In Cincinnati, James Wilder is the name of a young Bengals running back fighting to make the roster.
In Tampa, that name is football royalty.
James Wilder Sr. is the leading rusher in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history (5,957 yards) and the former NFL record holder for most rushing attempts in a game (43) and in a season (407).
“People always tell me great things about him,” said James Jr. “They say if I’m half of what he was, then I’m pretty darn good. To follow in his footsteps and do the kinds of things that he did in his career is my goal.
“I grew up watching him all the time on tape. He retired before I was born, but that’s who I idolized and modeled my game after. Same size, same height, same playing style.”
“He’s a very determined kid,” said James Sr. “Ever since he’s been playing ball…
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For just the third time in their history the Bengals traded up in the draft Saturday and they selected a center some believe can be a decade-long starter in the NFL when they tapped North Carolina’s Russell Bodine.
The Bengals gave their first of two six-rounders to Seattle to move from No. 123 to No. 111 and grabbed the 6-3, 310-pound Bodine, a two-year starter that declared for the draft as a junior.
Bodine has a take-charge reputation as a locker-room leader as well as a mauler persona on the field. He comes out of the same quick-paced shotgun offense that produced Bengals running back Giovani Bernard, but has snapped to the quarterback in goal-line situations.
The Bengals cut long-time starter Kyle Cook earlier in the offseason and have been seeking a more physical presence in the middle. They also re-signed Mike Pollak, in part, to replace Cook, but Pollak, a natural center in college, has only played guard in the NFL.
“A physical player who enjoys playing the game,” according to Ourlads Scouting Services. “Not a finesse player. Players with attitude and effort…Plays with head on the swivel. Square in pass protection. Will get push in the running game.”
The last time the Bengals traded up in the draft was in the 2002 third round, when they traded with Detroit to go up from No. 73 to No. 67 for Texas Christian tight end Matt Schobel. That came seven years after they went up from No. 5 to No. 1 in a trade with Carolina that gave them Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter.
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Three players that came into the NFL last season as college free agents and spent some time on the Bengals practice squad were released Thursday as the Bengals make plans for next weekend’s rookie minicamp. Waived were Indiana State wide receiver Justin Hilton, Morgan State fullback Jourdan Brooks, and Arizona State tackle Dan Knapp.
Tags: Bengals cuts
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The damndest thing is that a generation ago on Patriots Day I wrote a column for the Portland Press Herald about the nurse who ran the medical tent at the Boston Marathon.
She was a local, born and bred in southern Maine before she headed to make a life in Massachusetts. I have no idea where she is now. But if I had a buck for every time I thought of Joanie Casey this Patriots Day, I’d be richer than Andre Smith and James Harrison combined.
Not just Joanie Casey. But anybody else who ever left their heart on Heartbreak Hill. Or got on their tiptoes to cheer and glimpse them down Boylston Street. Or put a notepad in front of a euphoric finisher still shivering in that aluminum foil shawl in the heart of Copley Square.
Like Boston Billy Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson, who shocked the Boston course in a much different way only because they had the audacity to come out of anonymity and win it.
Or like Charles Pierce, the once and always great Boston sports columnist who wrote so beautifully and well Monday from a war zone in a dispatch that surfaced just after 5 p.m. that centered on his conversation with an EMT amid the devastation. Which means from the time the bombs went off, incredibly, it took him about as long as a Boston Marathon winner to steady himself, reshuffle his thoughts, spill them into cyberspace, and post.
Just over two hours.
But mainly I thought of Nurse Casey.
That Patriots Day in the late ’80s, I called her the Hawkeye Pierce of the Boston Marathon. How could you know? How could you know that a generation later Copley Square would be turned into an honest to God MASH unit?
What was more horrific Monday? An ancient finish line sanctified as one of the most revered in sports with blood, sweat and tears, splattered with just blood? Or the agonizing words that crawled across the bottom of the killing zone?
Shrapnel. IEDs. Amputations.
Where did the runs, hits and errors go?
Joanie Casey’s medical tent brought limbs back to life. That’s what is supposed to happen at the end of marathons. Cramps not carnage. Blisters not bombs.
She had gallons of Gatorade at fingertips and wasn’t pleading for plasma. Her army pumped IVs into the most spent finishers, not taking blood from runners who had been transformed into donors once they reached the line. Muscle pulls were carefully kneaded out of calves instead of ball bearings and nails feverishly picked out of feet and thighs.
A marathon is supposed to be about the best of us, not the worst. Courage and competition, not cowardice. The purity of the clock and not the treachery of politics. Majesty, not madness.
The Revolutionary War ended with the British surrendering to the tune called “The World Turned Upside Down.” But didn’t the world turn upside down on this Patriots Day, the day we celebrate the start of the revolution?
