AFC Notes: Bengals, Ravens, Steelers

     

Bengals

Bengals WR John Ross started last year off with a bang, going over 100 yards receiving in his first two games. But injuries struck yet again and Ross spent half the year on injured reserve. The adversity hasn’t stopped. Cincinnati declined Ross’ fifth-year option this offseason and he had to leave camp to go care for his young son who tested positive for COVID-19. But still, Ross is taking what has ended up becoming a contract year in stride. 

“When you sit down and really think about it, it does not really matter. … Regardless, I still have to come in with the same mentality as if they did pick [the option] up,” Ross said via the Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. “I have to come in and want to be better for myself and want to help this offense win games.

“I will say this outright: Being young and not understanding … I have a great agent, in my opinion. He explained it to me. I was like, ‘Wow, there’s no way for me to be in my feelings, so I’m going to let out my feelings,’ and I understood what I need to be doing this season. For one, I need to play all 16 games. I need to stay healthy, and I need to make plays in every single game. It’s on me to do that. The thing about it — I wouldn’t have picked up my option, either. It guarantees injury if you get hurt. I’ve been injured every single year. That’s not a bad decision by them. And now it’s on me to show them why I should be here longer. That’s how I look at it.”

  • Per Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bengals LB Jordan Evans had to be carted off from practice Monday. However, it doesn’t appear to be a significant injury. 

Ravens

  • Per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, part of the reason the Ravens didn’t sign WR Dez Bryant following his workout was the team’s confidence in 2019 third-round WR Miles Boykin. Ravens OC Greg Roman expects more from Boykin in 2020: “[We are] really going to load his plate a lot more this year and really ask a lot of him this year. We really feel like he’s going to take a giant step.”
  • NFL Media’s Mike Silver says former Ravens S Earl Thomas‘ issues started last year when he was repeatedly late to meetings and fined by the team, which warned him he was coming close to having his guarantees voided for conduct detrimental to the team. 
  • Silver added the same thing happened this year, with Thomas complaining he needed more time between virtual meetings and arriving late to one because he needed to get his car washed. When he blew the red zone assignment in practice last week, that was the final straw for Ravens S Chuck Clark and led to the fight. 
  • Clark declined to go into detail when asked if the team felt a weight lifted after Thomas was cut: “I’m done addressing that, honestly, and the organization as well. We’re just moving forward at this point.” (Hensley)
  • Thomas’ replacement is expected to be S DeShon Elliott, who has impressed since being drafted in the sixth round in 2018: “Earl’s a Hall of Famer, no doubt. I respect his game. But I’m not worried about Earl. I’m worried about me and what I bringing to this team. I know I will make my plays.” (Hensley)
  • Ravens QB Lamar Jackson returned to practice Monday after missing some time with a groin injury. (Hensley)

Steelers

  • The Steelers announced Sunday that they had six players absent from Saturday’s practice as they adhered to the COVID-19 protocol.
  • The good news is that no one is being placed on the COVID-19 list and the plan is for them to return to meetings Sunday and practice Monday.
  • Steelers DB coach Tom Bradley is a fan of CB Cameron Sutton‘s versatility: “He’s like putty, we can put him anywhere.” (Brooke Pryor)
  • Steelers OT Chukwuma Okorafor is dealing with a groin injury. He’s competing for a starting job at right tackle. (Pryor)
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