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Zeitler Makes Good First Impression On Whitworth

Posted by Dan Hoard on April 28, 2012 – 9:10 am

It’s safe to say that my partner on the Bengals radio broadcasts did not expect the team to select an offensive guard with one of its two first round selections.

“I’m not sure that Mike Brown values a guard at 17 or 21,” said Dave Lapham on our draft preview show on 700 WLW.  “I’m not sure that he values a guard at 117 or 121.  I think the guard position is going to be addressed, but I’m not sure that it’s going to be addressed in that first round.”

But while Lap was stunned – and thrilled – when the Bengals traded down in the first round and selected Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler with the 27th overall pick, the current leader of the Bengals offensive line says that he was not surprised when Cincinnati selected a guard in the first round for the first time in franchise history.

“It wasn’t really a shocker to me,” said left tackle Andrew Whitworth.  “From everyone I’ve talked to, the guy is very impressive – as a person and as a player.  Anytime we get a guy in the locker room that is a great person and player, I’m excited about it.”

Zeitler – and fellow first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick – arrived in Cincinnati for an introductory news conference on Friday and met Whitworth shortly after meeting the media as they had dinner together at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse.

Whitworth informed Zeitler that he hosts the offensive lineman at an annual mini-camp at his home in Louisiana and said that his new teammate made a good first impression.

“I see a guy who is serious about what he is going to have to do,” said Whitworth.  “He’s not overwhelmed and seems pretty determined.  I like that.  He’s definitely a guy that has a lot of character – that’s the first thing that you realize after a short conversation with him.  I’m excited about his future here and I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help be a part of him being successful.”

Offensive line coach Paul Alexander has made it clear that Zeitler will be a candidate to start at right guard, and Whitworth says he would not be worried about having a rookie start on the offensive line.

“I think it needs to be a realistic expectation for any player that is picked that high,” Whitworth told me.  “That needs to be your goal.  You don’t set the bar low – you set it high.  When I was a rookie, I can remember telling the media whenever they asked me that I was not trying to play like a rookie – I was trying to play like a veteran.  That’s what he has to do – set the bar high and go after it.”

Picking a guard in the first round might have been out of character for the Bengals, but the team is confident that it selected the right one.

“He fills a major need for us,” said offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.  “He’s one of the top guards on the board, in our opinion.  He’s tough, he’s strong, he’s physical, he’s smart — guys like that can only help your football team. It’s not a popular pick sometimes to take an offensive guard, but last time I checked, they play a lot of snaps on Sunday.”

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1


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Bengals fans ready for draft

Posted by bengalsweb on April 26, 2012 – 3:36 pm

  1. Share
    The @Bengals have drafted the most probowlers in the nfl the past few years so I expect another good draft
  2. Share
    Let’s see if the @Bengals can get another steal like they did with @ajgreen_18 last year #myteam
  3. Share
    #DraftMemory It feels so far away but the day the @Bengals finally scored a legitimate #1 QB; 2nd round steal, A.Dalton. LOL. Palmer?
  4. Share
    Draft day, yay! #lovemybengals @Bengals
  5. Share
    @Bengals Let’s get it! Hopefully we pick a Tackle or Guard first, then focus a little on defense and hopefully a Wideout in the 2nd round.
  6. Share
    @Bengals I wanna hear Barron, Kirkpatrick, Floyd, Wilson, Miller, Jenkins, Hill..make it happen
    #NFLDraft
  7. Share
    NFL draft tonight. Excited to see who the @Bengals pick up.
  8. Share
    I think @Bengals should try to get WR Stephen Hill & CB Stephon Gilmore
  9. Share
    Can’t wait to see who my @Bengals are going to draft tonite.
  10. Share
    @nfl draft tonight!!! Can’t wait to see my @Bengals completely tear up te draft tonight! #FOOTBALLTIME
  11. Share
    @Bengals good luck today in the draft lets make it a good one fellas! #whodeynation
  12. Share
    The @Bengals will be downright dominant after this draft. Pick up a Guard, Cornerback, and D lineman in first 2 rounds and it’s over.
  13. Share
    @Bengals the Super Bowl run starts tonight.
  14. Share
    Three things on my mind in this order #Floyd #DeCastro #Kirkpatrick @Bengals

Posted in Hobson's Choice | 34 Comments »

Wishing Simpson well

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on April 25, 2012 – 6:15 am

In the end, the Bengals didn’t get into a bidding war for Jerome Simpson.

Sure, they wanted him back and they had contract talks. But he ended up in Minnesota on a one-year deal and that tells you a lot. The Vikes were more aggressive, more adamant he’d get a shot. The big thing it says is probably the best thing for both sides. He needs a new venue to refresh a career that can still be big. And the Bengals needed to move past a guy that managed to be frustrating in two very different offenses and exhaust a batch of different coaches when it came to execution.

