AFCN Roundup: Bengals sign Terrelle Pryor

Former Buckeye joins Bengals, but Andy Dalton can rest easy...

Cincinnati Bengals Sign QB Terrelle Pryor to Compete for No. 3 Spot

A face familiar to Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive coordinator Hue Jackson joined the team this week, with Cincinnati signing former Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor following a tryout during the team’s minicamp, the Bengals announced on Monday. Pryor, taken in Round 3 of the 2011 Supplemental Draft, was the last player selected by late Raiders owner Al Davis.

Pryor entered the Supplemental Draft after withdrawing from Ohio State, a move made after an NCAA investigation into Pryor and a number of his collegiate teammates revealed that Pryor had received improper benefits. Because of his involvement in the scandal, the NFL suspended Pryor for the first five games of his rookie season.

Pryor did not suit up as a starter for the Raiders until the final contest of the 2012 season, against the San Diego Chargers. In the 24–21 loss, Pryor completed 13 of his 28 passes, for 150 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed nine times for 49 yards and one score. He ultimately earned the Raiders’ starting job in 2013, but after nine starts he was sent to the bench, both for poor play as well as an MCL injury that limited his mobility. In 2013, Pryor completed 57.4 percent of his 272 pass attempts, for 1,798 yards and seven touchdowns to 11 interceptions. He carried the ball 83 times, for 576 yards and two scores.

The Raiders traded Pryor to the Seattle Seahawks in April of 2014, with Oakland receiving the Seahawks’ 2014 seventh-round draft pick in compensation. The Seahawks ultimately released Pryor in their final round of roster cuts that year, and despite a number of workouts with other teams, he did not land with another NFL team until now.

Pryor said he is “very excited” about his opportunity with his new team, saying “[w]hat a great opportunity to be with great coaches and a great organization.” He added, “Hopefully I showed the coaches I can not only be a leader, but I have the foundation to get better.” Jackson, Pryor’s former coach in Oakland, said “That’s a different quarterback. The guy I had was coming right out Ohio State and whatever that was and didn’t have the first six weeks and I didn’t have an opportunity to have a word with him. I had him for one day in training camp and then we got him, the season had already started, so this guy’s improved. He’s a very talented young man. But again, we’ll see where we are.”

The signing does not put starter Andy Dalton’s job in peril and it likely also has little affect on the presumed No. 2 in Cincinnati, A.J. McCarron. Instead, Pryor will be battling it out with another veteran free agent signing from this offseason, Josh Johnson, for the Bengals’ No. 3 quarterback position.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Steelers Avoid Facing Tom Brady in Week 1

The Pittsburgh Steelers were set to face a difficult challenge in Week 1 of the 2015 NFL season, with the team scheduled to kick off the season in Foxborough against the reigning Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, on Thursday, September 10. Making matters worse, the Steelers would have to do so without their leading rusher, Le’Veon Bell, who is set to serve a three-game suspension stemming from a 2014 DUI arrest.

But things might have just gotten a little easier for the Steelers, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for his role in the Patriots’ illegally deflating footballs below the league-mandated PSI. Though Brady will appeal and though that appeal could reasonably reduce his suspension to two games, that still leaves the Steelers with an unexpected advantage.

The Steelers are currently in the throes of rebuilding their secondary. Free safety Mike Mitchell should reprise his starting role, but it is as of yet unknown who will be taking over for Troy Polamalu at strong safety. Their cornerback situation is also as murky—William Gay should start, but the Steelers will have to decide between veterans Cortez Allen and Antwon Blake and rookies Senquez Golson and Doran Grant to fill out their other two positions on outside and the slot. With so much uncertainty—and with the possibility that a number of young, inexperienced players could be starting in the secondary this year—avoiding Brady in Week 1 is a benefit.

Still, the Steelers will have to contend with backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and, more importantly, tight end Rob Gronkowski. If Garoppolo can reliably connect with Gronkowski, Pittsburgh’s coverage unit could get as much of a workout as they would with Brady under center. But with the Steelers going 3–7 against the Patriots during Brady’s tenure, this could be a welcome reprieve.

Baltimore Ravens: Ravens Make Roster Cuts, Including a TE and a QB

The Baltimore Ravens are currently in the roster-juggling business that all teams are in the throes of as they prepare for the next phase of their offseason workouts. The Ravens re-worked the bottom half of their 90-man roster on Tuesday, with Ryan Mink of reporting that they have cut three players, including one who had seemed destined for additional playing time in Baltimore.

That player is tight end Phillip Supernal, who spent the parts of the 2014 season with the Ravens on both their active roster and the practice squad, and who ultimately caught two passes for 27 yards with the team. He also had one, three-yard reception during a brief stint with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014. With veteran Dennis Pitta suffering a broken and dislocated hip that ended his past two seasons early, it was believed that Supernal could provide depth at the position behind Crockett Gillmore. But with the Ravens drafting two tight ends this year—Maxx Williams in Round 2 and Nick Boyle in Round 5—Supernaw’s presence became superfluous, even though he was signed to an exclusive-rights free-agent tender in April.

Another release was quarterback Keith Wenning, a Ravens’ sixth-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Wenning spent his rookie year on the practice squad, with the Ravens opting to keep just two quarterbacks on the active roster. Starter Joe Flacco appears capably backed up by offseason signing, Matt Schaub, thus making Wenning’s services no longer needed. If the Ravens choose to employ a No. 3 quarterback or to keep one on the practice squad this year, the battle will come down to Bryn Renner and rookie free agent signing Jerry Lovelocke.

The Ravens also released underafted rookie linebacker Davis Allen. The moves were made in order to make room for a trio of undrafted rookies who recently tried out with the team—guard Leon Brown, wide receiver Daniel Brown and inside linebacker Andrew Bose.

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