Things I Think I Believe

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 27, 2010 – 11:50 am

In honor of going on Lance McAlister’s show on 1530 at 4:05 p.m. Thursday the 27th to talk a little OTAs, here are some things I Think I Believe, with the nod to Red Sox fan Peter King:

I Think I Believe that Matt Jones and Jerome Simpson are the two receivers that have the longest to go in convincing the coaches they can play. That doesn’t mean they are longshots, but they have to show that people have been wrong about them.

I also think they can do it because they have looked great here. But, look, the only thing that is going to get decided in the last OTA sessions in May and June is who lockers next to whom at Georgetown. To think that any position picture is going to clear up before preseason games is fantasy football.

So much depends on what Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley do returning punts (not to mention cornerback Adam Jones) and you can’t go off that until the games. Will Jones and Simpson be able to do against others what they’ve been able to do here? Jones has been able to run by people and Simpson has been able to leap and dive to make some spectacular plays, but can they do it against another club’s first- and second-teamers? Who is going to be able to play special teams other than return punts? You have to see them tackle somebody.

I Think I Believe they’ll have eight or nine guys left after the final preseason game and we’ll still be guessing.

Maybe The Ocho can bring in Len Goodman to judge.

I Think I Believe Bengals president Mike Brown voted against bringing a New York Super Bowl. That is his M.O. He has always thought a warm weather site was the best thing for fans so they would have things to do in the days leading up to the game.

This is the guy that told Chargers owner Gene Klein to save it when he wanted to postpone The Freezer Bowl in ’82, so he knows a homefield advantage as well as anyone. But my sense is that Brown thinks the neutral site with warm weather works best for the people going to the game.

And, he’s probably worried about the Pandora’s Box they’ve opened. Why shouldn’t Washington and Boston get one now? Cincinnati never will because the stadium is too small and there isn’t enough hotel space. The airport was always a great selling point, but no more with the drastic decrease in direct flights.

I Think I Believe I’m amazed at the national NFL writers that just always shrug when they see the word “Bengals,” and automatically write “suck.” Sometimes you get the feeling they stopped watching this club in 2002.

One thing you never hear about this offseason is how just one Bengal isn’t here during the voluntaries, The Ocho, and that with the blessing of the head coach. Meanwhile, there is a daily upheaval around the NFL about what players aren’t reporting. So much so that did a roundup the other day about who isn’t showing up. In places like Baltimore, it is easier to say who’s there instead of who’s not.

They like to write about how it is so dysfunctional around here and how many bad guys are in the locker room and how they don’t know how to win or don’t want to win. And, meanwhile, every day just piles up and refutes all the pontifications.

Talking to somebody about this on the inside, they chalk up the attendance to tremendous leadership of the big players, such as Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, Andrew Whitworth, Domata Peko, Johnathan Joseph, Leon Hall, Robert Geathers and Keith Rivers.

Yes, I understand. This club has some problems and questions. But what team doesn’t? What entity doesn’t? Even Miss America has to use deodorant, I Think I Believe. Here’s a team that won a division, then addressed its top needs in the offseason, and now has nearly everyone intact working on it, and you’d think they’re rebuilding if you read the national clips.

I Think I Believe I have a list of Bengals that are going to have breakout seasons:

Wide receiver Antonio Bryant – Yes, AB, quarterbacks actually do throw spirals and get it to you on time.

Running back Bernard Scott – If he touches it a dozen times a game via kick returns, passes and runs, he becomes a household name.

SAM/RE Michael Johnson – He didn’t know what he was doing last year and he got three sacks by accident and a slew of tipped balls. Now he’s got a year under his belt and he’ll be lined up in more places than LeBron James, so he looks to be on the brink. A very earnest guy and hard worker.

SAM Rey Maualuga – He’s got the speed, size and hunger to make those game-changing plays, so Mike Zimmer and Jeff FitzGerald are going to make sure he does. Older and wiser, he could be a real handful as they move him around, too.

