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Hall timeline a guess, not his impact

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on November 14, 2011 – 10:44 am

This is a tough day at Paul Brown Stadium.

With the Bengals expected to put cornerback Leon Hall on injured reserve as early as Monday, it hits this team right where it lives.

Drawing on past experiences with torn Achilles, Hall could be on the field at the start of the next training camp with limited activity during the spring. The worst case scenario is that he would have to begin the season on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and miss the first six weeks.

It’s all speculation of course because it depends on the player. When tight end Reggie Kelly tore his Achilles in the first week of training camp at age 32 in 2009, the Bengals didn’t give him much chance to come back anywhere near his form. But he surprised them and was at training camp better than ever and held up all year.

It is one of the more challenging injuries from which to return, but with Hall not turning 27 until December and possessing a big-time work ethic, he’s a good guy to, as they say, put down your chip.

But still, this may be the one guy on the 53 that they couldn’t lose for the final seven games.

Sure, he had struggled in the Seattle game and Sunday was probably the worst he had looked in a big game in his five seasons here before he tore his Achilles. But if the Bengals have an indispensable player, it is Hall.

Just listen to safety Chris Crocker after Sunday’s game:

“It changes your mentality if you’re a coordinator because Leon allows us to do so many things,” Crocker said. “He allows us to play a lot of man-to-man, he allows us to do a lot of things in zone. He’s a big part of what we do. You lose him in a game, it’s big. And the guy never gets hurt? How do you plan for that?”

You don’t replace your best man-to-man corner in the middle of the season. Not even Bill Belichick does that. Not only that, you probably have to rip up a lot of what you do if you’re defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. This is going to be a long week on the defensive side of the ball.

Not only has Hall never missed a game, but go back to OTAs and everything else since he arrived here as the 18th pick in 2007, and you can count the number of practices he’s missed. He hadn’t missed a practice until the start of the 2010 training camp for a few days. The durability and reliability are major reasons the Bengals gave him that big extension just before the season.

Not only that, but Hall is a tremendous rallying figure in the locker room. A big-time leader in his position group and one of the all-time nice guys.

But, how many teams in the NFL can turn to a top 10 pick on their bench in Adam Jones? It’s huge. There’s no question that in his mind Jones is a starter and he has the physical talent of a starter. But no one knows when he‘ll be ready as he grapples with his own physical challenges. After not being able to play football for a year because of his neck injury, he’s finding out you need every muscle to turn and run with fast receivers like A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson and his hamstring is struggling to make the transition. And there is the rust factor.

Still, how many teams in the league have that guy on the bench in that premium of position at this point in the season? But, the Bengals are a long way from 2009 when Zimmer based his defense on two solid man-to-man corners. Getting Jones healthy would be a big help on that score. If dedication and enthusiasm counted, it would work out for everyone.
But there is no question that the Bengals are entering the stretch run in one of the toughest spots imaginable.

Leave it to Crocker: “Now,” he said, “this is where you find out where you are as a team.”


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Wednesday quick hits

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 19, 2010 – 2:00 pm

After Wednesday’s voluntary on-field sessions at Paul Brown Stadium, cornerback Adam Jones took questions from the media for the first time in his Bengals career and assured reporters, “I’m not going to give you guys much to write about.”

He was talking about off the field. On the field he continues to impress. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said after practice, “So far, so good … he’s been disciplined. He’s done everything we’ve asked.”

And that’s where he says he’s going to contain his swagger.

On the field.

“I’m never going to lose my swagger on the field,” Jones said. “If you see me out there, I compete every play. If I don’t make the play, I’m upset with myself. That’s the kind of swagger I’m talking about. I’m not talking about a swagger with your pants down or nothing like that. I’m talking about on the field. If I’m not playing with a swagger on the field, I don’t think I need to be out there.”

He knows all eyes are on him, so Jones dismisses the notion it easier for him to live and play in small-market Cincinnati after he couldn’t make a go in glitzy Dallas.

After his second day throwing against him, quarterback Carson Palmer compared Jones’ quickness out of his backpedal to Steelers Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu.

“Not too many guys are like that,” Palmer said. “You can’t be late throwing to his side.”

“That closing speed is very rare. It reminds me of Troy and there aren’t many guys that have that first two or three steps and are at full speed.”

After living through Chris Henry and Cedric Benson and Tank Johnson, Palmer’s mind is wide open. After talking to the return artist formerly known as Pacman, he says, “I like him.” 

“Playing here you learn to give guys the benefit of a doubt and there are guys here that have been through a lot of things,” Palmer said. ” A lot of things have been said by people who don’t know that individual. Things have been said about Pacman and I’m not letting that make that. He is who he is and has tried to learn right away and compete. Everything else that has been in his past I’m not going to let that make my mind for me.”

» Veteran tight end Reggie Kelly has already bonded with No. 1 pick Jermaine Gresham in his first week back since signing his one-year deal. Kelly was extremely impressed that when he was in the weight room Gresham came in with rehab specialist Nick Cosgray and asked to be introduced to him. And even though Kelly is still not working on the field yet (Achilles), he says he spent time with Gresham out there Tuesday after practice.

“Reggie will be in his ear,” said Palmer, who recalled how instrumental Jon Kitna was to his career during his rookie year.  “It was great to draft the guy we drafted. The best move was to bring Reggie back.”

