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Early Friday stuff

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on July 30, 2010 – 10:25 am

First-round pick Jermaine Gresham has missed the first two practices and his agent and the Bengals don’t appear to be close to a deal even though the two picks ahead of him at No. 21 are in. And it appears that agent Ben Dogra isn’t talking to the media about it, either.

Possible snafus? Dogra and his agency CAA have a raft of first-round picks and they may be trying to get one of their other guys signed first. Or, Tim Tebow, at No. 25, got some serious quarterback incentives that could balloon it to $33 million and that may be a factor.

Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said earlier this week that missing the entire first week of training camp is crushing because it is so heavy in review and installation.

» Safety Gibril Wilson got his foot stepped on and missed the latter part of Thursday night’s practice, but it didn’t look serious.

» Cornerback Leon Hall (back) thought a weekend return was possible

» The pads come on for the first time Saturday morning.

» Two former Bengals turned media mega stars, NFL Network’s Solomon Wilcots and Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham, signed off on the Terrell Owens move. Both played on Super Bowl teams in Cincinnati with a lot of weapons  and saw the egos co-exist.

“If Issac Curtis was double covered,  Kenny Anderson threw it to Cris (Collinsworth),” said Lapham, a member of the ’81 club. “If Cris was double covered, he threw it to Isaac. If they were both double covered, he threw it to (tight end) Danny Ross. … The bottom line is if you look in the huddle and what is looking back at you is guys trying to win the game and not get their numbers, then you know you’ve got it and that’s what we had.”

One nagging concern in this corner: Can the Bengals still be a team committed to the run and run a lot of three receiver sets? Wilcots says not to worry.

“They crushed the Bears with three receivers last year,” he said. “You can certainly do it. Your receivers have to block. T.O. is big guy who can block and Antonio Bryant is a tough guy that blocks.”

Wilcots isn’t looking for much blocking from The Ocho, but he likes the other two guys and how the three-receiver sets widens the running lanes.


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T.O. aiming for night practice

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on July 29, 2010 – 8:20 am

GEORGETOWN, Ky. - Terrell Owens is still expected to be here for Thursday night’s practice, but his 11:45 a.m. news conference has been postponed after the club learned he wouldn’t be on the scheduled redeye flight out of California. It has been rescheduled for after the 7 p.m. practice.


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Finding T.O.

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on July 29, 2010 – 6:51 am

GEORGETOWN, Ky. – We know that wide receiver Terrell Owens will be at an 11:45 a.m. Thursday news conference here at Georgetown College after taking the redeye from The Coast, but where will he be when he takes the field for the first time as a Bengal at the 7 p.m. practice?

In the slot or outside?

The Bengals are still piecing that together, but receivers coach Mike Sheppard says to look for him early on at the outside.

“Hard to say,” said Sheppard, when asked if Owens is a slot guy. “He didn’t play a lot of inside but he had a lot of patterns that worked inside. I think that’s what we’re going to find out about … we can move at his pace. We go fast in training camp but we don’t have to play him every down. We’ve got good players there . Hopefully we can get him up to speed as fast as he can learn it. Hopefully,  we get him going outside and then we’ll see what he can do outside maybe.”

With Owens heading into his 15th NFL season and Sheppard coaching his 17th NFL season, the learning curve doesn’t figure to be steep. Sheppard figures it will be a review for Owens. Also figuring into this could be the health of Antonio Bryant. When the Bengals backed him off in late June when his knee flared up, they moved him back outside.

But not before they were very impressed how he handled playing the slot, a spot he had hardly ever played during his previous seven NFL seasons.

“He was adjusting and he was anxious to do it,” Sheppard said.  “He knows  in our structure a lot of catches come in there. His being familiar with the inside is going to help us.”

All indications are that Bryant is going to be on the field Thursday and the Bengals think he’ll be OK as long as they back him off. Sheppard has liked what he’s seen so far about his makeup.

“He’s got great toughness, excellent hands, very strong hands,” Sheppard said. “Press doesn’t bother him. He can fight through things and he’s competitive as heck.” …

Interesting that two former Bengals quarterbacks have offered their old club encouraging words about Owens. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Palmer’s backup  in ’07-08, threw to him last year in Buffalo and immediately called Carson Palmer after the season to urge the Bengals sign him. And Turk Schonert, who would have been Owens’ offensive coordinator in Buffalo before he got sacked in preseason, loved him, according to Sheppard.