S Roy Williams – Hard for a five-time Pro Bowler to break out, but after playing just seven games the last two years, he looks and sounds hungry. They get 13-16 games from a near Pro Bowl player at that spot, that is quite interesting.

WLB Brandon Johnson – I love this guy just watching the drills. If the Celtics had him on defense, Superman would disappear. Johnson can cover and he can blitz. Last year he was their best all-around linebacker when it came to making plays.

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Ocho: Ready out of the gate

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 26, 2010 – 4:58 pm

When we hooked up with the Ocho on Monday about his plans for the next two weeks, he indicated that he has no physical problems that are going to prevent him from being ready for his stint at the June 15-17 mandatory minicamp. The club has also apparently been told he’s fine following his tweet that said he didn’t dance in the Dancing With the Stars finale because he got hurt lifting weights.

“Same time as last year. I get into Cincinnati June 12,” Ochocinco said. “I start the new show next week and I’ll be in the week after that.  Just like last year.  I’ll be ready when we get on the field.”

 The Ocho arrived last year on June 9 and participated in two voluntary workouts before the mandatory. He’s delayed this year because of his cable TV dating show that he says is going to take about 10 days to shoot.

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Secondary line by line

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 25, 2010 – 6:36 am

You can’t tell the players without a scorecard. Especially a field of 18 defensive backs. With the Bengals taking the field Tuesday and Thursday this week in their third week of voluntary camps, here is a look by their uniform numbers at the group swarming in the secondary.

It’s going to be a bloodletting because they keep only 10 with six cornerbacks and four safeties.  Here are the guys they think have ability to play both corner and safety or have given looks at both: Chris Crocker, Keiwan Ratliff, Tom Nelson, Rico Murray, Morgan Trent, and, in a real pinch, Leon Hall.

 20 – CB David Jones, 6-0, 196, fourth season:  A defining year for him. Lost his No. 3 corner job last year when he broke his foot in the first week of training camp last year and he didn’t get into the lineup until the fifth game.

21 – CB Brandon Ghee, 6-0, 192, R: Third-round pick out of Wake Forest with a lot of college experience who has physical gifts but needs to put them together. Has been impressive early with a willingness to watch the vets.

22 – CB Johnathan Joseph, 5-11, 193, 5: One of the NFL’s top corners. Might have made the play of the year last season when he began the second half with a 30-yard interception return for a TD to begin comeback win over Steelers. Great closing speed with 74 career passes defensed.

23 – CB Johnny Sears, 6-0, 184, R: Free agent out of Eastern Michigan. Violations of team rules got him bounced out of Michigan. But Leon Hall and Morgan Trent talked to the Bengals about him. With Sears a Ron English disciple, secondary coach Kevin Coyle knows that means he understands the game and plays aggressively and physical. He has been impressive in one-on-ones with good size and speed.

24 – CB Adam Jones, 5-10, 186, 4: Flashing all his physical tools this spring, particularly closing speed and ability to get his hands on the ball. The Bengals are not only looking to get the rust off his technique but improving his technique and monitoring his aptitude at staying within the discipline of the scheme.

25 – CB Morgan Trent, 6-1, 195, 2:  Won the No. 3 job last year with good versatility. Getting a little look at safety this spring. Good size. Does a little bit of everything with four passes defensed and a secondary-high four quarterback pressures.

26 – CB-S Keiwan Ratliff, 5-11, 188, 7: In his second reincarnation with the Bengals after they took him in the second round in ’04. He wasn’t a burner then, but he’s smart and can play all five spots.

27 – S Gibril Wilson, 6-0, 205, 7: A recent pickup the Bengals think is going to contribute significantly. He comes in with 80 starts and has already impressed as an excellent practice player.

29 – CB Leon Hall, 5-11, 199, 4: One of top corners in the league. Rarely gets beat, technically brilliant, and can really mix it up physically. Team-high six picks augmented by 73 tackles. If he had to, the Bengals think he’s versatile enough to play safety.