But this is not a bad guy. If anything, his departure mirrors the contradictions of his four-year career. He left Tuesday after serving 15 days in jail on a drug charge and the NFL handed him a three-game suspension and yet he was one of the more active and generous Bengals ever when it came to community endeavors and charitable functions.

Hometown Huddle. Taste of Cincinnati. Bowling for Autism. A Marvin Lewis Community Fund gig. You name it, Simpson was always there smiling and signing.

Dave Butz, his agent, recalled Tuesday the days long before last September when marijuana was delivered to Simpson’s Northern Kentucky home. Butz would get a call from Simpson and more often than not it was about giving rather than taking.

One time the call wasn’t even from Simpson. It was from a guy saying he was from near Simpson’s hometown of Reidsville, N.C. and he told Butz that Simpson had told him he’d pay for a scoreboard at a local rec center. When Butz called him, Simpson told him, yes, indeed, it was on the up and up.

And there were the 89 backpacks Simpson bought for a Reidsville school to match his uniform number. And there were the 89 coats he donated to underprivileged children to the community.

“Very generous guy,” Butz said. “And he always has been from Day One.”

Even before last year’s problems, Simpson was a hard guy to figure. He had a running feud with the media that no one could really quite figure because he never played until late in his third season. It seemed to stem from his belief that the media had built him up when he was drafted and then ripped him when he didn’t play. All true and yet all facts of life in the NFL, and that seemed to be a hard transition for him.

And yet, when he did deal with the media he was great. Enthusiastic, pleasant, polite.

It was the same thing on the field. On one play he’d make ESPN. On the next, they couldn’t find him.

It just didn’t work here. It happens.

But he gave back. He just didn’t take on his way through. And how many guys do that?

“I’ve worked with 50, 60 NFL players over the years and he’s at the top of the list when it comes to that,” Butz said.

That’s why you wish guys like that well.


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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 4 Comments »

Atkins Dubbed “Sophomore Superstar”

Posted by Dan Hoard on April 23, 2012 – 11:50 am

For most of his life, Gene Renard Atkins Jr, has been known as “Geno,” but in January, the Bengals defensive tackle picked up a new nickname:  “Pro Bowler” Geno Atkins.

“Some of my teammates call me that as a joke, but most people still just call me Geno,” Atkins said with a grin.

The 24-year-old from Pembroke Pines, FL had two tackles in the AFC’s 59-41 win and raved about the opportunity.

“I got to bring my family to Hawaii and it was a great experience,” Geno told me.  “I learned a lot from the older vets like Richard Seymour, Antonio Smith, and guys like that.”

Atkins earned the trip to Honolulu – and the new nickname – with a spectacular second season in the NFL.  In fact, the website ProFootballFocus.com calls Geno a “Sophomore Superstar” and said that only Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is coming off of a better season from the 2010 draft class.

“He had a season very comparable to Ndamukong Suh’s 2010, only for some reason he didn’t have the same hype machine working for him,” said Pro Football Focus analyst Sam Monson.  “In 2010, Suh notched 11 sacks, 6 knockdowns and 24 hurries from 547 pass rushing snaps. This season, Atkins posted 8 sacks, 15 knockdowns and 26 hurries from only 475 pass-rushing snaps. Atkins was easily the most effective pass-rushing defensive tackle in the NFL last season, and the surprise to me was that he learned how to use his skills to his advantage in the run game as well.  Rather than waiting and reacting and often getting washed out by bigger linemen, he attacked against the run too, and was far more proactive that way.”

Atkins was a big reason why the Bengals finished seventh in the NFL’s total defense rankings last year.  Defensive lineman Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene left as free agents, and safety Chris Crocker was released, but the nine of the team’s top 11 tacklers are back.

“We lost Frostee and Fanene and they were two key guys for us,” said Atkins.  “But being in this league, you know that it’s ‘Next guy up.’  We brought in two good guys (Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey) that are going to take up the slack there.

“We know the potential that we have, where we can go, and what it takes to get there.  We’re all excited to get back to work and build on that success.”

In addition to his Pro Bowl trip, Atkins went on a 7-day cruise to the Caribbean last winter, but Geno sounded happy to return to Cincinnati last week for the start of the Bengals off-season conditioning program.

“It feels good to come back and see all of your teammates and friends,” said Atkins.  “We know that we’re going to build on something very important and try to get to the next level.”

Wouldn’t “Super Bowler” have a nice ring to it?

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

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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Dunlap Aims To Join Young Pro Bowl Nucleus

Posted by Dan Hoard on April 19, 2012 – 11:46 am

Here’s my favorite stat about Cincinnati’s talented young nucleus:  The Bengals sent four players to the Pro Bowl last year and Andy Dalton was the oldest. 

