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Found 27 results

  1. If Dalton’s The Key, Week One Bodes Well Posted by Dan Hoard on September 11, 2013 – 11:30 am   Nearly every preview story about the 2013 Bengals fits the same basic theme:   “Cincy has the defense and the game-changing wideout – all it needs is Andy Dalton to elevate his game to win the AFC North crown and finally make some postseason noise.” – Andy Benoit (MMQB.si.com)   “If the Bengals are to be taken seriously, which I think we all feel they are, (Dalton) definitely has to go to the next level.  He has to be a difference-maker if they want to make it to the Super Bowl.” – Boomer Esiason (NFL on CBS)   “So why is there trepidation when it comes to making the Bengals a Super Bowl contender?  Look under center.  That’s where you will see quarterback Andy Dalton.  Despite leading the Bengals to two playoff appearances in his first two seasons, Dalton has a ton of doubters.” – Pete Prisco (who picked the Bengals to win the Super Bowl on CBSSports.com)   “But Dalton knows – everyone in Cincinnati knows – that he has to be a more complete passer for this team to play at home in January instead of being a road wild-card team destined for an early exit.” – Peter King (Sports Illustrated) If there is any truth to the “Bengals Will Go As Far As Dalton Takes Them” meme, then Cincinnati should feel good about its prospects this season despite the loss in Chicago.     After one week, Dalton leads the NFL in completion percentage (78.8) and ranks 7th in average yards per attempt (8.55).  And if A.J. Green had not dropped a perfect pass that ricocheted to Charles Tillman for an interception, Andy would have had a passer rating of 112.4 instead of 97.2.   “There are a couple of plays that I’m sure he wishes he had back – as we all do – but for the most part, we’re happy with his performance,” said offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.  “He played very well.  Seventy-nine percent on the road against Chicago’s defense is impressive.  We just have to do a better job of protecting the ball.”   Dalton is constantly questioned about his ability to throw deep, but in the season opener, Andy was 3-for-3 for 107 yards on passes thrown more than 20 yards in the air and completed all six of his passes thrown more than 10 yards down the field.   “We spent a lot of time in the spring identifying what the issues are, and what the next level is for him in a lot of areas – mental, physical, and technical,” said quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese.  “It was good to see what the product was going to be as the bullets started flying.  I like the improvement he’s made.”   At the age of 25, Dalton has 35 NFL starts under his belt after starting 49 games at TCU.  At this point, has he seen about all there is to see from opposing defenses?   “Probably percentage-wise,” said Zampese.  “He’ll see some things that are new every week because everybody comes up with such great stuff in this league, but he’s seen a lot at an early age which is good.”   That includes four looks at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense under Hall of Fame coordinator Dick LeBeau.  After losing his first six games against AFC North heavyweights Pittsburgh and Baltimore, Dalton ended last season with back-to-back victories over the Steelers and Ravens, and Zampese says it was significant for Dalton to get “over the hump” against those division rivals.   “There are all sorts of mental humps that you have to get over because somebody always puts something in front of you:  You haven’t done this yet or you haven’t done that yet,” said Zampese.  “It never ends until you retire.  That was something that got overcome last year.  But we haven’t beaten them this year, so there you go Andy.”   He’ll get his next chance against Pittsburgh on Monday night at Paul Brown Stadium, and while Dalton’s play will obviously be under the spotlight, his head coach sounds confident in his quarterback – this week and beyond. “If everybody else plays up to Andy’s standards, we’ll be fine,” said Marvin Lewis.       http://blogs.bengals.com/2013/09/11/if-daltons-the-key-week-one-bodes-well/
  2. Fun Facts With Margus Hunt Posted by Dan Hoard on July 28, 2013 – 2:36 pm   Margus Hunt is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing rookies in the NFL.  The 26-year-old native of Estonia appeared to be on his way to the Olympics as a shot put/discus thrower before moving to the United States and switching to football while attending SMU.   The 6’8”, 280 pound defensive end has only been playing football for four years, but earned first-team All-Conference USA honors last year after finishing with eight sacks, two forced fumbles, and an INT.  The Bengals selected him in the second round (53rd overall) in this year’s draft.   His unusual background made Hunt a perfect candidate for a “Fun Facts” interview for the Bengals radio network pregame show.   What is the name of your hometown in Estonia and describe it for us. It’s called Karksi-Nuia and it’s a really small town.  We don’t even have a traffic light.  Everyone knows everyone there and when I was growing up, I walked everywhere because it was so small.   If you hadn’t been a professional athlete in the United States, what do you think you would have done back home? I would have kept my track and field career going and seen where it took me.  I would have also definitely gone to college and got my degree.   What do you consider to be your most impressive athletic achievement so far? I don’t really know.  