AFC Notes: Browns, Ravens, Steelers


Chiefs TE Travis Kelce thinks the Browns are one of the teams competing with Kansas City for the AFC title.

“They’re definitely a contender, without a doubt,” Kelce said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “It’s definitely there. Baker [Mayfield] and the gang have upped the ante, made this team an unbelievable team and a team you have to prepare for and take serious. I think that moving forward without a doubt, I can see a lot more playoff games between us, and I’ll just take it one day at a time and hope for it. I think the Browns and Chiefs are definitely neck and neck.”

Browns WR Jarvis Landry said the team should have Super Bowl aspirations this year.

“Why not?” Landry said. “It’s something that people always say you should not talk about, but nobody trains or nobody does what they do to not be a champion. So that’s the standard.

“So why not talk about it? It’s real. It’s sick to be humble about what everybody is actually chasing.”

  • Landry also said WR Odell Beckham Jr. is recovering well from torn ACL: “He’s even better than he was last year.” (Ulrich)


  • The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec notes the Ravens may find a way to keep seven receivers on the final roster because they like Miles Boykin and James Proche so much. Boykin has started 24 games the past two seasons and is their best blocking receiver, while Proche is a capable returner and consistently makes plays in practice. 
  • At No. 3 tight end, Zrebiec thinks Josh Oliver and fifth-round FB/TE Ben Mason are the favorites to make the team, unless Nick Boyle‘s injury lingers, in which case Eric Tomlinson would vault to the top of the list given his blocking proficiency. 
  • While Ravens G Ben Powers might start out with the first team at left guard by virtue of seniority, Zrebiec sees third-round G Ben Cleveland taking over sooner rather than later given how highly the staff views him. 
  • The competition is also stiff for reserve spots on the offensive line but Zrebiec would pencil in OL Patrick Mekari and Tyre Phillips due to their versatility. 
  • That leaves 2020 fourth-round G Ben Bredeson, veteran OT Andre Smith, G Michael Schofield and C Greg Mancz, promising 2020 UDFA C Trystan Colon-Castillo and rookie UDFA OTs Adrian Ealy and Foster Sarell battling for one or two spots most likely, per Zrebiec. 
  • Zrebiec notes Ravens DT Aaron Crawford could win the backup nose tackle job over veteran DT Justin Ellis if he outplays him this summer. 
  • Cornerback is also another spot the Ravens are deep at but Zrebiec writes that due to roster math, the sixth and potentially seventh spots would probably come down to fifth-round rookie Shaun Wade and veteran Davontae Harris, who is a strong special teamer. 
  • That leaves Iman Marshall, Chris Westry and Khalil Dorsey on the wrong side of the bubble.


Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick feels it was unfortunate to see CBs Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton leave this offseason, but the team must now find the “next man up” for the job. 

“Steven and Mike are guys we’re definitely going to miss,” Fitzpatrick said, via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “They’re great players and great men off the field. But it’s part of the business. It’s next man up.”

Fitzpatrick isn’t concerned with who assumes the roles vacated by Nelson or Hilton as long as the “overall execution” is maintained. It’s worth mentioning that Pittsburgh is going forward with CBs Cam SuttonJames Pierre and Justin Layne all elevating into larger roles.

“It’s the overall execution,” Fitzpatrick said. “Something we did really well last year was our overall execution. No matter who is out there, as long as we execute at a high level, we’ll be good. If it’s young guys, old guys, new guys, if we’re all on the same page, it’s hard to beat us.”

Fitzpatrick added that he appreciates that the organization picked up his fifth-year option for the 2022 season. 

“You definitely appreciate it,” Fitzpatrick said. “It guarantees me another year in Pittsburgh — a great city, great team, great organization. It was a sigh of relief. I don’t have to worry about the ‘what if’ for another two years. It’s definitely a blessing. I’m happy and I’m going to make them proud of their decision.”

As for Steelers’ veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger attending practice, Fitzpatrick describes that he’s grateful to see the quarterback at OTAs.

“I’m happy Ben is out here,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s been doing this for a while. He doesn’t have to be out there. When he’s out there, everyone gets better. On the very first play, he held me in the middle of the field and threw it backside. Not too many guys are doing that across the league. When that happens, I can remind myself of the fundamentals when I play a guy like Ben. This year we’re playing against a bunch of high-caliber guys. It’s a good look. Everyone is getting better.”

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