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Around the AFC North: Jacoby Brissett Prepares to Hold Down the Fort for Browns

Cleveland Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett throws during an NFL football practice in Berea, Ohio, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Cleveland Browns: Jacoby Brissett Prepares to Start Until Deshaun Watson Suspension Ends

Now that the length of Deshaun Watson's suspension has been set at 11 games, veteran Jacoby Brissett is the Browns' starting quarterback heading into the season. Brissett didn't play in Cleveland's 21-20 loss to the Eagles on Sunday, as Joshua Dobbs and Josh Rosen played the entire game competing to be Brissett's backup.

Rumors persist that the Browns may pursue a trade for veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and Brissett has a career 14-23 record as a starter. However, Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said he trusts Brissett in Watson's absence. Brissett has backed up Tom Brady and Andrew Luck during his career.

"His career has uniquely prepared him for this," Stefanski said via Peter King of NBC Sports.

Brissett said he's not being distracted by the controversy surrounding the Watson suspension.

"I never worry about all that stuff on the outside, really," Brissett said. "I tell myself to stay ready and actually believe it. I knew what I was getting myself into when I signed up for this job. We set a plan when we first started this thing, and we've been going along with our plan. That's why I think you see none of us really stressing with whatever's going on on the outside."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett Strengthens Case to Win Starting Job

Kenny Pickett's second straight impressive performance has more people wondering if he will open the season as Pittsburgh's starting quarterback.

Playing against Jacksonville's starting defense Saturday night, Pickett went 6-for-7 for 76 yards and a touchdown and executed a flawless two-minute drill for the second straight week. The rookie ended his night with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Benny Snell that capped a five-play, 63-yard drive touchdown drive that took just 42 seconds.

Mitch Trubisky has started both preseason games, and Head Coach Mike Tomlin has not named his starter for the regular season. But in two preseason games, Pickett is 19-of-22 for 171 yards and three touchdowns and has been more impressive than Trubisky and Mason Rudolph.

Pickett only played two series, and Tomlin wouldn't say after the 16-15 victory in Jacksonville if Pickett had moved closer to winning the competition. However, he was impressed with how Pickett moved the team in the two-minute drill, and his ability to play well in clutch situations was a trademark in college at Pitt.

"It's probably who he is," Tomlin said via the team’s website. "I know he did it next door (at Pitt). He probably did it in high school. Some things people are born with."

The Steelers (2-0) will play their final preseason game Saturday when they host the Lions, giving Tomlin another game to weigh his quarterback options before the regular season begins.

Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow Has Jessie Bates' Back in Contract Dispute

Now that Joe Burrow has returned to practice following his appendectomy, starting safety Jessie Bates is the biggest piece missing from the Bengals' roster.

Cincinnati placed the franchise tag on Bates, but he hasn't signed his contract, so he's not subject to fines while holding out. Bates attended the Bengals' preseason opener and watched from a suite, but there has been no indication from either side that a deal is imminent.

The Bengals have a deep another talented veteran safety in Vonn Bell and first-round safety Dax Hill, brother of Ravens running back Justice Hill, has been impressive during the preseason. Hill is expected to play regularly even if Bell returns, however, Bates was a second-team All-Pro in 2020 and is one of the Bengals' most respected players. Burrow made it clear that he had Bates' back in contract negotiations.

"Jessie's business is his business," Burrow said via "When he's ready to come back, we'll be excited to have him. Obviously a great player, great person, great friend. So when his business is over, we'll welcome him back with open arms."

Bates will make $12.91 million this season if he signs the tag before the start of the regular season.

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