AFC Notes: Bengals, Colts, Steelers

     

Bengals

  • Bengals WR A.J. Green said he’s been running routes since February and that there are no issues with his previous ankle and toe injuries (Ben Baby).
  • Green on whether he needs to prove to people he’s still one of the best receivers in the league: “When you put that tape on when I’m out on the field, that speaks for itself.” (Ben Baby)
  • According to Green, he has “four great years” left in him: “I still love the game. I still love the practice. When that goes away, then I’ll be done.” (Ben Baby)
  • Green mentioned that there was open communication between him and the Bengals throughout the negotiating process and adds that the best option is to talk a long-term deal after the 2020 season. (Ben Baby)
  • As for rookie QB Joe Burrow, Green said: “Everything I’m hearing about Joe, he’s a smart guy… It was a great pleasure to have him say that. I know the type of player he is and I know he’s a dog. I know he’s a dog for a fact. So I’m excited to play with him. I’m just can’t wait to get out there.” (Ben Baby)
  • Green on being a top-10 receiver in the NFL: “I’m tired of seeing everything ‘A.J. should be a top-10 if he would’ve played…’ Alright, let’s get the season started and we can get this thing settled.” (Ben Baby)

Colts

  • In an agent survey by the Athletic’s Ben Standig, the Colts were mentioned as a team that had a strong offseason this year: “Tough not to like the Colts. Building through the draft and then bringing in a veteran QB who fits the culture.”
  • Colts GM Chris Ballard received a lot of praise, both for his transparency which made him easy to work with and his ability to evaluate talent: “He’s the best by far. He’s the easiest to deal with and I think he’s great at talent evaluation as well.”

Steelers

Mark Kaboly of The Athletic wonders if JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s 2019 performance could be blamed on having a pair of inexperienced quarterbacks in Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges running a basic offense, or if there is a possibility that Smith-Schuster simply isn’t a No.1 receiver.

“I think it’s a tough season to evaluate with the different quarterbacks and some of JuJu’s injuries,” owner Art Rooney II said in January. “It’s a tough season to evaluate from a lot of different standpoints, but we still think highly of JuJu and think he can be an outstanding player in the league going forward.”

“When you are playing with a backup quarterback, your numbers may not be the same,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said during the offseason. “But then again, when we are playing with the backup, the backup is the starter and the other folks have to try to pick up and make up the ground. And we expect that from our other players.”

With QB Ben Roethlisberger back, the learning curve won’t be as steep for WR Diontae Johnson in his second year as a pro.

“Just being able to work out with him this offseason has been good,” said Johnson, via Kaboly. “Just trying to get the timing down and get a feel for him. What he likes and what he doesn’t like and how he likes to throw the ball on a certain play and certain routes. Just trying to pick his brain. Just getting our timing down and trying to get our bond with each other so we can build that trust together.”

  • As for WR Ryan Switzer, Kaboly believes that he was hurt by the injury of Roethlisberger as much as any other receiver, playing 46 snaps in the opener, followed by 35 snaps for the rest of the year. Kaboly adds that Roethlisberger’s return and Switzer’s ability to play special teams give him a good shot to make the roster.
  • Kaboly writes that receivers Deon Cain, Amara Darboh, and Quadree Henderson could end up being cut or members of the practice squad, while athletic newcomers Saeed Blacknall and Anthony Johnson, who is a cousin of top free agent Jadeveon Clowney, will have a lot to prove if they want to stick around in Pittsburgh.
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