AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Bengals

  • The Athletic’s Jay Morrison notes it’s more likely than not that former Bengals first-round C Billy Price is the starter next season given Trey Hopkins tore his ACL in the season finale and still hasn’t had surgery. Cincinnati also has B.J. Finney on the roster. 
  • Morrison said that while the Bengals won’t spend as much as they did last offseason in free agency, it could be close, with Patriots G Joe Thuney a target to keep an eye on. 
  • Morrison thinks either DE Carl Lawson or CB William Jackson will be back with the team in 2021 — not both. 

Browns

Browns CB Denzel Ward said he has been doing “extra conditioning” in order to fully return from COVID-19. 

“I have been doing extra conditioning and working out, just trying to take the necessary steps to get my wind back and conditioning back,” Ward said, via Scott Petrak of BrownsZone. I think I will be ready. I will be all right.”

Ward mentioned that Browns’ fellow CB Kevin Johnson is also recovered from COVID-19 and ready to play. 

“I talked to Kevin today about it and how he is feeling and everything. He is saying he is over it and he is ready,” said Ward. 

Ward confirmed that he suffered from flu-like symptoms, body aches, and chills when dealing with the virus. 

I was pretty sick,” Ward said. “Just flulike symptoms, all of the body aches and chills and stuff like that. I was pretty laid out in my house. It was not great. I am glad I got over it and hoping everybody still continues to stay safe and wears a mask and tries to beat it.

  • Browns HC Kevin Stefanski returned to the team on Thursday, as expected. (Tom Pelissero)

Ravens

The Ravens’ defensive identity is built around bringing pressure from a variety of places and locking up in man coverage. Against the Bills and QB Josh Allen, that could present a bit of a challenge, as Allen’s been one of the best quarterbacks in the league this year under pressure and at beating the blitz. Ravens DC Don Martindale isn’t necessarily planning on dialing anything back, though. 

“He knows that there is going to be pressure, that’s for sure,” Martindale said via ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “That’s who we are. That’s what we’ve done.”

  • Ravens CB Marcus Peters (back) and OLB Matt Judon (illness) both participated at practice Wednesday and HC John Harbaugh thinks they’ll play: “I anticipate them being available for the game.” (Hensley)
  • The Ravens are bringing in K Sam Sloman for a workout this week. (Aaron Wilson)

Steelers

Late-season collapses have become an alarming trend that stretch back four years for the Steelers if you include the loss to the Jaguars in the divisional round in 2017 as a 13-3 team. Pittsburgh has a record of 29-18-1 the past three years but just 6-10 in December. Steelers HC Mike Tomlin said he would be digging into what the problem is and shaking things up, which could have played a role in the staffing changes the team announced Thursday. 

“It is something that I am in the process of researching,” Tomlin said via the Athletic’s Ed Bouchette, “and working to identify and to make necessary changes to ensure that we are not having similar conversations as we move forward. It has been a disappointment. I will acknowledge that. I’m not going to maintain status quo and hope that the outcome changes. That’s the definition of insanity.”

  • In addition to other changes, the Steelers announced TE coach James Daniel has retired. (Twitter)
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