AFC North Blog
The Browns' projected starting free safety Tashaun Gipson has not reported to the team's workouts. Joe Haden does not sound overly concerned on the whole matter. "I know he's a little upset," cornerback Joe Haden said. "We know that when things get mandatory he knows he's got his spot. He's going to be our free safety. He's not going to be behind. When Tashaun gets out here, he's the type of player he's a very fast learner. And you can't teach his ability."
Dennis Pitta is nearly eight months removed from his second catastrophic hip injury. Many believed he would never play another down in the NFL again. Even Pitta was not sure if he'd ever play again. However, it now sounds like Pitta's spirits are up and he's planning to give it a go one more time. "I'm optimistic," he said. "I feel good. But obviously it's a process. I have an idea in mind of where I'd like to be in a couple months, but at the same time you don't know. I know what it felt like to do this one time. I've never known what it felt like to do it twice."
With many people questioning Breshad Perriman's hands and the Ravens' decision to draft him in the first round, Joe Flacco appears to be very excited about the young prospect. After seeing Perriman in practice, Flacco has nothing but good things to say about the young wideout. "I'm happy with Breshad," Flacco said. "He looks really good. He looks big, powerful, runs well. His hands look like they're really good. He looks like he has big, strong hands. He snatches the ball out of the air."
Bengals rookie TE Tyler Kroft has an opportunity to see the field early and often as a rookie. Kroft has reportedly been very capable of getting into a three-point stance, make his blocks and get off the line. He has "looked comfortable in all facets". Kroft also commented on his minicamp experience. "I'm just real happy to get back to playing football again," Kroft said. "That was the biggest thing. Over the last five months it's been a lot of 40 training and lifting, and now it's good getting really back to football."
Buck Allen was drafted by the Ravens due to his contributions in the passing game. Allen can both catch passes and hold his own in pass protection. He has only cemented his role during minicamp. "We've seen Buck catch passes, we've seen Buck pass protect, so we know he can do it," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He has done it out here and looks very smooth doing it. He's running the ball well. We haven't had any surprises."
Rookie RB Jeremy Hill emerged as a workhorse for the Cincinnati Bengals last season, gathering 1,124 yards, nine touchdowns and five fumbles. Regarding his fumbles, Hill said recently, "I had so much confidence last year in my ability to carry the football, I kind of got lackadaisical about it and just kind of said, 'Well, no one can take the ball from me,' and just kind of wasn't respecting the guys on the other team."
At LSU, Hill fumbled only once in his college career, something that he is extremely proud of. As a result of last season's fumbles, Hill believes he needs to simply focus more on better protecting the ball, stating that "It's just all mental."
After watching 26th-overall pick Breshad Perriman in minicamp, the Ravens believe they have a star on their hands. Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta expects a big year out of the young prospect. "We got a guy with a tremendous amount of talent who's only going to get better," DeCosta said. "I'm not going to say he's 'elite' or this or that, but he's a very talented guy. He's motivated, he's smart, it's important to him, comes from a football family, and he's on the come [up], and we're going to get the most out of him as we can."
Ravens' wide receiver Steve Smith was an extremely productive 35-year-old. He caught 79 passes for 1,065 yards and six TDs in 2014. However, his numbers drastically declined in the second half of the season. His yards per catch dropped from 16.5 to 10.3 after the first eight games. Head coach John Harbaugh wants to cut back on Smith's snaps this season to reduce wear-and-tear on the 36-year-old veteran.
Steelers' RB Le'Veon Bell was last season's Fantasy Football MVP. Unfortunately prior to the season he was arrested on marijuana and DUI charges. Stemming from the arrest he has been suspended three games. Bell knows what he did was wrong, however, he's still appealing in hopes of the suspension being reduced. I don't really want to fight the length. At the end of the day, I made a mistake. I'm just going to have to do my time, whatever the final decision may be," Bell said. I want to play as many games as possible and be out there with my teammates as soon as possible. Me and Ben [Roethlisberger] have a connection. We're both on the same page all the time. When somebody else is in there, like in the playoff game I missed, you can tell it's a little off. If [as part of a plea deal] they look into all of the community service that I did, the classes I had to take and eventually getting the charges off my record, I feel like it should be something that they consider.
It has been a long year for the NFL and it was flipped upside down about a year ago when Ray Rice infamously knocked his then fiancé unconscious in a casino elevator in Atlantic City, NJ. Despite the video evidence, a New Jersey judge has dismisses the charges and Rice is free to move on with his life. He is eager to move forward with his life and career. "I'm actually done in my case," Rice said. "Really, I just have to call the state of New Jersey once a month. After May 19, I'm done. It will be a full year. It will be like a refreshing start. That's the only little burden that I have. I have until May 19. I don't have anything to do but call and confirm some things with them that I'm not getting into any trouble. It's a real basic phone call and they give me another date for the next month. This year has gone by really fast. It's been a year since the incident. Once May comes, I'll be moving into my new house and I'll sort of feel like a free man by then. You're back to a fresh slate. One thing I learned is to be patient and stay ready."