Boomer Is Happy That Bengals Are Out Of Luck…Sweepstakes

Posted by Dan Hoard on December 29, 2011 – 5:24 pm

When the Bengals drafted Carson Palmer with the NFL’s first overall pick in 2003, Boomer Esiason handed him a helmet and said, “Welcome to our dysfunctional family.”

This past September, the former Bengals quarterback used the line again.

“I’m going to remind everybody exactly what I said on the ‘NFL Today’ at the start of the season,” said Esiason.  “I welcomed (likely 2012 top pick) Andrew Luck to the dysfunctional family and the season hadn’t even started.  That’s how wrong I was.”

Boomer was obviously not alone in underestimating the Bengals this season.  It was widely assumed that a team with a rookie starting quarterback and a new offensive coordinator was bound to struggle — especially considering the limited practice time coming out of the lockout.

“All I can do is go back to when I was a rookie,” said Esiason.  “If Bengals fans remember those days – boy, I’ll tell you what – they were probably wondering what the heck the Bengals were thinking when they drafted me.  I was clearly in over my head mentally.  Physically I knew I could do it, but mentally, I was nowhere to be found.  I remember Cris Collinsworth saying to somebody, ‘Are they kidding me with this guy?’  That’s not what they are saying about Andy.

“If it weren’t for Cam Newton he would be the Offensive Rookie of the Year.  I can’t say enough good things about him, and I can’t say enough good things about what Jay Gruden has done for him.  I can’t think of anybody at the beginning of the season – me included – that thought that the Bengals would be where they are today and they’re being led by a rookie quarterback which is even more astounding.  And if Andy Dalton and Cam Newton weren’t playing, than A.J. Green has to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year.  What that tells me is that the immediate future for the Cincinnati Bengals and their fan base looks to be extremely bright.”

With a win over Baltimore on Sunday, the Bengals would earn a playoff berth for the third time in the last seven years.  There are only 10 teams that have made more playoff trips in that span (11 if the Cowboys beat the Giants on Sunday).

“I think this is the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Esiason.  “This is one of those opportunity games that don’t come along for young players very often, and I know that Andy and A.J. and the rest of them are going to take it very seriously, and they shouldn’t expect anything other than to go out there and win.  It shouldn’t be, ‘Hey, it’s great to be here and nobody expected us to be here.’  They should be saying, ‘Hey wait a minute.  We can win this game, and possibly go on the road and play Houston with their rookie quarterback, and maybe get to the second round of the playoffs.’  Those are the things that I would be talking about in that locker room.”

Win or lose on Sunday, the Bengals have no shot at drafting Andrew Luck and Esiason is happy to have been so wrong.

“I think we should all sit back and take a breath and applaud what these kids have done – especially with very little training camp and no OTAs in the off-season.  For them to step on the field and do this for a franchise that has been downtrodden and has gone through the Carson Palmer stuff, the T.O. stuff, the Ochocinco stuff, the Chris Henry death and everything that has happened there over the last 10 years and you see how they have come out of it.  I tell you what, there’s a lot to be happy about and thankful for, and we have something to really look forward to.”

Boomer joined Dave Lapham and me on “Bengals Gameplan” on Wednesday.  Click here to listen to the entire interview.  Boomer’s segment begins at the 23 minute mark.


We were also joined on Wednesday’s show by Sam Monson, one of the top analysts for the website where the staff grades every NFL player on every play.

According to their research, one of this year’s biggest Pro Bowl snubs was Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins.

“Geno Atkins, at the moment, is our top-rated defensive tackle on the season and by far and away, he’s our top-rated pass rushing defensive tackle,” said Monson.  “Only Justin Smith, who plays end but then kicks inside to tackle, generates anything like the amount of pressure that Geno Atkins generates from the inside.  It’s just ludicrous that he hasn’t been picked as a Pro Bowl defensive tackle this season.”

According to, Geno’s statistics compare favorably to the numbers Ndamukong Suh posted last year when he was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.

