AFC North Blog
ESPN Bengals reporter said TE Tyler Eifert had "attention-grabbing receptions" in the first day of training camp. This comes after there were some worries that Eifert wouldn't be ready to go for camp while still healing from a shoulder injury. All systems are a go for the second-year tight end with Jermaine Gresham on the PUP list due to a back injury.
ProFootballTalk reports that Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice will be suspended two games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. Rice was caught on tape striking his wife unconscious in an Atlantic City casino elevator on February 15. He originally faced a felony assault charge, but enrolled in a pretrial intervention program that will allow him to avoid jail time. Rice will miss the first two games of the season against the Bengals and the Steelers.
"And the best competition might be Ben Tate and our guy Terrance West from Towson, who I really like'' were the words of Browns head coach Mike Pettine speaking about the teams running back competition. The Browns signed RB Ben Tate in the offseason from the Houston Texans, and then also drafted RB West in Round 3 and immediately signed undrafted free agent RB Isaiah Crowell. It was initially thought Tate was brought in to be 'the guy' but this new information shows there will actually be competition for the starting spot. Browns camp is one to watch as there is also a high profile battle for QB duties between rookie Johnny Manziel and veteran Brian Hoyer.
The Bengals have placed tight end Jermaine Gresham on the Physically Unable to Perform list. The fifth-year vet is still recovering from hernia surgery. His absence is expected after he didn't participate in OTAs or minicamp, but he should return prior to Week 1.
Update: Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says via a source that West will be practice Friday despite today's placement on the NFI. The Browns' first full-squad practice is Saturday. This looks to be much ado about nothing.
ESPN's Pat McManamon reports that the Browns will enter training camp with Hoyer slotted in as the team's starter. Browns head coach Mike Pettine has high praise for Hoyer's dedication to his job, pointing out that he only took five days off over the entire offseason. Pettine left the door open for Browns QB Johnny Manziel to overtake Hoyer for the starting job, but said of Hoyer, "We're confident we have a quarterback here in Brian who can win games for us."
Browns beat writer Nate Ulrich says he has Tate 'penciled in' as the starting RB in Cleveland, despite competition for the spot. Rookie Browns RB Terrance West is also vying for the top roster position. For his part, Tate doesn't believe there's much competition to be had. "There's no one that can touch me or that's close to what I do," Tate said, when asked about the possiblity of losing carries to other Browns backs.
ESPN has more details about Browns receiver Josh Gordon's pending DWI charges. Apparently he blew a .09 when he was pulled over in North Carolina, which is .01 over the state's legal limit. Browns coach Mike Pettine also said he knows a hearing date has been scheduled but does not know exactly when. The league is currently waiting on a ruling from that hearing in order to determine what additional suspension, if any, will be included in his suspension from failing his third drug test in NFL.
Everyone should agree that there is a lot of room for opportunity inside the Browns' receiving corps. Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins are expected to open the season atop the depth chart, but injuries have been a huge part of their NFL story in recent seasons. No. 3 wideout, Nate Burleson, will turn 33 next month.
Beyond tight end Jordan Cameron, the Browns' passing offense is one big question mark. Perhaps youngster Charles Johnson can provide some answers. The 25-year-old wideout is the team's "most intriguing prospect," according to Tom Reed of Cleveland.com.
Johnson, a seventh-round pick of the Packers in 2013, stands at 6-foot-2 and blazed a 4.38 40-yard dash at his pro day. He was claimed by the Browns in October, but they found out soon afterward that Johnson had a torn ACL. He didn't participate in OTAs, but head coach Mike Pettine said "it looks pretty good" that Johnson will be healthy by the start of training camp later this week.
Pierce has been cleared to participate fully in training camp, according to Ravens reporter Aaron Wilson. Pierce underwent rotator cuff surgery this offseason, but his recovery apparently will not be an issue going forward. Entering his third year with the Ravens, Pierce is stil behind RB Ray Rice on the depth chart. In 2013, Pierce carried the ball 152 times for 436 yards, averaging 2.9 yards per carry.