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AFC Notes: Najee Harris and Mason Rudolph Impress, Justin Madubuike Standout for Ravens and Steelers

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Ravens

Ravens DT Justin Madubuike, who is an impending free agent, is grateful about Baltimore taking a chance on him and feels he’s developed as a player under HC John Harbaugh

“I knew the right team was going to pick me up and believe in me,” Madubuike says. “That’s what the Ravens did. And since then, I’ve developed as a person, player and professional on the Ravens team. I’m around a lot of people who care for me and believe in me. I’m thankful to them.”

Madubuike said he leaned on veterans like Calais Campbell, Justin Houston, and Jason Pierre-Paul for advice. 

“I always asked questions and tried to remember the things they taught me,” Madubuike said. 

Madubuike turned down a contract extension from Baltimore last offseason, knowing he could have a big season in 2023 that would set him up for a sizeable payday. 

“I’m not going to lie, I thought I could have this kind of year,” Madubuike said. “I just knew the work I put in was going to pay off if I stayed grounded in my discipline, stayed consistent and stayed faithful.”

Steelers

Steelers RB Najee Harris let loose after another playoff loss during his time with Pittsburgh, adding that internal changes need to be made.

“I’ve been here three years, obviously. I have my opinions on things, but I’m just a player. But if you want to elevate and get to where we’re at, there’s got to be some in-house things that need to change,” Harris said, via Sports Illustrated’s All Steelers. “Coach [Mike Tomlin] always tells me just play running back. That’s a little inside thing that we have too. But if you want to elevate where we are and achieve those goals that we want, we have to change some in-house stuff. Like I said, that’s not my place, that’s not anything that I can control or do anything about that.”

“In-house rules. Not no changes or coaches or anything like that. Just the rules that are in the building,” Harris added. “We’ve got to be more disciplined. We’ve got to be more committed. I’m not saying that we’re not, but coming from a place that has structure and coming and just seeing, we could probably get help in these areas; make a change. I think that’s something that could help. I’m not saying anything about coaches or anything like that; I’m saying in-house rules. When I first got here, it was just how things were. I don’t know how it was when I wasn’t here. I have my opinion on things, but obviously, it doesn’t matter; I’m just a player. The guys in that building know what I’m talking about.”  

  • Memphis RB Blake Watson met with the Steelers at the Hula Bowl. (Ryan Fowler)

Steelers

Now that the playoffs are over, Steelers QB Mason Rudolph admits his future is unclear and isn’t sure where he will wind up next season.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen. None of us in there know what’s going to happen tomorrow, much less next year,” Rudolph said, via Pro Football Talk. “I’m still thinking about the game and the loss, and it hurts and it stings. And you know, we probably could have done better today. I think the turnovers early, myself included, didn’t really give us the ability to put our best foot forward. So, that’s what’s on the forefront of the mind right now.”

Rudolph was then asked if he believes he has shown enough to earn a starting position in 2024.

“Yeah, I think when I go back and look at the totality of the tape, I’ll get a better feel for it,” Rudolph noted. “But I think right now obviously, the plan was to come here and get a win and we fell short to a great team. But I think I can say I was proud of what we as an offense put on tape these last few weeks. Just the way we celebrated, the way guys cheered for each other. Whether the run game was working whether the receivers were rolling … we had chemistry and we had belief and love for one another.”

“I love the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Rudolph added on becoming a free agent. “They’ve been my only home for six years. We’ll see what happens. Like I said, it’s not really my decision. So, a lot of it’s out of my control. We’ll see what happens.”

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