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Around the AFC North: Kenny Pickett Runs With Third-Stringers at Steelers OTA's

Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

Kenny Pickett was the only quarterback drafted in the first round this year, but the Steelers are making him earn his stripes.

Pickett has been working with the third string at OTAs behind Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph. It's early in the quarterback competition and Pickett is taking his current place on the depth chart in stride.

"It's kind of what I was expecting, just come in here and earn everything I get," Pickett said via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.

The competition to succeed Ben Roethlisberger as the Steelers' starter after his 18-year run will be one of the NFL's most closely watched training camp battles. Despite the Steelers' decision to draft Pickett with the No. 20-overall pick, opinions vary as to who will start Week 1. Chris Simms of NBC Sports gives the early edge to Trubisky.

Judy Battista of NFL Network believes Pickett will take over as the starter at some point, even if it's not Week 1. The Ravens don't play the Steelers until Dec. 11.

"The only question is how quickly he will be ready to supplant Mitchell Trubisky as the better option," Battista wrote.

Pickett was often described as the most "pro ready" quarterback in the draft. According to Quarterbacks Coach Mike Sullivan, Pickett is attacking OTAs with a workmanlike attitude.

"Kenny Pickett, coming in, working his tail off," Sullivan said via Joe Clark of Steelers Depot. "I gotta kick him out of the room. I mean he's always in there, putting in extra effort."

Cincinnati Bengals: Ja'Marr Chase Expects to Better His Breakout Rookie Season

Don't talk to Ja'Marr Chase about a potential sophomore slump.

After 81 catches and an NFL-rookie record 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns that helped the Bengals reach the Super Bowl, Chase thinks he can up top those numbers in 2022. Chase is already writing his individual goals on his mirror, although he won't reveal them – yet.

"They're a little more than last year, like catches and yards," Chase said via Jay Morrison of The Athletic. "I've still got to find my touchdown minimum. I'll give y'all the list maybe before training camp."

Chase plans to devote more attention to the mental side of the game. He learned the value of studying film as a rookie after Browns cornerback Denzel Ward had a pick-six against the Bengals when he cheated on a poor route run by Chase.

"Horrible route by Ja'Marr Chase," Chase said. "Horrible. I didn't sell the route and I didn't give eyes. It was just bad all the way around."

Chase believes paying attention to small details will make him a more dangerous receiver, a scary thought for defensive backs.

"Last year I was just out there running routes, having fun again," Chase said. "Now I've got all the small details down, like learning how to set people up before the next route. And I feel more comfortable with the offense. Maybe I can move around a little more when we see different things on film. I feel like all of that's going to make me a lot better this year."

Cleveland Browns: D'Ernest Johnson Re-Signs to Join Running Back Rotation

The Browns strengthened their running back depth behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt over the weekend when D'Ernest Johnson re-signed on a one-year deal. The deal is worth $2.43 million, according to Mary Kay Cabot of

The 26-year-old Johnson was a key reserve back for the Browns last season, rushing for 534 yards and three touchdowns and delivering when Chubb and Hunt were injured. He also caught 19 passes for 137 yards, and his return gives Cleveland one of the league's deeper running back rotations.

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