Around the AFC North: Ben Roethlisberger Having Fun Working With New Offensive Coordinator

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In this June 11, 2019, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws as offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner watches during NFL football practice in Pittsburgh. Fichtner has a message for players who think everything will be easy now that star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has returned from an elbow injury that limited him to two games in 2019. "Don’t think that maybe I can take a deep breath and say, “Ah, Ben’s back,'" Fichtner said Wednesday. "That’s not the case. That’s not going to be the charge."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger Learning New Offense at OTAs

The Pittsburgh Steelers are tweaking their offense in Matt Canada's first season as offensive coordinator. Ben Roethlisberger has enjoyed learning the new playbook at OTAs, and the 39-year-old quarterback welcomes the challenge.

"There's a lot of new," Roethlisberger said via Joe Rutter of TribLive. "For someone who has had a very similar offense for a very long time, verbiage-wise, it's taking some extra studying. It's a fun, new challenge. Guys are getting it, and hopefully it translates into winning football."

After scoring at least 24 points in their first 10 games last year, the Steelers only reached that total once the remainder of the season. After an 11-0 start, they went 1-5 the rest of the way, including a Wild-Card Weekend playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Former Offensive Coordinator Randy Fichtner's contract was not renewed, and Canada was elevated from quarterbacks coach to spice up Pittsburgh's attack. Possible changes may include a heavier dose of the running game led by rookie running back Najee Harris, more pre-snap motion, and more jet sweeps featuring wide receiver Chase Claypool. Despite his experience, Roethlisberger is relying on Canada's judgement to decide what's best.

"I told him that I know this is your offense, and he's like, 'No, no, this is our offense,'" Roethlisberger said. "But I'm like, 'No, it's yours.' And I'm just really trying to do everything I can to be open to the new challenge and say, 'OK, I'm learning.'"

Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett Puts Offseason Basketball on Backburner

All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett enjoys playing basketball, and anyone who gets in his way could wind up being posterized.

However, Head Coach Kevin Stefanski isn't thrilled about the possibility of Garrett being injured during a pickup game. Stefanski had a succinct response when asked about Garrett playing offseason hoops.

"He's retired," Stefanski said last week via Nick Shook of NFL.com. "He's done."

Stefanski wouldn't say if he had a conversation with Garrett about his basketball playing. But Garrett jokingly indicated that he had received Stefanski's message, although he left open the possibility of a return to the hardwood in his future.

"I feel like it's more of a (Michael) Jordan retirement," Garrett said. "I've got to go back to what I'm good at, what I usually do, playing football, rush the passer, stopping the run. Next season, you never know. I might go back to basketball, I might go play baseball, see if I can get on a team. There's more on the horizon but I've got to get back to what my main focus is."

Cincinnati Bengals: Ja'Marr Chase Will Attack From Both Outside and Slot

After drafting dynamic wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase with the fifth-overall pick, the Bengals are planning to use their new weapon in a variety of ways.

Former Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals this offseason, lined up almost exclusively outside during his 10 years in Cincinnati. But Chase was dangerous from both the slot and outside at LSU. In 2019 when Chase helped the Tigers win a national championship with 84 catches, 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns, he lined up in the slot nearly 40 percent of the time.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Chase were teammates at LSU, so their chemistry is already established. Now the Bengals are looking forward to using Chase's versatility as an asset.

"What I really like about Ja'Marr is he has the size and speed to play outside and the physicality," Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor said, via Ben Baby of ESPN.com. "He also has the quickness and the body control to play inside as well."

If the Bengals can protect Burrow in the pocket, their receiver group could become one of the NFL's most explosive featuring Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.

"We have some great receivers, great weapons at our disposal," Burrow said. "Just have to utilize them properly."

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