“I’ve worked with Turk and I trust what he sees,” Sheppard said. “He was high on him. Hard worker. Productive guy.” …

The most interesting thing The Ocho said Wednesday – besides saying that Owens is the new No. 1 receiver – is how different they are as players. Owens is such a physical guy that The Ocho says he’d be injured by the third game if he played like that. But he plans on taking notes on what Owens does after the catch. The Ocho is coming off his best season getting yards after the play, but he admitted it’s been a weakness.

“He’s one of the best in the game ever,” The Ocho said of YAC, and he thinks seeing it up close instead of merely on film will help.


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The future is now

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on July 28, 2010 – 5:17 am

In some ways, it is the anti-Bengals move.

In other ways, it is pure Bengals.

Either way, the Terrell Owens move shows a bunch of things: Just how much Mike Brown wants to win, how much influence Carson Palmer has, and just how rare speed and separation are among NFL wideouts that you have to find it in a 36-year-old physical freak.

Before 2007, Isaac Curtis, Tim McGee and Michael Westbrook were the only Bengals wide receivers to make a catch after their 30th birthday.  Since then, it has become a matter of routine.  The Ocho and T.J. Houshmandzadeh became the first 30+ starting duo ever in 2008 and for the third straight season the Bengals may line up with two Opening Day starters 30 or older at receiver as Brown and Marvin Lewis try to find weapons for Palmer.

One national media guy called Tuesday and said this looked like a Mike Brown move and I said it looked just the opposite because of the age thing. He likes his receivers young and fast, especially after Laveranues Coles showed up here last year with barely a pulse and Antonio Bryant is working overtime this year to rehab his knee. With young guys like Jerome Simpson and Dez Briscoe around, you’d have to talk him into it.

This thing was dead Friday morning. But when the Bengals got called by Owens and the coaches were clearly excited by what Palmer was saying about their workouts in California, a consensus began to build. And while Brown has made some moves arbitrarily, he has a long track record of going on consensus and relying on his coaches to push it one way or the other.

When Lewis emerged from his training camp staff meeting Monday morning with a thumbs-up,  Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn put together a proposal.

Owens fits the trend of the last couple of years: A player with baggage who has found a second chance in Cincinnati. The coaches liked Cedric Benson when he worked out. Mike Zimmer was sold on Tank Johnson and Adam Jones. Brown felt like the late Chris Henry could turn his life around.  And there are the one-time stars or high draft picks that have something to prove that Lewis loves, like Roy Williams, Chris Crocker, Dhani Jones and Rey Maualuga.

Owens’ age may not fit the formula. But like Chad Ochocinco said Tuesday night, “The window is open, let’s go.”

What was once one of the more competitive roster spots in camp is now almost moot. Six make it and we know the five that are going to dress on game day: The Ocho, Owens, Bryant, Bryant, Andre Caldwell and Jordan Shipley. That would seem to leave Simpson and Briscoe battling for the sixth spot that is deactivated unless something crazy happens. What to do with Quan Cosby, a very reliable punt returner?

That’s why they have camp, but it sounds like everyone wishes Sept. 12 were here right now with T.O. on the way.


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Don’t forget rookie deals

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on July 27, 2010 – 11:25 am

No matter what happens with Terrell Owens, the Bengals are probably going to announce at least one rookie signing Tuesday and maybe another one with the report date 26 hours away.

They are apparently close to getting fourth-rounder Roddrick Muckelroy into the fold officially and the hope is that third-rounder Jordan Shipley isn’t far behind. That would leave the top two picks, tight end Jermaine Gresham and defensive end Carlos Dunlap, unsigned as the players begin to move into Georgetown College.

As for Owens, it sounds like if the Bengals can’t get him on the field by Thursday’s first practice at 9 a.m. they’ll move on, but you’d have to say the situation is fluid with ESPN reporting the Jets are interested in Owens.


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A lot on the menu

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on July 26, 2010 – 8:18 am

Bengals president Mike Brown hosts the annual training camp media luncheon Monday at Paul Brown Stadium and lately it has produced more news combined than the 40 or so that came before them.

This one should be no exception with all the Terrell Ownens stuff popping and we’ll see if that can get cleared up.

As the weekend careened to a finish, it appeared the only team that had offered Owens a contract was the Rams. With the Bengals coaching staff getting in place today with some headed to the luncheon and some getting packed up for Georgetown, they look to be in a better decision-making mode than they were last week, the last break before camp.

To make a n offer or not make an offer?

It’s not an easy issue to resolve. You can make 10 arguments against it (age, chemistry, makeup of the wide receiver position) and 10 for it (final piece of the puzzle for a contender, great red-zone target for a team that has struggled in the red zone since the loss of Chris Henry, another weapon for Carson) and I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer.

It’s not exactly the Cuban Missle Crisis, but it’s not a multiple choice question, either.

