Sunday Roundup: AFC North, Broncos, Lions

Let’s have a look at some notes from around the league as we head into the afternoon of this ever-important June 1:

  • Greg Gabriel of the National Football Post identifies a few second-year players in the AFC North that might break out in 2014.
  • Matt Zenitz of the Carroll County Times identifies a few free agents the Ravens could target to address their biggest needs, right tackle and cornerback.
  • Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes that the Steelers are working hard to reestablish their identity has a running team, and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette similarly notes that LeGarrette Blount hopes to provide a strong complement to Le’Veon Bell.
  • In his weekly mailbag, Tony Grossi of notes that although Browns coaches are excited about the potential of the team’s offensive line, they are reserving judgment until they see how the unit adapts to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan‘s zone-blocking scheme.
  • Mike Klis of the Denver Post notes that the Broncos are currently carrying seven running backs on their roster, none of whom have a regular season start. Klis believes the team should not go after one of the remaining veteran free agents–Felix Jones, Michael Bush, and Ronnie Brown, for instance–to take reps away from Denver’s stable of young-but-intriguing RBs, but he concedes that it will be a tough call.
  • In a separate piece, Klis writes that Broncos‘ QB Peyton Manning intends to play out his contract with Denver, which runs through 2016 (Manning will turn 40 in March of that year).
  • In two separate pieces, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union discusses how a healthy Roy Miller will impact the Jaguars‘ defense and Gus Bradley’s creation of the “Otto” linebacker, who will replace the traditional “Sam” linebacker and serve as a “physical/athletic/versatile player who will be positioned along the line of scrimmage.Dekoda Watson will enter the season as the team’s “Otto.”
  • Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle writes that second-year wideout DeAndre Hopkins surprisingly became one of the few holdovers from the Texans‘ tumultuous 2013 season, and he is essentially a rookie again in 2014. Smith notes, however, that Hopkins has prepared himself well for the challenge.
  • Kevin Meinke of writes that Lions defensive end Devin Taylor is an integral component of new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin‘s desire to bring pressure from all three levels of the defense, and, in a similar vein, Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News writes that players believe aggressiveness will be a hallmark of the Lions’ defense in 2014.
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