Around the AFC North: Trade for Joe Schobert Strengthens Steelers Linebackers

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LB Joe Schobert

Pittsburgh Steelers: Trading for Joe Schobert Adds to Defense

New Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joe Schobert had a whirlwind 72 hours, traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday and practicing with the Steelers for the first time on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Schobert has been a productive linebacker with at least 100 tackles the past four seasons, along with 11 career sacks and nine interceptions. He started his career with the Cleveland Browns (2016-19), so he's very familiar with the AFC North. The Steelers sent a sixth-round pick in 2022 to Jacksonville in exchange for Schobert, and he was practicing with the first team on Sunday opposite inside linebacker Devin Bush.

"We're very excited about having him," Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin said via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. "We're familiar with him. Former AFC North guy, been highly productive in every circumstance that he's been in.

"He's a sideline-to-sideline tackler, he's good in coverage, he has coverage production in terms of interceptions, he has sack production. He plays well-rounded game and so we're excited about infusing him into what we do."

Schobert expects to wear the green dot on his helmet this season as the defensive signal caller for the Steelers. That means he'll need to know the defense inside and out, and he's already working overtime getting up to speed.

"I don't know how many reps I'll get before it'll feel great, before I'll feel 100 percent comfortable making all the calls and communicating with everyone on defense," Schobert said. "But I think it'll be a pretty fluid, pretty easy process, especially with all the veterans."

Cincinnati Bengals: New Deal for Jesse Bates III Doesn't Sound Imminent

Jesse Bates III is one of the Cincinnati Bengals' best players, a second-team All-Pro selection in 2020 who was ranked as the NFL's best safety by Pro Football Focus. Entering the last year of his rookie deal, the 24-year-old Bates hoped to sign a new contract this offseason, but ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported that the Bengals and Bates have not made progress.

Interviewed by the Bengals radio team of Dan Hoard and Dave Lapham, Bates did not sound pleased, but vowed not to let the situation become a distraction for him.

"I think as far as my contract goes, I guess I haven't done enough yet to be one of the top safeties in this league, which is fine," Bates said via SI.com/Bengals. "I'm going to work just like any other day, my first three years being here. I think this will probably be the last time I speak on the contract just because I think it can get a little messy as far as thinking about it too much."

Bates may be forced to play this season uncertain about his long-term future. However, Head Coach Zac Taylor said he did not expect Bates' performance level to decline despite the contract impasse.

"He's been a total pro," Taylor said via Ben Baby of ESPN.com. "He's having a great camp. Jesse embodies everything we want the Bengals to be about. When we define a Bengal, Jesse Bates fits that description."

Cleveland Browns: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah Has Impressive Debut

The Browns are not rethinking their decision to draft Notre Dame inside linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round. Owusu-Koramoah had a sparkling preseason debut against the Jacksonville Jaguars, quickly diagnosing a screen pass to make a tackle for loss, and blitzing to register a sack.

Owusu-Koramoah played 47 snaps and looked fully recovered from spending time on the Reserve/COVID-19 list earlier in camp. Head Coach Kevin Stefanski did not dismiss the possibility of Owusu-Koramoah competing for a starting job.

"He did make splash plays," Stefanski said via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal. "Made a nice play on that screen. He needs to clean up his eye progression, and he understands that and the coaches are working very hard. To really play fast in this league, it's when you're not thinking, and I think he's getting there."

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