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Let the buzz begin

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on February 29, 2012 – 1:42 pm

That didn’t take long, did it?

One day after the Bengals returned from the NFL Scouting Combine, a report surfaced in the National Football Authority citing an NFL executive saying Cincinnati and the Cardinals are in talks for a first-round trade that would allow the Bengals to draft Alabama running back Trent Richardson with Arizona’s No. 13 pick.

But ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio offered Wednesday that with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden saying he likes a back-by-committee he rules out the Bengals using a first-round pick for Richardson on what they see as a rotational position.

On Wednesday afternoon there were no indications that the Bengals brass was involved in any trade talks with any teams. And while the executive told NFA the Bengals think very highly of Richardson, the club is still in the process of setting its board following the combine.

Given that the Bengals have traded up once in the first round in their history and it blew up with the ACL injury to running back Ki-Jana Carter, it’s hard to see them doing it again for a guy that plays the same position. They could draft Richardson with one of their own picks at No. 17 or No. 21, but that would go against their grain, too. They’ve only taken a running back four times in the first round: Archie Griffin in 1976, Charles Alexander in 1979, Carter in 1995 and Chris Perry in 2004.

If they did trade up this year, it would most likely happen on Draft Day and it would be for a cornerback, but history says no.

Just think. There are still 56 days until they make those picks and it’s started already.


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First-round clock could go four corners

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on February 28, 2012 – 4:02 pm

As the smoke cleared from the NFL Scouting Combine’s final workout Tuesday, the Bengals may have two more cornerbacks added to their list of players for consideration at No. 17 or 21.

Central Florida’s Josh Robinson, projected early in the process as a third-rounder by some, lit up his 40-yard dash time in Indianapolis with 4.33 seconds and South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore ran 4.40 in a bid to break out of his late-first, early-second box. But Nebraska’s Alfonzo Dennard didn’t help himself with a 4.55.

LSU’s Morris Claiborne (4.50) and Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick (4.51) solidified themselves as the draft’s two top corners that probably won’t be there when the Bengals pick. But one AFC scout says the times offered by Robinson and Gilmore now give the league four possible first-round corners.

The knocks on the 5-10, 195-pound Robinson are that he’s got a small frame and didn’t go against a lot of big-time competition at Central Florida. But the pluses are he played well against Bengals Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green as a sophomore and he can also return punts.

“I think he gets another look now,” the scout said. “Now you have to go back and look at his game tape and look at him at his pro day. And Gilmore helped himself in a big way. It’s the same thing. This will get them more scrutiny. Gilmore has got really good size.”

Good enough at 6-0, 190 pounds that Gilmore is being talked about eventually moving to safety, but the fast 40 time figures to keep his first-round corner hopes alive. North Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins looks to be in his own class. Tuesday’s 4.46 reaffirmed his physical gifts, but his off-field problems could take him out of first-round consideration.

“Jenkins is the classic gamble,” the scout said. “High risk, high reward.”

Alabama’s Mark Barron didn’t run Tuesday, but he’s the lock No. 1 safety. Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith tore off a 4.57 and the scout says, “That will put him in the discussion in the first round.” But in all probability he won’t grade high enough for the Bengals to take a safety that’s not Barron in the first round.


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Searching For Clues At The Combine

Posted by Dan Hoard on February 24, 2012 – 8:18 pm

I certainly didn’t expect Marvin Lewis to step to the podium on Friday and tell us who the Bengals are hoping to select with their two first round picks in this year’s draft.

No GM or coach is that forthcoming at the NFL Scouting Combine, and Lewis is always guarded in what he shares with the media.

Still, there were possible clues to the team’s off-season plans.

Most mock drafts have the Bengals using one of their first round picks on a cornerback.  It is a position of need since Leon Hall is trying to come back from a torn Achilles, Nate Clements is 33-years-old, and Adam Jones is a free agent.

The last two times that the Bengals drafted a corner in the first round, they did well by picking Hall and Johnathan Joseph,

“There’s research that says that the best starting corners in the National Football League are first round picks,” said Coach Lewis.  “There’s an occasional second round guy or third round guy, but year after year, the best ones are generally first round picks.”

That doesn’t guarantee that the Bengals will choose a cornerback in round one, but it would not be a surprise.

The Bengals could also be looking at running backs.  Cedric Benson will become an unrestricted free agent next Month and recently told Sirius NFL Radio that he has not talked to the club about a new contract.