“At this time last year, Suh had 10 sacks, 6 knockdowns of the quarterback, and 24 more pressures,” said Monson.  “Atkins is a little behind on the sacks, but he has significantly more knockdowns – he has 14 of those – and he has more pressure overall.  The only difference is that the hype train ran away with Suh early and he was always deemed as this superstar defensive tackle, whereas Atkins has had to do it the hard way.  This season he is flying under the radar and people just haven’t noticed, but his numbers are as good if not better than Suh’s were last year.  And Atkins has been playing the run pretty well this season which I actually thought he might struggle with, but he’s been doing well and is actually pretty highly-rated as a run defender as well.  Suh is still a liability against certain run plays and trap blocks and that kind of thing.”

I told Atkins on Thursday that a website had him rated as the top defensive tackle in the NFL.

“I don’t know what to say,” Geno told me.  “I just don’t believe that, but if they say so…I guess it’s better than being called the worst defensive lineman in the NFL.”


I’ll be heading to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl on Friday, but I hope you’ll join Artrell Hawkins and Wayne “Box” Miller for “Bengals Pep Rally” from 3 to 6 at the Firehouse Grill in Blue Ash.

I’d love to hear from you at

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at

And I’m on Facebook.  Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.

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It’s a Bird…it’s a Plane…it’s Jerome Simpson

Posted by Dan Hoard on December 24, 2011 – 9:57 pm

Jerome Simpson came out of the tunnel and ran on to the field wearing a Santa hat on Saturday.

Then he showed that he doesn’t need reindeer to fly.

Go ahead and give him his ESPY for “Play of the Year” right now, because nobody is going to top the Simpson Somersault.

(You can watch the play by clicking here)

With the Bengals leading 10-0 late in the second quarter, Simpson caught a pass from Andy Dalton on a crossing route at the 17 yard line and sprinted for the end zone.  When Jerome reached the two yard line, Dalton’s former college teammate Daryl Washington was waiting, so Simpson did a forward-flip over him and landed on both feet.

“To tell you the truth, it was just instinct,” said Simpson.  “I saw the guy and it seemed like he was going to try to hit me and I really didn’t want to get hit, so I used my athletic ability and my jumping ability that my mom, dad, and family blessed me with.  I’ve jumped over a guy before, but I never done a flip like that and landed it.  I just wanted to do anything possible to win games for this team”

Simpson’s freakish athletic ability helps explain why the Bengals drafted him in the second round out of tiny Coastal Carolina in 2008.  In addition to scoring 44 touchdowns in 45 college games, Jerome set school records in the high jump at 6’8.75” (since broken) and long jump at 24’7.25”.

But to vault over a 6’2” linebacker while wearing football pads?

“It was unbelievable,” said Adam Jones.  “I mean head first?  I was like, ‘There’s no way he’s going to try that.’”

“It might be one of the most athletic plays I’ve ever seen in my life man,” said Jeromy Miles.  “I didn’t think he was going to land on his feet, but when he did, it just summed up the day for us – spectacular plays, spectacular moments.”

“I give him a 10 out of 10,” said Andre Smith.  “I liked the landing – that was pretty neat.”

“I stuck the landing like a gymnast, and a lot of guys said that they gave me a 10 on it,” said Simpson.  “I think it was a 9 because I touched the ground a little bit.  I just wanted to make plays for my team and have a great Merry Christmas.”

Of course, the person who had the best view of “Jumpin’ Jerome” was the player that he hurdled.  So what did Daryl Washington have to say about the play?

“He said, ‘Don’t jump over me like that again.’” said Simpson with a smile.  “But like I said before, I just want to do anything possible to help my team win.”

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Another set of eyes to spot concussions

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on December 23, 2011 – 11:02 am

The Bengals have tapped a familiar face to help monitor potential concussions in the wake of a new NFL mandate.

Mike Gordon, head trainer at Cincinnati’s St. Xavier High School and a former Bengals intern, is going to be in the press box with the NFL observer during games. Gordon will be wired into the bench via phone as he offers Bengals trainer Paul Sparling an extra set of eyes in the effort to spot players suffering from head injuries.

Gordon interned with the club in 2001 and 2003 and was a finalist for an assistant trainer’s job with the club in 2009.