It’s been a blessing to go through all of this and stay healthy.  Winning gold medals in track and field in international competition was definitely a special feeling because you get to stand on the podium and hear your national anthem.  Right now, football is the most important thing in my life and I’m trying to get that on track.   Where are all the gold medals and trophies? All of them are back home in Estonia.   Who was your favorite athlete growing up? His name is Virgilijus Alekna and he’s a Lithuanian discus thrower.  I actually was able to work with him in 2007.   Is he famous in track and field circles? Oh yeah absolutely.  He’s a two-time Olympic winner and a two-time world champion – just an absolutely tremendous discus thrower.   What were some of your favorite places to travel during your track and field career? China was really great.  Turkey was unbelievable – it’s a crazy culture over there.  South Africa is an absolutely beautiful place.  Spain is really cool as well.   Have you ever been to an NFL game? No.  I’ve been here for five years and never really had an opportunity to go to a game so I’m excited to take part in one.   Are there still football terms that you don’t understand? No.  I know the words – it’s just a matter of learning the game.   Is the United States roughly what you expected or is it very different from the notions that you had growing up in Estonia? Watching “frat boy” movies back in Estonia you definitely get a skewed overview, but I eventually put that behind me and focused on why I came here.  It’s been working out well.   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     http://blogs.bengals.com/2013/07/28/fun-facts-with-margus-hunt/
  3. [size=6][b]Bengals Need To Be Fueled By Green Energy [/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard on October 22, 2012 – 10:19 pm If you look closely at A.J. Green’s college stats at Georgia, you’ll see that in addition to having 166 receptions and 23 touchdowns, he had one blocked kick. “I was in charge of the field goal and extra point block team and all I wanted was to use A.J. one time,” said former Georgia assistant coach John Jancek, currently the defensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati. “So I battled to get him on the block team and sure enough, he blocked a kick to win a game against Arizona State. It was the only time he ever tried it and he blocked it clean. He was one for one.” “We were down and needed a block and I just went up and blocked it,” Green told me. “I have a picture of it in my house.” Clearly, there aren’t many things that A.J. Green can’t do on a football field. But one thing is impossible: Catching the ball if the Bengals don’t throw it to him. In Sunday night’s loss to the Steelers, Green finished with one reception for an 8-yard touchdown. It marked the third time in his career that A.J. has finished with one catch (they have all been for touchdowns) and his eight receiving yards were a career-low. “When you go back and look at the stats and see A.J. Green with one catch, it bothers you quite a bit,” said offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. Pittsburgh deserves most of the credit. In addition to having cornerback Ike Taylor shadow Green on every play, Dick LeBeau gave Taylor linebacker help on short routes and safety help on deeper routes. “They were buzzing safeties over the top or buzzing linebackers on some of the underneath stuff,” said Green. “They did a great job – hats off to them. Ike Taylor played a hell of a game. He’s a great player and has been in the league for a long time.” “They played a little bit more two-man than they have, but they’ve played it (before) so it wasn’t that big of a surprise,” said Gruden. The extra attention from Pittsburgh’s defense did not have Green seeing red. Unlike some other receivers in the Bengals recent past, A.J. did not throw a fit on the sideline when the ball was not coming his way. “I feel like we had some good stuff drawn up, but the defense played well against me,” said Green. “He can complain if he wants to,” said Gruden. “I’m trying my hardest. I want to get him the ball probably more than he wants it.” The Steelers weren’t the first team to roll their coverage toward Green and they obviously won’t be the last. The Bengals still have to get their best player the ball. “There was a lot of concern about A.J. catching only one pass, and we have a concern that we didn’t get the ball to A.J. enough,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “We didn’t get the ball down the field and over the top.” “We had some plays for him,” said Gruden. “It’s not like he wasn’t part of any play. Every time we call a pass play we know where A.J. is and what he’s doing and he’s a viable option. “When it’s all said and done, you have to have some plays that feature him running fast and far and we didn’t have enough.” The bottom line is that the Bengals have two weeks to figure out ways to get Green’s hands on the ball. And blocking kicks is not what I have in mind. http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/10/22/bengals-need-to-be-fueled-by-green-energy/
