AFC North Buzz: Joe Burrow MVP talk, Steelers without top tight end; Ravens, Browns face tough battles

Around the AFC North, why Joe Burrow's MVP stock is plummeting, Steelers look to rookie tight end and the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns face tough Week 7 battles.
Seattle Seahawks v Cincinnati Bengals
Seattle Seahawks v Cincinnati Bengals / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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AFC North player watch: Who steps up in place of Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth?

If the Pittsburgh Steelers are to get a road victory against Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams, they will have to do it without tight end Pat Freiermuth, who has been ruled out for the game due to a hamstring injury.

This would likely mean a lot more Najee Harris on the ground and George Pickens on the ground, but could the absence of Freiermuth open the door for 2024 third round pick Darnell Washington?

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Darnell Washington
Pittsburgh Steelers v Las Vegas Raiders / Chris Unger/GettyImages

Well, the Steelers have depth at the position with Washington and Connor Heyward, but it is the rookie who is expected to get more workload with Freirmuth out and will have an opportunity to make a little noise in the Steelers offense.  Tight end coach Alfredo Roberts said ahead of the team’s matchup with the Rams that the young tight end will get targets, but nothing will be drawn up for him as far as gameplan.

“Is he a focal point of the offense right now? I think he’s grown to the point where if we throw the ball to him, he’s going to make his plays,” Roberts said, as transcribed by Steelers Now. “He had an opportunity in the preseason to make a few plays, and the ball found him in Houston. It’s more about that.”

So far the product out of Georgia has caught just one pass in the NFL and overall have just seen 3 targets, but it sounds like that may change a little this Sunday against the Rams.