AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Steelers

     

Bengals

Now that he has officially signed his rookie deal, first overall pick QB Joe Burrow is having his expectations laid out by Bengals HC Zac Taylor, starting with a strong outing in Week 1.

“(The expectation is)To play well in Week 1,” Taylor said, via Jay Morrison of The Athletic. “We took him because we have high expectations for Joe. Everything I have seen about him and know about him he has high expectations for himself. He’s going to do everything he can to put himself in position to be successful. I trust that.”

Bengals OC Bill Callahan also had plenty to say about Burrow and how the strange offseason could possibly impact such a charismatic player’s expectations.

“The thing for expectations for me at this point is, I don’t know what to expect, to be totally honest,” Callahan said. “I know what the history and the precedence says. I’m aware of the guys that have come in and started and some played well, some not. But I do think that Joe is a little bit unique in his experiences, as far as he put together one of the best seasons ever. And he’s got one of the more advanced football minds for a kid his age. But I don’t know what that means. And it’s such a strange offseason for us, as far as never getting any physical reps till mid-August. Maybe he’s perfectly suited to handle that, or maybe it will be a challenge to get up to speed. I don’t know. I struggle to put any expectations, particularly given the circumstances, on him at this point. I think he has already accomplished those things, to some degree. Part of it is because his reputation precedes him. He was so dynamic over the course of the year, I think everybody paid attention to him, anybody who likes football.”

Browns

Browns HC Kevin Stefanski reiterates that the plan hasn’t changed when it comes to first-round pick Jedrick Wills moving to left tackle and that he is expected to be the starter.

“No, the plan hasn’t changed,” Stefanski said, via Scott Petrak of BrownsZone.com. “We are keenly aware that we have a young player over there at left tackle. Trust me, his development is something that we will be very much on top of. We just have to work. Every one of these periods and every one of these lifting sessions, you have to make them all count. It is a shorter runway, but I think we can really get to where we need to get to, just like we would in a normal training camp.”

Stefanski also hasn’t spoken to TE David Njoku since he requested a trade early this month but still has big plans for him.

“My stance hasn’t changed. The organization’s stance hasn’t changed in that we believe in David, excited to work with him,” Stefanski said. “I will get to finally be in the same room as him this weekend as he is coming in for physicals and then get out on the field with him Monday. Excited to work with him.”

One of the players to opt-out, RG Drew Forbes, will thin the competition at the right guard spot, but Stefanski was understanding of his decision.

“Drew made a decision. I respect his decision,” Stefanski said. “It is the next man up mentality. We will see how it all shakes out.”

  • Tom Pelissero spoke to Browns P Jamie Gillan, who told him he had COVID-19 almost a month ago, and tested negative for the virus (and positive for antibodies) on Tuesday before testing positive on Wednesday and landing on the reserve list.

Steelers

  • Ed Bouchette of The Athletic thinks that QB Devlin Hodges will beat out former first-round pick Paxton Lynch for the Steelers third-string quarterback spot.
  • Bouchette notes that while the Steelers normally don’t keep four true running backs, they will likely keep RB Kerrith Whyte on the roster due to the injury history of starting RB James Conner.
  • While OL Chukwuma Okorafor was slated to replace retiring LG Ramon Foster, it will now be Matt Feiler who slides over from right tackle to replace him while Okorafor and RT Zach Banner battle for the right tackle spot.
  • Bouchette says not to be surprised if Feiler ends up back at right tackle and backup C Stefen Wisniewski ends up starting at left guard.
  • Steelers HC Mike Tomlin says that DL Tyson Alualu will open the season as the starting defensive tackle, replacing former starter Javon Hargrave.
  • Bouchette says middle linebacker is the position with the least depth on the team and that an injury to Devin Bush or Vince Williams could be devastating to the team.
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