  4. [size=6][b]Bengals Surge Fueled By Entire Roster [/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard on September 30, 2012 – 11:52 pm The Bengals Pro Bowlers – Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, and Geno Atkins – each had great stats in Sunday’s 27-10 win at Jacksonville, but this was a win where considerable credit should go to the “other guys.” Like Cedric Peerman. The Bengals were sputtering through a penalty-plagued first half when Peerman took a sideways snap on a fake punt and ran 48 yards from the Cincinnati 34 to the Jacksonville 18. “I can’t do anything without a great snap from Clark Harris and then the guys up front doing a great job of blocking, so hats off to them,” said Peerman. “My teammates were giving me a little grief saying, ‘You should have scored.’ I probably should have scored, but I’m glad that I put my team in position to score.” “Oooh, that was big,” said Chris Pressley. “Cedric did a great job of executing it. It’s something that we practice for if we see a certain look. Sometimes those plays don’t work, but to be able to execute it and get a big chunk of yards was huge.” Pressley was another of the unsung heroes. The 26-year-old fullback makes his living throwing his body at linebackers in hopes of opening holes in the running game, but against the Jaguars, Pressley scored his first career touchdown in four NFL seasons on a 1-yard pass from Dalton. “The Jaguars were thinking run and coach called a great play,” said Pressley. “Green-Ellis did a good job of selling it, the line blocked really well, and I was able to get my first one. It was really cool. I live in Tampa so I had my family down here and it was nice for them to see.” Domata Peko also deserved a pat on the back. While Atkins, Michael Johnson, and Carlos Dunlap have been getting the headlines, Peko remains a rock in the middle of the defensive line. He had the first of Cincinnati’s six sacks on Sunday and helped the defense hold Maurice Jones-Drew to 38 yards on 13 carries. “The key to the game today was to shut down Maurice Jones-Drew,” said Peko. “I think we held him under 100 yards and that was one of the big things that we were stressing on defense this week. We didn’t get off to a good start this season on stopping the run, but we’re starting to pick it up.” Of course, the most unlikely hero of all was Chris Crocker. After being out of work for 174 days, the 32-year-old safety returned to the Bengals on Thursday to bolster their injury-ravaged secondary and had an interception in his first game back. “I love it and I’m glad that he got it,” said Leon Hall. “It couldn’t have happened to a better person.” “We’ve been missing him and we’re so happy that he’s back,” said Peko. “It seems like he gets the back-end ready. He gets everybody in the right spots and communicates very well. He’s just a savvy veteran that knows how to play the game.” During their 3-game winning streak, the Bengals have received key contributions from veterans like Crocker, Adam Jones, and Terence Newman as well as newcomers like Armon Binns, Vontaze Burfict, and Mohamed Sanu. Who’s next? “There are a lot of guys who weren’t going to be in the thick of the plan who are out there playing a lot of football,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/09/30/bengals-surge-fueled-by-entire-roster/"]http://blogs.bengals...-entire-roster/[/url]
  5. [b] [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/09/27/gruden-earning-praise-after-explosive-start/"]Gruden Earning Praise After Explosive Start [/url][/b] Posted by Dan Hoard on September 27, 2012 – 11:04 am It starts early this year. After attending the Bengals 38-31 win in Washington last week, ESPN’s John Clayton [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USHZZ5bwASU"]told mom that he was done with his segment[/url] and came away raving about Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. “If that game did not put him over the top to be the leading assistant coach candidate to be a head coach then I don’t know what needs to happen,” Clayton [url="http://www.700wlw.com/cc-common/podcast/single_page.html?podcast=bengals&selected_podcast=120926_1_GAMEPLAN_1348701411_17340.mp3"]told us Wednesday on “Bengals Game Plan[/url].” “The job that he’s done with Andy Dalton over his first 19 games has been absolutely amazing. You can credit Dalton because this guy has ice in his veins and was a Pro Bowl quarterback after year one, but I think when you look and see the creativity that Jay Gruden has – just look at Cleveland. It’s a team that has a young quarterback and young receivers and look how far ahead the offense is in Cincinnati compared to Cleveland. That’s not a knock on Pat Shurmur who does a very good job with young quarterbacks, but looking at what Jay Gruden has done with the creativity of this offense and what he’s done to develop Andy Dalton – there’s no question in my mind that he’s going to get a head coaching job next year.” Last year, the “[url="http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-10-20/sports/os-bianchi-jay-gruden-1021-20111020_1_gruden-family-jay-gruden-jon-gruden"]Jay Gruden should be a head coach[/url]” stories started in late October, but despite reports that the Jaguars and Rams were considering him for their coaching vacancies at the end of the season, Gruden elected not to go through the interview process and signed a three-year extension to remain the Bengals offensive coordinator. “I didn’t have a good coat and tie,” Jay deadpanned when I asked him why he elected not to interview. That’s typical of the 45-year-old coach who has a humorous response to most questions, but Gruden’s decision to stay in Cincinnati was not a joking matter. “Number one, they were just rumors,” Gruden told me. “And number two, I had just got here and it was my first year as an NFL offensive coordinator and quite frankly, I didn’t feel like I was ready to be a head coach. I didn’t want to do a disservice to an organization to go through the interview process and not be ready myself. I felt a sense of loyalty here that these guys gave me an opportunity here