AFC Notes: Browns, Patriots, Steelers

     

Browns

When regimes change in the NFL, that often has a trickle-down effect on other players thought to be crucial in the organization. It happened with the Cardinals and QB Josh Rosen when they brought in HC Kliff Kingsbury and in Cleveland new HC Kevin Stefanski and GM Andrew Berry moved on from players who were favorites of their predecessors. But so far, the two don’t plan to move on from QB Baker Mayfield after the former No. 1 overall pick struggled in his second season. 

“I believe in Baker Mayfield. He’s our starting quarterback. Organizationally we believe in Baker Mayfield. It’s our job to surround him with people that can make him the best,” Stefanski said via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

Patriots

Patriots assistant coach Steve Belichick no doubt has to credit some of his budding coaching career to being the son of HC Bill Belichick. But while nepotism may have gotten his foot in the door, the 32-year-old younger Belichick has proven he belongs on an NFL coaching staff with his work the past few seasons. There was never a clear answer as to who served as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator in 2019 but Steve Belichick reportedly deserves a lot of credit for the success on that side of the ball. 

“He’s a guy that works 20 hours of the day and 350 days of the year,” first-year Giants coach and former Patriots assistant Joe Judge said via USA Today’s Henry McKenna. “I think it’s tougher for Steve in a lot of ways, because he’s always got to prove that he’s earned it. Over time, if you can’t demonstrate that you belong in that building, you’re the sore thumb sticking out. And he’s showed time and time again that he’s prepared, he’s very good with the players, he’s got the great, global view of the game, he does a good job schematically. You have to demonstrate value in front of everyone all the time. That’s the thing about that building — and our profession in general — there’s no hiding.”

Steelers

Steelers GM Kevin Colbert believes TE Eric Ebron is a “premier receiving tight end” when healthy and values his production in the red zone. 

“He’s a super pass-catching tight end. There’s athleticism, red-zone production, and run-after-the-catch — he’s really a premier receiving tight end when he is healthy. He gives us another weapon in the passing game, for sure,” said Colbert, via Mark Kaboly.

As for not having a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Colbert said he isn’t worried and glad they acquired DB Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins with the selection. 

“Under the kind of circumstances, the uncertainty of the player you might be taking and not have all the information, I’m a lot more more comfortable knowing we got an All-Pro player with that pick,” Colbert said.

  • Per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor, Ebron is ready to be attached to QB Ben Roethlisberger at the hip once social distancing guidelines are relaxed to build an on-field rapport: “If I could be Big Ben’s best friend, kind of like how it was with Andrew [Luck], I was always in his ear, in his pocket, just try to figure out the game through their lens. They’re elite minds at this level and it’s just, I just want to understand his language.”
  • Ebron declined to get into specifics regarding the ankle injury that ended his 2019 season and time with the Colts, just saying he had to have a “whole lot of mess” cleaned up. (Pryor)
  • Colbert added that the Steelers will begin video interviews on Thursday with players they initially planned on hosting for official visits. (Brooke Pryor)
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