Again, in honor of WLW talkmaster Lance McAlister with baseball back again, and in honor of Peter King, Sports Illustrated titan, as I shamelessly begin to lobby for another pair of his Red Sox tickets, another version of I Think I Believe:
I Think I Believe the American judicial system is the only thing on the planet that can render the NFL as numbingly boring as 30 minutes of watching public access television.
I Think I Believe that I never agreed with Peter’s report from two weeks ago that the Bengals will listen to trade offers for Carson Palmer. They’re not ready. At least not yet. And they really won’t be ready if they can’t trade until him after the draft. When all they’ll be able to get is God knows what in 2012. If God knows they could get Andrew Luck, maybe that would change things.
I Think I Believe I do agree with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Mike Brown didn’t give quarterback Carson Palmer a subtle jab during his Saturday interview with Bengals.com and The Cincinnati Enquirer.
I asked Brown how the lockout impacts the Palmer situation and he said, “I don’t want to talk about specific players. We’re not allowed to deal with the players and I’m not looking to send messages through the media or to the player or the public about a player. That’s a step too far under the ground rules we have with the lockout.”
Like Florio, I disagree with Joe and don’t believe Brown was taking a “subtle jab” at Palmer. Far from it.
First of all, Brown is out of the old school and takes very few shots and even more rarely at players. And when he does, he ain’t subtle. But I’ve never heard him go after a player back when he was talking to the media. He went off on Carl Pickens after he underminded head coach Bruce Coslet, but that’s about it. And he still has high regard for Palmer despite this mess. So much so he wouldn’t take a shot at him publicly and probably not privately, either.
Two, we know Mike wants Carson back. Back in the Jan 24 Mobile Doctrine, he called him central to the team’s plans. Now, that may just be pie in the sky and Palmer has no intention of coming back, but Mike isn’t going to do anything to alienate him publicly.
And third, Brown is one of these guys who is a stickler for the rules. I legitimately think the answer came straight from the heart. The NFL isn’t exactly clear about what you can and can’t legally say about players during the lockout, so owners are literally treating each word as if each syllable is a booby trap.
Nah, it wasn’t a jab. With all due respect to Reedy, who does a hell of a job and grinds the beat like not many.
I Think I Believe Antwan Odom has paid the steepest price ever to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Month.
Look at what has happened to the guy since he had five sacks against the Packers on Sept 20, 2009 in Green Bay. After getting one sack in the next four games, he ripped up his Achilles to end his season. Then his next training camp was hobbled by a virus and sore knee. Then when the season got going, he broke his wrist and reaggravated the knee before he got suspended a month for violating the league’s drug policy despite his lawyer arguing Odom had merely taken one of his wife’s prescription weight-loss pills by accident. Then he ended the season IR with no sacks. Now in the middle of the night he lost his home in Mason, Ohio to a fire.
Thankfully, he and his family weren’t home and we’re thinking of him today. The guy is an immense talent who if he gets back to anywhere near that ’09 form, just think what they have with him, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson.
I Think I Believe the running backs, whoever they may be, are going to combine for something like 80 to 100 catches this season.
Jay Gruden’s West Coast scheme is perfect for backups Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard and by virtue of being The Bell Cow, Cedric Benson would probably grab 30 to 40 by himself. In his three seasons here, Benson’s high has been last season’s 28 catches, but they seemed more out of desperation and it didn’t look like the checkdowns were emphasized all that much. Benson may not be a scatback, but try tackling him in space when he’s got a running start. Remember late in the ’08 season when he burned the Redskins on a 79-yard screen that was the Bengals’ longest play of that season? And the clinching TD he caught against Carolina last year?
The Bengals haven’t always been infatuated with Scott’s attention to detail in the passing game, but if he’s heard about this playbook yet – and it’s anything like the usual West Coast – this thing is right down his alley out of the backfield. For whatever reason, he’s the most under-used guy on this roster. I’m not saying 15 to 20 touches a game, but how about between eight and 12? Or maybe even make him a bell cow for a couple of series like they were using him late in the year. In the coaches’ defense, he did get nicked up here and there and that cut down on his availability.