Given the smoke signals sent out by Chad Ochocinco and Palmer reportedly pleased by his workouts with Owens, it is hard to see the Bengals not making an offer, certainly before they report to camp Wednesday and maybe as soon as Monday.

That’s where it is pretty clear cut. With a bunch of young core players coming up on deals, the Bengals aren’t going to offer the 36-year-old Owens a lot of money. It will certainly be one-year and incentive-laden if they do, and the Rams won’t have trouble coming up with more. Then it would be a clear choice for Owens. More money with a rookie QB and a club destined to win three games vs. playing with Ocho and Palmer and a shot at Super Sunday.

  Also expected at the luncheon besides Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis are the coordinators, Bob Bratkowski on offense, Mike Zimmer on defense, and Darrin Simmons on special teams.


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Chad right on T.O.?

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on July 24, 2010 – 7:19 am

With our fellow newshound Chad Ochocinco reporting that Terrell Owens is joining him, you have to wonder about smoke and you have to wonder about fire.

As the good folks at ProFootballTalk.com have pointed out, The Ocho can get a little carried away on Twitter. What we do know is that there is no deal. But we also know there has been a lot of smoke in the last 18 hours and where there’s smoke…

What seems to be going on is that Owens and agent Drew Rosenhaus are going into overdrive to get Owens into a training camp by the time it starts. The Bengals have a good relationship with Rosenhaus and they, no doubt, are being polite and taking each other’s calls about a number of issues. After the Bengals signed Antonio Bryant in March, the club moved on but never ruled out Owens and Rosenhaus thanked the Bengals but never ruled them out, either. Both said it was unlikely.

Now with the camps right around the corner, it seems as if taking a phone call is as good as a contract. But it’s not. Not yet. Will it? As we said earlier, things change. The guess here is that if it happens, it is going to be before the Bengals report to Georgetown on Wednesday.

The evidence still suggests more smoke than fire.  While Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, like any NFL head man, isn’t beyond throwing up some deceptive flares, he was asked this week point blank about T.O. and he said he’s not looking to add at wide receiver.

Privately, the Bengals are saying they’re not looking to do it. They would prefer to give the shots to kids like Jerome Simpson and Dez Briscoe and not turn to a 36-year-old when they have a 32-year-old receiver on the other side.

And while the Bengals coaches have been very impressed with Owens on film last year with the Bills and believe he can still run, he doesn’t provide the greatest fit for a roster that is looking for at least a punt returner and maybe more from its wide receivers on special teams. But then again, cornerback Adam Jones could be the punt returner if the Bengals think they can count on him.

And, hey, special teams is special teams. In Owens, you’re talking about a guy that has scored more touchdowns than anyone playing.

Could the Bengals sign him? Could they change their minds?

Sure. Go back to 2008 when they had no plans in July to re-sign Chris Henry in August. They didn’t know that Chad Ochocinco and Andre Caldwell would get hurt in a preseason game and be sidelined for a few weeks. Or that T.J. Houshmandzadeh wouldn’t practice all camp with a hamstring problem. And it turned out that Simpson was no match for a quick transition from Division II.

So, yeah, it could change.

Maybe they never thought Owens would still be sitting there.

We know that T.O. didn’t burn any bridges when the Bengals opted for Bryant. Word was his heart was set on joining a big-time quarterback and his good friend Ocho and when it didn’t happen he was quite emotional. But he sent a very classy tweet thanking everyone in the organization, starting from the top with Bengals president Mike Brown.

Who knows?

It could also not change.

We will soon know. If both parties want to do it, they’ll want to reserve a bed at Georgetown for him.


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Santucci waived

Posted by bengalsweb on July 22, 2010 – 11:15 am

The Bengals have waived center Dan Santucci, a fourth-year NFL player from Notre Dame. Santucci played with the Bengals in 2007 and spent the last two seasons on the Reserve/Injured list.

The Bengals roster currently stands at 81 including five unsigned draft picks. The roster must be at 80 signed players when training camp begins next Thursday at Georgetown College.


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Slants and screens

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on July 19, 2010 – 2:34 pm

Checking in with Rey Maualuga on Monday to see where he is physically 10 days before the first practice and the starting SAM linebacker said he expects to be cleared by doctors Tuesday.

Maualuga had minor surgery in early June to clean out residue from last season’s broken fibula that flared up on the field in May and he missed the rest of the spring workouts. But on Monday he said he’s now working with rehab trainer Nick Cosgray back at Paul Brown Stadium and is close to 100 percent.

“I’m doing regular stuff,” Maualuga said. “I’m doing position drills. I’m running with Nick to make sure he sees what he wants to see. I’m ready to go. I’m done trying to hold back.”