Rookie defensive tackle Geno Atkins flashed enough in one 11-on-11 set that former Bengals defensive tackle John Thornton says he would have had three straight sacks at one point … Zimmer has got his guys all over the place. SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga played some in the middle and also blitzed off the edge … The Bengals aren’t playing a 3-4, but there are 3-4 principles with guys like ends Robert Geathers and Michael Johnson standing up … Johnson is also working with the backers as a SAM.

» Joining Kelly on the side rehabbing were right end Antwan Odom (Achilles), safety Chris Crocker (foot), safety Tom (Nelson) knee, SAM linebacker Rashad Jeanty (leg) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (arm).  Don’t look for Jeanty and Sims until training camp … Fourth-round pick Roddrick Muckelroy and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco weren’t here. Right tackle Andre Smith (foot) wasn’t on the field as he still rehabs from surgery.


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Aging as a Bengal (and not)

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 10, 2010 – 5:46 pm

Adam Jones (and we’re honoring his request to be called “Adam”) is still only 26?

He’s been in the news so much that he seems as old as a Supreme Court justice.

(And, by the way, here is another getting-old note before I forget:)

With word that President Obama has tapped 50-year-old Elena Kagan for the high court and with all signs pointing to her confirmation barring she didn’t inhale while at Princeton, that means anybody born in the ‘50s is now older than a Supreme Court justice.

And I don’t care if it is just by 11 months. That is still jarring. There may no bigger sign that the world’s fastest 40 time belongs to Father Time. )

Anyway, Jones doesn’t turn 27 until the fourth week of the season, Sept. 30, as the Bengals prepare for a game in Cleveland. Awfully young to be washed up, the Bengals hope.

Tank Johnson has it right.  The surest way for Jones to make sure he turns 27 as a Bengal, besides all the obvious off-field stuff, is to listen to defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and do everything he says. Jones has a history of freelancing and doing things on his own and Zimmer isn’t going to tolerate that for very long in his defense. The quickest way for Jones to get to the bubble of the roster on the field is to go outside the scheme.

That’s one of the reasons Zimmer was impressed by Jones’ workout last week. He not only did the drills well, but he followed the directions to a T. Jones showed he got the message from February, when Zimmer threatened to walk off the field after Jones kept running them wrong.  If he’s in the right spot, he’s got half the battle won. Zimmer thinks he can listen.

If Deion Sanders’ words prove true, “Coach, he’ll play for you,” then Zimmer and Jones should be on the same page.

A side note to the signing of safety Gibril Wilson:

 C.C.Brown signed on with the Lions, according to ProFootballTalk.com, after he and Ken Hamlin worked out for the Bengals two weeks ago.

Note who Brown joins in Detroit at safety. Two former Bengals, Marquand Manuel (a sixth-rounder in 2002) and Marvin White, a fourth-rounder in 2007.

 You’ve got to love Manuel, a guy that kept a list in his locker of the safeties drafted before him. Heading into his ninth season, no doubt he’s outlasted most of them with 116 games and 57 starts. The first safety taken in that draft? The Bengals’ Roy Williams with 102 games and 99 starts.

Not a bad run of sixth and seventh-round picks for the Bengals, starting in 2001 with T. J. Houshmandzadeh in the seventh, Manuel in the sixth in ’02, and Scott Kooistra in the seventh in ’03. All three are still playing elsewhere. The seventh-rounder in ’05, defensive lineman Jon Fanene, is coming off a career-high six sacks with the Bengals. Safety Chinedum Ndukwe, a seventh-rounder in ’07, was the team’s third-leading tackler last year and has made 25 NFL starts. A sixth-rounder in ’08, safety Corey Lynch, is still in the league, and the two six-rounders from ’09 – cornerback Morgan Trent and running back Bernard Scott -  played key roles last year.


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Zimmer-Jones intriguing match

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 5, 2010 – 5:28 am

Even if the Bengals end up not signing corneback Adam Jones, it shows you how much faith they have in defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Here’s a guy that has had no problem going to the scrap heap for his unit’s remarkable rise from No. 27 to No. 4. He plucked safety Chris Crocker off the street nearly in November and revived his career. He took troubled Tank Johnson off the street in April and saw what no one ever thought would happen. He played well enough and flourished enough in the locker room to get another multiyear deal. Zimmer also went and got safety Roy Williams in April and even though Williams only played four games before re-breaking his arm, he looked better than he had in years.

Zimmer likes to say he came off the scrap heap himself, a victim of the Bobby Petrino fiasco in Atlanta that suddenly left him on the street after the 2007 season. So it’s not all that surprising that Zimmer mentioned Jones’ name back in February about a possible look-see. Like he said Tuesday, there was talk about getting a cornerback in the draft because “you can never have enough good corners. There aren’t a lot of them.”

He says he has put it all on the line to Jones and told him exactly what the story is, which is why his players love Zimmer.

He’s not coming in to start, Zimmer told Jones. He has to play with more discipline than he has shown in his career. He won’t put up with anything that hurts the chemistry of a defense that has grown so far so fast.

“He looked me in the eye and shook my hand,” Zimmer says, and in his world of a man’s word, that means a lot.

Zimmer has spent a lot of time talking to one of Jones’ patrons, former cornerback Deion Sanders. The two remain close after Zimmer coached Sanders in Dallas. Zimmer has liked what he has heard. Sanders has told him, “He’ll play for you.”

Sanders, it can be assumed, has told Jones what to expect.

“If we sign him,” Zimmer said, “I’ll be on him at all times.”

Hard to argue with the track record.


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