Through two weeks, the AFC North is starting to stratify. At the top are the Cincinnati Bengals, 2-0 on the season. The Baltimore Ravens, meanwhile, are 1-1. And then there are the Cleveland Browns, at 0-1-1 and looking to get their first win over the New York Jets on Thursday night. Also at 0-1-1 are the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will have to topple the undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night in order to pick up win No. 1.
But there’s a lot of football yet to be played and all four teams in the AFC North are trying to do work to get better and keep—or start—winning. Here’s the latest news around the division, non-Browns edition.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Drama has been surrounding the Steelers for years now, and this week was no different. Antonio Brown’s tweet required his agent to respond, and his absence from Monday’s meetings led head coach Mike Tomlin to hand down some unspecified discipline. Finally, Brown spoke to the media on Thursday and Behind the Steel Curtain’s Simon Chester has the highlights, including Brown saying point blank, “We’re losing. We suck.”
Concerning Steelers drama not involving Brown, the team is both literally and symbolically moving on from absent running back Le’Veon Bell. Chester reports that now Bell is not just off of the team’s depth chart but has also been removed from their official roster and associated game day media.
Cincinnati Bengals: With Joe Mixon missing at least two weeks after undergoing a relatively minor knee surgery, that makes Giovani Bernard the Cincinnati Bengals’ new starting running back. Cincy Jungle’s Patrick Judis reports that Bengals coaches have no concerns about Bernard handling the bulk of the carries during Mixon’s absence.
Bernard won’t be toting the ball alone, though. Rookie back Mark Walton is also in line for carries. And with another back, Tra Carson, being waived this week with a hamstring injury, the Bengals also signed veteran Thomas Rawls to add depth. Jason Marcum reports that Rawls was among at least five running backs the team worked out this week.
The Bengals will also have to do without starting center Billy Price for some time. Marcum reports that Price has a foot injury that will hold him out at least two weeks, after which he will be reevaluated. For now, he’ll be in a boot, and Trey Hopkins will start at center in the interim.
Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley hobbled off the field in last Thursday’s loss to the Bengals, the fear being a significant knee injury. But the Ravens—who in recent seasons have been hit hard by the injury bug—seems to have dodged a bullet. Baltimore Beatdown’s Jacob Loque reports that Mosley returned to practice on Thursday. While that’s no guarantee that he will play on Sunday against the Denver Broncos it is at least a sign that the injury was not as serious as first feared.
Logan Levy writes that the Ravens offensive line will be tested yet again on Sunday against Denver and its significant pass-rush. The Broncos defense has sacked quarterbacks seven times already, four of those belonging to linebacker Von Miller. Joe Flacco has been sacked five times through two games, four of those (and numerous other pressures) coming last week against the Bengals.