Below are a couple of whispers we've heard recently from around the AFC North:
• Bengals MLB Dhani Jones leads Cincinnati in tackles and is on pace for his third consecutive season with more than 100 tackles. A free agent at season's end, Jones realizes that his future with the Bengals will be determined once the "labor uncertainty" surrounding the Collective Bargaining Agreement between NFL owners and players is cleared up, his agent, Don Yee, told PFW on Friday. Yee said that while he's yet to talk with the Bengals about a new contract for the 32-year-old Jones, he noted it wasn't "unusual" for talks not to have commenced just yet. "I'm sure we will have discussions," he said.
• Steelers TE-FB David Johnson earned praise from head coach Mike Tomlin for his blocking in Pittsburgh's overtime win over Buffalo in Week 12. "I think his better days lie ahead," Tomlin said of the second-year player. "He took a step, he played with energy and emotion, he finished blocks. He is a young guy that has kind of been on the come throughout the better part of the year. By the nature of his job description he doesn't get a lot of notoriety for improvement or for doing his job, but we are not concerned about that. ... He continues to adjust to the things that we want him to do and the nature in which we want him to play." The way we hear it, reserve TE Matt Spaeth's blocking has also been a strength this season.