomlin only spoke in vague generalities regarding the potential for QB Ben Roethlisberger to be back in 2021: “I don’t have a clear assessment of the overall depth of the cap ramifications, but I think it’s reasonable to assume there’s a chance he’ll be back, certainly.” (Pryor)
  • Tomlin seemingly shot down rumors regarding Colbert: “I look forward to beginning this process with him. I know next to nothing about the rumors that you mention.” (Bouchette)
  • Steelers QB Mason Rudolph only started one game in 2020 but the overall body of work from the young passer encouraged Tomlin: “He took a step in growth and development, even though it was a small sample size … we’ll see where that leads us in terms of what he can provide us. It’s reasonable for me and him to expect that trajectory to continue.” (Pryor)
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