Blaine Stewart

AFC North Notes: OBJ, Green, Andrews, Steelers

It’s been almost three years since Odell Beckham Jr. fractured his left ankle, and while the star wideout has yet to return to the Pro Bowl, he’s managed to put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. However, in an alternative universe, OBJ may have decided to hang up his cleats following that 2017 campaign.

Appearing alongside Cam Newton, Todd Gurley, and Victor Cruz on his YouTube series The Bigger Picture, Beckham admitted that he almost retired following the injury.

“I said this in college, I said, ‘I fear the day that they make this game a business and not what I love,’” Beckham said. “And when I seen that for the first time after breaking my ankle, like I thought about like not playing no more. Like this is not really it for me because they’ve ruined the game of football for me a little bit.”

OBJ didn’t elaborate on what the Giants did to upset him during that 2017 campaign, although it’s worth noting that the receiver had rushed back from a preseason ankle sprain. The veteran’s tenure with New York ended last offseason when he was traded to the Browns, and the 27-year-old proceeded to appear in all 16 games for the first time since 2016.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC North…

  • When we learned yesterday that A.J. Green wasn’t going to sign an extension with the Bengals, it was made clear that he’ll willingly play the 2020 season under the franchise tag. Of course, that could be temporary lip service; since the wideout hasn’t signed the tender, he could skip training camp and preseason and still earn his full salary. However, as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com notes, until Green officially signs the tender, the Bengals have the ability to rescind the franchise tag. This would save the organization almost $18MM, and while it’d be a somewhat unprecedented move, Florio notes that “in an unprecedented year, it’s impossible to rule anything out.”
  • The Steelers have made some changes to their coaching staff. As Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com passes along, Blaine Stewart is now the assistant wide receivers coach and Denzel Martin is now the assistant outside linebackers coach. The duo had previously served as coaching assistants. The organization also shook up their scouting department, promoting Chidi Iwuoma from BLESTO scout to a college scouting position and Dennis MacInnis from scouting intern to BLESTO scout.
  • While Ravens tight end Mark Andrews has Type 1 diabetes, he made it clear that he won’t be opting out of the 2020 season due to health concerns. “We’ve got a big year coming up,” Andrews said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “I want to be able to do a lot of things, and … just being able to help this team win is exciting for me.” The former third-rounder earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season after hauling in 64 receptions for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Coaching Rumors: Lions, Titans, Tice, Cards

New Lions hire Paul Pasqualoni is expected to take on a “prominent role” on the club’s coaching staff, reports Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Previous reports have indicated that Pasqualoni, who had been working as Boston College’s defensive line coach, could take over as Detroit’s defensive coordinator under Patricia (who figures to call his own defensive plays). The Lions are in need of a new DC after Teryl Austin, the team’s defensive play-caller for the past four seasons, took the same job with Cincinnati. However, Pasqualoni could instead receive an assistant head coach title, per Yates.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • Like Patricia, new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel continues to fill out his staff, as Tennessee announced today that it has hired Keith Carter to coach the club’s offensive line and Tony Dews to lead the team’s running backs. Carter, who spent the past three seasons with Atlanta, will now be in charge of a Titans front five that ranked among the league’s best in 2016 but took a significant step backwards a year ago. Dews, meanwhile, has never coached in the pro ranks, but does offer 20 years of collegiate experience, including stops at Arizona, Pitt, Michigan, and — most recently — West Virginia. Tennessee has also retained assistant offensive line coach Mike Sullivan, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News.
  • Mike Tice sounds like’s ready to call it a career. The former Vikings head coach recently told Dan Barrerio of KFAN (Twitter link) that he’s considering retirement because players “no longer want to be coached.” Whether that’s a serious threat or instead indicative of Tice’s inability to connect with today’s millennial players is unclear, but the 59-year-old Tice would be giving up a coaching career that began in 1996. Tice served as Minnesota’s head coach from 2002-05, and had spent the past three seasons as Oakland’s offensive line coach.
  • The Cardinals have hired former Titans quarterbacks coach Jason Michael as their new tight ends coach, as Marvez reports. The Cowboys also had interest in adding Michael to fill their vacant tight ends coach job, but Michael instead chose to head to the desert. Michael was previously Tennessee’s offensive coordinator from 2014-15, but was demoted when Mike Mularkey took over the Titans’ full-time head coach in 2016.
  • The Panthers had become something of a family business after hiring Norv and Scott Turner earlier this year, as the club subsequently boasted four Turners on its staff. However, Norv and Scott are the only members of the family staying on board in Carolina for the 2018 campaign, however, according to Bill Voth of Panthers.com (Twitter link). Assistant quarterbacks coach Cameron Turner is joining the University of Arizona staff, while offensive consultant Ron Turner won’t be with the club (though it’s presently unclear why).
  • The Steelers announced that they’ve hired Blaine Stewart as an offensive assistant. Stewart is the son of former West Virginia coach Bill Stewart, who gave Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin his first coaching assignment at VMI in 1995.