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Bengals sign Torrence to practice squad

Posted by bengalsweb on December 19, 2011 – 2:42 pm

The Bengals on Monday signed cornerback Devon Torrence to the practice squad. Torrence (6-0, 190, Ohio State) is in his rookie NFL season. He signed with Minnesota as a college free agent on July 27 and played in all four Vikings preseason games, with four tackles on defense and two on special teams. He was waived on Sept. 3. Today’s signing marks his first NFL assignment of the 2011 regular season. He is a native of Canton, Ohio and played at Canton South High School.

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Go Bengals…and Giants

Posted by Dan Hoard on December 19, 2011 – 12:22 pm

I love the New York Giants.  At least for the next six days.

If the Bengals beat Arizona on Sunday and the Jets lose at home to the Giants, Cincinnati will have a one game lead in the Wild Card race going into the final Sunday of the season.

So for the moment, forget about the 11 penalties, 3 fumbles, and inability to move the ball in short yardage situations in Sunday’s 20-13 win over the Rams and enjoy the fact that the Bengals playoff hopes are very much alive.

“Amen brother,” said Andrew Whitworth.  “When it’s December in the NFL — a win is a win.  We’re trying to get into the playoffs and we have two games at home.  Those are going to be exciting games.”

“We started the season with two on the road and the fact that we end with two at home is awesome,” said head coach Marvin Lewis.

And speaking of awesome, there’s A.J. Green.

On a day where Cedric Benson put the ball on the ground three times, Jermaine Gresham had as many false starts as catches, and Andy Dalton had more tackles than touchdown passes, the rookie wide receiver from Georgia finished with six catches for 115 yards to go over 1000 receiving yards for the season.

“I’m just going to continue to get better,” said Green.  “I’m just trying to lead this team to the playoffs and potentially to a Super Bowl.”

Green suffered a Grade 3 shoulder sprain in the second quarter and had his right arm in a sling on the flight home, but A.J. left little doubt that he’ll be able to play on Saturday.

“It’s just an AC joint sprain – I’ve had it before and it’s nothing serious,” said Green.  “I’m not going to miss these last two games for nothing.  You would have to break my leg or something for me to miss these last two games.  I’m just ready to get back out there and stay in the playoff hunt.”

“I bet Bengals Nation collectively took a big gulp when A.J. went down – I know I did,” said my broadcasting partner Dave Lapham.  “They’re a different team without A.J. on the field.  The trickle-down effect on an A.J. Green injury would be dramatic.”

Even with Green, the Bengals are not likely to beat the Cardinals – winners of six of their last seven – if they keep going backward on offense due to penalties.

It’s interesting to note that the Bengals are actually averaging more penalties in their wins (6.6 for 58.6 yards) than in their losses (6 for 53.8 yards).  But in the St. Louis game, three drives began with penalties.

“Too many first down penalties,” said offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.  “If we want to go where we want to go, we have to play better on first down.  We had two or three false starts and two or three holding calls that really set us back.  In this league, when you’re first-and-15 or first-and-20, it’s going to be difficult.”

“We’ve got to clean it up if we want to win these last two,” said Whitworth.  “It’s not about being good enough – it’s about not shooting yourself in the foot.  That’s what the good teams do down the stretch.  They don’t hurt themselves.”

The Bengals also have to do a better job in short yardage situations.  They failed to move the chains twice on third-and-one and once on fourth-and-one.

“Our short yardage offense was putrid,” said Gruden.

“You have to come off of the line of scrimmage with low pads and they’re not doing that right now,” said Lapham.  “They’re not even getting stalemates – they’re getting knocked backwards.

That won’t cut it against a Cardinals team that still has long-shot hopes of going to the playoffs.  An overtime win over Cleveland on Sunday evened Arizona’s record at 7-7.

So what’s Marvin’s message this week?

“Just do your job,” said Coach Lewis.  “Just make sure you’re being consistent in doing your job all of the time.”

Here’s hoping the Giants do the same thing.

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Bengals had Marshall Plan; Taylor being made

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on December 18, 2011 – 9:08 am

ST. LOUIS — The Rams are honoring Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk in Sunday’s game against the Bengals (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Local 12), the man Cincinnati could have had at the top of the 1994 draft instead of defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson.