Wasn’t there a kid about 13 years old taken to Boston Children’s Hospital on Monday and in ’72 didn’t you slump out of Fenway Park on Patriots Day after watching Cleveland’s Milt Wilcox two-hit the Red Sox? Duane Josephson got them both. Two moon shots off The Monster with the Marathon winner pulling into the finish about an hour later.
Wasn’t there a kid about 17 years old taken to Children’s on Monday and didn’t you make two errors at first base in a road game in the same inning when you couldn’t resist watching the hottest Marathon run by you on Route 9 in 1976 in Wellesley?
The medical tent this Patriots Day turned out to be the surprise winner of the Boston Marathon they’ll never forget. God knows how many more would have died if the doctors and nurses and their equipment hadn’t already been poised. Even if it was for cramps instead of carnage.
And as Monday bled into Tuesday and the news kept coming like the runners coming into Copley until the finish line clock read 4:09:43, I still hadn’t heard the name of the winner. If I did, I didn’t remember.
But I thought of Joanie Casey again and felt a little better.
The world may be terribly upside down this morning. But the medical tent has already begun the healing.
We’ll know the winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Tags: 2013 Boston Marathon
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Monday is kicking off a big week at Paul Brown Stadium, the last full one before the April 25-27 draft.
The Bengals begin their offseason workouts Monday and the first bevy of locker-room quotes since the players bagged their disappointment and belongings in the Jan. 7 Cleanout should start hitting cyberspace around 9:45 a.m.
Among the things we’ll hear is that left tackle Andrew Whitworth is recovering well from his knee surgery and expects to be back for the first day of training camp in late July and the same with rookie cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. They may not be seen on the field during the spring, which is why the Bengals are looking for some bodies, particularly on the offensive line.
Also certain to be heard is that middle linebacker Rey Maualuga is in the best shape of his NFL career with the help of his MMA training in Los Angeles and that new SAM backer candidate Aaron Maybin is excited about the chance to join the lengthy list of players that have revived their careers under defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer: Safeties Chris Crocker and Reggie Nelson, cornerbacks Terence Newman and Adam Jones, and linebackers Dhani Jones and Thomas Howard to name a few.
And franchise player Michael Johnson won’t be on the premises since he’s finishing up his semester’s work at Georgia Tech and is expected when the Bengals go on the field the week of May 20.
Also Monday, the Bengals should have a pretty good idea where the James Harrison thing is going. It’s believed the Bengals gave Harrison an offer over the weekend and that the sides have decided to talk about it Monday. It sounds like Harrison wants to be here and that head coach Marvin Lewis has already struck up a good relationship with him, and that means a lot in these parts and could very well bode well for a deal fairly quickly.
It looks like Harrison is Lewis’s kind of guy, a throwback to Lewis’s Greg Lloyd days in Pittsburgh when he loved coaching a deadly serious pro who had no fear, backed down from no one, and was all football. And it looks like Lewis has what Harrison wants, a top 10 defense that can win the AFC North.
(A snapshot to just how Lewis relates to players could be seen last week when he saw middle backer Vontaze Burfict for the first time since Jan. 7 and they wrestled around in a playful greeting. Then he promptly shot down Burfict’s request for a locker change.)
On Monday the Bengals are also expected to announce they’ve re-signed running back Bernard Scott and signed former Browns tight end Alex Smith.
Then on Tuesday morning the Bengals are hosting 31 college prospects that played high school or college in the metro Cincinnati area. It’s also the first Tuesday the NFL schedule could be released.
During the rest of the week the Bengals figure to entertain the last of their 30 draft prospects that each team is allowed to bring to its facility.
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Andrew Whitworth, Dre Kirkpatrick, James Harrison, Marvin Lewis, Michael Johnson, Rey Maualuga
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The Bengals have terminated the contract of cornerback Jason Allen, releasing him to free agency.
Allen last season played his seventh NFL season and his first for the Bengals. He was limited by injuries and played in only four games for Cincinnati, with two tackles on defense and one on special teams.
Tags: Jason Allen
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Tuesday’s visit of Akeem Jordan underlines Cincinnati’s interest in veteran linebackers with the Bengals apparently searching for a SAM backer to go along with an assortment of draft prospects. With the draft just two weeks away, more free-agent backer visits figure to be on the way.
The 6-1 Jordan, who has been listed anywhere from 225 to 230 pounds, would figure to be here what he was in Philadelphia the past six seasons, which was primarily a backup/special-teamer.
There’s not a lot of room left on the defense with head coach Marvin Lewis saying he’s going to stick with Rey Maualuga at middle linebacker while virtually all his starters and regulars are intact except for starting SAM backer Manny Lawson and safety Chris Crocker.