when they really didn’t have to. They went out on a limb to hire me and I’d like to see this thing through and see this team win a Super Bowl. I think we have the talent and it’s a great city. I love it here, and my family loves it here.” The Bengals reportedly gave Gruden [url="http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/post/_/id/40292/wake-up-call-jay-gruden-signs-extension"]$3.6 million reasons to stay[/url], but his brother Jon, the former Tampa Bay head coach and current analyst for Monday Night Football, says that Jay’s career decisions are not be based on money. “I got a feeling that Jay would coach if you gave him absolutely nothing,” said Jon Gruden. “If you gave him one square meal a day, he’d be there. He loves it man.” The Bengals offense under Gruden’s direction is off to a great start in 2012, ranking 8[sup]th[/sup] in the NFL in points and total yards through three weeks. Six of the team’s nine touchdowns have come on plays of 40-or-more yards and seven different players have reached the end zone. “That’s the thought of putting in an offense,” said Gruden. “You want everybody to be involved. You don’t want to come in and talk to A.J. Green the whole time – you want Gresham, Hawkins, Binns, Tate, and all of those guys to be involved and Green-Ellis in the running game. Coverage is going to dictate where the ball goes and Andy is the one with the ball in his hands. It’s just a matter of everybody being in the right spot at the right time.” But calling the right play at the right time is crucial too, such as Mohamed Sanu’s game-opening 73-yard touchdown pass to Green. Gruden knew that Sanu had thrown a few passes out of the “Wildcat” formation at Rutgers ([url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VVUrRFdBU0"]including a 51-yard TD at Nippert Stadium in 2010 on the first play from scrimmage against UC[/url] ), but the primary reason why he felt it would work against Washington was information learned from being on the same United Football League coaching staff at Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. “I had a pretty good understanding from being with Coach Haslett that anytime that a team went ‘Wildcat’ with a receiver or running back that he would play Cover 0 and bring the safety out of the middle of the field,” said Gruden. “I always wanted to design a play where we line up in ‘Wildcat’ and got A.J. in the slot and just threw him the post, but you have to have the player to throw it. Surely Green-Ellis couldn’t do that. But talking to Mohamed Sanu a couple of weeks ago, I said, ‘Hey throw me the ball 25 yards away.’ He had a decent throwing motion and had a lot of spin on it so we put it in. I said ‘This is going to be the first play of the game against Washington. They’re going to bring the safety down and A.J. will be by himself.’ It worked out that way. Mo put it right on him – it was a great way to start the game.” And while Gruden is willing to accept some credit for that call, he quickly points out that he also called the play that led to an end zone interception by Andy Dalton less than four minutes later. “That interception was as bad a call by me as the ‘Wildcat’ was good so I think it evened out,” said Gruden. “It was 7-7 so it worked out both ways.” Gruden’s quick wit will serve him well with media and fans if he becomes an NFL head coach, but don’t let the one-liners fool you; he is a dedicated student of the game. “He’s been serious about football his whole life,” said Jon Gruden. “He was a four-year starter at Louisville for Howard Schnellenberger – one of the toughest, hardest-nosed coaches ever to coach at any level. He’s an Arena League Football Hall-of-Fame player. He got his brains beat in for eight or nine years in Arena ball. He beat Kurt Warner in an Arena Bowl championship game and won a couple of championships as a head coach in Arena Football. He loves the game.” Perhaps John Clayton is right and Jay will get a head coaching job in the near future. But Gruden isn’t campaigning for another job, and as the son of a former college and NFL assistant coach, Jay places a high value on loyalty in the coaching profession. “That’s one thing that my dad instilled in my brothers and me growing up,” Gruden told me. “He was a very loyal guy himself and that means a lot in this business.” http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/09/27/gruden-earning-praise-after-explosive-start/
  6. [b] [size=6][url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/09/23/rr1-is-pretty-special-too/"]RR1 Is Pretty Special Too [/url][/size][/b] Posted by Dan Hoard on September 23, 2012 – 7:46 pm In his long-awaited home debut in front of 80,000 hopeful fans, Robert Griffin III passed for 221 yards, ran for 85 more, rallied his team from one 17-point deficit, and almost erased another 14-point hole. It’s safe to say that Redskins fans don’t miss last year’s RG3: Rex Daniel Grossman III. If it’s possible to live up to so much hype, Robert Griffin III might be able to do it, and I’m sure that Gatorade, Adidas, and Subway (did I miss anyone?) are thrilled to have RG3 pitching their products. But you know what? Red Rifle I is pretty special too. After three games, Andy Dalton has completed 68% of his passes for 867 yards, six touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 105.0 in leading the Bengals to a 2-1 start. “He’s playing out of his mind right now,” said tight end Jermaine Gresham. “He’s going through his progressions and finding guys. It’s just tremendous how he’s playing right now. His understanding of the offense in his second year is crazy.” “I thought