The Bengals honored the concept of Faulk 10 years later when they opted for Chris Perry instead of Steven Jackson at running back in the first round of the 2004 draft. Perry wasn’t Faulk, of course, but they felt he would be a more versatile player than Jackson that could split out and cause matchup problems for defenses that only had to be concerned about wide receiver Chad Johnson’s speed.

(This was before the emergence of T.J. Houshmandzadeh and drafting of Chris Henry at wide receiver.)

But Perry was healthy only one year while Jackson became one of the top backs in the league year after year. Perry has been out of the league three years while on Sunday, Jackson can add another line to the Pro Bowl resume with 105 yards that would make him the seventh man to have seven straight 1,000-yard seasons.

It’s not exactly a grocery shop list with the names Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas, Eric Dickerson, Curtis Martin and LaDainian Tomlinson. At some point, all are going to be in Canton.

Jackson has piled up a steel-belted career 4.3 yards per carry on some brutal clubs and has pounded 4.4 per this season behind a patchwork offensive line that has won just two games. It makes you wonder what Jackson could have done with the Bengals running game enhanced by Carson Palmer and his receivers. Heading into Sunday’s game, Rudi Johnson and Cedric Benson have 3.8 per carry since ’04.

Faulk made his Rams debut in the ’99 opener against, of all people, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis when Lewis was the Ravens defensive coordinator. Lewis remembers it as Rams quarterback Kurt Warner’s coming out with 309 yards passing and three TDs rather than a Marshall Plan. Still, the versatility was on display in the Rams 27-10 win. Faulk had seven catches for 72 yards with 54 yards rushing on 19 carries.

“He was an awesome player. His versatility not only to run the ball but to catch the football out of the backfield or flanked out right. He caused you some adjustment issues,” Lewis said last week. “We were a pretty good defense but the thing you have a hard time replicating was the speed of that offense, the angles and cuts and how precise they are. We got a lot of pressure on Warner but he made a lot of big throws and we lost the game. That was the genesis of that offense. We played well on defense but not well enough to win.”

It was Faulk that was the X-factor, just the way the Bengals had hoped Perry would be.

“He gave them that third element that now you had to make sure the linebacker could win that matchup if you got put on him on the screens,” Lewis said.

TAYLOR MADE: Safety Taylor Mays took his most snaps as a Bengal last Sunday, his most encouraging day since he came over in the August trade with the 49ers. He took 23, almost as many as he took the week before in Pittsburgh, but they were pretty much in different situations.

Against the Steelers he played mainly in running downs while against the Texans he worked against tight end Owen Daniels in coverage and he can’t remember Daniels catching a ball on the six snaps he went against him during his100-yard day. The Bengals made the switch after Daniels had his way with the linebackers and some felt the 6-3, 230-pound Mays was the only defender that effectively got his hands on Daniels.

Mays is only listening to defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and secondary coaches Kevin Coyle and Paul Guenther these days. He thinks he can be an all-round safety and not just a physical presence in the box.

“If Zim says I’m all right, then I know I’m all right,” Mays said last week. “We’ve been working on stuff like that the last couple of weeks. Playing downhill as well as working in coverage. I’m not singling anything out because I want to be the best and I’m working on everything. It was good to get out there and finally get it on film to show the coaches.”

As Mays says, “Daniels is a beast,” and gave him a lot to work on.

“He moved well off the line of scrimmage. He’s got quick feet and he uses his hands well,” he said. “He’s like a big wide receiver.”

Coyle is playing it cautiously. He calls Mays “a work in progress,” and says “he’s got some real potential.” Mays has been getting a lot of work in practice with starter Chris Crocker getting held out on at least Wednesdays and he got even more last week prepping for the Rams with Gibril Wilson also sitting out with a nick. But both are expected to play and Mays is primed again for special teams, where he’s got seven tackles.

But Coyle doesn’t look at just Mays, a 23-year-old second-year player. There is Jeromy Miles, 24, another second-year safety second in special teams tackles with 10 and fifth-rounder Robert Sands, who turned 22 last month and has been active for only one game.