But they’ve got him for sure now with Benson and Leonard free agents.
I Think I Believe I see and hear more from former Bengals defensive tackle John Thornton than when he actually played. (And listen my children, Thornton was a very solid player up and down the line and a great locker room guy.)
He’s all over. He’s media. He’s working with draft prospects and players. He’s blogging and tweeting. He’s unstoppable. You can only hope to contain him.
On Tuesday, Thornton reported he’s at the University of Pittsburgh pro day watching one of his clients, wide receiver Jon Baldwin, and Gruden and Bengals receivers coach James Urban are also there. Also on display is running back Dion Lewis. As we’ve noted, NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan has mocked Baldwin to the Bengals at No. 35 in the second round. And at 6-5, he does have the size the Bengals love at wideout. He’s as tall as the late Chris Henry, but he’s about 25 pounds heavier and not as fast, but he can still run very well for a big guy.
As T.J. Houshmandzadeh would say, “Interesting…”
I Think I Believe I will wear my “I Believe” T-shirt under my Tony C. Red Sox jersey for the Flying Pig 10K.
Tags: Antwan Odom, Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard, Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, Jon Baldwin, lockout, Mike Brown
Posted in Hobson's Choice | 23 Comments »
If running back Brian Leonard’s face and voice read like an MRI Sunday night, he has suffered torn ligaments in his foot and that very well could be a season-ending injury. As he sat on a cart outside the locker room in the last minutes of the Hall of Fame Game with his foot in a boot he shook his head and said, “It doesn’t look good,” and said he feared they were torn but didn’t know for sure.
There was some hope Monday that things might turn out better. Leonard’s agent, Mike McCartney, confirmed that Leonard has “a significant injury,” but depending on the size of the tear, it could be a six-week injury or it could be season-ending. Definitive word won’t come, McCartney said, until Leonard’s visit to a foot specialist Tuesday.
“There are some things going on in there and it has to be sorted out,” McCartney said.
Here’s what seems to be going down as of Monday night. Indications are that the Bengals are bringing in running back James Johnson to Georgetown College on Tuesday and he’ll be on the field for the 3 p.m. practice if he passes a physical. Then they may give the Leonard situation a few weeks to play out to see how it is coming along before setting the roster.
Six weeks out for Leonard would be a relief. Season-ending would be a crusher. As the third-down back last season Leonard bailed the Bengals out of more jams than Lindsay Lohan’s lawyer. There was the fourth-and-10 dive to make the first Pittsburgh win possible. The recovered fumble on a blown shotgun snap to make the win in Baltimore possible. The first-down run backed up on the goal line in San Diego’s fourth-quarter din.
The Bengals don’t seem to have that kind of guy on the roster and, plus, they’re really banged up there. In fact, there are indications that rookie running back Cordera Eason suffered the worst of torn ligaments in the foot Sunday night and may be done for the season. In fact, Johnson may end up taking his roster spot. Cedric Peerman missed the game with a hamstring issue and should be back this week. But suddenly that leaves the Bengals with only Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott healthy, which makes you think they have to go get somebody right now.
And they may do it.
A league source outside Cincinnati said early Monday afternoon that the Bengals contacted James Johnson a few times in the morning. Johnson, the former Bengal, was recently released from the Vikings. The 5-11, 205-pound Johnson played in four games at the end of the 2008 season and looked impressive catching the ball out of the backfield. He had 29 yards on nine carries and caught six balls for 47 yards. He’s best remembered for keeping the lone offensive touchdown drive against the Browns going in a 14-0 win at Cleveland on Dec. 21, 2008 when he converted third downs on a 12-yard run and 15-yard catch in Leonard-esque fashion.
Johnson, who didn’t play last season, arrived in Cincinnati in ’08 as a free agent out of Kansas State. He got crunched out of the roster last training camp with the trade for Leonard and drafting of Scott after a 2009 preseason he averaged 4.4 yards per rush on 23 carries. The Bengals cut him and then re-signed him to the practice squad, where he spent the entire season before opting to go to Minnesota in the offseason.
Tags: Brian Leonard, rb health
Posted in Hobson's Choice | 22 Comments »