Word on right tackle Andre Smith is that he’s on the road to being cleared for that July 29 practice. Smith hasn’t been on the field since the playoff game back in January while he recovers from February surgery to finish off the healing of the broken bone in his foot that wiped out the first 10 games of his rookie year.

The Bengals are overhauling their locker room and other player areas with new striped carpeting and paint schemes. They’ve also added several flat screen, high definition TVs in the locker room that have a variety of uses. Besides watching games and cutups, it can be used as a way of communicating the day’s schedule and important announcements.


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Ultimate Catch

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on July 12, 2010 – 3:53 am

Not exactly Masterpiece Theater, is it?

The Ocho’s dating show, “The Ultimate Catch,” debuted Sunday night on VH1, with Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco cutting his field of 85 women down to a very sweet 16. Congrats to the Ocho for making a niche outside football, but we still like to watch him best on Sunday afternoons.

It began in the Rose Bowl with drills like trash-talking and end-zone dances. It ended 90 minutes later with The Ocho seeding the women one through 16 to set up the rest of the series. I already forgot the name of the top seed, but I am keeping up with his tweets and it sounds like his boxing workouts are as intense as ever as he vows to be in top shape for the upcoming season.

As last month’s minicamp broke, one of his fellow receivers wondered if The Ocho would save him one. But there were no Bengals and no Cincinnati girls.

That’s about all you need to know, except that T.O. tried to get a phone number from one of the girls and The Ocho still let her advance.

More than anything, to me at least, the show got the wheels turning about the competition at the Bengals wide receiver spot. The only way they can keep seven receivers is if they kept only two quarterbacks and that is a longshot unless J.T. O’Sullivan or Jordan Palmer totally implode in preseason. And they have shown no signs of that.

So figure six, and nothing has changed since last month with everybody on the bubble but The Ocho, Antonio Bryant, Andre Caldwell and Jordan Shipley.

The public backlash against Caldwell has been sharper than how the coaches view him. They think he came back in excellent shape and played faster than any of the receivers in the spring, in large part because he’s so comfortable with the offense in his third season. The guy plays all three spots, is physical, and can run. Maybe he’s not one of your top two receivers, but you just don’t throw away guys like that, either.

There is concern about Bryant’s knee, which knocked him out of a couple of the last minicamp practices after he worked all spring. But the thinking is he’ll be OK because they’ll back him off. He did play last year on it after he missed the first month of the season and while he caught just 39 balls in the middle of the Bucs quarterback mess and coaching snafus, they still like the fact he averaged 15.4 yards per catch. So look for him only once in the two-a-days, and he’ll probably get some Fridays off once the season starts.

But it is not really six they’re cutting to. It is five that are going to be active on Sunday and three of the guys conceivably have to help them on special teams. That would not appear to be Matt Jones, Jerome Simpson, or Terrell Owens for that matter.

You have to think the closest Batman and Robin will come to teaming up this year is this past Sunday night. The money, the fit, the age (36) makes less sense than when T.O. visited back in March

The fifth guy could very well be punt returner Quan Cosby. Shipley might be able to do it, but if he plays a bunch from scrimmage he’ll need help and Cosby is merely coming off the Bengals’ best return season in 25 years.

It is hard to see both Jones and Simpson making it. But you could also see either one getting a spot because they do provide the best deep threats beyond The Ocho.  The edge would have to go to Jones over Simpson because of his experience and the fact that the Bengals could use his college quarterback skills in some kind of Wildcat.

You’d have to think the favorite for the sixth spot is sixth-rounder Dez Briscoe. He didn’t do much in the spring because of hamstring problems, but the kid was 20 when they drafted him and he worked enough that they were impressed with how smoothly he ran routes. He’s got good size, speed, and has the big upside, as they say. If they try to get him to the practice squad, you have to assume somebody takes him off waivers.

The Ocho and Briscoe are bookends of eras. Briscoe became a Bengals fan the week Chad Johnson guaranteed a victory over the undefeated Chiefs. Dez was 14. The Ocho has since taken that Joe Willie moment from nearly seven years ago to the next level and you have to take your hat off to him. He’s become bigger than big. You’ve got to credit him for realizing that disgruntled superstar (2008) doesn’t cash as well off the field as a smile and nine touchdowns (2009).

But the real Ultimate Catch would be The Ocho handing down his DBs knowledge and line-of-scrimmage experience to a kid like Briscoe that grew up watching him play. Chad would have no problem with that. We’ve known for more than seven years that Chad will talk to anyone willing to listen.

They’ve got a date.


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