AFC Notes: Browns, Ravens, Steelers, Brian Flores


Browns HC Kevin Stefanski is excited about RB D’Ernest Johnson returning to the team and called him a steady presence in the team’s locker room.

We’ve talked about D’Ernest a lot over the last couple of years, especially last year with some of the injuries like you mentioned,” Stefanski said, via Beacon Journal. “He’s a very dependable player. He’s going to give you everything he has. He’s going to be where he’s supposed to be. He’s a great teammate. The guys really want to fight for him when he’s back there because he does everything that’s asked of him whether it’s special teams or third-down running back, you name it. So excited for D’Ernest, and again, really lucky to have a dependable player at that position.

The Browns have a loaded running back room with Johnson returning to the team. Stefanski believes it will make everybody better.

Those type of things are really good problems to have,” Stefanski said. “We want good players and if we have a bunch of good players at one position that’s okay. No. 1 it builds depth, just talking about D’Ernest there with the amount of plays that he gave us last season. But it promotes competition. I just think it’s our job to utilize those guys as we see fit.

  • Stefanski also noted RT Jack Conklin is doing well in his recovery from a ruptured patellar tendon: “He’s looking really strong in the weight room. He’s doing a nice job in the meeting room so I would say he’s on schedule.


Ravens OC Greg Roman tends to attract a fair amount of criticism, even more than usual for a job that’s popular to second-guess. Still, Baltimore committed to him for another season and Roman says he does his best to tune out anything he feels is unfair. 

“Oh, geez. I live and die by what anything in the media is said,” Roman deadpanned via’s Todd Karpovich. “No, that was a joke. Yes, I mean, we’ve got to stay focused on what we stay focused on. As a professional, we’re all our harshest critics, and I think we know the truth, and you just believe in that and keep trying to get better every day. Don’t get set in your ways; just keep trying to adapt, evolve and adjust, and don’t worry about a thing.”

Roman has helped design one of the league’s best rushing offenses the past few seasons, highlighting the unique talents of QB Lamar Jackson. He hasn’t been able to bring that same level of creativity and effectiveness to the passing game, however, which will be necessary for Baltimore to accomplish its high goals. 

“We have great running backs, we’ve got a great run game, but that passing game is going to help us even more, so we need to just keep doing that, keep getting better at that; keep getting better at everything – not just the passing game,” Jackson said. “There’s always room for improvement with anything you do.”


Steelers HC Mike Tomlin has said time and again how important it is to have a coach like Brian Flores. Now some of the defensive players such as S Terrell Edmunds, CB Levi Wallace, CB Cameron Sutton, and LB Myles Jack are beginning to praise Flores after only being around him for a short period of time.

“He’s a bulldog,” Edmunds said, via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. “You can tell by just the way he talks that he has a military mentality and wants everything to be on point and not letting anybody slack off. We need that. We need that in the back end, we need that with the linebackers for the communication. I’m telling you, he’s just locked in and having everybody on point.”

“It doesn’t require a lot of time to come to the realization that you could use a Brian Flores on your staff,” Tomlin said during the owners’ meetings in March. “There are so many ways that he’s going to help us and help me in particular. I love sharpening my sword on his and gaining perspective that his experiences provide, that wise counsel.”

“He’s like having a cheat sheet as a coach,” Jack said of Flores.

“You can’t be anything other than be eager to work with a guy like that,” Sutton said. “He is a teacher and a student. He has been a great influence on us in a short period. He gets the guys going and gets them fired up … and it’s OTAs. It’s been a solid situation for us.”

“Just the way he coaches, you can tell that he is a super-intelligent guy,” Wallace added. “Just the schemes and how he breaks it down. He takes the time, sits down, and talks it out with the guy. The play is just not over and you can’t watch the play and that is what he was simulating. You have to go make a play on it. Marlon Humphrey also did a good job of seeking the ball and knocking it out. Running to the ball first and then seeking the ball, and that’s what he wanted us to do.”

  • Steelers WR Diontae Johnson said he plans to practice while trying not to think about his contract, adding that he’s been paying attention to the wide receiver market. (Ray Fittipaldo)
  • Steelers RB Najee Harris commented on his weight: “I was 242 last year. And now I’m 244. But you’re always heavier in this than you are during the season. I’m going to play at 242.”
  • Harris also bristled, albeit playfully, at comparisons to former Steelers RB Jerome Bettis: “Tell Jerome, that’s the homie, but y’all are making it seem like I’m fat as hell.” (Brooke Pryor)

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