The latest from the AFC:
- Eric Rowe isn’t necessarily a lock to serve as the Patriots’ No. 3 cornerback in 2017, suggests Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Rather, it could be Jonathan Jones who emerges behind stars Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler, as Reiss notes that the second-year man got first-team reps as the Patriots’ nickel corner during OTAs last week. With that in mind, Rowe’s playing time during the upcoming season might depend on matchups. At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, the Patriots could feature Rowe as their nickel corner against teams with multiple big receivers or clubs with tight ends who function as large wideouts, relays Reiss. That was the case in Super Bowl LI when the Pats put Rowe on the Falcons’ best receiver, the 6-3, 220-pound Julio Jones.
- Now-49er Kyle Juszczyk was more of a Swiss Army knife than a fullback for the Ravens, meaning it may take multiple players to replace him, writes Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Running backs Lorenzo Taliaferro and Danny Woodhead, fullback Ricky Ortiz and tight end Nick Boyle could try to make up for Juszczyk’s departure as a group. The versatile Juszczyk parlayed his time in Baltimore as a lead blocker/pass catcher/special teamer into a record contract for a fullback (four years, $21MM, including $10.5MM guaranteed). Although the Ravens wanted to keep Juszczyk, their offer wasn’t competitive with the 49ers’, reports Zrebiec.
- Le’Raven Clark started in just three of eight appearances as a third-round rookie in 2016, but he ended the year as the Colts’ No. 1 right tackle and looks likely to win the job this season, per Kevin Bowen of the team’s website. Joe Reitz and Joe Haeg picked up the bulk of the work at right tackle while Clark was on the bench, but the former has since retired and the latter is primarily a guard. As for Clark, he’s “got enough talent” to be a full-timer, according to Chuck Pagano, though the head coach noted that the 24-year-old must improve as a pass blocker. Pro Football Focus agrees, having assigned Clark an awful pass-blocking grade during his inaugural campaign.