Around the AFC North: Ben Roethlisberger Is Sharp in Preseason Debut

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QB Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh Steelers: Big Ben Flourishes in Preseason Debut

With the Steelers running a new offense under first-year Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada, Ben Roethlisberger wanted to see some game action during the preseason. Roethlisberger got his wish Saturday against the Detroit Lions, and he came out firing. Playing Pittsburgh's first three series, Roethlisberger connected on eight of 10 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns during Pittsburgh's 26-20 victory.

Head Coach Mike Tomlin was pleased with Roethlisberger's tuneup. Many starting quarterbacks haven't seen action yet during the preseason, but Tomlin wanted to get Roethlisberger some work.

"I thought we got what we wanted to get accomplished," Tomlin said via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. "I thought he did a great job of communicating. He made good fluid decisions and we were able to move the ball."

The 39-year-old Roethlisberger played the 2020 season after recovering from elbow surgery, but he feels stronger entering this season, giving the Steelers optimism that their starting quarterback is ready to withstand the rigors of another season.

"My arm feels pretty good to last year," Roethlisberger said. "I felt good, but I didn't know how it should feel. It feels pretty good right now."

Cincinnati Bengals: Are Dropped Passes a Concern for Ja'Marr Chase?

When the first wide receiver taken in the draft begins to drop passes, it's going to become a talking point. Ja'Marr Chase, the fifth-overall pick who is expected to make an instant impact in Cincinnati's offense, had three drops during Friday night's preseason loss to Washington. On Sunday, Chase dropped two more passes in practice.

Chase was targeted three times Friday and didn't catch pass, and he may be feeling the pressure of high expectations. However, Head Coach Zac Taylor insisted the Bengals were not second-guessing their decision to draft Chase over offensive tackle Penei Sewell or other players who were under consideration.

"By no means are we down on Ja'Marr," Taylor said via Ben Baby of ESPN. "He's just going through some of the things rookies go through in training camp, and we expect him to improve over the course of this week."

Drops were not an issue for Chase at LSU. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he had just six drops in 124 targets during his final college season (2019), helping the Tigers win a national championship with 1,780 yards receiving and 20 touchdowns. However, Chase sat out the 2020 season, and now he's adjusting to NFL game speed. Having made the decision to draft Chase, the Bengals hope he will fix his issues with drops quickly.

"The expectations are so high that you expect him to be a star right out of the gate," Taylor said. "But it takes work. You gotta put in the work. That consistency comes over time."

Cleveland Browns: Greedy Williams Injury May Result In Starting Role for Newsome

The battle between Greedy Williams and rookie first-round pick Greg Newsome II to start at cornerback may be decided by injury. Williams left Sunday's game against the New York Giants with a groin issue, which could pave the way for Newsome to open the season starting at corner opposite Denzel Ward.

The Browns did not immediately say how long Williams would be out, but Newsome has enjoyed a solid training camp, consistently making plays in practice.

If Newsome wins the starting job, he'll have a tough assignment Week 1 when the Browns open against the Kansas City Chiefs, but Head Coach Kevin Stefanski likes the mature demeanor Newsome has displayed.

"When you are playing defensive back, it is an occupational hazard to get beat," Stefanski said via Cleveland.com. "He is so diligent about his work, understanding his job, understanding his techniques. Some vets have some really crafty moves that you are going to see. It is only going to make him better."

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