“We want to improve our running game, and if that includes Ced it will include Ced,” said Lewis.  “But we know that is an important part of what we need to do as a football team.  We need to create more explosive runs and more explosive plays offensively, and I think that’s going to be a part of it.”

Several mock drafts have the Bengals targeting an offensive guard with one of their first round selections.  Nate Livings, Mike McGlynn, and Bobbie Williams are all free agents, and the 36-year-old Williams broke his ankle late in the season.

But Coach Lewis disputes the notion that the Bengals have a dire need at guard.

“We’ve got some guys in the bank, and last year we didn’t know who those guys were,” said Lewis.  “Otis Hudson had an outstanding training camp for us before he got injured.  We drafted Clint (Boling) and at the beginning of the year he started for us.  We’re in no situation where we have to panic.  Nate is a free agent and we have the opportunity to get him back.  We brought in McGlynn who filled-in a void between center and guard.  We’re in pretty good shape.”

Marvin did make one guarantee:  He told us what position the Bengals won’t target in the first round.

“I think we’re going to pick a guy that has a chance to contribute to our football team very, very early and he probably won’t be a quarterback,” said Lewis.  “But I think that basically any other position is in our sights depending on who the best guys are.

“We have a good opportunity ahead of us. We do have the two first round picks and know that it’s important to hit on guys that can come in and make a contribution at some point.  I don’t know if it’s going to be Day 1, but he’ll have the opportunity to become a productive player year after year after year.  They have to share the passion of being able to play, the ability to be able to play, and we’ll probably have an opportunity for them to play right away.”

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Coach Lewis had interesting things to say about a pair of former UC Bearcats.

Running back Isaiah Pead is generally projected to be picked late in the second round or early in the third round after being named MVP of the Senior Bowl.

“I think he’s a really good prospect,” said Lewis.  “I have not watched much tape on him so it would only be TV scouting.  I think he showed a different dimension with the punt returning that he did at the Senior Bowl and I think that’s going to do nothing but elevate his stock and his opportunity.  I have not even met him and he’s not on our interview list here because we’ll be able to spend enough time with him back at home.”

Wide receiver Armon Binns went undrafted last year, but was signed to the Bengals practice squad on September 20th and will battle for playing time in training camp.

“I think Armon made great strides,” said Lewis.  “Our offensive coaches at the end of the year wanted me to put him in the game.  They wanted to not only dress him but, ‘Can we start him?’  There’s another player that we identified last year as a good prospect.  We’re not afraid to play young players if the guy can do it.”

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Jackson signing impresses T.J.

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on February 20, 2012 – 6:20 am

Count T.J. Houshmandzadeh as an interested bystander in the Hue Jackson signing.

“I saw that and I was thinking, ‘What are the Bengals doing? It’s like they’re putting together an all-star coaching staff,’ ” he said this weekend. “They’re stacked.”

Houshmandzadeh, who jump-started his career in his fourth season when Jackson became the Bengals wide receivers coach, thinks it makes plenty of sense to fit Jackson in on the defensive side of the ball as an assistant secondary coach. In a part-time role for him during the last half of 2011, Houshmandzadeh saw what Jackson did this past year in his only season as the Raiders head coach with an injury-riddled offense in transition.

With quarterback Carson Palmer not arriving until the sixth week of the regular season and No. 1 running back Darren McFadden missing the last nine games, the Raiders still finished ninth in offense and a win away from taking the AFC West title.

“Hue knows offense. He knows it as well as anyone in the league. He’s one of the best offensive coaches there is,” Houshmandzadeh said. “He can help the defense get ready for that. He can help the defense break that down and he can help the DBs with what to expect. And he’s got Mike Zimmer and I think he’s the best defensive coordinator. I was really impressed with him the one year I was there. And you’ve got Marvin (Lewis) on defense, too.”

Houshmandzadeh’s last season with the Bengals was 2008 and even though that was two playoff appearances ago, he thinks he’s still got a pretty good feel for the guys that he worked with, such as running backs coach Jim Anderson and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese.

“I worked enough with Kenny to know he’s a good one and you know J.A. has to be good at what he does because he’s been doing it so long (29 years),” he said. “Obviously I wasn’t there with (offensive coordinator) Jay Gruden, but for them to do what he did in his first year, you know he’s got to be a good coach. And Darrin (Simmons) is one of the best special teams coaches in the league.”

