The Bengals lost their Wild Card contest against the Steelers in a devastating fashion, with late-game penalties by cornerback Adam Jones and linebacker Vontaze Burfict allowing Pittsburgh to kick a game-winning field goal. Instead of dwelling on the loss, head coach Marvin Lewis says Cincinnati has quickly moved on, as he tells Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. “Last year ended, we covered that the first week of the offseason program,” said Lewis. “And there’s been no mention of how the season ended since then.” Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, meanwhile, has been pressing his players during practice sessions, telling them: “If you lose it here, you’re gonna lose it in a game.”
Let’s take a look at the other highlights from Breer’s Inside the NFL Notebook:
- Eric Berry has yet to report to Chiefs camp and is set to miss most or all of the preseason as he expresses his displeasure with the franchise tag, and Breer talks to several evaluators about why Kansas City is reluctant to hand Berry a long-term extension. “I understand franchising him now and seeing if he gets back to the form he held before,” said one offensive coach. “I think he’s still a top-five safety in the league and the arrow could be pointing up.” Other decision-makers had different opinions. “I think, at this point, he’s solid, not spectacular,” said one AFC executive. For what it’s worth, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey recently expressed optimism that Berry will be present before Week 1.
- Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is still facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, but he looks healthy coming off a major knee injury, according to Breer, who adds that Bell still has a shot at to join Adrian Peterson as backs who earn more than $10MM annually. Peterson dominates the running back market at $14MM, while LeSean McCoy, Jonathan Stewart, and Doug Martin all make between $7-8MM.
- Though he’s now 37 years old and entering a contract year, Saints quarterback Drew Brees tells Breer that he sees no end in sight. “I don’t think about the end. I don’t,” said Brees. “I do have a great sense of urgency for each year, though, because I understand no matter what your contract says, you’re really on a year-to-year basis. That goes for everybody. You gotta prove it every year.” Brees is set to count a league-high $30MM against New Orleans’ cap before becoming a free agent next spring.
- The Jets and general manager Mike Maccagnan have made a concerted effort to strengthen the middle of their roster this year, as Breer writes, choosing to add depth rather than target stars. The club has to execute that strategy through the draft, and Breer reports that third-round linebacker Jordan Jenkins, fourth-round cornerback Juston Burris, fifth-round tackle Brandon Shell and undrafted receiver Jalin Marshall “have all flashed ability.”