AFC Notes: Green, Collins, Bengals, Howard

Although Ladarius Green is expected to make his Steelers debut on Sunday against the Cowboys, the tight end is not at 100 percent, per Tom Pelissero of USA Today (on Twitter).

The recent addition categorized his explosion as lacking at present due to the calf trouble he’s had, and the ankle surgery the fifth-year veteran underwent placed screws and plates in it that haven’t gone unnoticed by the recovering tight end (Twitter link). Pelissero added Green’s ankle procedure was also due to cartilage damage, so Green could be a bit away from becoming the field-stretching tight end the Steelers hoped they were acquiring when they made the rare decision to dabble in free agency.

Pittsburgh’s encountered extreme difficulties putting its preferred lineup on the field this season, with suspensions of Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell — and injuries to Ben Roethlisberger, Green and Markus Wheaton — limiting the team’s offensive potential. Green is coming off a career-best season, having caught 37 passes for 429 yards and four touchdowns in his final slate as Antonio Gates‘ sidekick.

Here’s more coming out of the AFC.

  • The Bengals sitting at 3-4-1 places them on tenuous terrain regarding the AFC playoff race. One reason is a defense that ranks 23rd in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, having regressed to the point some within the organization are labeling several veterans as having “aged overnight,” Pete Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes. The Bengals have several starters either over 30 or within months of their 30th birthday, and Daugherty writes a regression from the playoff race the team has participated in the past five years would open Marvin Lewis to preparing for a rebuild on that side of the ball. Of course, the 14th-year coach being in charge of said rebuild may be iffy should a veteran team that’s failed to win a playoff game despite five straight AFC bracket cameos finish out of contention.
  • Ray Horton‘s defense giving Jamie Collins fewer coverage assignments should allow him to put up more numbers than he did with the Patriots and further enhance his value, Mary Kay Cabot of writes. Collins playing every snap in the Browns‘ loss to the Ravens on Thursday night could help the team’s process in convincing the fourth-year linebacker he has a long-term home in northeast Ohio.
  • In addition to Jeremy Maclin and Justin Houston being set to miss the Chiefs‘ Week 10 game against the Panthers, starting defensive end Jaye Howard is out too, Dave Skretta of the Associated Press reports. While Kansas City is expected to have Alex Smith and Spencer Ware back, the team is now down both of its starting defensive ends from the start of the season. Allen Bailey is out for the season, meaning the Chiefs are going to turn to a Chris JonesKendall Reyes tandem in Charlotte. Re-signed to a two-year, $12MM contract in March, Howard is dealing with a hip injury. He’s played in all eight of the Chiefs’ 2016 contests so far.
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