“These young safeties have a lot of upside,” Coyle said.

And that’s one of the things to hammer out in the offseason. How much do you pay the other starting safety, Reggie Nelson, as he heads into free agency when balancing it against the youth?

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Bowie to Practice Squad/Injured list

Posted by bengalsweb on December 16, 2011 – 9:47 am


The Bengals on Friday placed cornerback John Bowie on the Practice Squad/Injured list. Bowie suffered a right Achilles tear in practice on Thursday. A fourth-year NFL player from the University of Cincinnati and Columbus Northland High School, he had been on the practice squad since Nov. 16. He has five games NFL experience, with Oakland between 2007-09.

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A Staggering Stat and Green Gives Grade

Posted by Dan Hoard on December 14, 2011 – 2:41 pm

We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the NFL’s most successful teams don’t settle for field goals when they drive into the red zone right?

Uh…maybe not.  The 10-3 San Francisco 49ers rank dead last in that category this year, scoring touchdowns a mere 33.6% of the time.

But the Niners have overcome their anemic red zone performance by allowing the fewest points in the NFL.  You can settle for field goals when your defense only gives up 14 points a game.  The Bengals don’t have that luxury.

Andy Dalton

Cincinnati currently ranks 20th in the NFL in touchdown percentage inside the red zone at 48.7%, scoring 19 TDs in 39 trips.  But those numbers only tell part of the story.

Here’s a stat that will floor you:  The last six times the Bengals have had a “first-and-goal” they have failed to score a touchdown.

Here’s the breakdown:

Nov. 20 at Baltimore:  1st-goal-at-7 (end of the game needing TD to tie) – 0 points.

Nov. 27 vs. Cleveland:  1st-goal-at-2 – Settled for FG after false start.  1st-goal-at-9 – Stopped on 4th down at one yard line.

Dec. 4 at Pittsburgh:  1st-goal-at-8 – TD nullified by penalty and field goal blocked.

Dec. 11 vs. Houston:  1st-goal-at-1 – Settled for FG after false start.  1st-goal-at-9 – Kicked FG.

That means the Bengals have scored 9 of a possible 42 points in those situations.  It’s enough to make an offensive coordinator…

“Jump off a bridge,” said Jay Gruden.  “It’s just a nightmare.  We just have to get back to the drawing board and fix what ails us.  You don’t get down there very often and you have to take advantage.”

The Bengals have scored on 87.2% of their red zone trips (19 TD, 15 FG in 34 trips) to rank 12th in the NFL, but the lack of touchdowns last week proved costly against Houston.

“On the first down run that we called, our tight ends didn’t go to the safety and they let the guy run right through the gap and make a tackle for a loss of two,” said Gruden.  “You can’t have that happen in pro football.  The false start on first-and-goal at the one was probably 90% my fault for getting the play in a little late, and then Andy should have taken a time out because we were running against the clock.  So we tried to hurry and we jumped.  You can’t have those kinds of mistakes and that falls on me.  I have to do a better job of getting the plays out there early and calling better plays that work.”


Here’s another stat that might floor you:  Since the start of training camp, the St. Louis Rams have placed 10 cornerbacks on injured reserve including their top three going into the season.

“They make up for it with a great pass rush,” said Gruden.  “They play really hard on the defensive front and their linebackers are playing well.  Unfortunately for them, their offense has struggled quite a bit, so they’ve been on the field so much that they’ve given up chunks of yards at the end of games.  But for the most part, their defense has played pretty well.”

Still, is A.J. Green licking his chops to face the injury-ravaged Rams secondary this Sunday?

“This is the NFL man,” said Green.  “There are no slackers out there – they’re all great corners.  I’m going to approach it like I do in every other game with the mindset of trying to make a play whenever my number is called.”

A.J. Green

Last week, Green was matched up with Houston’s Johnathan Joseph and finished with 5 catches for 59 yards.

“He’s getting the best corner every week,” said Gruden.  “Last week it was J-Jo and he’s going to get that every week.  They’ll going to roll coverage toward him and cloud him and he just has to figure out zone coverages and find holes.  He has a great feel right now, but he can get even better in that regard.”

