Skip to main content
Presented by

Around the AFC North: Russell Wilson Bonding Quickly With Steelers Teammates

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in Denver. The Broncos won 16 - 9.
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in Denver. The Broncos won 16 - 9.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Russell Wilson Has Quickly Assumed Leadership Role

Russell Wilson isn't wasting time bonding with his new Steelers teammates.

Tight end Pat Freiermuth and wide receivers Calvin Austin and Van Jefferson were recently in California with Wilson, working out and running routes. It's part of Wilson's plan to build chemistry as quickly as possible since being traded to the Steelers last month, and Freiermuth said the process is going well.

"I was just down there in San Diego with him working out and throwing routes," Freiermuth said on the Around the 412 Podcastvia Pro Football Talk. "He's been great at talking to guys and starting to build that connection. He's a great guy. You can tell the drive and determination that he has to win and come to Pittsburgh and win some playoff games for us. I think he's going to fit our culture and locker room really well."

Only four teams averaged fewer points per game than the Steelers last season (17.9), but Freiermuth believes the Steelers will be far more potent with new Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith.

"I've had a lot of conversations with Coach Smith," Freiermuth said. "He's been great. The preliminary stuff in the offense looks great. Obviously, tight ends are going to be used heavily. I'm excited for that expanded role."

Cincinnati Bengals: Geno Stone's Arrival Could Mean New Role for Dax Hill

The Bengals revamped their safety position during free agency, signing ex-Raven Geno Stone and Vonn Bell, who started 13 games for Carolina last season.

That could mean a new role for Dax Hill, a first-round pick in 2022 who started at safety in 2023. Hill is a versatile talent who played both safety and corner at Michigan, and Head Coach Zac Taylor said the Bengals will try to take advantage of his multidimensional skillset.

"We've got a lot of DBs and we'll find the best way to utilize them," Taylor said via Geoff Hobson of "We've got high expectations for Dax. We drafted the talent. One thing about Dax is he served a lot of different roles at Michigan and here. We'll continue to assess as the offseason goes and that could evolve over the course of the summer."

Hill, brother of Ravens running back Justice Hill, led the Bengals in defensive snaps last season. Taylor indicated Hill will continue to be a major piece of Cincinnati's defense.

"We still have high expectations for Dax," Taylor said. "It was great this year for him to get on the field with the amount of snaps he was able to play and the different situations he was in. That's only going to serve us well."

Cleveland Browns: Nyheim Hines Expects to Bounce Back Strong From Injury

Nyheim Hines hopes to be a playmaker for the Browns in 2024 as both a running back and returner.

Hines suffered a knee injury during a jet-skiing accident last year and missed the entire 2023 season with Buffalo. He was released by the Bills in March and signed with the Browns, and Hines said he's had time to reflect on his costly accident.

"I could do better not putting myself in that situation," Hines said on the “Up & Adams Show.” "It was a freak accident, but I've learned my lessons from that mistake."

Cleveland has questions to answer regarding its running back rotation. Nick Chubb is still rehabbing after a serious knee injury, and the Browns may draft a running back, adding to a room that already includes Jerome Ford, D'Onta Foreman and Hines.

However, Hines can also contribute on special teams. The new kickoff return rules should benefit Hines, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns with Buffalo in 2022. Hines said his rehab is going well and that his explosiveness is returning.

"I'm feeling a lot better than I did even a month ago. There's been progress," Hines said. "I've been hearing the whole return-specialist thing. I'm not that. I believe I play offense, but returning is something I love to do as well. I like to do both."

Related Content