AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers


Bengals QB Joe Burrow has a number of former teammates from LSU who have made the jump to the NFL and Cincinnati with him, adding another layer of familiarity. That paid off in an unexpected way when TE Thaddeus Moss noticed Burrow wasn’t as commanding a presence in practice as he was before his knee injury. 

“He just asked me why I wasn’t speaking up like I used to,” Burrow said via the Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. “I was like, ‘You know what? You’re right.’ Why am I not doing that? I realized that I kind of … when I’m more vocal, it kind of gets me into a rhythm and I stop thinking about what I have to do and I start thinking about what everybody else has to do. It reverts back to muscle memory. I think that played a part in me starting to play really well.”

After a rocky start to camp, things picked up for Burrow and the offense following this revelation. Quarterbacks are expected to take big strides in the offseason between their first and second years, including more ownership and command of the offense. Despite having to spend so much time rehabbing, it looks like Burrow has done that. 

“He just has such a better feel for what we want our offense to be and to look like,” Bengals OC Brian Callahan said. “He’s got a very clear vision for what he wants guys to look like. What routes they want to run, how he wants to attack coverages. We’ve grown really well together in that regard. Our system is now becoming his and that’s what you want it to be.”


Regarding the Browns’ receivers, QB Baker Mayfield had high praise of Odell Beckham and thinks defenses will have to “pick their poison” when choosing who to defend. 

Obviously his catching ability speaks for itself,” Mayfield said, via Jake Trotter of ESPN.But I think people forget how truly fast he is, to be able to take the top off defenses. Safeties have to worry about that. So teams are going to have to defend it — pick their poison. Because we obviously are a physical, run-first mentality team. And that’s not going to change no matter who we have out there at receiver. But he adds an element where teams are going to have to decide.”

  • Browns DC Joe Woods said they are still evaluating S Grant Delpit (Achilles) when asked about his possible role in Week 1: “We will have to evaluate. He’s been involved but we want to make sure he’s healthy enough to play.” (Scott Petrak)


The Ravens have seen a fair amount of RB Le’Veon Bell from his time in the AFC North, so it made quite a bit of sense for them to sign him with their injury issues at running back. 

“Le’Veon’s a guy I think we’re very familiar with obviously,” Ravens HC John Harbaugh said via NFL Media’s Nick Shook. “We’ve played against him so many times in so many highly competitive, emotional games. It was fun to have him in for the workout, he had a good workout. Practiced yesterday, did a good job. So, we’ll have a process with him. He’s excited, he’s learning and we’ll see where it goes.”

  • Harbaugh said there is “a chance” for Bell to be promoted from their practice squad in time for Monday Night’s Week 1 game. However, this was before the Ravens lost Gus Edwards. (Jamison Hensley)
  • Harbaugh was noncommittal when asked about Ravens CB Jimmy Smith’s (ankle) status, while DE Derek Wolfe is dealing with a lingering back injury but could be back soon. (Jeff Zrebiec)


Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger made it clear, along with a number of teammates, that they wanted OLB T.J. Watt on the field and the organization’s negotiating position was a secondary concern to them. They ultimately got their way after Watt signed a four-year, $112 million deal on Thursday. 

“I think T.J. should get whatever the heck he wants,” Roethlisberger said, via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “He’s arguably the best football player in the game right now, not just on defense, just in general.

“One of the reasons I took less money was for guys like him to get paid, and he needs to get paid. He deserves every penny that he wants and asks for. T.J. Watt is that guy that should get whatever he wants.”

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin said Watt looked good in his return to practice. He didn’t rule out Watt from playing Sunday against the Bills despite the lack of practice time this summer. 

“I thought he looked good. He was engaged,” Tomlin said. “He’s been a full participant in walk-throughs and things of that nature. He’s a smart guy. He can learn from watching others and it’s evident in watching him work today. We’re going to push forward and continue to push forward and prepare for this game. I don’t have anything uniquely schedule for him.”

  • NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo reports agents in the NFL hoped Watt got guarantees beyond the first year of a contract extension so the Steelers would the trend of only guaranteeing one year of any extension. The early reports indicate the Steelers did. 
  • Roethlisberger reiterated Watt should be “taken care of” with his next contract given he’s been a consistent presence around the organization: “When you negotiate a new contract, it’s two-sided. When the higher-ups are in charge, there’s only so much you can do. We all feel bad for TJ. .. He was here every single day& he didn’t need to be, working, busting his butt. He should get taken care of.” (Pryor)
  • Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick, who has two years left on his deal, mentioned that he’s “paying attention” to Watt’s impending contract and is keeping in contact with him on the matter: “I’m paying attention to it. I’m talking to him… getting a feel for the organization.” (Aditi Kinkhabwala)
  • Fitzpatrick added that Pittsburgh has not approached him about an extension.
  • Steelers DL Tyson Alualu (elbow) did not practice on Wednesday. (Ed Bouchette)

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