“I like that,” said Green when asked about drawing the opponent’s best corner.  “That’s when you know that you’re making plays and I’m trying to be that great receiver.”

Despite missing a game and a half with a knee injury, A.J. leads NFL rookies in receptions (55), receiving yards (891), and TD catches (7).  He’s on a pace to finish with 67 catches for 1096 yards.

I asked the rookie from Georgia to rate his performance on a scale from 1 to 10.

“I’d give myself about a six,” said Green.  “I still have a lot of room for improvement, but I’m doing OK.  It’s been a great experience.  A lot of success has come my way and I’m blessed to be in this situation.”


I’ll be on the road with the UC basketball team on Wednesday night, but I hope you’ll join Dave Lapham and Wayne “Box” Miller for “Bengals Gameplan” from 6 to 8.  On Friday, I’ll join Artrell Hawkins for “Bengals Pep Rally” from 3 to 6 at the Firehouse Grill in Blue Ash.  The tentative guest list includes Mike Nugent (4:00), Michael Johnson (4:30), Andre Smith (5:00), and Andy Dalton (5:30).  Both shows can be heard on ESPN 1530.

I’d love to hear from you at

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at

And I’m on Facebook.  Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.

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Bengals sign LB Micah Johnson to practice squad

Posted by bengalsweb on December 13, 2011 – 3:08 pm

The Bengals on Tuesday signed linebacker Micah Johnson to the practice squad.

Johnson entered the NFL in 2010 as a college free agent with the N.Y. Giants. He was released prior to training camp and signed Aug. 3, 2010 with Miami. He played in the Dolphins’ 2010 season opener, with one special teams tackle, was released prior to Game 2, and spent time on the Miami and Kansas City practice squads later in the season. He opened the 2011 preseason with Kansas City and was released on Sept. 3.

The signing marks his first NFL assignment during the 2011 regular season.

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With Williams to IR, future at RG unknown

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on December 12, 2011 – 12:48 pm

Bobbie Williams

One of the toughest and most durable Bengals of his generation couldn’t survive a broken right ankle and for the first time in his 12 NFL seasons right guard Bobbie Williams went on season-ending injured reserve Monday.

At age 35 and in the last year of his deal, there is speculation that Williams has left the Paul Brown Stadium field for the last time. And if it is, how fitting. Even though he was hurting he walked into the locker room during the second quarter firing up the crowd with his ever sunny smile.

Ever since he arrived via free agency in 2004 from the Eagles, the 6-4 345-pound man-mountain Williams has been such a rock in the locker room, they call him “Boss Man.” Always known as an excellent run blocker, Williams improved his pass blocking when he got to Cincinnati and was part of the ’05 and ’07 lines that set the club for fewest sacks allowed.

The only Bengals games Williams had missed before serving a four-game NFL suspension at the beginning of this season for violating the NFL’s policy on physical enhancers were three games during the 2006 season after an appendectomy. His 117 games with the Bengals have straddled perennial Pro Bowler Willie Anderson and first-rounder Andre Smith as his partners at right tackle. Williams was on the field for Carson Palmer’s first fourth-quarter comeback in 2004 and Andy Dalton’s second in 2011.

Williams, the only offensive player left from head coach Marvin Lewis’ first AFC North champs in 2005, had been a second-round pick of the Eagles in 2000. When the Bengals drafted Clint Boling in the fourth round this season and picked up four-year Eagles center Mike McGlynn off waivers just before the season, they appeared to be moving to youth at that spot.

McGlynn, who started at center for last season’s NFC East champions in Philadelphia, started ahead of Boling once he got comfortable with the offense and before Williams returned. It was McGlynn that replaced Williams on Sunday. The Bengals are also high on 2010 fifth-rounder Otis Hudson, the guard they drafted in the fifth round out of Eastern Illinois in 2010. They signed Hudson from the practice squad Monday.

Before Hudson hurt his knee early in training camp, offensive line coach Paul Alexander said he and Smith were his two most improved players.

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