31 – Roy Williams, 6-0, 222, 9: A broken forearm has limited him to seven games in the last two years, but the coaches are still buzzing about the impact he made last year for them in the last training camp and first month of the season.  A five-time Pro Bowler with all the experience that brings.

33 – S DeAngelo Willingham, 6-0, 200, 1:  The Bengals picked him up off waivers a few weeks ago after he had a nomadic rookie year without playing in a game. He played both safety and corner at Tennessee.  Has shown up conscientious and willing. Intriguing speed for his size.

34 – S Kyries Hebert, 6-3, 220, 3: Special teams captain. Tied for second in special-teams tackles last season with 12. Tremendous physical presence in the kicking game.  In this roster scrum his limited play from scrimmage could hurt him, but Coyle says this spring is the best he’s looked at 100 percent healthy.

39 – S Bryan Evans, 5-11, 193, R: Free agent out of Georgia. Started 23 of 47 games in four seasons and 12 the past season with 46 tackles, half a sack and three pass breakups. One career interception. The Bengals liked his toughness on tape and when he got here they’ve been impressed with his explosion and change of direction.

41 – S Chinedum Ndukwe, 6-2, 224, 4: Started 12 games in place of Williams last season and has 25 in his career. A productive guy who gets around the ball. The coaches have continually worked on his discipline staying in the scheme and this spring they’re saying he’s looked as good as he has since he’s been here.

42 – S Chris Crocker, 5-11, 200, 8: A productive, hard-hitting secondary leader. His ankle injury late in the year really hurt the Bengals playoff run. Can play in the corner slot if needed but usually stays at safety in the nickel. He is being brought back slowly off ankle surgery and has yet to be on the field.

43 – S Tom Nelson, 5-11, 203, 2: Made the club last year as a free agent out of Illinois State but this year’s bid hampered by last season’s  knee injury that has kept him off the field this spring. A smart, versatile guy that has played the corner slot. He had a rough end-of-season but the injury didn’t help him.

44 – S Rico Murray, 5-11, 202, 1: Made the practice squad last year as a free agent out of Kent State and injuries got him promoted to last five games that included the playoffs.  The Moeller High grad is drawing some interest. He played corner last year, dabbled some at safety, and now the Bengals are looking at him this year primarily as a safety as they develop him for both spots.

45 – S Jeromy Miles, 6-2, 210, R: Free agent out of Massachusetts. Transfer from Navy played 47 straight games, the last 36 at UMass. Senior captain finished fourth in tackles and had two picks, two forced fumbles, and five passes defensed to earn first-team Walter Camp All-American. Coyle, his fellow UMass safety, likes his NFL size and speed, but like all rookie safeties, how quickly does he assimilate the big picture?

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Receivers bubbling

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 19, 2010 – 4:38 pm

Third-year wide receiver Jerome Simpson continued to impress on the bubble Wednesday.  He caught a long bomb with a dive, corraling the ball as he tumbled to the ground. He got up gingerly but returned to work … Wide receiver Matt Jones also had another good day catching the ball.

» If you made me pick the six wide receivers now, I’d say The Ocho, Antonio Bryant, Andre Caldwell, Jordan Shipley, and Matt Jones with the last spot being fought between Simpson and sixth-rounder Dez Briscoe.

First of all, I may be way off. Second, they still may have to make room for Quan Cosby and his punt returns because he also doesn’t drop many passes. And third, it’s highly doubtful they’d be able to put Briscoe on the practice squad without another team claiming him. It’s already amazing he was there in the sixth.

» Reggie Kelly was surprised when he got a good look at his 6-5, 261 heir apparent, Jermaine Gresham. From what he’d been reading and hearing, Kelly said, he thought Gresham was just a receiving tight end.

“He’s a physical specimen,” Kelly said. “I think he can be a great blocker.”