we did a nice job of taking what they gave us and not forcing the ball into coverage,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “They were going to make it difficult for us to run, so we beat the one-on-one coverage. That’s what we have to do. If they load the box, we’re going to throw it over their heads.” Dalton has been especially lethal in the fourth quarter, completing 18 of 22 passes for 288 yards, three touchdowns and 0 INT. That computes to a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. “I told you man, once you get Andy going he’s probably one of the best at it,’ said receiver A.J. Green. “He’s being a leader,” said receiver Armon Binns. “He’s distributing the ball and he’s so calm back there that everybody is confident that he’ll make the right decisions.” Of course, it helps to be surrounded by weapons. Dalton’s six touchdown passes have gone to five different targets: Andrew Hawkins (2), A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, Brandon Tate, and Armon Binns. “We have a lot of guys that are capable of doing a lot of things,” said Dalton. “That’s what’s nice about this offense – you don’t have to rely on one guy.” “Guys are seeing other guys get the opportunity to make plays,” said Lewis. “That ought to push you to work harder, practice harder, and learn more until you get your chance. When you’re the weapon in the chamber, you had better perform.” Perhaps now, the receiving corps will stop being asked “Who is going to take pressure off of A.J. Green?” “We’ve been telling you all along that we’re pretty deep,” said Binns. “We have so many guys that can make plays and it just makes our offense that much more explosive when we can hit big plays from so many different parts of the field.” They even have a wide receiver that can throw the ball. Mohamed Sanu was 8 for 18 with four touchdown passes as a wildcat quarterback at Rutgers, and while he is still waiting to make his first NFL catch, Sanu’s first pass was a perfectly-lofted 73-yard TD to Green on Cincinnati’s first play from scrimmage. “Sanu can throw the ball and he put it right in the breadbasket,” said Green. “All I had to do was run under it. I was praying, ‘Just let me go get it.’ I was by them, so I was hoping he would just get the ball out there so that I could go make a play on the ball. It was a perfect ball.” It gave the Bengals the lead 17 seconds into a game that they never trailed in, although the Redskins made it nerve-wracking in the second half. “That’s NFL football for you,” said Gresham. “You have to keep making plays because no game is a blowout.” “Coach told us at halftime that this is NFL football and they were going to make a run,” said Binns. “We were prepared for it, we weathered the storm, and we were able to score some touchdowns at the end of the game to put it away.” Not a bad 54[sup]th[/sup] birthday for Marvin Lewis. “We found out after the game and sang him Happy Birthday,” said Binns. “We were glad that we were able to get a win for him. And glad to have RR1 at quarterback. http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/09/23/rr1-is-pretty-special-too/
  7. [b] [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/09/19/on-sunday-i-get-to-be-pac-man/"]“On Sunday I Get To Be Pac-Man” [/url][/b] Posted by Dan Hoard on September 19, 2012 – 4:53 pm Chicago’s Devin Hester holds the NFL career record with 12 punt returns for touchdowns. Adam Jones ranks second among active players and is tied for 13[sup]th[/sup] on the all-time list with five punt return TDs. Considering that he has missed 60 games over the last seven years due to injuries or suspensions, does Jones think that he would be close to Hester’s mark if he hadn’t missed so much time? “I don’t want to assume anything,” Jones told me. “Devin Hester is a great friend of mine and one of the best returners to ever play the game. He’s good man – he’s really, really good. We’re two different types of returners.” You might say that Adam dodged the question as well as he dodged the Cleveland Browns last week ([url="http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap1000000062421/Adam-Jones-81-yard-punt-return-TD"]watch the highlight here[/url]). I did some research into Adam’s success as a punt returner and was surprised by what I discovered: Statistically he is as likely to return a punt for a TD as nearly anyone that has ever played the game. Jones has scored five touchdowns despite only returning 94 punts in his career – that’s a touchdown every 18.8 returns. While that’s not quite as good as Hester (TD every 17.4 returns), it’s far superior to Deion Sanders (TD every 35.3), Dante Hall (TD every 36.0) and Billy “White Shoes” Johnson (TD every 47.0). “I marvel at his abilities in many ways,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “He is amazing with the ball in his hands. He’s amazing when they do their individual DB drills and they’re doing a tackling drill and he’s the ball carrier. He’s very, very difficult to get your hands on.” “Instinct,” answered Jones when I asked him what makes a great return man. “A lot of people ask me if I remembered what happened after a big return and nine times out of 10, I don’t remember what happened until I go back and look at it and then I’m like, ‘Whoa.’ Instinct has a lot to do with it.” Considering how explosive that Adam is with the ball in his hands, how did he ever wind up on defense? “That’s a good question,” Jones said with a laugh. “I actually went to (West Virginia) to play running back and at the time we had Avon Cobourne. The coaches were like, ‘Well, you’re not playing running back, so if you want a chance to play this year, you can go to defense and do punt returns and kick returns.’ I was so young and eager to play that I ran over to cornerback.” With his 29[sup]th[/sup] birthday coming up in less than two weeks, Jones isn’t quite so young anymore, but he remains as eager as ever to take the field every Sunday. “Sunday is one of the best feelings you can get,” said Jones. “In life you have to tone things down and live up to standards. On Sundays, it’s the only day that I can go out and just be reckless. You have to know when to turn it on and turn it off and that’s the day that I get to turn it on. That’s the day that I get to be Pac-Man and not Adam. I love playing this game and I love competing against other guys.” Jones was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Wednesday after returning three punts for 90 yards and one kickoff for 31 yards in last week’s win over Cleveland. He’s hoping to get as many opportunities to return kicks and punts as the coaching staff will give him. “When my number is called, I’ll be ready,” said Jones. “I’m just going to keep working hard and pray that my body stays healthy. The sky is the limit.” “He’s dynamic and we’ve known that for a long time,” said special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. “It’s just a matter of him being healthy and the situation being right. I’m glad that it finally happened for him.” “He’s done a wonderful job of becoming responsible with the football, and of understanding the schematics of the return game,” said Coach Lewis. “He’s come light years in that way. He really is a good student of it right now. He’s an exciting guy, he’s electrifying. He gets everybody excited when he’s back there. Some of the things we were more concerned with him with before, he’s really done a good job of proving that he can make the good choices and the good decisions with that. It’s a good thing, and it’s a big positive for us.” ********** Here’s a look at how Jones compares to the 12 players in NFL history that have returned more punts for touchdowns than he has: Devin Hester: 12 TD in 209 returns (every 17.4) Eric Metcalf: 10 TD in 351 returns (every 35.1) Brian Mitchell: 9 TD in 463 returns (every 51.4) Desmond Howard: 8 TD in 244 returns (every 30.5) Jack Christiansen: 8 TD in 85 returns (every 10.6) Rich Upchurch: 8 TD in 248 returns (every 31.0) Dave Meggett: 7 TD in 349 returns (every 49.9) Deion Sanders: 6 TD in 212 returns (every 35.3) Jermaine Lewis: 6 TD in 295 returns (every 49.2) Billy “White Shoes” Johnson: 6 TD in 282 returns (every 47.0) Dante Hall: 6 TD in 216 returns (every 36.0) Darrien Gordon: 6 TD in 314 returns (every 52.3) Adam Jones: 5 TD in 94 returns (every 18.8) http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/09/19/on-sunday-i-get-to-be-pac-man/
  8. [size=6][b]A Stanford Reunion And A Big Game For Whalen [/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard on August 27, 2012 – 9:26 am Bengals wide receiver – and Stanford grad – Ryan Whalen has a personal connection to one of the biggest recent newsmakers in sports. But I’m not referring to his former college teammate and current Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. One week ago, former Secretary of State –and Stanford professor – Condoleezza Rice accepted an invitation to become one of the first two female members of Augusta National Golf Club. When Whalen was a Stanford student, he had the privilege of having dinner with Rice. “One of my teammates had scholarship donors who were friends with her and knew her from the Hoover Institute at Stanford,” said Whalen. “Once or twice a year, scholarship donors were allowed to have their players over for dinner, so he invited a few of us to attend. There were maybe 10 people sitting there having dinner with her and it was great to take part in the conversation and ask her whatever. She is a great woman and it was definitely a great dinner.” Rice is a big Cleveland Browns fan and was briefly engaged to former NFL wide receiver Rick Upchurch. So did she ask Whalen and his teammates football questions at the dinner table? “I think it was more a case of us asking her questions,” said Whalen with a laugh. “But she is a big football fan. She had been our honorary captain a few times and came to all of our games and I believe that her father was a football coach. You would see her on the sidelines – that was really neat to see.” This Thursday, Whalen is looking forward to seeing three of his former Stanford teammates – including Luck – when the Bengals face the Colts in Indianapolis. All three play on offense and Ryan says he’ll attempt to watch from the sidelines when the Colts have the ball. “I’ll try to follow it as much as I can,” Whalen told me. “Coach Simmons is always getting us ready on the sidelines for special teams, and you’re catching a break during that time, but I’d like to watch Andrew, and Coby Fleener, and Griff Whalen (no relation). They’re good friends and great players so it should be really fun.” Before the Colts selected Luck with the first overall pick in this year’s draft, one NFL scout told me that the rookie quarterback was the best college prospect that he had ever seen. Did Whalen realize he was playing with a potential superstar when they first met at Stanford? “Yes I did,” said Whalen. “Not based on any expertise that I have because I’m not a quarterback expert, but it was just based on the way that our staff at Stanford spoke about him. Between what Coach Harbaugh and Coach Shaw said about him and what I saw at practice, I could definitely see that in the making from the