AFC North Blog
Terrance West, a third-round draft pick out of Towson University, has been lighting it up at training camp. He's shown great receiving skills out of the backfield, outmaneuvering linebackers in the passing game. Wilbert Montgomery, the running backs coach of the Browns spoke on West, "Terrance West has some shades of Brian Westbrook. He can break you down with his right leg. He can break you down with his left leg. He has that Ricky Watters, Walter Payton, lure-you-to-sleep-on-the-sideline move that I can accelerate or play like I'm going to accelerate and come back inside." Montgomery goes onto saying that West is special and has traits he hasn't seen in a while. The rookie running back will look to keep developing his skills and contend for a spot at the starting role.
Mike Preston, a Ravens insider for The Baltimore Sun reports Ray Rice is 'looking good' during training camp. Preston says, "He had two long runs Saturday where he looked like the Rice of old. He never had great speed, but his cuts were excellent." Rice had a very bad season in 2013, averaging 3.1 yards a game. Before that, however, he racked in four straight seasons of 1,100+ rushing yards. Rice is currently facing a suspension that will leave him unable to play in the Ravens Week 1 and Week 2 matchups.
Three seasons as a backup quarterback in New England have really rubbed off on Brian Hoyer. At least, that's the simple conclusion from Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas' words from Monday.
"He's a lot like Tom Brady,'' Thomas said of Hoyer. "When you look at the way he competes and the way he demands the most out of everybody around him, it's no coincidence that those guys played together. (Hoyer) has a lot of those same mental attributes and that's a great thing for a quarterback to have.
"He's the ultimate competitor, and no matter if we drafted a quarterback No. 1 overall, I knew that in his mind he expects to win the job because that's the type of competitor he is and the type of quarterback."
Thomas also said Hoyer has the swagger and attitude that demands respect in the huddle, and he gets it.
For months now, it has felt like a year-long suspension for Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is an inevitability following his latest violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy, which was announced in May.
Not so fast, perhaps.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that Gordon's appeal, which is set to be heard on Friday, will be focused around inconsistent test results, a positive test result that was barely positive, and dumb luck.
Since Gordon is in Stage 3 of the league's substance-abuse program due to previous violations, he is subject to as many as 10 drug tests per month. For each of those tests, Gordon must provide two urine samples, which are placed in bottles randomly marked "A" and "B." The "A" sample is always tested first, and the "B" sample is only tested to confirm the results if "A" revealed a positive test and to ensure its consistency.
But the basis of Gordon's latest violation isn't quite consistent, and by league standards, only one of the samples tested positive. Unfortunately for Gordon, it was his "A" sample. That sample showed 16 nanograms per milliliter, a mere one nanogram above the NFL's 15 nanograms-per-milliliter threshold for marijuana metabolites. The "B" sample showed 13.63 nanograms per milliliter, which doesn't register as a positive test. However, because Gordon's "B" sample wasn't his "A" sample, thanks to random chance, he is tagged with another violation of the policy and is supposed to miss at least one year as punishment. If the bottles were flipped, Gordon wouldn't be facing another suspension at all.
Gordon's appeal will call into question the results of the positive test seeing as the second test wasn't technically positive. It will also dispute suspending a player for an entire year when basing that suspension off of a test that was only one nanogram per milliliter above the league limit.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Gordon's attorneys will argue that the positive test was the result of second-hand smoke and will introduce witnesses who will vouch for Gordon and testify that his sources indicate that he was breathing in second-hand smoke shortly on the day of his test. The NFL does not suspend players for second-hand smoke inhalation. Scientific studies have shown that second-hand smoke exposure can lead to test results similar to Gordon's.
Johnson has impressed members of the Browns organization with his size, speed, and knowledge of the team's offense, according to ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi. Johnson was signed by the Browns last October from the Packers practice squad. The team later learned that Johnson had suffered a torn ACL. Now rehabilitated, Johnson will seek to join a Cleveland WR corps spread thin by the suspension of Browns WR Josh Gordon.
People are so concerned with how many touches running back Giovani Bernard is going to get this season. Some say 300. Others think he will stay near last season's total of 226 because of rookie Jeremy Hill. Running backs coach Kyle Caskey doesn't feel like there needs to be a certain number in mind. He just knows the Bengals need Bernard to get the ball a lot.
"I don't know if it's the workload that's going to get more, it's more the type of plays that we're going to run with [Bernard] in the game," Caskey said Sunday's. "We're going to expand his portfolio of plays and find different ways to get the ball in his hands in space. You get the ball in Gio's hands in space, he's dangerous. ... 'We'll find a way to get the ball to him."
Heavily used arms don't usually get stronger when they are attached to bodies for 30 years or more. If that was the case, you would see all MLB pitchers throwing harder than they did in their 20s. Some of them have, but the reason behind it is ... well, don't worry about that. The point is that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 32 years old, but his arm is not feeling his age.
"My arm is stronger than it's been in my career, I believe," Roethlisberger said Saturday. "Even in [spring] practices and minicamp, the receivers said, 'Ben, that ball is getting to us a lot quicker, with a lot more spin on it, it feels real good.' That should translate into better play."
Roethlisberger credits his increased strength and decreased waist line to an extensive offseason grind, including work with a personal trainer and nutritionist for the first time in his career.
Andy Dalton, the fourth year quarterback for the Bengals has always struggled with decision making. In the 2013 season, Dalton threw 20 interceptions, a career high. During the Bengals Monday afternoon practice, he brought joy to his offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson. On a goal-line exercise, Dalton rolled out of the pocket to the right and threw the football deep out of the right corner of the end zone. His offensive coordinator shouted to Dalton, "Good, Andy. Good Job."
With Marvin Jones on the PUP list with a hamstring injury, Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu has taken full advantage of more snaps with the first-team offense.
According to Geoff Hobson of the team's official website, Sanu is "catching everything" and having a "monster camp." Hobson indicates that the coaches are using Sanu everywhere on the field and often. Sanu is "going to do everything but park cars," Hobson wrote Monday.
Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney spoke about QB Ben Roethlisberger's contract situation saying "we intend on addressing Ben's contract situation after the season, so that we could address a number of players who were going into their last year in 2014. I think Ben understands that's our intention and the way we'd like to proceed. I think we had a good conversation." There were talks of extension when the Steelers signed center Maurkrice Pouncey back in June. Roethlisberger signed an eight-year, $102 million contract back in 2008, is scheduled to make $12 million this year and be a free agent after next season.