» Players like defensive tackle Domata Peko and other insiders are raving about how quick the Bengals are up front on defense, aided by the drafting of Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins.

“I’ve been reading where Zimmer was calling Geno, ‘Taz,’ ” said Peko of the nickname that is short for Tasmanian devil and bestowed on Atkins by defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and defensive line coach Jay Hayes. “I can see that. That’s how he plays.”

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Wednesday quick hits

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 19, 2010 – 2:00 pm

After Wednesday’s voluntary on-field sessions at Paul Brown Stadium, cornerback Adam Jones took questions from the media for the first time in his Bengals career and assured reporters, “I’m not going to give you guys much to write about.”

He was talking about off the field. On the field he continues to impress. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said after practice, “So far, so good … he’s been disciplined. He’s done everything we’ve asked.”

And that’s where he says he’s going to contain his swagger.

On the field.

“I’m never going to lose my swagger on the field,” Jones said. “If you see me out there, I compete every play. If I don’t make the play, I’m upset with myself. That’s the kind of swagger I’m talking about. I’m not talking about a swagger with your pants down or nothing like that. I’m talking about on the field. If I’m not playing with a swagger on the field, I don’t think I need to be out there.”

He knows all eyes are on him, so Jones dismisses the notion it easier for him to live and play in small-market Cincinnati after he couldn’t make a go in glitzy Dallas.

After his second day throwing against him, quarterback Carson Palmer compared Jones’ quickness out of his backpedal to Steelers Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu.

“Not too many guys are like that,” Palmer said. “You can’t be late throwing to his side.”

“That closing speed is very rare. It reminds me of Troy and there aren’t many guys that have that first two or three steps and are at full speed.”

After living through Chris Henry and Cedric Benson and Tank Johnson, Palmer’s mind is wide open. After talking to the return artist formerly known as Pacman, he says, “I like him.” 

“Playing here you learn to give guys the benefit of a doubt and there are guys here that have been through a lot of things,” Palmer said. ” A lot of things have been said by people who don’t know that individual. Things have been said about Pacman and I’m not letting that make that. He is who he is and has tried to learn right away and compete. Everything else that has been in his past I’m not going to let that make my mind for me.”

» Veteran tight end Reggie Kelly has already bonded with No. 1 pick Jermaine Gresham in his first week back since signing his one-year deal. Kelly was extremely impressed that when he was in the weight room Gresham came in with rehab specialist Nick Cosgray and asked to be introduced to him. And even though Kelly is still not working on the field yet (Achilles), he says he spent time with Gresham out there Tuesday after practice.

“Reggie will be in his ear,” said Palmer, who recalled how instrumental Jon Kitna was to his career during his rookie year.  “It was great to draft the guy we drafted. The best move was to bring Reggie back.”

Rookie defensive tackle Geno Atkins flashed enough in one 11-on-11 set that former Bengals defensive tackle John Thornton says he would have had three straight sacks at one point … Zimmer has got his guys all over the place. SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga played some in the middle and also blitzed off the edge … The Bengals aren’t playing a 3-4, but there are 3-4 principles with guys like ends Robert Geathers and Michael Johnson standing up … Johnson is also working with the backers as a SAM.

» Joining Kelly on the side rehabbing were right end Antwan Odom (Achilles), safety Chris Crocker (foot), safety Tom (Nelson) knee, SAM linebacker Rashad Jeanty (leg) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (arm).  Don’t look for Jeanty and Sims until training camp … Fourth-round pick Roddrick Muckelroy and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco weren’t here. Right tackle Andre Smith (foot) wasn’t on the field as he still rehabs from surgery.

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Ocho takes classy bow

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 18, 2010 – 9:43 pm

Maybe the judges didn’t think his dancing was classy enough to make the Final Three, but Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco took a classy bow Tuesday night when he was eliminated from ABC’s Dancing With The Stars.