time that he walked on campus.” After making four catches in the regular season as a rookie and two more in the Bengals playoff loss at Houston, Whalen is battling for a roster spot in his second year in Cincinnati. “You can’t let yourself start thinking about those things because some of those things are out of your control,” said Whalen. “All I can do is focus on my effort, how I’m going to execute the plays, and going out and making plays. I trust God with what’s going to happen and I’m going to go out and do everything that I can to help myself and help the team and then let the chips fall where they may.” “Any time that you want to show somebody how to run a route, you’re going to watch Whalen run it,” said quarterback Andy Dalton. “He runs it perfectly every single time. He has a great understanding of leverage and where to attack. He’s put a lot of time in and understands route running really well. I think that’s why he’s able to do the things that he’s able to do.” Ryan has practice squad eligibility, but the Bengals fear that he’ll be claimed by another team off of waivers if he is not kept on the 53-man roster. So while the final preseason game is not crucial for established veterans, it is important for Whalen. “In the position that I am in, this is a huge game,” Ryan told me. “We have a ton of depth and the receivers are having a really great camp and there’s a lot of competition. It’s a last chance for this team to see what we can do and what I can do – as well as any other teams that may be looking. It’s important for guys in my position to go out and put it on film in that last game.” With four former Stanford players in action in Thursday’s Bengals-Colts game, perhaps Condoleezza Rice will be looking for highlights or checking the box score to see how they did. As a matter of fact, another famous female golfer could be doing the same thing. “One of my friends and teammates who was in my class is dating Michelle Wie, so I was friends with her and would see her around campus,” said Whalen. “It was great to meet these people. It wasn’t like anyone was treated like they were famous or a superstar – you could be who you are around campus and people like that felt comfortable. That was a really cool thing to be able to see people in their own skin.” http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/08/27/a-stanford-reunion-and-a-big-game-for-whalen/
  9. [size=6][b]A Loss Doesn’t Matter, But Lessons Do [/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard on August 24, 2012 – 10:37 am So what should we make of Thursday’s 27-13 loss to the Packers? Beats me. I learned my lesson in last season’s preseason opener. After the Bengals got stomped 34-3 in Detroit, I remember people joking that Cincinnati was “on the clock” to select Andrew Luck with the first pick in the 2012 draft. Instead, the Bengals went to the playoffs and sent rookie quarterback Andy Dalton to the Pro Bowl. In other words, there’s no reason to panic after a preseason loss. But the Bengals have to learn from it. Perhaps the biggest lessons were provided by Green Bay’s defensive coordinator Dom Capers who did not go with a “vanilla” game plan for week three of the preseason. Capers hit the Bengals with a wide variety of looks and blitzes that limited the Bengals first team offense to two field goals and five first downs in seven possessions. Capers’ 3-4 defense is similar to what Cincinnati will see in the regular season opener at Baltimore. “They have a lot of young guys defensively and (Dom) is trying to get those guys playing,” said Marvin Lewis. “They have the whole gambit going right now in order to evaluate players and get them going for the season. We have to do a better job of protection and make sure that we give our quarterback an opportunity.” “In a 3-4 defense they have a lot of options and they played well,” said rookie Kevin Zeitler. “I give them a lot of credit. Their scheme was good and we have a lot of work to do as a team. It’s nice to see the weaknesses now so that we can improve for the regular season.” One of the Bengals weaknesses last year reared its ugly head again vs. Green Bay – the inability to score touchdowns in first-and-goal situations. Last year, Cincinnati only scored a TD on 14 of 26 (54%) first-and-goal opportunities to tie for 24th in the NFL. In contrast, the Packers scored touchdowns on 80% of their first-and-goal chances. That’s one of the reasons why the Bengals signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis as a free agent and his imminent return from a foot injury should help, but that’s no excuse for having it first-and-goal at the one yard line and losing 11 yards in three plays. “What we’re doing is different from what we would do in the regular season, but we still ought to be able to score a touchdown from the one yard line,” said Coach Lewis. “As an o-line, you always feel like you should be able to get at least one yard,” said Zeitler. “Stuff happened and we have to figure out how to improve so we can get it next time.” The other valuable lesson on Thursday was provided by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers who gained 52 yards on six scrambles, including a pair of rushing touchdowns. With games against Robert Griffin III, Michael Vick, and Ben Roethlisberger on the regular season schedule, the Bengals will have to be able to contain mobile quarterbacks. “It’s tough to win when you allow the quarterback to run,” said Terence Newman. “We needed that as a defense,” said Taylor Mays. “We’re trying to figure out what we need to get better at and that’s something that we definitely