AFC North Blog
Bengals running back Jeremy Hill took 20 carries for 90 yards and caught six passes for 70 yards in the Bengals' Thursday night preseason finale. Hill left the game at one point with an elbow injury, but was able to return to the field. He also missed a block in pass protection that lead to a sack. Overall this preseason, Hill took 41 carries for 190 yards and caught 10 passes for 93 yards. He did not score a touchdown this month.
Now that the last 2014 preseason games have been played, teams are in a rush to trim their rosters down to 53. On Friday, the Bengals moved closer to that number by letting go of veteran running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Green-Ellis had been with the Bengals since 2012 and scored 13 touchdowns in those two seasons. However, his release isn't a major surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. He missed the final two weeks of the preseason due to a hip injury and was obviously usurped by Jeremy Hill, a big back who is a younger, cheaper, fresher version of Green-Ellis.
That headline is the sentiment shared by Geoff Hobson, the editor of the Bengals' official website. He wrote earlier this week that Hill "changed the tenor" of this backfield with his 12-touch, 47-yard preseason performance on Sunday against the Cardinals. Bernard gained only 18 yards on 12 touches in that game.
Hobson added that Hill's powerful style "is going to be a boon against Pittsburgh and Baltimore" and that both players could hit the 200-carry mark this season.
What took so long? Josh Gordon's one-year suspension for multiple violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy has been upheld on appeal. The suspension is effective immediately. He won't be able to play this year and will have to file for reinstatement to play in 2015, which will be determined by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
ESPN's Jamison Hensley is reporting RB Bernard Pierce has been diagnosed with a concussion. Although details aren't immediately available, Hensley said it was "mild", which drew the ire of some fans, as concussions are never truly mild and should be taken seriously. It's only speculation, but it seems Pierce should still be ready to go in Week 1.
It's a situation to monitor. The Ravens are already thin at RB with Ray Rice suspended for the first two games of the season. If Pierce was to miss time, there would likely be a committee approach of RBs Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett.
The Pittsburgh Steelers would probably like to forget their third preseason game altogether versus the Philadelphia Eagles. In particular, Ben Roethlisberger struggled on several plays, notably overthrowing and underthrowing his targets throughout the night. On one pass, he underthrew running back Le'Veon Bell. The ball got swatted into the air and landed incomplete, but it could have been intercepted. He also overthrew and threw behind WR Markus Wheaton multiple times.
In the second quarter, Roethlisberger tried to loft the ball to WR Dri Archer but carelessly overthrew it for an easy interception. Also in the second quarter, Roethlisberger scrambled out of the pocket in 'Big Ben fashion but under threw Antonio Brown, and the pass was again almost intercepted. All in all, it was a touch performance, and head coach Mike Tomlin was visibly not pleased.
Rookie running back Jeremy Hill will see reps with the Bengals' offensive starters in the team's third preseason game on Sunday, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said that Hill "is worthy of playing with [the starters]" and was surprised to learn that Hill hadn't seen carries with the starting unit in the previous two exhibition games. The Bengals drafted Hill with a second-round pick in the 2014 draft, and he's expected to fill the team's No. 2 RB slot behind Giovani Bernard.
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon will not get a ruling from the NFL on his suspension appeal this week, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. Many parties involved in the appeal believed that a ruling would be handed down this week. The NFL's initial projection was that a ruling would come in 1-3 weeks. We are now approaching the outside range of that time frame. Expect a decision by the end of next week.
The Steelers plan to "allow the [NFL] to handle any disciplinary measures" with regards to the recent arrests of running back Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette via Twitter. Furthermore, Bouchette remarked that the league is unlikely to act on the matter during the 2014 season, which would mean that Bell and Blount could escape without suspension this year.
The Browns have decided whom their starting quarterback will be on Sept. 7 versus the Steelers. To basically no surprise, it's Brian Hoyer. Head coach Mike Pettine made it official Wednesday.
"[Hoyer] was the clear leader from the beginning," Pettine said. "We've maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room."
Pettine insisted that today's decision is not a knock on Johnny Manziel.
"He's certainly made great strides," Pettine said of Manziel. "We are pleased with where he is, and he has shown that he has come a long way in his ability to pick up the playbook, be coachable and lead an offense. We are confident that Johnny is going to have a great future, but we just felt that Brian still had a decided edge on him."