“USA Today’s web site quoted The Ocho as saying, “”This was awesome. I enjoyed the journey. I got some great criticism. I met some awesome people, including the beautiful Cheryl Burke. I’ve already won.”

Ochocinco’s relationship with Burke, his partner, has been as big a topic as his dancing even though he has suggested it is not romantic.

“We will remain friends,” The Ocho said, according to USA Today.  “I’ll be here as a professional next year.”

He’s expected at Paul Brown Stadium at some point in June and definitely for the June 15-17 mandatory minicamp.

About an hour after the show he tweeted pretty much the same sentiments.

“”Man this has been one of the best experiences ever, thanks to all who supported The Interesting One, this is just the beginning. #BEGREAT

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The King and I

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 18, 2010 – 12:33 pm

There is no one I respect more in this business than Peter King of Sports Illustrated.

There is no one right now I am more baffled by in this business than Peter King of Sports Illustrated.

My King has unveiled his NFL power rankings and he may have had a worse week than the NBA King. Peter admits this is risky business, pointing to last year when he logged the eventual Super Bowl champ Saints at No. 24 last spring.

But putting 20 places between the Ravens at No. 3 and the Bengals at No. 23 is as inexplicable as someone named Marcus Thames hitting a two-run, two-out walk-off homer at Yankee Stadium after Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon hit someone else named  Francisco Cervelli while ahead in the count at 0-and-1.

(Who are these people? I was just getting used to Darnell McDonald.)

The King and I have a good enough relationship that he is bequeathing me two of his Red Sox season tickets for a June game against the Rays that could be an elimination bout for the flagging Sox. But he already sent me the ducats so I can throw him a few brushbacks here. Except we’ll have more control than Papelbon and Josh Beckett in a week they’ve hit more bodies than radar guns.

Peter raves how “the Ravens have hit a few home runs this offseason, and those moves could carry them to the AFC Championship Game. I like the remake of their receiver corps. Anquan Boldin won’t make it through 16 games healthy, but he’ll give Joe Flacco a good, physical target for 12. Donte’ Stallworth will be reborn as an effective third or fourth wideout, with the speed at the position the Ravens haven’t had.”

The Bengals swept the Ravens last year and, at the very least, matched them in the offseason.

They came into 2010 mirrors of each other offensively. They needed weapons for their strong-armed quarterbacks and you’d have to say the Bengals matched Boldin with Antonio Bryant, Stallworth with Matt Jones, and maybe went one better when they got Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham with their first draft pick.

The Ravens later took two good tight ends back-to-back in Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, but what are Gresham and Chase Coffman?

Boldin may have better career numbers than Bryant when it comes to catches and touchdowns, but he’s got 12.8 yards per catch compared to Bryant’s 15.3. How that helps Flacco get it down the field, I’m not sure but it is at least a wash, and here’s betting Bryant plays more games than Boldin.  And, Jones and Stallworth are clones. Underachieving first rounders that sat out last year but have the potential to go deep and get cut.

Peter says he’s worried about Palmer. That’s so in vogue to say now.

Why? Because his throws were so wild in the early part of the Wild Card game? He didn’t exactly have the Three Amigos out there, either, but yeah, he had to play better in a big game.

Yet the pundits want his numbers to be 2006ish even though he was throwing to a lesser cast with a watered down playbook.

That’s where we are now. Everything is “a legacy.” Every big game is now a legacy game and it always falls to one guy because it fits into 140 characters and 25 seconds at the top of the show.

At the tender age of 25 years old, LeBron James is now the Wilt Chamberlain of his generation. Can’t win the big one is the easy sound bite.

Perspective anyone? Can we hold off for a half hour and rummage for some context and some footnotes when making pronouncements of an era?

How about a Cavs front office that stuck him with an aging celebrity in Shaq? (Or was that Betty White?) How about not having a guy that can guard Rondo? How about Cavs coach Mike Brown looking like he was a day camper at a Doc Rivers Basketball Clinic?

