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The wait is almost over

For pro football fans, the long wait is almost over. Yes, National League Football training camps open up in approximately three weeks. Football is almost here.

For fans of any team, it’s important to know what is going on in their opponents’ camps. Let’s take a quick look at the teams who are always in the deep recesses of the Pittsburgh Steelers fans’ minds.

CLEVELAND

The Browns are improving. Many football “experts” are predicting that this is the year the Browns break their 16-year playoff drought. Maybe they will, and maybe they won’t.

Second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield will definitely be the key to the Browns’ success this year. He’s brash and he’s arrogant. But, he can back it up. Swagger can be good.

It will be interesting to see how first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens and newly-acquired wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. interact. Looking at Beckham’s past behavior with the New York Giants, and his “Me-First” attitude, this will be interesting. It may prove to be the Browns’ downfall.

BALTIMORE

The Ravens appear to be committed to having quarterback Lamar Jackson serve as a running quarterback. That works in college. That offensive scheme generally has a short shelf-life in the NFL as opposing defenses catch on and start putting the hit on the quarterback. Remember, once the quarterback begins running, he no longer has all of the protections given to quarterbacks.

Jackson needs to improve his passing progressions and not immediately tuck the ball and run.

Baltimore fans only need to look down their bench to see what happens to a running quarterback. Robert Griffin III, who was billed as the player who was going to revolutionize the quarterback position, is on the Ravens’ roster as a backup. After a thrilling rookie season in 2012, Griffin’s career has been plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness.

CINCINNATI

Mr. Murphy of “Murphy’s Law” has struck again in Cincinnati. The Bengals picked 11th overall in this year’s draft, selecting offensive tackle Jonah Williams. Williams played in 44 consecutive games at Alabama. He won’t be able to say that about his tenure in Cincinnati, as Wiliams will probably miss the ENTIRE 2019 season with a torn pectoral muscle.

This will be the fifth consecutive year that the Bengals’ first-round pick will have missed significant time, if not the whole season. Fans in my age group remember quarterback Greg Cook, who injured his shoulder in his rookie season and was never the same after that. The fifth overall pick in the 1969 draft, Cook was out of pro football by 1973.

Then, there was 1995 first overall pick Ki-Jana Carter, who tore his ACL on his third carry in his first preseason game. Beset by injuries, Carter would miss the entire season three times.

NEW ENGLAND

Country music superstar Reba McIntyre had a number-one hit in 1986, titled “Whoever’s in New England”. Patriots fans don’t really care who else is in New England as long as head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady are still there. The duo has combined for 237 wins and six Super Bowl crowns.

Brady was selected with the 199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft. Among the quarterbacks selected ahead of him were Chad Pennington (New York Jets #18), Giovanni Carmazi (San Francisco #65), Chris Redman (Baltimore #75), Tee Martin (Pittsburgh #163), Marc Bulger (New Orleans #168) and Spergon Wynn (Cleveland #183). Martin played in three games for Pittsburgh. Wynn lasted two years in Cleveland.

The question can be asked, how many of the scouting directors and player personnel directors who were with their respective teams in 2000 are still employed by these same teams?