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 Bengals.com later in the day.
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