Not only was Palmer working without T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry last year, he was also executing a playbook that bore no resemblance to the fire-and-fallback days of ’04-’07. And it had to be so he wouldn’t get killed behind a rebuilt offensive line.

Last season, the Bengals won four games by six points or less and we all know what Palmer did down the stretch with seven last drives that either tied the game or gave them the lead. The Ravens lost five games by six points or less.

Those are quarterback games. Flacco is a hell of a player. Great arm. But maybe more people should be worried about him heading into a season he lost quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson, the Raiders new offensive coordinator.

Defensively in the offseason the Bengals and Ravens also matched each other. Cincinnati beefed up an already strong secondary with third-round pick Brandon Ghee at cornerback and veteran Gibril Wilson at safety. Baltimore added to its illustrious front seven by drafting Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle and Alabama tackle Terrence Cody in the second round.

King frets about the Baltimore cornerbacks, one of the most important positions on the field. The Bengals have maybe the best pair of starters in the league. If it’s a wash, the Bengals defense held the Ravens to two touchdowns last year and finished ranked fourth in the NFL. The Baltimore defense finished third.

Hey, if you want to put Baltimore ahead of the Bengals, by all means you can make the argument. But you can go the other way, too. They look pretty even, if anything.

Sorry Pete, there is no way there is a 20-spot difference. If you make the Ravens No. 3, the Bengals have to be within at last two or three slots of them. And since they swept them, maybe they should be even higher.

With all due respect, of course.

I’m angling for a Yankees game in ’11.

Here is the kind of guy Peter King is.

Rewind back to the Giants’ Super Bowl run in December 1986. King is in his second season covering the Giants for Newsday after blanketing the ’84 Bengals for The Cincinnati Enquirer. I’ve been deployed from the Upstate wilds by the Syracuse Herald-Journal to write a Sunday story on ‘Cuse product Joe Morris, New York’s little big man running back.

King doesn’t know me from Clell Lavern “Butch” Hobson, former third sacker for the Bosox and Yankees. Yet he sees what I’m doing and offers a Morris stat, his numbers on grass and his numbers on turf. The guy was Bobby Orr and Sid on the fake stuff.

“But I don’t have it here,” he says and I’m getting in the car to head home. “Call me tomorrow morning at 9:58.”

I call at 9:56 and he answers with my name and a download of stats before download was a word.

He’s been helping me ever since even though he got bigger and bigger and became The King and I’ll always be grateful.

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Last dance for The Ocho?

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 17, 2010 – 10:20 pm


The cards were already stacked against Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco heading into the Final Four of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars.

Pitted against an ice skater, a pop star and a former college dance teamer, The Ocho responded in the underdog role with some of his best dancing of the show. Topping off his last dance by ripping off his top during a torrid Samba, he gave it a good go with a solo that took him sliding across the floor on his knees.

But he could only get a 25 from the three judges. Together with three 9s for a waltz, that put him in fourth and last place heading into Tuesday’ night’s results show at 8 p.m. He ended up with 52 while skater Evan Lysacek and pop star Nicole Scherzinger went 59 out of 60 to finish tied for first with former University of Florida dancer Erin Andrews putting up 56 in her two dances.

A  couple of hours before he went on, he revealed that he wasn’t as nervous as he was on Sunday and sounded pretty loose when he put Burke on the line.

“Do or die,” said Burke, a multi-winner of the Mirror Ball.  

 The episode was spiced with background stories on the four contestants, and The Ocho’s segment included interviews with his grandmother, daughter, Terrell Owens, and Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. Lewis allowed that Ocho didn’t think the experience would be as hard as it has become. It has been a little bit harder because Ochocinco says he’s been getting up early to lift weights.

Now he finds out Tuesday night if the fan votes have brought football season, or if he’s dancing for another week and into next Monday’s last episode.

“I don’t want to go home,” he said.

