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Around the AFC North: Kevin Stefanski Likes What He's Seeing From Deshaun Watson 

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up during NFL football practice, Wednesday, May 24, 2023, in Berea, Ohio.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up during NFL football practice, Wednesday, May 24, 2023, in Berea, Ohio.

Cleveland Browns: Kevin Stefanski Likes What He's Seeing From Deshaun Watson

The Browns expect big things from Deshaun Watson in 2023, and Head Coach Kevin Stefanski believes his quarterback is ready to deliver. 

In his first season with Cleveland, Watson served an 11-game suspension to start 2022 and had a lukewarm performance over the final six games (seven touchdown passes, five interceptions, 58.2% completion rate). But Stefanski has seen a much sharper Watson during OTAs and believes he will carry that comfort level into the regular season. 

"I would just tell you he's done a really nice job throughout this entire offseason of being diligent about understanding the] playbook, understanding his teammates every single day,” Stefanski said [via Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal. "There are always going to be things that you want to get back and do a little bit differently. That's no different than every player at every position, but he's right where he needs to be." 

The Browns put the future of their franchise in Watson's hands when they traded three first-round picks to the Houston Texans for him and signed the franchise quarterback to a $230 million fully guaranteed contract. As recently as 2020, Watson led the NFL in passing yards (4,823) and yards per completion (12.6), which is the level of play the Browns are looking for.

Giving Watson more weapons to work with, Cleveland signed wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and tight end Jordan Akins in free agency and traded for former Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore. During OTAs, Moore says Watson has looked like a quarterback determined to have a bounce back season. 

"For what he has done years before and for what I have seen him do in practice time and time again, and just the offseason work as far as the type of person he is, you can't do nothing but be confident in what type of person and what he's going to do out there," Moore said.

The Browns are also reportedly a dark horse candidate to sign free agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins played with Watson in Houston and is reportedly "open" to signing with the Browns, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

"Pairing him with Amari Cooper would deepen the intrigue in the AFC North," Fowler wrote. "Cleveland GM Andrew Berry has been very aggressive this offseason in bolstering the defense, and signing Hopkins would be a nod to maximizing Watson's window."

Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Watt Is Bullish on Attending OTAs

As a five-time Pro Bowler, outside linebacker T.J. Watt has firmly established his importance to Pittsburgh's defense. Still, the 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year has been a regular attendee at voluntary OTAs, hoping his presence sets the tone for his teammates. 

"This time of year is always super important," Watt said via Teresa Varley of "That is why we are all here. We are just trying to get better each and every day. Trying to grow, trying to learn from each other. Trying to learn how we practice, how we do things here in Pittsburgh. Also being open minded to the guys who are veterans and have done things successfully in other places." 

Watt's health is always a key to Pittsburgh's season. The Steelers were 8-2 with Watt in the lineup last year, but 1-6 when he missed seven games with a torn pectoral muscle. 

Watt is fully recovered from that injury, but he was fortunate to escape unscathed after accidently falling into his swimming pool recently. He posted the mishap on social media and the clip went viral.

"I am good. I don't know how I missed the step, but I did," Watt said. "A lesser athlete would have got hurt. 

"The only reason I posted it is because I wasn't hurt. It was all in good fun. I put it in the group chat, and they are like it's too funny not to post. You might as well just post it."

Cincinnati Bengals: Fourth-Round Pick Could Be Newest Addition to Joe Burrow's Arsenal

The Bengals already have a wealth of wide receivers led by Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. However, the Bengals spent a fourth-round pick on wide receiver Charlie Jones, who blew up at Purdue last season with 110 catches for 1,361 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

The 6-foot, 188-pound Jones is making a strong first impression at OTAs as both a slot receiver and punt returner. Bengals rookie cornerback DJ Turner went to Michigan and squared off against Jones in the Big Ten. There is no rush for Jones to become a playmaker with the Bengals, but Turner believes the rookie can become another go-to target for quarterback Joe Burrow. 

"Wherever he is, you better know where he is," Turner said via Ben Baby of ESPN. "Because if you don't, it can get bad. Quick."

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