PITTSBURGH STEELERS (13-4)
OPEN CAMP: July 26 Cody Whitehair Jersey , Latrobe, Pennsylvania
LAST YEAR: Steelers won second straight AFC North title and third in four years as ”Killer Bs” trio of QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell received plenty of help from rookie WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and defense that gave up big plays but also led NFL with 57 sacks. Still, Steelers had trouble when pushed by quality teams. They let second-half lead get away at home against New England, loss that cost them home-field advantage in playoffs. And they couldn’t find way to beat Jacksonville, which won at Heinz Field not once but twice, including divisional playoff upset in which seemingly offensively challenged Jaguars put up 45 points.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: S Morgan Burnett, LB Jon Bostic, rookie S Terrell Edmunds, rookie WR James Washington, rookie QB Mason Rudolph.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: Offensive coordinator Todd Haley, defensive backs coach Carnell Lake, WR Martavis Bryant, S Mike Mitchell, CB William Gay, S, Robert Golden Jake Fisher Jersey , LB Arthur Moats.
CAMP NEEDS: Steelers promoted longtime QB coach Randy Fichtner to take over play-calling duties after Haley’s successful if occasionally turbulent six-year stint ended in January. Fichtner doesn’t expect to give offense massive overhaul, though he will be forced to experiment during camp at running back with Bell unlikely to show while he waits to sign one-year franchise tender. One year after finding potential star in Smith-Schuster, Steelers hope they’ve done it again with Washington after record-setting career at Oklahoma State. Race to fill injured inside linebacker Ryan Shazier’s spot is wide open, with Bostic and Tyler Matakevich getting first crack at lining up next to Vince Williams. Secondary is also being overhauled with Mitchell, Golden and Gay gone.
EXPECTATIONS: Steelers once again expected to be class of AFC North. While Roethlisberger thinks he can play another handful of seasons, Pittsburgh’s window could be closing faster than he anticipated. Front office failed to reach long-term agreement with Bell, meaning this will likely be his final season in Pittsburgh. Steelers have proven they can be productive without him, but elite? That’s tough sell, putting onus on them to get it done this season. Better play in secondary would help. So would some consistency at outside linebacker, where Bud Dupree remains enigma as he enters fourth season.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-7)
OPEN CAMP: July 18, Owings Mills, Maryland
LAST YEAR: Ravens missed playoffs for third straight season, falling to Cincinnati in finale when victory would have earned Baltimore playoff berth. Though Ravens posted winning record for first time since 2014, disappointing finish was takeaway from season in which quarterback Joe Flacco struggled and defense played well in spurts. Telling statistic from 2017: Flacco averaged 5.7 yards per attempt, more than half-yard less than his previous low for single season.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: QB Lamar Jackson, WR Michael Crabtree, WR Willie Snead Greg Mancz Jersey , TE Hayden Hurst, QB Robert Griffin III, WR John Brown.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: WR Jeremy Maclin, WR Mike Wallace, RB Danny Woodhead, CB Lardarius Webb, WR Michael Campanaro, defensive coordinator Dean Pees.
CAMP NEEDS: Ravens need to solidify offensive line, because heavy-footed Flacco will need time in pocket to be effective. Team will determine its starting center in camp, and can only hope rookie tackle Orlando Brown can shore up right side of line. Best lineman on team, guard Marshal Yanda, participated in only two games last year, so depth at that position is must.
EXPECTATIONS: Ravens hope busy offseason will help get them back into playoffs and make some noise in January. General manager Ozzie Newsome, who will step aside after season, worked hard to get Flacco variety of targets – most notably Crabtree and Snead. New defensive coordinator Don Martindale promises more aggressive scheme and return to day when Ravens’ defense was nasty and effective. It’s uncertain how nimble QB Jackson will blend into mix, but Ravens spent good deal of time at minicamp finding ways to get him on field.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (7-9)
OPEN CAMP: July 26, Paul Brown Stadium
LAST YEAR: Missed playoffs for second straight season. Coach Marvin Lewis got two-year contract extension despite 0-7 playoff mark Marvin Harrison Jersey , worst in NFL history. He’s entering 16th season with Bengals, who have yet to win playoff game since 1990 season, longest active postseason drought in NFL and sixth longest in league history. Bill Lazor was promoted to interim offensive coordinator two games into season and retains role, given freedom to overhaul unit that finished last in yards. Teryl Austin was hired as defensive coordinator, replacing Paul Guenther, who joined Jon Gruden with Raiders.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Lazor, LT Cordy Glenn, C Billy Price, QB Matt Barkley, LB Preston Brown.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: LB Vontaze Burfict (suspended for first four games for violating NFL’s policy on performance enhancers), QB AJ McCarron, C Russell Bodine, CB Adam ”Pacman” Jones, RB Jeremy Hill.
CAMP NEEDS: Getting adjusted to Lazor’s overhauled offense and getting new pieces in place on line are overriding concerns. Austin is expected to stay with similar defense, but there will be competition for spots in line rotation. Once again, Bengals will spend preseason planning for Burfict’s absence – third straight season he’s been suspended by league. Bengals took gamble and signed TE Tyler Eifert to one-year deal loaded with incentives, hoping he can add to group that was subpar last season Nolan Cromwell Jersey , but he was hurt again for training
The Ravens are planning to put rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson on the field a lot this season, but they’re going to make him earn it.
That’s why, when the Ravens published their first depth chart of training camp today, they listed Jackson as the third-string quarterback. Joe Flacco is first, of course, and Robert Griffin III is second.
By the time the season starts, Jackson is a near-lock to have moved ahead of Griffin. (In fact, Griffin may not even make the 53-man roster.) But the Ravens are favoring veterans over rookies, in a sign that coach John Harbaugh wants the rookies to prove themselves.
Jackson’s fellow first-round rookie, tight end Hayden Hurst, is actually listed as the fourth-string tight end. And third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr., who has a good chance at earning the starting right tackle job, is for now listed as second string.
At this time of year, teams’ official depth charts don’t mean much. The Ravens’ depth chart says more about the way the team motivates its rookies than about the team’s actual plans for its rookies.
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