AFC Notes: Bengals, Ravens, Steelers


Bengals S Jessie Bates is an impending free agent but still recognizes the strong roster that helped Cincinnati reach the Super Bowl this year.

“This group is a special group,” Bates said, via Pro Football Talk. “We know it. It’s tough that every year there’s a new team. This group was special but next year it’s going to look different but our standard is our standard. I think we set a standard here in Cincinnati. It’s going to continue for a long time and even the guys that aren’t going to be here, that’s a standard that they can take to another team, go be a dad, whatever it is in life. That standard that we built this year was something special like I said.”

Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah adds that the team has a lot of things to work on heading into next season, especially pass protection.

“You don’t want your quarterback to get hit one time, let alone how many times it was, not even counting the things that weren’t sacks but just hits in general,” Uzomah said, via Pro Football Talk. “It has been tough. You don’t want to see your franchise quarterback get hit as many times as he did. That is probably going to be a point of emphasis coming up.”

  • The Bengals will now be looking for a new linebackers coach, as Al Golden is departing to become the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame on a three-year contract after spending the past two seasons with Cincy. (Ben Baby)


Ravens GM Eric DeCosta has plenty of decisions to make this offseason but seems to like 2021 third-round DB Brandon Stephens and what he can bring to the team.

“Yes, well, specific to Brandon, I thought he had a nice year, and certainly as a young player, playing a very difficult and challenging position,” DeCosta said, via “There’s a physical challenge to it, but also a mental challenge to that position. Brandon came in … A few years ago, he was a running back – if you think about that – at UCLA, and then, primarily, last year, [he] was a corner, with some safety. So, I think what he did this year was pretty impressive, and what I can tell you is he’s a talented guy, he’s got a lot of physical traits, [and] he’s also got a lot of personality traits that should allow him to really succeed. We expect him to make a jump.”


Most NFL players will say they don’t keep track of stats or individual awards and that they’re all about team success. Most of them are lying, or at least not letting on to the whole truth. Steelers OLB T.J. Watt provided a glimpse of that by revealing just how much it really meant to him to finally be named defensive player of the year after narrowly missing out on the award in past seasons. 

“To be able to be recognized as the best defensive player of the year is definitely something I strive for,” Watt said via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m not huge on individual goals, but it’s tough for me not to want that when I saw my brother at the height of his career win it three times. I always thought to myself why can’t I do that?”

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