AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Steelers


  • The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. notes how excited multiple members of the team are for OL coach Frank Pollack to return. Dehner writes Pollack has traditionally done very well with run-blocking, which is good news for a Cincinnati ground game that stalled out in 2020. However, he’s not always had great pass-blocking lines. 
  • Dehner adds there wasn’t really opposition from HC Zac Taylor to bringing back Pollack even though he replaced him with Jim Turner when he was hired in 2018. 
  • Bengals QB Joe Burrow said his knee is at about 15 percent right now and he’s got a long way to go still. (Ben Baby)
  • Burrow hopes to begin throwing around the middle of February at the 12-week mark from surgery and has another six weeks before he can start running. (Baby/Tyler Dragon)
  • Returning in time to play Week 1 is still the top goal for Burrow and he’s optimistic about pulling it off: “That’s been the goal for me from the beginning … We are on pace to do it right now. There is obviously a long road…but as far as right now, it’s looking as good as it could for where I am at in the rehab process.” (Dragon)
  • Playing in the preseason might be unrealistic for Burrow, though: “I think preseason is probably pushing it a little bit. But that Week 1 goal is mine.” (Baby)
  • Burrow spoke about his experiences during his rookie year: “We didn’t win as many games as I would have liked and as everyone else would have liked within the organization and the city. But I think we built a great foundation going forward and a great learning experience for not only myself but for our team.” (Baby)


Browns HC Kevin Stefanski usually calls the plays for Cleveland on offense. But on Sunday, all Stefanski could do was watch from his basement while in the COVID-19 protocols. Fortunately, the team proved they were in steady hands with his replacement, OC Alex Van Pelt, in a 48-37 win. 

“Alex was absolutely outstanding,” Stefanski said via’s Mary Kay Cabot. “I am so thrilled for him in Pittsburgh, which that means a little bit extra to him being the Pitt Panther legend that he is. He just was dialing them up. Great call after a great call and the guys were executing. Not surprised but really proud of him.”


  • The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly and Sean Gentille take a look at some of the tough decisions facing the Steelers this offseason, including the status of QB Ben Roethlisberger.
  • The only consensus the two came to is that CB Joe Haden and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster are likely not returning, the former as a cap casualty, the latter as someone who likely will get far more than Pittsburgh can afford to pay in free agency.  
  • They both agree the team faces a crossroads of either trying to put enough band-aids on holes to run it back with Roethlisberger again in 2021 for a hopeful but perhaps unlikely championship run, or to blow up the team and start the rebuild. 

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  1. It’s all fixed it seems anymore the referees really had to have attention this year really cost the Bengals about 3 ball games gotta let these boys play bally people are sick of flags everywhere all game long it’s turned into a circus LET EM PLAY BALL SHIT SON

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