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Updates on Dalvin Cook, Myles Garrett, and Tee Higgins in the AFC North rivalry between the Bengals, Browns, and Ravens

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Bengals

Bengals WR Tee Higgins said remaining with the team is his “number one option.

Them telling me that they want me to come back, man, it’s family,” Higgins said, via Bengals Wire. “We’ve been playing together for three or four years now, and I personally would love to be back playing with those guys. It’s not in my hands now, but when the time comes and Cincinnati is there, that’s the number one option right now.

  • The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. says it’s a virtual lock the Bengals will keep Higgins, with the franchise tag available for them. He adds he’s doubtful any kind of tag-and-trade scenario is in play, with the Bengals taking a swing to try and get a ring in 2024. 
  • The Bengals have several notable pending free agents. Of the group, Dehner thinks DT D.J. Reader has the best chance to stay but only on a one-year deal if his season-ending quad injury scares teams off from the 30-year-old. 
  • Dehner is doubtful WR Tyler Boyd, RT Jonah Williams or CB Chidobe Awuzie will be re-signed by the Bengals and expects all three to be playing for new teams in 2024. 
  • At tight end, Dehner says Cincinnati likely will re-sign TE Tanner Hudson and let TE Irv Smith Jr. walk, as the Bengals think they might have found something with Hudson. 

Browns

Browns DE Myles Garrett refused to miss the game against the Rams despite dealing with a shoulder injury.

Don’t find an excuse, find a way,” Garrett said, via ESPN’s Jake Trotter. “At the end of the day, there’s going to be a winner and a loser. No one’s going to look back and say, ‘Oh, he was hurt, or he felt like this, or he was going through that.’ All they see is the box score and who came out on the right side of things.

Garrett vowed that he wouldn’t be stopped this season.

Not allowing anything to stop me,” Garrett said of his mindset this season. “It’s all about being relentless.

Browns LB Anthony Walker, Jr. spoke on Garrett and how he’s transformed into a leader this season.

He’s taken that next step as a leader and foundational piece for this franchise,” Walker said. “You see it now. A lot of guys stepping up and making plays. That’s a testament to him. … That’s the difference. And nothing stopping him now.

Garrett admitted that it took him time to grow into a leadership role and said tat he didn’t have somebody early on to mentor him.

I didn’t have a mentor to teach me how to lead, and most of the guys I talked to were out of the league or upper management, and they were trying to tell me that there was a certain way to lead,” Garrett said. “They had this picture in their mind of how a leader should go about his business. I was like, ‘Well, that’s not me.’ It really took me time. … [Finding] the wisdom to understand what kind of leader that I am and how to elevate others in a way that suits me.

  • Browns HC Kevin Stefanski said CB Denzel Ward suffered a knee injury in Wednesday’s practice and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready for Saturday’s Wildcard game, via Jake Trotter. 

Ravens

Ravens HC John Harbaugh said he views RB Dalvin Cook as more than just an insurance policy and believes he can add value to the team in the playoffs.

We view him as potentially a very valuable weapon for our offense,” Harbaugh said, via PFT. “Dalvin Cook is a high-pedigree player, a highly decorated player. He’s still got talent, ability. He’s smart. He’s in great football shape. He looked very good in practice today. So I think he’s going to be a very valuable part of our team in the playoffs.

  • Harbaugh said TE Mark Andrews, who was designated to return from injured reserve, is still on the same timetable of recovery: “We’re on that range,” via Jeff Zrebiec. 

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