Here’s a look at the Bengals’ four Pro Bowlers that are all under the age of 25.

Andy Dalton:  24-years-old (birthday October 29th)

Geno Atkins:  24-years-old (birthday March 28th)

Jermaine Gresham:  23-years-old (birthday June 16th)

A.J. Green:  23-years-old (birthday July 31th)

But that’s not all.

There’s another potential Pro Bowler on the roster that is nearly seven months younger than A.J. Green – defensive end Carlos Dunlap.

Dunlap, who turned 23 on February 28th, was among the most dominant pass rushers in the NFL last year before injuring his hamstring in week eight at Tennessee.

“Carlos Dunlap was on fire before that hamstring injury,” said ProFootballFocus.com analyst Sam Monson.  “At that point in the season he had racked up only three sacks, but he had 10 QB knockdowns and 24 pressures in only eight games. Essentially before going down with the injury, Dunlap was as devastating a force as there was in the league at rushing the passer.”

“I feel like I need a whole season that was like the way that I started last year,” Dunlap told me this week.  “I’m starting fresh and making sure that I am doing everything that I can to stay healthy.”

Prior to last season during the NFL lockout, Dunlap returned to the University of Florida to take classes toward finishing his degree.  But this off-season, he eschewed the classroom and went to the gym.

“I went down to Pete Bommarito (Performance Systems) where I trained for the combine,” said Dunlap.  “It was continued maintenance on my hamstring and I concentrated on training a little bit harder.  It was unfortunate that I had an injury and I want to make sure that I do everything in my power to prevent that from coming back.  I postponed school and focused on training because this is my job.”

Dunlap finished with 4.5 sacks in 12 games last year after setting a Bengals rookie record with 9.5 in 2010.  In 2012, Carlos want to lead the NFL in sacks.

“That’s always been a childhood dream,” said Dunlap.  “As a competitor, you want to be the best at whatever you do.  I’m labeled as a pass rusher and I want to change that too.  I want to be known as an all-around defensive end, but I do want to lead the league in sacks and be ranked up there with the elite pass rushers.”

That’s not his only lofty goal.  Dunlap wants to join fellow 2010 draft pick Geno Atkins at the Pro Bowl.

“Carlos congratulated me before I went and said, ‘This year, I’m going to go with you.’” said Atkins.  “I’m rooting for him.”

“I’m jealous – I ain’t gonna lie, I’m jealous man,” said Dunlap.  “Geno earned it.  He had a great year and I don’t know why he wasn’t voted on to the first or second team (Atkins went as a first alternate because New England’s Vince Wilfork made the Super Bowl) .  But Geno is a Pro Bowler – they’re not going to say how he went.

“That’s a goal as well – to get there with Geno.  I’ve been telling Geno the whole off-season that we have to get there together this year.”

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

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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Players, fans react to schedule

Posted by bengalsweb on April 18, 2012 – 9:34 am

  1. Share
    Loving the @Bengals 2012 schedule!! Apart from the obvious tough division games couldn’t ask for better! #WHODEY
    Wed, Apr 18 2012 06:55:04
     
     
  2. Share
    Just saw that the @bengals got the first monday night game of the season. Recognition comes with respect #yougottaearnit
    Wed, Apr 18 2012 01:45:47
     
     
  3. Share
    I could def see myself at a lot of @Bengals home games this year, especially week 7 v. @steelers on Sunday night! #Bengals
    Wed, Apr 18 2012 01:42:47
     
     
  4. Share
    Couldn’t be more pumped that the @Bengals start their season on MNF. #cantwait
    Wed, Apr 18 2012 00:33:42
     
     
  5. Share
    It’s official! @bengals are coming to KC November 18th! Dream come true for this relocated Cinci girl! WHO DEY!
    Tue, Apr 17 2012 23:34:02
     
     
  6. Share
    Super excited abt the @Bengals schedule lookin forward to #mondaynightfootball and #sundaynightfootball and #thursdaynightfootball
    Tue, Apr 17 2012 21:30:07
     
     
  7. Share
    @Bengals schedule has caused debate at my house. Which game to attend? Broncos, Giants, Raiders, or Cowboys? Can’t wait for the season!
    Tue, Apr 17 2012 21:52:34
     
     
  8. Share
    Can’t wait to kickoff the season in baltimore on monday night football! With @johngruden @Carlos_Dunlap @Mr53 @GenoSacks @DomataPeko
    Tue, Apr 17 2012 21:14:16
     
     
  9. Share
    Bengals Season Tickets…. Definitely thinking about it. @Bengals #bengals
    Tue, Apr 17 2012 22:23:28
     
     
  10. Share
    PRIME TIME!!!!!!
    Tue, Apr 17 2012 20:32:15
     
     
  11. Share
    Monday Night Week 1 baby!! WHO DEY baby!! Nothing like playing under the lights!! #WorkToDo
    Tue, Apr 17 2012 20:01:27
     
