The Cleveland Browns are rebuilding, but they seem to be making progress on offense already. The Ravens are trying out their rookies at multiple positions. Le'Veon Bell is feeling confident with his knee recovery, and he is looking to take that next step in returning from such a serious injury.
The Ravens are looking to rebound after a very disappointing season. To do this Baltimore must make sure that Joe Flacco stays upright and healthy all season. That is why the Ravens spent such a high pick on Ronnie Stanley, so they could have the luxury of a starting left tackle for years to come. On Saturday though, the Ravens and Stanley had a scare as Stanley left practice early with an injury and didn't return.
The only details released so far is that the injury is believed to be a soft tissue injury, and that it doesn't seem to be serious. Stanley was also seen in the locker room looking fine. The Ravens will know more once tests are run.
This news is coming on the heels of the Bengals losing their first round selection, William Jackson III, for awhile, if not the entire season. The Ravens also know what it's like to be without their first round pick. Last year Breshad Perriman missed the whole season due to a knee injury that took longer-than-expected to heal. The Ravens seemed to luck out this time.
The Ravens spent a lot of their draft picks on the defensive front seven. Four to be exact. That doesn't even include the three college free agents they added after the draft either. Since the Ravens don't have a particular need, and they generally play around with multiple fronts, it makes sense they are trying the rookies out in different spots. Baltimore is also well versed in having to deal with injuries after last season, so have these rookies being able to fill in at multiple spots is useful to the team.
This approach isn't limited to the defensive side of the ball however. Baltimore is also moving fourth round pick Alex Lewis along the offensive line at guard and tackle. Part of this is because Lewis comes in having played tackle in college, but the Ravens see him more as a guard in the future.The more he knows how to do though, the better.
The Ravens were in a fortunate position in this past draft. They had a fairly well-off roster and a high pick. They have seemed to parlay that into drafting for the future, and to provide depth for a team that spent most of its season recovering from injuries.
The quarterback race in Cleveland, which many believed to have been a forgone conclusion, seems to be nearing an end. Robert Griffin III has strung together several nice practices in a row at camp. He has been throwing with good velocity and accuracy. Combine that with Hue Jackson commenting that he is very close to making a decision, and the Josh McCown trade rumors, and the result probably won't shock anyone when it comes out. Except for maybe Jay Gruden, Griffin's former coach who very publicly criticized the former second-overall pick.
When the Browns gave Griffin a two year deal the intent was pretty clear. Even though the Browns had the second overall selection at the time, Griffin was signed to be the bridge quarterback to Cleveland drafting or developing a young franchise quarterback. If he played well, then good for him and the Browns. It'd probably make them more bearable to watch, but if he didn't pan out then the Browns had a perfect excuse to trot out whatever young quarterback they had to see what he was capable of.
Then again, while fans are praising Griffin so far in Cleveland, these are the same people who became use to Johnny Manziel playing meaningful football. That sort of helps a player look good...
It didn't take long for Corey Coleman to start catching the eyes of everyone at Cleveland's training camp. Coleman scored 20 touchdowns during his senior season at Baylor, and so far in camp he hasn't slowed down. Several coaches and players have noted that while the rookie is still learning, when he has the ball is in his hands, he knows how to get things done.
While Josh Gordon is serving his suspension, the Browns will rely heavily on Coleman in the passing attack. Jackson is great at adjusting his scheme to fit his players strengths, so expect quite a few quick passes to Coleman early to let him work in the open field this season.
Former Bengals wide receiver Cobi Hamilton has been signed by the team's AFC North rival in Pittsburgh. Hamilton spent some time with the Dolphins last season though he has yet to record an NFL statistic. We'll see how he fares in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers were dealt a devastating blow when they received word that Senquez Golson will miss around 12 weeks with a Lisfranc injury. The Steelers were already thin at corner before the injury, and now they've had to make moves for depth purposes. The Steelers cut wide receiver, Shakim Phillips, to make space to sign cornerback Kevin White. It is important to note the the Steelers haven't placed Golson on an injury list so he still counts against the 90 man roster. Clearly the Steelers are holding out hope for a speedy recovery that might lead to Golson being able to add some depth earlier in the season than halfway through the year.
Le'Veon Bell has made a career of avoiding tackles but being able to take big hits. Though, his most recent big hit ended his 2015 season and began a lengthy road to recovery for a medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligament tear. But now, Bell is feeling pretty good and even wants a few more practice reps.
"As long as my knee's not swelling or having any setbacks, I will continue to do more," Bell said via ESPN. "My first day running, March 1, I had a vision I'd be ready around this time. This is my goal to be out here ready to compete."
Bell wants to work his knee slowly back to where it needs to be to shoulder the running load that will be thrusted upon him when the regular season begins, but the Steelers would be wise to bring Bell along slowly. There is very little to gain from having Bell taking significant snaps in training camp and risk losing him past his possible four game suspension. As such, Steeler fans shouldn't expect to see much of Bell during the preseason.