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AFC North News and Notes: Major injuries headline Week 1

Each week during the NFL season, I will be running through the top storylines from within the AFC North and giving my brief opinion on each matter that is discussed. Once the season gets into full swing, we oftentimes overlook many prevalent stories around the league, as we narrow our focus solely on our beloved Steelers. Hopefully this weekly piece will provide insight on the important topics in the AFC North and educate each reader on what to expect for each AFC North team moving forward.

With much to discuss and minimal time to discuss it, let’s dive right in!

Bengals release veteran OT La’el Collins

Amongst all the shock surrounding the Bengals following their loss to the Browns, the team did make some roster moves, one of which was releasing offensive tackle La’el Collins. Collins was put on the Reserve/PUP list to back in April, and the Bengals finally decided it worthwhile to just cut ties.

As it pertains to the team going forward, Ja’Marr Chase claims he will not be looking for a new contract mid-season. Chase looks to spearhead a strong group of receivers in providing firepower that lacked juice in Week 1. Joe Burrow may not truly be 100% yet, and the new additions to the line may take a little time to gel, but expectations are incredibly high for this offense. They will need Chase to be at his best and be focused on the task at hand.

Jack Conklin to miss remainder of season

Browns right tackle Jack Conklin suffered a major knee injury on Sunday against the Bengals, putting a premature end to his season. This is obviously a major blow to the Browns, who came into the season with what was highly regarded as one of the best blocking units in the league. Fortunately, Cleveland has accumulated some depth, as they recently drafted mammoth offensive tackle Dawand Jones. He is being thrown into the fire a little quicker than expected, but his experience playing at Ohio State will most certainly help him, as he has played at a high level in major games before.

J.K. Dobbins injured again

While we are on the topic of former Ohio State players, we might as well address J.K. Dobbins, who tore his achilles in Week 1 against the Texans. The Ravens have activated Melvin Gordon to the active roster, but at this point in his career, he is unlikely to make a huge impact. Gus Edwards will most likely take the early-down snaps, while Justice Hill sees significant touches in the backup role. Baltimore could be an interesting landing spot for Jonathan Taylor if they see themselves as a Super Bowl contender this season.

Cameron Heyward lands on IR

If you did not catch the theme in the AFC North after one week, there may be something wrong. Injuries affected everyone in the division, and for the Steelers, the most noteworthy injury was team captain Cam Heyward, who could miss up to eight weeks with a groin injury that will require surgery. Heyward, who is coming off back-to-back seasons with double-digit sacks, will be greatly missed by a Steelers front that will now rely on youngster DeMarvin Leal much greater. The Steelers’ defensive line will have their hands full on Monday night, as they face off against Nick Chubb and the Browns.

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