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State of AFC North: Quarterback drama for Browns; Bell to return soon; Ravens offense still struggling

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Did a bad game have an impact on Brock Osweiler being the favorite for the starting quarterback job in Cleveland? Le’Veon Bell could be returning to the Steelers soon. The Ravens offense continues to struggle without Joe Flacco.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens offense is still struggling after two preseason games without Joe Flacco. Brock Osweiler was the favorite to take the starting quarterback job in Cleveland, but after struggling on Monday night, has that changed? And, more rumors have come out about Le’Veon Bell’s holdout as well as a potential end date.

Baltimore Ravens beat the Miami Dolphins: 31-7

Offense is still concerning

After two weeks of preseason play, the Ravens still have one big concern going into the season. That is their offense. Up front, obviously Joe Flacco has been out, but it has still been a lackluster affair when the Ravens have the ball.

The Ravens have also been riddled with injuries to the point they brought back center Jeremy Zuttah. The Ravens lost Rick Wagner to free agency, and John Urschel retired. The Ravens also brought in Austin Howard, but the line has still struggled, which isn’t ideal considering the team plans to have their 32-year-old with a bad back play during Week 1.

It’s also concerning for the Ravens that their backup quarterback, Ryan Mallett, has struggled so badly. He has been so bad that the camp arm the Ravens brought in, Josh Woodrum, played a little bit with the starters.

Luckily for the Ravens their defense has looked super impressive in game action. They may be relied upon all season.

Baltimore brings Zuttah back

The Ravens made an effort to improve their offensive line by bringing back the player they traded earlier this offseason. Baltimore sent Zuttah to San Francisco to swap sixth-round picks.

The 49ers ended up releasing Zuttah after he failed to really compete for a spot on the offensive line. That doesn’t seem like a very great sign of the caliber of player they are getting. Still, they need depth at the very least and Zuttah doesn’t have to learn the system like an outside player would.

Cleveland Browns beat the New York Giants: 10-6

Osweiler no longer favorite for starting job; Kizer to start this week

Prior to Monday’s game, a report came out that Osweiler had gained the support of several veteran players, and was likely to be named the starter if he played well Monday night. That didn’t happen. Osweiler struggled, and even had a pass batted at the line of scrimmage that turned into an interception. I wouldn’t count it as such a negative if he wasn’t one of the tallest quarterbacks in the league.

This news came after Joe Thomas came out and said he didn’t think DeShone Kizer was ready, even though he has impressed the veteran tackle. Thomas thinks the Browns have been grooming Osweiler to start.

Meanwhile, Kizer came out and lit a spark on offense. He went eight for 13 for 74 yards, and added 35 yards rushing including a rushing touchdown. Kizer may not be the starter Week 1, but how long can Hue Jackson watch Osweiler struggle until he makes the change? He will be starting this week in the third preseason game, AKA the dress rehearsal. It will be interesting to see how he does against the Buccaneers on Saturday.

NFL not considering Gordon reinstatement

Roger Goodell made a semi-surprising statement regarding Josh Gordon.

At this point, nothing with Gordon is surprising. His time in the NFL seems like some sort of East Bound and Down knockoff. After exploding onto the scene, he has struggled to get on the field due to his struggles with the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Gordon was recently rejected for reinstatement back into the NFL in May, and he isn’t eligible for reinstatement until September. I’m sure Gordon will be back in the news at that point, though it doesn’t seem like he’s going to be returning.

Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Atlanta Falcons: 17-13

Some struggles for Pittsburgh

The Steelers’ second preseason game showed they have some concerns going into the season. At least early in the season. The Steelers’ starting defense failed to really slow down Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offense. The Falcons converted five of their six third downs.

One player in particular who struggled was cornerback Ross Cockrell. He is trying to prove he belongs as a starter and was repeatedly burned by the Falcons’ starters.

Still, it is only the preseason, but the Steelers aren’t looking good at this point.

Bell to return September 1; more details on contract

Le’Veon Bell is saying his hold out will end in just more than a week. The Steelers would like to have Bell before then, but at this point just returning seems like a good thing after holding out this long.

The Steelers drafted James Conner in the third round this year, and even though he struggled catching the ball against Atlanta, he still looked like a serviceable backup in the offense if Bell does change his mind and extend his holdout into the regular season.

Bell also was in the news because a rumor circulated that the Steelers and Bell’s agent had a deal agreed upon, but Bell declined it late in the process. This is a hard one to believe. Neither side has really come out and talked about the process all that much with their name attached to it. Most of the rumors have been aimed at making Bell look unreasonable during the contract process, but this one would take it to a new level. Also, the rumor doesn’t really talk specific number or anything like that, so who knows what kind of deal he declined.

I would think if Bell was really that unsatisfied with the deal his agent came to with the team, Bell would probably be looking for a new agent.