AFC North Notes: Ravens, Bengals, Pouncey

The Ravens‘ decision to cut Eugene Monroe had nothing to do with his position on medical marijuana and was simply a football determination, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters, including Clifton Brown of (Twitter link). Clearly, that statement has generated a few doubting looks around the NFL, especially because Baltimore made mention of Monroe’s pro-marijuana stance in their press release announcing the move. However, reports did indicate that the Ravens wanted to wait until Monroe was cleared from a health standpoint before releasing him, and that clearance was apparently received this week. Baltimore’s offensive line will feature two new starters in 2016, with rookie Ronnie Stanley taking over at left tackle while John Urschel mans left guard.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Running back Trent Richardson will require arthroscopic knee surgery to repair an existing condition and will miss “some time,” according to Jeff Zriebec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links), who adds that although the injury isn’t considered severe, it certainly won’t help Richardson’s case as he aims to earn a spot on the Ravens‘ roster. Richardson, who is still only 25 years old, agreed to a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum earlier this offseason, joining a Baltimore running back corps that already includes Justin Forsett, Javorius Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Terrance West, and rookie Kenneth Dixon. Depending on how long he is sidelined, it’s entirely possible that Richardson won’t ever get a real shot at making the club, and he’s a candidate to be released with an injury settlement.
  • The Bengals have been quite proactive this offseason in terms of extensions, locking up both safety Shawn Williams and running back Giovani Bernard to long-term deals. This isn’t a new phenomenon for the club, leading Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer to examine which Bengal might be the next to land a multi-year pact. Veterans like Andrew Whitworth and Dre Kirkpatrick are unlikely to sign deals — at least before season starts — simply because Cincinnati has so much leverage, having invested draft picks at tackle and cornerback over the past several seasons, leading H-back Ryan Hewitt as perhaps the most plausible candidate to ink an extension. Tight end Tyler Eifert, notably, was left off the list, though he is dealing with an injury, and is controlled through the 2017 season via the fifth-year option.
  • Maurkice Pouncey didn’t play a single snap for the Steelers after breaking his fibula during the club’s third preseason game, but the injury was much more severe than many originally thought. Pouncey underwent six surgical procedures and a skin graft during the course of the 2015 campaign, the veteran center tells Jeremy Fowler of, explaining how he went from injured reserve/designated to return to missing the entire season. “It was scary,” Pouncey said. “I don’t want that on my worst enemy.” Pouncey is expected to be fully ready for the season, though Fowler notes that the Pittsburgh staff is pressuring him to take days off out of an abundance of caution.
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