     
  12. Share
    @Carlos_Dunlap 1st game of yr under lights on the road in the division=statement game!!! #WhoDey #bengals THIS IS OUR YEAR!!!!
    Tue, Apr 17 2012 19:54:53
     
     
  13. Share
    @ajgreen_18 @Carlos_Dunlap @Bengals @REALPACMAN24 gotta start the season off right by BEATING the ravens in Monday Night Football! #LetsGo
    Tue, Apr 17 2012 19:50:50
     
     

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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 7 Comments »

Shipley Progressing As Bengals Return To PBS

Posted by Dan Hoard on April 16, 2012 – 12:38 pm

The Bengals returned to Paul Brown Stadium for off-season conditioning on Monday, but two key players got a head start last week in Texas.

“I went up to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and threw the ball around with Andy (Dalton) a couple of times,” said wide receiver Jordan Shipley.  “It felt really good and I went back-to-back days which was big for me.  I wanted to see if I could do it two days in a row.”

Since Andre Caldwell signed with Denver as a free agent and Jerome Simpson remains unsigned (there is no name plate above his locker, but it hasn’t been given away yet), the Bengals are missing two of their leading receivers from last season.  The team is obviously hoping that Shipley can make a speedy recovery from the torn ACL and MCL that he suffered in week two last year against the Broncos.

“He’s done well,” said quarterback Andy Dalton.  “Unfortunately, he had the ACL and all of that stuff, but he’s put in the work and you can see it.  He’s running around really well, so I’m excited for him to get back out there working with us.”

“I’m planning on doing all of the workouts with the guys,” said Shipley.  “I’m excited about the opportunity to get back.  I think – if anything – I come back from those injuries stronger than I was before.  I’m just looking forward to getting out there and playing around a little bit.”

Shipley also tore an ACL in his knee as a freshman at Texas and missed the 2004 and 2005 seasons, before setting the school’s all-time record for career receptions.  Jordan says he expects to be 100% for the start of training camp.

“This time has been a little bit tougher because I had a little more going on,” said Shipley.  “Trying to balance a little more scar tissue and trying to get it loosened up, but I think it’s doing fine.”

While a healthy return by Shipley would give the Bengals a skilled slot receiver, they do not have an obvious outside threat to pair with A.J. Green.  Marvin Lewis says there are candidates to fill the spot on the current roster including Brandon Tate and Armon Binns, but it is a position the Bengals appear likely to address in the draft.

“I think we have a lot of guys here that were pushing for playing time last year,” said Dalton.  “But I think if we can get another one that would be great.  We feel like we have a lot of weapons now, but if we can add another skill guy that would really help us out.”

Regardless of how the Bengals address the opening at wide receiver, the offense should benefit from having a normal off-season that is not interrupted by a lockout.

“It’s going to be big,” said Dalton.  “We’re going to start over – back to square one – and make sure we have all the ins-and-outs.  It comes down to our comfort level.  Now I’m not learning a new offense in my second year, so I feel really comfortable and excited to get out there.”

“Obviously, we kind of know the offense already, but we’ll be so much farther ahead this year I think,” said Shipley.  “Last year, we had a new quarterback and with the season that he had, I think we’re going to have a lot more confidence.”

And while Shipley hopes to play a major role, he’s been cautioned to take things slowly.

“I was informed today that I’m still in the rehab process, so it just depends on what they want me to do,” said Shipley.  “I expected them to say that, but I think they just wanted me to understand that I don’t need to do too much.”

**********

One of the most interesting experiences of Andy Dalton’s off-season was representing the Bengals when the NFL unveiled its new Nike uniforms at a gala celebration in New York.

If you look closely at the group photo of all 32 uniforms, you’ll see Dalton in the upper right-hand corner.

“I was standing on a little ledge and (the photographer) was like, ‘Step more to the left,’ and I said, ‘I’m going to fall off this thing if I go any more to the left.’” said Dalton.  “It was just an honor.  There were guys that have been in the league for a long time and have played very well and gone to a bunch of Pro Bowl, so it was just an honor to be there with all of them.

“It was pretty cool.  Nike was all for it and said it was one of the biggest openings for a company.  It was a cool experience and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

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 waive Murray

Posted by bengalsweb on April 12, 2012 – 4:02 pm

ImageThe Bengals on Thursday waived cornerback Rico Murray, a second-year NFL player from Kent State. Murray, a Cincinnati native (Moeller HS), played in the season opener for the Bengals last year, was released, and was re-signed as a practice squad player in the postseason. He had been signed to Cincinnati’s 2012 offseason roster on Jan. 9. He has 10 games of NFL experience, including one postseason contest, with Cincinnati since 2009.


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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 7 Comments »