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AFC North: Whitworth's Cincy Status, More

In this weeks' AFC North Roundup, Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth wants to retire in Cincinnati, the Ravens deny tipping the Colts off about the Patriots' alleged deflated footballs and the Steelers release their first preseason depth chart ahead of Sunday's Hall of Fame Game

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth knows that the writing is on the wall about his tenure with the team he's spent the last 10 years with, all of them as a starter. The Bengals used their first two draft picks this year on offensive tackles, taking Cedric Ogbuehi in Round 1 and Jake Fisher in Round 2, with the anticipation that the Bengals will move on from both or either of Whitworth and right tackle Andre Smith in a year's time.

But Whitworth is focused on trying to get a new deal done with his long-time team, one that will allow him to retire a Bengal. Using an analogy, Whitworth said on Tuesday, via ESPN's Coley Harvey, that, "When you get married you tell your wife that she's the only one you want to marry, but if she doesn't want to marry you there isn't a thing you can do about it," adding, "That's my intentions. But I can want to be married to whoever but if they don't want the same, it don't matter."

Whitworth was Pro Football Focus' second-ranked offensive tackle for the 2014 season, allowing zero sacks, one quarterback hit and a mere eight hurries while playing 1,057 snaps on offense. He also graded out well as a run-blocker, making him an asset in every aspect of the Bengals' offense. But Whitworth is 33 years old, turns 34 in December and has a 2015 cap hit of $6.2 million. With the Bengals needing to pay for other key free agents, like receivers A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu along with a number of others on defense, Whitworth's considerable price tag may not be an affordable one for the team next year.

It's a matter of whether Ogbuehi or Fisher can do enough in their rookie years to warrant either man taking over for Whitworth next year. But Whitworth is not going out without a fight. "I'd love to be here with them but I don't know if the opportunity will present itself or not," said Whitworth, but, "I have no intention of being done [here]."

Baltimore Ravens: Ravens Did not Tip Colts Off About Deflated Patriots Footballs

Ever since the New England Patriots' Alleged Ball Deflation Scandal of 2015 (working title) surfaced earlier this year, the Baltimore Ravens have been one team linked to tipping off other teams or the league about concerns they had about the Patriots' footballs. On Wednesday, though, the Ravens' top brass publicly denied that they had any involvement outside of a brief discussion surrounding kicking balls.

There are documents, though, that seem to indicate otherwise. Along with the NFL Players Association's release of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's appeal hearing testimony were other documents related to the investigation of the supposed equipment infraction, including an email sent from Indianapolis Colts' equipment manager Sean Sullivan to Colts general manager Ryan Grigson. In it, reports The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec, Sullivan alleges that Ravens' special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg called Colts head coach Chuck Pagano to give him a heads-up that something may be amiss with the Patriots' kicking balls in the Colts-Patriots conference championship game.

In response, the Ravens released a statement on Wednesday, via the team's official website. The team's statement reads, in part, that "Prior to the AFC Championship game, no one from the Ravens talked to the Colts about deflated footballs. We knew nothing of deflated footballs." Roseburg also released a statement saying, "On or about January 12, 2015, Chuck Pagano called me to ask about a punt-field goal substitution play that New England used against the Ravens in the Divisional game… Coach Pagano wanted to know about New England's substitution because the coaching video does not show that part. There was no conversation regarding footballs."

Head coach John Harbaugh added, "I learned this morning that our kicking consultant [Randy Brown] sent a text to Coach Pagano on Jan. 16 suggesting to the Colts that they pay attention to how the officials rotate the kicking balls into the game. Coach Brown's text did not mention the Patriots and did not complain about anything the Patriots did."

The Ravens provided the text message Brown sent to Pagano, which reads: 

"Make sure the refs rotate the kicking balls cause last week they wouldn't let our ball in the game. Their ball was done so poorly that it was nearly impossible to kick off deep…It was hard and not worked in well at all… Let Tom [McMahon, Colts special teams coordinator] know he can call me at any time."

It looks like yet another case of nothing to see here, as the NFL continues to look ever-more foolish in their unsubstantiated allegations against the Patriots and Brady. Brady, the NFL and the NFLPA will attend a hearing regarding Brady’s four-game suspension on August 12.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Steelers Release First Depth Chart of Preseason

The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the first teams to open training camp this year, because they are taking on the Minnesota Vikings in Sunday's Hall of Fame Game, the first preseason game of the year. So, with that game rapidly approaching, the team released their first depth chart of the summer. There are few surprises.

On offense, wide receiver Antonio Brown is the No. 1 wideout, with Martavis Bryant his backup. Markus Wheaton is listed as the No. 2 receiver. DeAngelo Williams sits behind Le'Veon Bell at the running back position and quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is still listed as No. 2 on the depth chart though he remains on the physically unable to perform list with a right shoulder injury.

On defense, Arthur Moats is the starting left outside linebacker, with rookie Bud Dupree behind him. On the right is Jarvis Jones, with James Harrison his primary backup. The left cornerback is William Gay, with Cortez Allen on the right; Antwon Blake and Brandon Boykin are behind them, but both could be considered slot cornerbacks and worthy of starting snaps at this time.

Things on special teams aren’t much different, either, with incumbent punter Brad Wing ahead of challenger Jordan Berry. Brown is also listed as the primary punt returner, as he was last year, but it’s likely that during the preseason we’ll be seeing Dri Archer field most of the team's punts, along with Wheaton.

Most, if not all, of the Steelers' starters will not play in Sunday's game, given that the Steelers have five preseason contests this year instead of the typical four. What will be most interesting is to see how the bottom half of the depth chart may change after they return back to Latrobe's training camp.


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