Cleveland Browns: Rookie Left Tackle Will Protect Baker Mayfield
Jedrick Wills was officially named the Browns' starting left tackle over the weekend, which is a huge responsibility for a rookie. Cleveland visits the Ravens in Week 1, and Baltimore's defense will test Wills' readiness to handle the job.
Wills played right tackle at Alabama, which makes his switch to left tackle even more challenging without the benefit of preseason games. Browns Offensive Line Coach Bill Callahan admits Wills has made his share of mistakes at training camp, but Callahan has seen enough progress to believe Wills is ready.
"I've gauged his rate of improvement," Callahan said via Cleveland.com. "You'd love to have it much higher, but let's be realistic. I do think the players learn more once they get into the games. That rate of improvement is key. As we move through the schedule and during the season, I just want to see constant improvement."
Baker Mayfield was sacked 40 times last season, more than any quarterback in the division. While Mayfield throws well on the move, he doesn't want to be flushed out of the pocket as often as he was in 2019. How quickly Wills adjusts to his new role will be a key to Cleveland's offense.
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow 'Hasn't Disappointed One Day'
A rookie quarterback is expected to have ups and downs, but the Bengals say Joe Burrow has not been the typical rookie. The No. 1-overall pick had another impressive scrimmage Sunday and Head Coach Zac Taylor is not downplaying expectations, as some coaches do with first-year players.
"He's just been impressive," Taylor told reporters via ESPN. "He hasn't disappointed one day he's been out there."
Burrow has exuded the confidence that teams want to see from their quarterback. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner and college national champion is entering the league with high expectations, but he is approaching his rookie season with swagger and expects his teammates to join him. Cincinnati has talented weapons at wide receiver led by A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and rookie Tee Higgins. Burrow isn't shy about asking them to be playmakers.
"If we have one-on-one coverage I'm going to throw It up to my guys and expect them make a play," Burrow said via CincinnatiBengals.com. "Those aren't 50-50 balls to me. Those are 80-20. Our guys get paid a lot of money to catch footballs, the defense gets paid a lot of money to cover, not catch footballs. So, I'm going to trust my guys and put the balls in the right places."
The one thing Burrow hasn't seen yet is live NFL action. That won't come until Sept. 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers, and Burrow knows opponents will be testing him to see if he's as poised as advertised. Burrow will be doing what he can to protect himself in the pocket.
"The one thing I think I'm a little worried about is not getting hit until the first game," Burrow said. "I've kind of been lobbying to be live in one of these scrimmages.
"I'm going to slide a little bit (in the pocket). I'm getting paid lots of money now. That was my thing all the time was once they start paying money to play this game, I'll start protecting my body a little more."
Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger Throwing Pain Free Post Surgery
Following elbow surgery that required him to miss virtually the entire 2019 season, Ben Roethlisberger assured people that he would return with as much arm strength as ever. That has been the case so far. Roethlisberger's arm has withstood the rigors of training camp and the Steelers quarterback feels like a new man.
"It wasn't like I wasn't able to make the throws, it was the pain and discomfort I'd feel or the next day," Roethlisberger said, via PittsburghSteelers.com. "I feel really good making some of the deeper down-the-field throws. I was surprised at how my arm strength has come back, and maybe a little better than it was before."
With Roethlisberger back, the deep passing game should return to Pittsburgh's offense. Only the New York Jets and Washington averaged fewer yards per game passing last season than the Steelers (276.8 yards).