AFC NORTH ROUNDUP: Steelers to Honor Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis in October, More
Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame later this summer, and the Steelers will be honoring him on their own during the regular-season, the team announced on Wednesday. He will be presented with his Hall of Fame ring on October 1st at Heinz Field, during halftime of the Steelers’ Thursday Night Football contest against the rival Baltimore Ravens.
The choice of opponent is not a coincidence. Much like “Mean” Joe Greene chose to have his jersey number retired during a Steelers’ game against the Ravens, Bettis has made the same choice, reports the Pittsburg Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo. Bettis will initially be inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 8th, with the Steelers then facing the Minnesota Vikings in the Hall of Fame Game on the following night.
Bettis spent 13 years in the NFL, 10 of them with the Steelers. On his career, he has the sixth-most all-time rushing yards, with 13,662, with over 10,000 of those yards earned with the Steelers. He scored 91 career rushing touchdowns, 78 in Pittsburgh, including nine more in the postseason. He’s also surpassed 1,000 rushing yards eight times in his career, leading to six Pro Bowl appearances and two times as a First-Team All-Pro.
Bettis’ former head coach, Bill Cowher, spoke to Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley about Bettis’ Hall of Fame nod and said, “For a big man I don’t think there was a back that had better feet. His ability to jump cut in a hole, his ability to throw a great body lean. Just everything he did. He was able to do it consistently year in and year out. He was so durable. He was there every Sunday.”
He also praised Bettis as a person, saying, “There has never been a more selfless person. It was never about Jerome, it was always about the team. When you see a guy who is selfless, dependable and tough, with the consistency he brought every week, the amount of emotion he brought to the game, the professionalism and fun he brought to the game. He was a joy to be around. There was a time to work and a time to play. It was great to have a guy like him in the locker room.”
Nearly a week after releasing quarterback Terrelle Pryor—who is now with the Cleveland Browns as a wide receiver—the Cincinnati Bengals signed free-agent quarterback Keith Wenning to their roster. Wenning was a sixth-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2014 and spent the entire season on the practice squad before being released in May of this year.
Wenning appeared in two preseason games for the Ravens last year, completing two of his four attempts for 23 yards in the team’s second game against the Dallas Cowboys and eight of his 13 attempts for 117 yards, no scores and no interceptions in Baltimore’s Week 4 preseason win over the New Orleans Saints.
Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson predicts that Wenning will be on Cincinnati’s practice squad this year, “with a strong preseason,” and notes that Wenning has “an above-average arm with good accuracy and the ability to sit in the pocket.” Still, that doesn’t mean he’s going to be beating out anyone else currently on the Bengals’ roster at quarterback.
Wenning, like Pryor before him, will be the Bengals’ fourth-string quarterback headed into training camp, behind starter Andy Dalton, his backup A.J. McCarron and third-stringer Josh Johnson. In four years at Ball State, Wenning completed 63 percent of his passes, for 11,402 yards and 92 touchdowns, while throwing only 42 interceptions.
Rookies May Not Start for Baltimore Ravens?
Given the Baltimore Ravens’ roster holes relative to the players and positions they drafted this year, it seems inevitable that at least one rookie will be taking starting snaps in 2015. But Baltimore Beatdown’s Matthew Stevens says that may not be the case—and that there’s nothing wrong with that if so.
Round 1 pick, wide receiver Breshad Permian, has an uphill battle according to Stevens, because “[w]ith young players like Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, DeAndre Carter, and even Jeremy Butler all showing a lot of positives during OTAs, Perriman has to find a niche for himself in that group.” Stevens also added that “the Ravens seem to have liked what they've seen from Butler and Aiken especially. Both are big players with good speed, in a similar mold as Perriman and will likely be used in a similar fashion.” As such, Perriman’s “willingness to be a hybrid wide receiver will benefit him in the long run,” but as a rookie he may be “used sparingly.”
In Round 2, the Ravens selected tight end Maxx Williams, not just to add a passing target for quarterback Joe Flacco but also to provide insurance if the injured Dennis Pitta is forced to call it a career later in the offseason. But Stevens notes that Pitta isn’t the issue: “Even if Dennis Pitta is unable to come back, Crockett Gillmore is the guy to beat for that starting job,” writes Stevens, who noted that it’s been Gillmore who has been getting most of the first-team reps during offseason practices. With Gillmore the starter, Williams “could end up being a short yardage or red zone player in his first year.”
Defensive lineman Carl Davis won’t be a starter mainly because “the Ravens do already have a pretty set defensive line with Brandon Williams, Chris Canty/Brent Urban, and Timmy Jernigan.” Stevens continues, “Davis will certainly be in the rotation during the season, but being a starter isn't likely for him unless an injury happens somewhere and the Ravens feel good enough about him to push him up there.” Stevens predicts that Davis will finally come into his own in Baltimore in his third season.