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Bengals Bytes (7/24): Crashing the party

How the Bengals can crash the postseason party and avoid missing the playoffs for a second straight year. Isaiah Crowell hires Drew Rosenhaus for his upcoming contract negotiations. Larry Fitzgerald says he won’t cry when it is time to retire.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Minicamp Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

John Ross, Joe Mixon lead youth movement for 2017 Cincinnati Bengals
If rookies Joe Mixon and John Ross don't bring enough excitement coming into training camp, then linebacker Carl Lawson might. After one of their biggest drafts in years (11 players selected), the Bengals head into camp bolstered by a youth movement that not only includes the aforementioned rookies but also linebacker Kevin Minter, who should take over Rey Maualuga's old spot in the middle.

Bengals' 5 camp questions: When will Eifert, Bernard play?
It seems an annual rite of summer to wonder about the health of Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, but the 2015 Pro Bowler has said all along he should be ready to participate fully in training camp and all indications are that will be the case when camp opens. Surprisingly, running back Giovani Bernard looks like he’ll be cleared to participate as well come Friday after rupturing his left anterior cruciate ligament just eight months ago.

How Cincinnati Bengals can crash the postseason party
The scenario isn’t a complicated one. If the Bengals are going to make a return to the playoffs, they have to start fast and stay focused. There are no promises in the NFL. Wait. That was an outright lie. The league will chew you up and spit you out, if you’re not prepared. So, outside of help from the football gods, there are no guaranteed endings. Any fairy tale stories about Cinderella crashing the postseason party starts with confidence.

Bengals Xtra: Burfict, Eifert extensions not clear-cut
Training camp is upon us, and while it signifies the return of the Cincinnati Bengals to the football field it also means the opening of the window for contract negotiations with some players who would be in line for extensions. For the Bengals, that typically means those players who will be unrestricted free agents after the current season. The list is currently 16 players long and is headlined by Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert and Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

Bengals 2017 Position Breakdown Part VI - Linebackers: How do parts fit best?
This marks the sixth of a seven-part series detailing each position group for the Bengals heading into training camp, which begins on July 28. This part analyzes the linebackers with a look at who are locks to make the 53-man roster when it's finalized on Sept. 2, who are likely to make it, who is in the mix to make it and who are longshots to make it

AFC North Bytes

Michael Campanaro Opens Training Camp on Physically Unable to Perform List
Wide receiver Michael Campanaro will open training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. The fourth-year receiver was placed on the PUP list Friday when quarterbacks and injured players reported for training camp. Campanaro suffered a toe injury in late May and missed the rest of the offseason program. The Ravens hoped that Campanaro would be able to return from the injury in time for training camp.

Browns RB Isaiah Crowell hires super agent Drew Rosenhaus to help him get paid in contract year
Heading into his contract year and dismayed to not yet have a long-term deal, Isaiah Crowell has brought in heavy hitter Drew Rosenhaus to help him get paid. Crowell, who signed his one-year tender worth $2.746 million in May and joined the voluntary off-season program shortly thereafter, has parted ways with Universal Sports Management agents Robert Brown and Kevin Conner, and has signed with Rosenhaus Sports.

Mike Mitchell on 2017 Steelers defense: “If we aren’t No. 1, we aren’t good enough.”
It isn’t a secret anymore who carries the Pittsburgh Steelers team to success, and that is the team’s dynamic offense. Quite the 180-degree turnaround from the success the team saw in the early 2000s when they were anchored by one of the all-time best defenses in NFL history. However, as was evident in 2016, the Steelers can’t get to the promised land, ending in another Super Bowl victory, without a defense who can keep the opposition at bay, even some of the time.

Random Bytes

Halftime: The 50 Most-Watched Sporting Events of 2017 (So Far)
The NFL owns the ten largest sports audiences of the year, led as usual by the Super Bowl. In a rarity, neither the AFC nor NFC title games took second-place. That distinction belongs to Packers-Cowboys in the Divisional Round, which had 48.5 million viewers.

A Q&A with Charlotte Wilder of SB Nation on her climb up the journalism ladder and writing about the “fringes of sports.”
Every week we will run a Q&A with a wonderful reporter to talk about what’s right and wrong with journalism, their interests and random other stuff. Some are friends. Some are just people whose work we really respect. Some cover sports. Some don’t. Hopefully all will be interesting. This week, it’s with Charlotte Wilder of SB Nation.

Larry Fitzgerald Talks Retirement, Says He Won't Shed a Tear When the Time Comes
Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald isn't planning for his retirement just yet, but he knows his eventual announcement won't come with a tear-filled goodbye. "That's not how I am," he said, per Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. "I'm just one player out of 1,600 in the National Football League and it's a lot bigger than me. It's never going to be like that."

Jerry Jones Backs Ezekiel Elliott, Says There's No Evidence of Domestic Violence
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott awaits a decision from the NFL about its investigation into alleged domestic violence from July 2016, but he still has the support from his team's owner. "I have reviewed everything, and there is absolutely nothing—not one thing—that had anything to do with domestic violence," Jerry Jones said Sunday, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com.