Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow Living With Parents, Throwing to High School Teammates
This has been a unique offseason for everyone, including the NFL's No. 1 draft pick, Joe Burrow. Restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and scheduling conflicts have prevented Burrow from hooking up with teammates for workouts.
Burrow has been throwing former high school teammates and learning the Cincinnati Bengals' playbook via Zoom while living with his parents in Athens, Ohio.
It's all part of offseason improvising, and it will continue into June with Burrow calling plays on conference calls as if he's calling plays in the huddle. Much of Cincinnati's success this season will depend on how quickly Burrow adapts as a rookie quarterback.
"It remains to be seen how effective that will be, but it's better than not doing it," Offensive Coordinator Brian Callahan told ESPN. "Now, at least those guys can hear each other communicate, and that's the biggest thing we try to get to.
"He has a really, really good feel for understanding protection schemes and how to get himself protected and where his issues are in the protection scheme, so that part has been really impressive. He's dialed in. He comes into the meeting and competes."
When he's not studying, Burrow has been throwing to buddies who played with him at Athens High School, including Ryan Luehrman, who is a tight end at Ohio University. It's hard for Luerhman to simulate fleet Bengals receivers like A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, but Luerhman says Burrow takes every rep seriously.
"I mean, it's his job now," Luerhman said. "He's just solely focused on that even more than I've seen than when he was in college and from high school. It keeps growing and growing, his amount of attention to detail and focus."
Cleveland Browns: Could Everson Griffen Be on Browns' Wish List After Being Spurned by Jadeveon Clowney?
Looking for pass rush help, the Cleveland Browns have reportedly pursued free agent Jadaveon Clowney but have been rebuffed so far, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Could free agent Everson Griffen be Cleveland's Plan B? Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer suggested that pursuing Griffen would make sense for the Browns. Head Coach Kevin Stefanski is very familiar with Griffen from their days together with the Minnesota Vikings.
Griffen had some productive numbers last season with 24 quarterback hits and eight sacks while playing 78 percent of the snaps. The Browns ranked 20th in the NFL in sacks last season with 38, but adding a pass rusher like Griffen to join Myles Garrett could make a significant difference.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Cam Heyward Faces Crucial Contract Year
Having made the Pro Bowl the past three seasons, Steelers defensive end Cameron Hayward is a key part of the defense and has spent his entire nine-year career with Pittsburgh. However, Hayward is entering the final year of his contract and isn't sure what his future holds.
"I have truly enjoyed being a Pittsburgh Steeler," Hayward told The Athletic. "Man, I hate talking about it in the past tense like I am already gone, but I have to be ready for that reality if it comes about. If my time is up, my time is up."
Hayward has produced 29 sacks over the last three years, including nine sacks last season. At age 31, he's still a productive player and will be highly motivated to prove that this season.
"We haven't had any talks of late, and it may be due to the virus, I don't know," Hayward said. "I don't know if their minds have changed. I understand their policy and respect their policy. If I have to play this year and go into next year as a free agent, then so be it. That's not going to deter me from being the best teammate, the best person, the best player I can be."