Lawson only played about a third of the snaps and this upcoming season Maualuga and starting WILL backer Vontaze Burfict figure to get the bulk of the plays again if the same alignment is used. Plus there is emerging WILL backer Emmanuel Lamur, who played well on nickel downs late in his rookie season.
But the Bengals look like they are kicking tires on veterans and college prospects to see if they can upgrade the SAM spot and maybe get a guy that can play more.
They have been looking at backers all offseason, starting when the Raiders were shopping 2010 first-rounder Rolando McClain before Oakland cut him. But the Bengals had no interest even before they re-signed Maualuga.
The one spot that is wide open is the safety opposite Reggie Nelson. With no plans as of yet to re-sign Crocker, the Bengals have dipped a toe into the veteran market but seem intent on getting younger there via the draft. They did visit with former Saint and Brown Usama Young last Friday, but word was Tuesday that Young opted to reunite with one of his New Orleans coaches and now the Oakland head coach, Dennis Allen.
Tags: Akeem Jordan, Rey Maualuga, Usama Young, Vontaze Burfict
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The Bengals continue to kick the tires on veteran running backs. After entertaining Beanie Wells last month, they took a look at Felix Jones on Monday, according to dallascowboys.com.
But as happened with Wells, there were no signs the Bengals were making a deal late Monday and the move could be for later in the spring. They may want to see how the draft plays out before deciding to sign a veteran. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has said he wouldn’t mind finding a back to pair with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the Bengals haven’t re-upped Brian Leonard or Bernard Scott with Cedric Peerman penciled in as the potential third-down back.
But the 5-10, 217-pound Jones, who turns 26 the week after the draft, fits the explosive speed trait the Bengals seek to team with Green-Ellis. Despite missing 16 games, he’s averaging 4.8 yards per career rush. He carried just 111 times last year in Dallas and had a career-low 3.6 yards per attempt.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Felix Jones, Jay Gruden
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There’s no question that the Bengals are going to scout the top quarterbacks in the April 25-27 draft.
The question is, are they going to draft him on April 26 or April 27?
They continue the process Friday, when Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the Bengals will work out Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel in Tallahassee. And it would be no surprise if Manuel is one of the 30 prospects they’ve scheduled for a Paul Brown Stadium visit before the draft.
There isn’t anybody the Bengals are not checking out at this stage. At any position. Anybody, at least, that’s got a shot of being drafted and they’re also looking at guys they’ll end up signing after the draft in the mold of Vontaze Burfict, Emmanuel Lamur and Jeromy Miles.
The Bengals have somebody at every pro day. While head coach Marvin Lewis stalked the North Carolina sidelines with East Coast scout Greg Seamon this week, the same day new assistant secondary coach Adam Zimmer was at the University of Connecticut.
(Odds are the Bengals won’t draft a guy from either place, but here’s where we’ll make our pitch for Tar Heels running back Giovani Bernard.)
But the only way the Bengals would get Manuel is if he free-falls into the third round.
No one thinks the Bengals are going to take a quarterback with one of their first three picks in the first two rounds, knowing how they have felt about those picks in the past. They’re going to want those guys to come in and start. Or, at the very least, play regularly.
The third round figures to the first time the Bengals start even gazing at the QBs and given they are usually over-drafted, particularly in a lean year, it could be fairly picked over.
But the Bengals aren’t looking for a Manuel-type to come in and eventually be a starter. They’re looking to support Andy Dalton with better competition and a young guy talented enough that they can develop who can come in and win games off the bench if need be. A future Ryan Fitzpatrick, perhaps, a seventh-rounder in 2005.
If the Bengals draft a guy that’s not ready, then they could go back to keeping three QBs instead of two to develop him without fear of him getting plucked from the practice squad and keep up the hunt for a veteran that began with the Josh Johnson signing.
But Dalton himself is part of that influx the past two seasons that shows rookie QBs don’t have to be treated like some delicate experiment in a Petri dish that can’t be exposed to harsh light for a year. The Redskins got two wins off the bench from fourth-rounder Kirk Cousins just this past season.
Browns quarterback Colt McCoy is trade bait now, but it’s highly doubtful the Bengals would give up a draft pick for him. If he gets released it could be interesting, but they’ve also been cautious with players that have a history of concussions and he has a storied one.
So we know the Bengals will work them out, but when will they take him? April 26 ends with the third round, April 27 has all the rest.
Tags: Adam Zimmer, Colt McCoy, E.J. Manuel, Greg Seamon, Marvin Lewis, Ryan Fitzpartrick
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Offseason workouts don’t start for another month but three Bengals are headed to Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday to work the phones at 2:30 p.m. to thank Bengals season-ticket holders for renewing. Defensive tackle Domata Peko and left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the team’s de facto captains, along with cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, one of last season’s first-round draft picks, plan to make the thank you calls.
Tags: Andrew Whitworth, Domata Peko, Dre Kirkpatrick
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