Chat Rewind: Atkins' future with Bengals

The bad weather in the Mid-Atlantic area stopped me from getting back to Baltimore in time to hit the final day of minicamp. I spoke with coach John Harbaugh and it looks like I'm going to avoid the fine for missing mandatory camp. I'm hoping to put up a post at some point tomorrow off the interviews conducted today. In the meantime, here's some highlights of the AFC North weekly chat. You can click right here for a full transcript.

Baltimore Ravens

Steve (Sydney): Hey Jamison, have you seen/heard anything about the Ravens new fullback in respect of his ability to open holes? Everyone calls out his pass catching. Wasn't too worried about the WR inexperience on the assumption that it will take them a few games to adapt to the pace, and they could rely on Ray Rice, Bernard Pearce and Vonta Leach in the mean time. I guess offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell will earn his money perhaps with a bit more trickery!

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): There's no hitting in OTAs, so it's hard to judge any blocking. My guess is the Ravens will use a lot more two-tight end, one-back formations.

Rob (Baltimore): Do you think Deonte Thompson can produce in game situations for the Ravens because I hear good things about him in camp.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I see Thompson more in a returner role for the Ravens this year, especially if Jacoby Jones is the No. 2 WR.

Cincinnati Bengals

Dan S. (Pasadena, CA): Do you think Bengals have a realistic shot at signing defensive tackle Geno Atkins long-term? Do they need to free up money by extending Michael Johnson first?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Atkins, who is signed through the 2013 season, has to be the priority. The Bengals have the cap room to get it done, but they have a history of not overpaying players even when they have the room. And Atkins has to make the decision on whether he can make more money in free agency. If Atkins becomes a UFA, the Bengals would have to franchise him to keep him around for another year. The franchise tag for defensive tackles this year was $8.45 million. That's nearly $3 million less than what Cincinnati spent on the tag for Johnson. So, at worst, the Bengals will have Atkins for two more seasons.

Scott (Northglenn, CO): Any chance that Gio Bernard starts the season at RB? BenJarvus Green-Ellis is so un-dynamic.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Don't see a true competition until next year. Bengals will give Bernard eight to 10 touches a game as a rookie.

Cleveland Browns

Rodney (Seattle,Wa): Did the Browns really make the right choice in drafting Barkevious Mingo? He's coming in as a backup when we still have a struggling secondary. I heard he's not doing too bad but I can't help but think that Xavier Rhodes or Dee Milliner would've been a better value/impact pick.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Browns made the right move in terms of their philosophy. They wanted to focus on getting more pressure on the quarterback. It will take some time for Mingo to develop into an every-down linebacker because he was a college DE. But he should make an immediate impact getting to the QB.

Rich (South Euclid): Any thoughts on Paul Brown being rated No. 6 on ESPN's greatest coaches list. He basically invented the pro game, founded two franchises, won like nobody else and every coaching tree comes off of his.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I would have had Paul Brown in top 3, and definitely ahead of Shula. You could make the case for Brown at No. 1.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Rich S (Pittsburgh): It has been reported that the Steelers brass let cornerback Keenan Lewis go because they believe Cortez Allen is better. Do you agree?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Cortez Allen is also cheaper. That was a big factor, as well.

John Styz. (Swamps of Jersey): Is this the last year for Ziggy Hood?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I see the Steelers re-signing him. Next year it could be Hood, Steve McLendon and Cameron Heyward on the defensive line.