AFC Notes: Raiders, Ravens, Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger


It took a year, but the Raiders are finally starting to see some of the results they envisioned when they drafted WRs Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards last April. The two have had a number of clutch receptions in each game so far this season and are making plays down the field. 

“The biggest thing is just being comfortable now,” Ruggs said via the Athletic’s Vic Tafur. “We’re more confident in our assignments and our jobs and knowing what we have to do to help our team.”

Raiders QB Derek Carr leads the NFL in passing yards and all four of Ruggs, Edwards, WR Hunter Renfrow and TE Darren Waller are above 200 yards receiving. 

“We have a lot of confidence in our receiving corps,” Raiders HC Jon Gruden said. “They may be young but they’re talented, they’re reliable, they’re tough and they’re versatile. And they are explosive, and if you center your attention on Waller, I think these young guys are proving that they can do some damage as well.”

  • Raiders HC Jon Gruden said he’s “hopeful to get [RB Josh Jacobs (ankle)] back on the grass” at practice this week. (Vic Tafur)


  • Injury woes continued for Baltimore, as Ravens OLB coach Drew Wilkins hurt his hamstring celebrating the team’s game-winning field goal on Sunday. (Jeff Zrebiec)
  • Ravens activated DT Brandon Williams from the COVID-19 list. (NFLTR)
  • Ravens signed LB Josh Bynes to their active roster. (NFLTR)
  • Ravens signed RB Nate McCrary to their practice squad.  


Something is rotten in Pittsburgh, as the Steelers dropped to 1-2 on the year with their first home loss to the Bengals in decades. Offensive football continues to be offensive, as QB Ben Roethlisberger looks like he has continued his decline from the end of last season. He’s not the only problem, though. 

“The O-line play has accentuated the decline,” a recent Steelers player told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “So he’s either got happy feet or not stepping into his throws because of how many times he’s been hit or lack of time in the pocket. And he’s got a rookie [Kendrick Green] at center, so that’s different too.”

  • Roethlisberger is 39 and has a long, long injury history. That includes a knee issue he played through at the end of last year and pectoral issue he played through in Week 3. An AFC executive says the physical decline is apparent: “He can’t move well. You have to be able to do that in today’s game, and that used to be a strength — but it’s not anymore. Not being elusive can cause a player to get skittish.”
  • Another NFL personnel evaluator thinks Roethlisberger’s arm strength is still adequate but his accuracy is suffering: “It’s the accuracy that you notice more. Not sure if it’s a trust-and-timing thing or the whole offense out of sync or he just doesn’t have the placement, but he’s missing some throws he usually makes.”
  • One evaluator says if Roethlisberger continues to struggle and the Steelers continue to lose, HC Mike Tomlin will have to face the possibility of benching his Hall of Fame quarterback: “If they continue to struggle, starting in Green Bay, things could at least get interesting. Mike Tomlin would probably have a decision: Do I stay with him?”
  • Tomlin said the team isn’t going to make any drastic changes yet: “We are not going to push the panic button.” (Brooke Pryor)
  • Tomlin added he didn’t consider benching Roethlisberger in the loss to the Bengals. (Pryor)
  • Tomlin expects WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR Diontae Johnson, OLB T.J. Watt and OLB Alex Highsmith to practice this week. (Pryor)

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