AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Steelers


  • Bengals QB Joe Burrow and DT D.J. Reader are not traveling with the team to Cleveland for the Week 18 matchup with the Browns. (Field Yates)
  • According to Aaron Wilson, the Bengals worked out Drew Desjarlais and Nyles Morgan.


Browns OC Alex Van Pelt said that he’s comfortable not calling plays, noting that HC Kevin Stefanski feels “most comfortable” calling plays himself.

I work for Coach Kevin, and I am happy whichever role that would be,” Van Pelt said, via BrownsZone. “I think Kevin feels most comfortable calling the plays, and I do not know if I would disagree with him if I were in his shoes, as well. We do a lot together. Hopefully, as usual, we all have voices in the play-calling as it goes forward, but I do not feel like I need to call the game. I think Kevin does a great job, and I am very comfortable in the role that I am in now.

Recent speculation tied Van Pelt to the University of Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator job, his alma mater. Van Pelt denied that he had spoken to anybody from Pittsburgh and also denied that he had been contacted by anyone from the university.

Not at all actually,” he said. “My phone started to ring around that same time, and I have no idea where that had come from. I have not spoken to anybody at the University of Pittsburgh. I am very happy they had a heckuva season as a fan. I followed and watched, but definitely have not been contacted by anybody from there.

Van Pelt also disputed the report of tension between Stefanski and QB Baker Mayfield, and reiterated that the two have a great relationship.

I have seen zero of that,” Van Pelt said. “Kevin is in our meetings every day. I know the line of communication is wide open between those two guys. I know they have met weekly on Tuesdays to make sure everything was good. I do not feel that at all.

Mayfield tore his Labrum in his non-throwing shoulder week two and fractured a bone in the same shoulder week six, but only missed one game. Van Pelt said that the team felt Mayfield was healthy enough to play through the injury and gave them the best chance to win games.

We felt that he was healthy enough and gave us the best chance to win at that position,” Van Pelt said. “A big year for Baker as far as learning how to play through injury. Really proud of him. It is not uncommon in this league that guys play with things throughout the course of the year and get repaired in the offseason. It is kind of the way it goes. It was his non-throwing shoulder. He was harnessed up and protected to the point. The game that he was not healthy enough to play, we started Case. It is a medical question.

Van Pelt believes that Mayfield will improve as a decision-maker in his third year in Stefanski’s system.

Absolutely. I think the third year in the system where you have complete, full understanding of everything, I think that ball would come out,” Van Pelt said. “The more you are in it, the more understanding you have for the scheme and obviously the more comfortable and better you will be within it.


  • Mark Kaboly reports that Steelers’ DL Isaiah Buggs wanted to play for another team after not getting much playing time this season in Pittsburgh, and the team obliged him by waiving him on Saturday. 

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