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Around the AFC North: Baker Mayfield Looks Sharp in Browns Preseason Finale

QB Baker Mayfield

Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield Ends Preseason on High Note

Baker Mayfield wanted to play in the Browns' preseason finale, and he left no doubt he is ready for Week 1.

Leading the Browns on a touchdown march during Sunday night's 19-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Mayfield looked sharp while completing six of 10 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. Mayfield played just two series, but he departed with a mic drop. His final toss was a 22-yard dime to KhaDarel Hodge in the corner of the end zone.

Expectations in Cleveland are sky-high, with the Browns coming off their first playoff season since 2002. How Mayfield plays will have a large bearing on Cleveland's fate, and he can't wait to get started.

"I know our guys are ready," Mayfield said via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal. "They've been itching to go. Just all that preparation you put in throughout the offseason and ever since you lost to the Chiefs in January, we've been working to this point right now, and I think our guys are ready to go."

The Browns have a chance for revenge in Week 1 when they visit Kansas City , one of the marquee matchups of opening weekend. Head Coach Kevin Stefanski didn't deny it's a game the Browns have been thinking about for some time, and after an undefeated preseason, Cleveland will turn its full attention to the Chiefs.

"There are areas we have to get better," Stefanski said. "Obviously, we'll talk about (the Chiefs) as we get closer to the season, but it's certainly a challenge."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Rookie Tight End Pat Freiermuth Figures Prominently in Plans

Head Coach Mike Tomlin didn't see much he liked during Pittsburgh's final preseason game, a 34-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers that he described as “junior varsity.”

However, second-round tight end Pat Freiermuth has been impressive since minicamp and figures to be a key part of Pittsburgh's offense. Freiermuth had two touchdown catches in Pittsburgh's second preseason game against the Detroit Lions, and Tomlin said the rookie from Penn State has been a quick study.

"I don't think he's shown us anything different than what he's shown us throughout every component of the process," Tomlin said via Alex Kazora of Steelers Depot. "Even dating back to minicamp."

The Steelers have been impressed with Freiermuth's body control and catch radius.

With veteran tight end Eric Ebron, Freiermuth gives the Steelers more ability to run two tight-end sets and provides quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with another target to compliment his deep group of wide receivers. Roethlisberger has already compared Freiermuth's skill set to former Steelers tight end Heath Miller, but the quarterback doesn't want the rookie to get a big head.

"He's doing good," Roethlisberger said. "Let's not talk about him too much. He works hard. He's a Steeler. He reminds me of another tight end we've had here before."

Cincinnati Bengals: Injury Woes Continue for Cornerback Trae Waynes

Veteran cornerback Trae Waynes has yet to play a regular-season game for the Bengals since signing a three-year contract as a free agent in 2020. He missed all of last season with a pectoral injury, and now it appears he may not be ready for Week 1 after suffering a hamstring injury last week.

The Bengals have not given a timetable for Waynes' return, but Malik Wright of Wrightway Sports Network reported Waynes could be out from two weeks to a month.

The Bengals are expected to start Eli Apple if Waynes misses time, but the Bengals hope Waynes can finally make his Bengals debut before too long.

"Well, any starter that's got an injury is obviously a concern," Head Coach Zac Taylor said via the team’s website. "It's pretty fresh, just happened a couple of days ago. We want to give it some time and see how it goes. Those things can heal real quickly or they can linger, so we'll just kind of see how it goes and take it day by day."

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