AFC North Blog
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."
Bengals WR2 Marvin Jones has been cleared for OTAs. Jones had a breakout season in 2013 catching 10 touchdown passes. However, he missed all of 2014 with foot and ankle injuries. He is finally nearing 100 percent and will be back on the field in Cincinnati.
Last season, Bengals rookie quarterback A.J. McCarron was sidelined all but two games thanks to a shoulder injury. He is now fully healthy and cleared for OTAs. He says he feels great and he's ready to compete for the backup job. "I feel like I'm throwing better than I ever have," McCarron said. "Some of the coaches have come to me and told me I look like a totally different person than what they even saw at the end of last season ... I feel great. Body feels great and I feel like I'm slinging it better than I ever have, really."
Terrelle Pryor has made the Bengals and will compete for the backup job. He believes he was brought in for his leadership skills as a seasoned veteran. "I'm sure they wanted to see: what type of leader is he in the huddle?" Pryor said. "I think that's the main thing. Check on that and check out how do I teach the younger guys because they knew that there would be mess ups in terms of formations, protections, whatever the case may be. And see if I could get guys along in terms of that, get guys lined up and let's roll. I think they wanted to see that. But I don't know. You'd have to ask Hue (Jackson) and coach Marv(in Lewis). But you know, I tried my hardest, worked my hardest, and it worked out."
Bengals' second-year quarterback A.J. McCarron is not content with just being a backup. He wants to compete for the starting job and push Andy Dalton to his limits. Not only does he want Dalton's job, he wants his contract. "If you're not going to dream big, then why dream?" McCarron said. "I want to compete. Andy's our starter, I know that. I love Andy to death. Andy's always been there for me. He's been like a big brother to me. But I'm going to compete and try to push him the best I can and have his back – always. He's our starter, I know that, but I want to make him better in every way that I can. Like I told him, hopefully one day me and him can be retired and look back on it and we're both 100 million-dollar guys. That's my dream. And I'll always be that way. So that's what I want to do."
Isaiah Crowell took the first snap of OTAs with the first-team on Tuesday. Crowell is expected to compete with Terrance West and Duke Johnson for snaps this season. This position battle is very much up in the air. Make of this news what you will when it comes to how you expect this position battle to shake out.
Johnny Manziel opened up Browns OTAs as the second-string quarterback. Josh McCown was the top quarterback as expected. Manziel was not assured to be the QB2, he could have easily been with the third-team offense. A seemingly great offseason, from a personal standpoint, has clearly renewed at least some faith in him from the coaching staff.
Browns' head coach Mike Pettine both praised and clowned Terrance West after OTAs on Tuesday. "Other than what he did to his hair, he's been great," Pettine said. West apparently died a patch of his hair blonde since we've seen him last. Isaiah Crowell opened the day as the starter, however, it sounds like West made some strides of his own after spending some time in the dog house last season.
The reigning NFL Fantasy Football MVP Le'Veon Bell says his knee is now nearly back to 100 percent. The same knee he hyperextended Week 17, when he said it was only at 50 percent. Bell also commented on his three-game suspension and his arrest last summer. "I learned my lesson and it made me a better man and person. It's going to make me a better player," Bell said. "Everybody has their own opinions about me, but that's fine. I can't make everybody like me and I can't make everybody hate me. I just have to continue to move forward and continue to be me. I know I'm a great person and a great football player, so I have to continue to be on and off the field."