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‘I can’t miss much more of this’

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 13, 2010 – 12:26 pm

If you weren’t ready for the Bengals season, you will be now.

Reggie Kelly admits in the painful days and weeks after he ruptured his Achilles tendon early in training camp last August he thought about retirement. After all, he would be 33 in 2010, he has his two grade-school children, wife Sheila and several off-field projects waiting.

But when his teammates started stringing together an AFC North title season, he knew he couldn’t stay away.

“When we beat Pittsburgh the first time, that lit a fire underneath me,” Kelly said Thursday after signing a one-year deal. “Then we went to their stadium and beat them a second time. I was like, ‘Man, there is only so much more I can miss. I can’t miss much more of this.’ I’ve just  been excited throughout the season. I’ve been excited in the offseason. I’ve been excited all the way up to this point. I’m just excited about the opportunity just to strap them back up.”

Rehab trainer Nick Cosgray’s successful program also got Kelly hungry to return for an eighth season in Cincinnati and 12th in the NFL because he said he was 100 percent back in December. He probably won’t get right on the field next week and he just may end up easing into it with strength coach Chip Morton’s staff on the side, but that’s only because Kelly says they’ve decided to “err on the side of caution” since he has been cleared.

Kelly said the team has been “very generous” with the deal, saying it protects them from risk and gives him incentives if he hits some play-time milestones. He’s anxious to work with No. 1 pick Jermaine Gresham and Chase Coffman at tight end, a trio that didn’t play at all last year.

 “I want to start. Every football player should want to do that,” Kelly said. “But if I’m backing up, I’ll help the young players all I can. I’m excited about this team and I want to help us win.”

More on Kelly and just how he fits into this offense is headed to later in the day.

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First impressions

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 11, 2010 – 4:54 pm

A few observations after Tuesday’s first on-field practice session of the season:

» Chad Ochocinco dropped a hint the Bengals are going to bring in former Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Not so fast, OCNN. Here is what happened from what can be pieced together.

The Bengals have apparently called old friend Hue Jackson to ask about Russell. It is believed that Jackson, the Raiders offensive coordinator and former Bengals receivers coach, didn’t kill him and talked positively about him. But apparently Russell isn’t ready to make a move yet and the Bengals just called his people to see what he’s thinking. The club isn’t sure there is a fit and right now just seems to be kicking tires.

But stay tuned. Marvin Lewis said earlier in the day they are not done tinkering with the roster.   

» The early surprise is looking to be wide receiver Matt Jones, the Jaguars’ former No. 1 pick. He sped past a heck of a cornerback in Leon Hall twice, once for a catch. Carson Palmer said it Monday, “He’s always a mismatch” because of his height and speed, and another offensive player said, “Matt Jones is a beast.”

» The much-maligned Jerome Simpson had a very nice day. The third-year wide receiver also caught a long ball, leaping between two defenders to pull it in. He looked quick, spry and sure-handed but the challenge for him is to keep that consistency every time out. And he’s got a lot of guys in front of him.

» Safety Gibril Wilson showed up with the seasoned sureness of an 84-game NFL veteran. You can tell he’s energized being back at strong safety. It looks like he can run and flashed some pretty good hands in the drills.

» It looked like cornerback Adam Jones still has some quicks. He can really break on the ball. After one play Marvin Lewis reminded him to keep his shoulders square, which is going to be the challenge. How long is it going to take him to knock off the rust for a guy who hasn’t relied much on technique in the past? But there is no missing those physical skills.

» Antonio Bryant is a physical guy. He’s a horse when he gets position on you. Maybe I’m nuts, but the difference between him and Laveranues Coles this time last year is stark.  Bryant played both the slot and outside Tuesday (as did Andre Caldwell) and while he had some snafus, it was also pretty clear he was picking it up. In fact,offensive coordianator Bob Bratkowski said he have him a lot on purpose and was impressed with how he responded.

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