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Around the AFC North: Bengals Deal With Uncertain Timetable for Joe Burrow's Return

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) participates in a drill during the NFL football team's training camp, Thursday, July 27, 2023, in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) participates in a drill during the NFL football team's training camp, Thursday, July 27, 2023, in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow Uncertain for Week 1 As Teammates Remain Optimistic

The Bengals have announced that franchise quarterback Joe Burrow will be out "several weeks" after his calf strain at training camp last week.

It remains to be seen if Burrow will be back when Cincinnati opens the regular season at Cleveland, or Week 2 when the Bengals host the Ravens. However, his teammates remain cautiously optimistic that Burrow won't miss any time during the regular season.

"I know about calf strains all too well." Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard said via Geoff Hobson of "They're really painful. They're not the end of the world, but they do linger a little bit. I think he and the training staff will do the right thing to take care of this in training camp and be ready to go."

Backup quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Jake Browning are competing to be Cincinnati's No. 2 quarterback and will handle practice reps until Burrow returns.

Missing time during training camp is nothing new for Burrow. Last season the Bengals started 0-2 after Burrow was stricken with appendicitis on the first day of training camp and missed 19 days. He was back in time for the regular season, but the Bengals started sluggishly on offense and didn't score 30 points in a game until Week 6.

However, Head Coach Zac Taylor isn't worried about Burrow being rusty whenever he returns.

"Joe got more days in this July than he's ever had in the NFL," Taylor said. "I feel good about the progress in the July practices with Joe."

Cleveland Browns: Jimmy Haslam Weighs in On 'Unfair' Speculation Surrounding Kevin Stefanski

The Browns are coming off 8-9 and 7-10 seasons after making the playoffs in 2020. Some have speculated that Head Coach Kevin Stefanski needs to get the Browns back into the playoffs to secure his future beyond the 2023 season. However, Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam said it was "unfair" to call the 2023 season a make-or-break year for Stefanski.

"I'm not going to go there, I'm not going to," Jimmy Haslam said via Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan. "That's not fair to anybody to do. It could be extremely extenuating circumstances. I just say we're all excited about this year.

"I think it's really dangerous to say now or never. The NFL is unbelievably competitive and our division -- I mean, just Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, us – most people think is the toughest division. Are we excited about this year? Yes. To say it's now or never, I think it'd be grossly unfair."

Haslam said he has faith Stefanski will maximize the talent on the roster and benefit from having quarterback Deshaun Watson for a full season after his 11-game suspension to start 2022.

"I think he's a good coach," Haslam said. "I mean, he proved it in the first year, did a tremendous job. Second year we had some bumps and bruises with Baker and his injury, etc. And last year was just, it was difficult.

"We're in a much better position just overall than we were last year."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Kwon Alexander Joins Revamped Inside Linebacker Group

The Steelers have signed veteran inside linebacker Kwon Alexander, the team announced Sunday. Alexander, who will turn 29 years old on Aug. 3, started 12 games for the Jets last season and will compete with Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts among others for a starting role.

Alexander made the Pro Bowl in 2017 with Tampa Bay and has 590 tackles, 12.5 sacks and eight interceptions during his eight-year career. Following his first practice with the Steelers on Sunday, Alexander said he would accept any role the Steelers have in mind. He visited with Pittsburgh in May and took his time making a decision.

"I wasn't rushing it, being patient," Alexander told reporters. "It worked out for the best. Any kind of role they need me to play, I'm going to be there."

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