The start of the 2017 NFL season looms larger than ever this week, with the league gearing up for the third week of the preseason. This means more playing time for starters as well as the final few chances for players on the bubble to make positive impressions on their coaches. With that in mind, here’s what concerns are on the minds of the Cleveland Browns’ division-mates in the AFC North.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers is that running back Le’Veon Bell is planning to end his holdout and return to the team, potentially on September 1st.
9-1-17 https://t.co/8Sj7MvzD79— Le'Veon Bell (@L_Bell26) August 23, 2017
That will help the team avoid the myriad pitfalls that Behind the Steel Curtain’s Jeff Hartman says could have befallen them this season otherwise. There is a problem, though: How will head coach Mike Tomlin handle Bell once he returns? Hartman wonders if Tomlin will choose to sit Bell for Pittsburgh’s regular-season opener against the Cleveland Browns, keep him on a pitch count or just let Bell have free reign over the running game despite missing a whole summer’s worth of practices.
Also: Hartman addresses one of the Steelers’ biggest positional battles of the summer—wide receiver—and determines that free agent signing Justin Hunter will edge out Darrius Heyward-Bey for a roster spot next month.
Baltimore Ravens: The injury bug continues to bite the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore Beatdown’s Kyle P. Barber reports that running back Danny Woodhead is currently battling through a hamstring injury, which should keep him sidelined through the remainder of the preseason. The hope is that he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener, especially with no new news on the Joe Flacco front beyond that the quarterback is taking part in meetings in anticipation of his eventual return to the field.
Also: Jacob Louque takes a look at three potential trades the Ravens could pursue as the summer winds down, all of which would serve as upgrades at crucial offensive positions.
Cincinnati Bengals: The time for roster evaluation—and for players on the roster bubble to make positive impressions—is quickly running out. Cincy Jungle’s Kyle Phelps breaks down five Cincinnati Bengals who need to step up their games quickly or else find themselves on the wrong end of roster cuts next month.
Also: John Sheeran continues his Weekly Lineman series and looks at what the Bengals’ offense and defensive lines did right and what they did wrong in their 30-12 preseason Week 2 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Defensive end Chris Smith is among the standouts Sheeran highlights.