AFC Update: Arrests And Legal Issues Continue Across NFL
By Christian S. Kohl
Baltimore Ravens: DL Terrence Cody is not expected to be ready to play at the start of training camp. Chances are he’ll be ready to go week 1, but unlikely to impact as much as the Ravens brass hoped in a role behind Haloti Ngata. John Harbaugh also reportedly is “in love” with several free agents remaining on the market, but failed to elaborate which players he is currently eying.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are not expected to reach a long term deal with DL Michael Johnson, making him unlikely to return next season. In more encouraging news, Bernard Scott remains on track to play in week 1 after tearing his ACL. Lastly, in bad news for the NFL, TE Ben Utecht was awarded close to a million dollars against the Bengals after a trainer in 2009 cleared him to play after a major concussion during training camp.
Cleveland Browns: The progress of converting DL Jabaal Sheard to outside linebacker is reportedly going smoothly. While this and some other positional moves like rotating Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor are encouraging, the Browns fans still continue to hold their breath to see if the investigation of the truck stop company Pilot Flying J will result in owner Jimmy Haslam selling the franchise. More on this as it develops.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The attention this week in Pittsburgh remains on the progress of QB Ben Roethlisberger as he recovers from knee surgery. This story obviously drowns all others for the Steelers in terms of significance, and all signs point to him fully recovering in time for week 1. Jarvis Jones also continues to impress on the defensive side of the ball.
Houston Texans: In a continuation of last weeks’ report, rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins is reportedly progressing quickly and learning the Texans offense with relative ease. Houston hopes he will complement Andre Johnson as Julio Jones does Roddy White, though the number of healthy years Johnson has left in the tank remain, as always, a question mark.
Indianapolis Colts: The Colts will happily take a slower news week this week, with the only real news involving their punter. Pat McAfee is not expected to sign a deal and instead accept the franchise tender, the first player to do so for Indy since 2005.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags inked Denard Robinson to a four-year deal this week, and is expected to be a versatile contributor in their attack. Jacksonville also signed rookie WR, and super hero alter ego name Ace Sanders to a four-year deal. At 5’7”, Sanders will have to make a superhuman effort to really become a league impact player. In that vein, Maurice Jones-Drew is expected to be healthy and ready to play at the start of training camp.
Tennessee Titans: Two WR were the news emerging from Tennessee this week, more specifically Justin Hunter and Damian Williams. The Titans are excited about Hunter’s ability to contribute this year if he can manage to stay healthy, and Williams has apparently secured himself a spot on the final roster.
Buffalo Bills: Uncertainty continues to rule in Buffalo. No starter has yet been named, and Jairus Byrd is not going to sign a long term deal, which may result in a holdout. Brad Smith also remains on the chopping block, but still currently has a jersey on his back.
New England Patriots: Nothing but bleak news emerging from New England. Rob Gronkowski has yet to resume running, and is nowhere near the field. Even worse, DB Alfonzo Dennard was arrested on Thursday for suspicion of DUI. On probation due to a prior assault conviction, Dennard could now face possible jail time.
New York Jets: In a true rarity this week, a bold prediction emerged from the Jets camp. Thirty-year-old once effective tight end Kellen Winslow is aiming to catch 100 passes this season. In actual games. No word whatsoever on which QB might be throwing him those passes, as the (non) story of the week for NY is Geno Smith electing not to join Mark Sanchez for voluntary workouts in California.
Miami Dolphins: Rookies for the Dolphins are finding themselves in unfavorable positions on the depth chart this week. RB Mike Gillislee is expected to enter training camp firmly behind Daniel Thomas on the depth chart, and Number 3 overall pick Dion Jordan is not expected to earn a starting job by week 1.
Denver Broncos: Off season legal issues seldom pertain to front office executives, but that is the story this week from Denver. The arrests for DUI of personnel directors Tom Heckert and Matt Russell may well result in hefty fines from the league in addition to the suspensions the Broncos organization doled out on Monday.
Kansas City Chiefs: Contract talks continue with T Branden Albert. Albert already signed a franchise tender, so no holdout is forthcoming. Whether or not a longer term deal can be hammered out is unclear, though reportedly the Chiefs have yet to extend a formal offer.
San Diego Chargers: Little news emerged from Charger nation this week, aside from another condemnation of the abilities of Phillip Rivers by ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski. While it’s currently unclear if Jaws actually respects the play of literally any QB currently in the NFL, it’s imperative for Rivers to recover from his difficulties last year for San Diego to have any realistic chance to compete this year.
Oakland Raiders: LB and enemy of spell-check Kaluka Maiava was charged with property damage and a misdemeanor assault as part of an alleged brawl in Hawaii. This comes just days after signing a multi-year deal with Oakland, and Maiava may face discipline from the league.
In an off season rife with disciplinary issues, arrests, and legal issues, kickoff weekend can’t come fast enough. If nothing else, it reminds us the player news pertains to football, and is not fodder for a network legal drama. Hang in there until then, and check us out next week for the latest updates around the AFC.
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Christian S. Kohl is a sports contributor for CBS Local Digital Media.