AFC Notes: Justin Fields, Deshaun Watson, Bengals, Browns, Steelers


  • Falcons S Jessie Bates compared Bengals WR Tee Higgins‘ situation to his own back when Bates was in Cincinnati: “I’ve been through that process through the franchise tag, and I let it weigh on me a little bit more than I should have and it affected my play and how I was living my day-to-day life. So, my thing for Tee is just, I mean, work on your craft, it don’t matter. If this is the contract year, I say it every time: Every year is a contract year. You should go out there and ball out and train like this is one of your last years to play.” (Marc Raimondi)


  • Zac Jackson of The Athletic says QB Deshaun Watson is unlikely to be a full participant until training camp as he recovers from shoulder surgery, but he’s been throwing and a part of the offseason program.
  • According to Zac Jackson of The Athletic, Watson did some throwing drills on Tuesday during the team’s first OTA practice but he will not throw on Wednesday’s practice. 
  • Browns third-round G Zak Zinter on returning to the field during minicamp for the first time since his season-ending injury: “Felt great to be back. I’ve been itching. Fun just getting out there, knocking the rust back off. I’m just learning the playbook, getting out there, moving around with the guys, you know, learning how the dudes are moving next to me, the communication, all that good stuff, for sure.” (Jackson)
  • Former Commanders director of pro personnel Chris Polin is leaving for a role with the Browns, per Ben Standig of The Athletic.


  • Pittsburgh QB Justin Fields will compete for the starting job and isn’t content being the backup: “I definitely don’t have the mindset of me just sitting all year.” (Mike DeFabo)
  • Fields had good things to say about Bears GM Ryan Poles after he vowed to do right by Fields: “Shoutout to Poles, we communicated to him through my agent, and I told him where I wanted to be and this was a place I wanted to be, so he honored that and I appreciate him for that and glad he was able to put me in a spot where I wanted to be at.” (Brooke Pryor)
  • Steelers RB Najee Harris declined an interview request after Tuesday’s practice and he’s not spoken to the media since the team declined his fifth-year option. (Ray Fittipaldo)
  • Steelers second-round C Zach Frazier talked about playing for a franchise with elite history at center: “It puts a little bit of extra pressure on me, but I’m just gonna work as hard as I can, try to put my head down and work.” (Chris Adamski)

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