Heading into his 10th season, Lewis not only has developed a young crop of players that has already made the playoffs, but he’s put together his biggest named staff. There is a former head coach (Jackson), a coach that interviewed for two head coaching jobs last month (Zimmer) and a coach that turned down two interviews for head coaching jobs (Gruden).

Houshmandzadeh thought Jackson had the Raiders on the verge of big things with the acquisition of Palmer, but he wasn’t all that surprised when new general manager Reggie McKenzie fired Jackson.

“Hue did a great job in one year and you have to figure it was only going to get better on offense,” Houshmandzadeh said. “But at the same time I can understand that the guy wants to be comfortable with his head coach and wants to make sure he gets a guy that’s on the same page.”

Houshmandzadeh, who turns 35 the third week of this season, says he wants to keep playing and is looking. If not, expect him announcing for somebody.


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Another What If

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on February 5, 2012 – 3:39 pm

Here’s another one for the Greg Cook What If file for you.

With the Pro Football Hall of Fame recognizing the steel-belted 4.0-yards consistency of running back Curtis Martin on Saturday, rewind to a week before the 1995 NFL Draft.

Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter is clearly the highest-rated running back in the draft and the Bengals, picking No. 5, are desperate. They haven’t had a 100-yard rushing game in the past two seasons and they need a gamebreaker to go with wide receivers Carl Pickens and Darnay Scott not knowing if long-ball artist Jeff Blake is the long-term answer at quarterback.

They know Carter is going to be gone by the time they pick. But they like another Carter that is going to be sitting there. Kevin Carter, the Florida defensive end-tackle. Plus, they think they can get a good running back in the second round with the 36th pick in the tradition of Ickey Woods and Harold Green.

A kid out of Pittsburgh named Curtis Martin.

If they come out of it with the other Carter and Martin, they think that sounds good.

The rest is…

For the only time the Bengals traded up to get Ki-Jana Carter at No. 1 for those No. 5 and No. 36 picks and it turned out they could have gotten Martin at No. 69 in the third round because the Patriots didn’t pick him until No. 74.

Who knows what happens if Carter doesn’t blow out his knee on the third snap of his NFL career? Who knows what kind of career Martin would have had if he had started with Blake as his quarterback and not Drew Bledsoe in New England?

The Bengals were certainly looking at the right guys if they didn’t pull the trade. Martin made the Hall rushing for more than 14,000 yards while averaging 1,281 yards in his 11 seasons. Kevin Carter had 104.5 career sacks and went to two Pro Bowls.

Every draft, every situation, every year is different. But if you’re looking for two reasons not to trade up, there are two of them.

Who knows?

By the way, if Martin is in, should the back the Bengals ended up getting two years later in the second round, Corey Dillon get in the Hall, too?

Martin played one more season and is fourth on the all-time rushing list while racking up 90 touchdowns. Dillon is only 17th on the list, but he scored 83 TDs himself on inferior teams, has a better yards per carry (4.3), and got the Super Bowl ring Martin didn’t get with the Patriots.

You can debate it, but Dillon is clearly borderline. He needed 12,000 yards to be a lock. Plus, Dillon can’t get in before Jerome Bettis and he’s still waiting.


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Ocho check: Better late than…

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on February 1, 2012 – 11:23 am

INDIANAPOLIS  — Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco  arrived nearly 30 minutes late for his press availability Wednesday morning, but he still offered a pretty good 23 minutes as the Pats prepared for Sunday’s Super Bowl (6:30 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 5)  against the Giants

Here are a few highlights with more to come:

On his 10 seasons in Cincinnati and Bengals president Mike Brown, head coach Marvin Lewis, and former offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski:

“They gave me life. … Mike was good to me, the city was good to me, the media—we had our ups and downs—it made it fun. The fans were epic 10 straight years. Of course, I had my rifs, my raffs. I’m like any other human being.  I’m not perfect. There’s nothing bad I can actually say.”

On his future:

“I want to be back (in New England) … (I can play) 10 more years. I’m Brett Favre. Without the pictures.”

On making the Super Bowl while having the worst season of his career:

“It’s a blessing to be on the stage to get to the stage. So many players play this game for such a long time. The greats. The (Dan) Marinos. Barry Sanders. I don’t think he was ever able to break the stage. Just to be able to be here is a blessing …

“Being here is like watching porn. There’s nothing bad about it at all.”

If the Patriots win, will you feel a part of it?

“I’ll feel a part of it … I learned three, four, five years ago to stop fussing about things that are out of your control. That’s what I’ve done. That’s why I was quiet this year. When my number was called, I did my best.”


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