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AFC North News Watch: Day 14

With most of the NFL’s key personnel congregated now at the league’s annual meetings, there has perhaps not been quite as much action in terms of free agent movements, but we have been able to use this opportunity to get a lot of meaningful dialog out of said personnel, including those who are most responsible for what goes on in the AFC North.

On Sunday, we got the opportunity to hear quite a lot from Kevin Colbert, the general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yesterday, it was head coach Mike Tomlin’s turn to address a number of different topics as it pertains to the team’s plans for the immediate future.

A day after re-signing outside linebacker James Harrison, Tomlin commented on the position, saying that Harrison, Jarvis Jones, and Arthur Moats had all better be able to play on both the right side and the left side of the formation.

All three outside linebackers have played primarily as weakside right outside linebackers—as a matter of fact, all three of them started at least three games there, with none of them starting a single game on the left. That position was manned by Jason Worilds for all 16 games, plus the postseason, but he has since retired.

Tomlin also spoke about new defensive coordinator Keith Butler and the expectations for the defense under him in his first season. in particular, he was asked about what changes could be expected, saying that he is “looking forward” to seeing his “spin on what we’ve been doing”.

What changes come about, he said, however, remain to be seen, saying that that is largely predicated on what “tools” they have to work with in terms of personnel, and how best to maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses. The roster itself has changed fairly significantly, so it should be no surprise to see changes in how the defense is run.

Regarding the Cleveland Browns, the organization has yet to be told if they will face any discipline for the ‘Textgate’ incident. There also did not appear to be strong opposition toward the idea of appearing on Hard Knocks.

When it came to recent rumors that team owner Jimmy Haslam would want to jump ship to the Tennessee Titans, however, as was suggested by Jason LaCanfora, a spokesman for the organization called the rumor “100 percent false. There’s no truth to the careless speculation from this reporter”.

A day after seeming to suggest that they would likely not seriously consider using the franchise tag in the future, is appears that the message has changed somewhat today for the Cincinnati Bengals when it comes to A.J. Green, who still has a team fifth-year option available. The logic is that the team simply has so many upcoming free agents that if they can delay addressing Green’s long-term contract situation, it will be for the best.

Baltimore Ravens owner Dick Cass was adamant in denying that the team has not set a new standard for conduct after three players were quickly released following arrests this offseason, and that each player is taken on a case by case basis. In addition, the organization has requested that the league schedule both of their away games on the west coast in back-to-back weeks.

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