need to get better at as a whole. We’ll watch the film and find out how we can get better at that, because we can’t win if we don’t get better when the quarterback runs the ball.” “We did a good job in coverage, but we have to do a better job in containing the quarterback,” said Coach Lewis. “We were making him put it down and run it, but we weren’t put together well enough in the back to do that.” After dropping their first two games, including an embarrassing 35-10 home loss to Cleveland last week, the Packers responded with their best performance of the preseason on Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium. We’ll see if the Bengals bounce back from their first loss with a solid showing next Thursday at Indianapolis. I’d love to hear from you at [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email] If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url] And I’m on Facebook at [url="http://www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1"]www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1[/url] http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/08/24/a-loss-doesnt-matter-but-lessons-do/
  10. [b] [size=6][url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/08/18/sanu-looks-to-answer-call/"]Sanu Looks To Answer Call [/url][/size][/b] Posted by Dan Hoard on August 18, 2012 – 5:03 pm [url="http://www.nj.com/sports/nfldraft/index.ssf/2012/04/nfl_draft_mohamed_sanu_victim.html"]Remember the cruel prank call[/url] that Mohamed Sanu received during the first round of the NFL draft from someone pretending to be from the Bengals? Well, Sanu’s phone was blowing up again after Thursday’s win in Atlanta, but this time the calls were appreciated as friends and family reached out to congratulate him on his touchdown catch against the Falcons. “I got something like 70 to 80 text messages,” Sanu told me. “Everybody was happy for me and just saying, ‘Keep up the good work, and keep working hard.’ It feels good to know that you have a lot of people pulling for you and supporting you. I just want to thank everybody back home.” The 12-yard touchdown catch ([url="http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap2000000051236/Sanu-with-12-yard-TD"]you can watch it here[/url]) was Sanu’s second reception of the game and his first TD in NFL preseason action. The pass was thrown by seven-year veteran Bruce Gradkowski who also tossed A.J. Green’s first regular season touchdown grab in week one at Cleveland last year. “It was a beautiful pass by Bruce and I was in the right place at the right time,” said Sanu. “He put it where it needed to be and I went up and made the play.” “A.J. said, ‘You like throwing the young receivers their first touchdown pass don’t you?’” Gradkowski said after Thursday’s win. “I just laughed. Those young guys do a great job. Mohamed and Marvin Jones are doing a great job as rookies and we have a lot of talent at receiver.” The emergence of Sanu and Jones obviously played a role in Friday’s release of Jordan Shipley. Jones has hauled in catches of 40-plus yards in each of the Bengals two preseason games, and Sanu’s ability to play multiple spots gives the Bengals a solid compliment to slot receiver Andrew Hawkins. “Hawkins right now is our inside guy,” said offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. “But you’re going to need more than one. He gets gassed sometimes. He’s up and down on the kickoffs, he’s on punt return, and we need another one and a different body type. That’s Sanu – he’s a great fit.” “It’s up to coach to figure out where he can use me the best, and I’ll play whatever he wants me to play,” said Sanu. “I have to step up to make sure that I help this team in any way possible. If they need me to play inside, I’m definitely happy to play inside and I’m going to do everything that I can to be the best that I can be.” Last year, the former Rutgers star made 115 receptions to shatter Larry Fitzgerald’s Big East record of 92, but a poor 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine (4.67 seconds) caused some scouts to question Sanu’s NFL prospects. Mohamed [url="http://www.nj.com/rutgersfootball/index.ssf/2012/03/rutgers_mohamed_sanu_boosts_nf.html"]ran much faster at Rutgers’ Pro Day[/url] (4.41 and 4.48), and the Bengals grabbed him in the third round. “Here’s what the Bengals are getting,” Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood told me recently at Big East Media Day. “They’re getting an elite-level character person first. I said this before the draft to a number of NFL people that asked me questions about Mohamed: ‘I’m telling you right now that for all the reasons you love Ray Rice, you’re going to say the same things about Mohamed Sanu in a couple of years.’ I think the Bengals are really going to love the person and I think they are going to be excited about what he can do for them on Sundays. And I think he’s going to be a positive part of that community for a long time to come.” “The Bengals got a steal in the third round,” said Sanu’s former Rutgers teammate Mark Harrison. “They are getting an animal, a monster, and a go-getter. He is just an awesome guy with a great personality and he knows how to attack that ball.” I’d love to hear from you at [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email] If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url] And I’m on Facebook at [url="http://www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1"]www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1[/url] http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/08/18/sanu-looks-to-answer-call/
  11. [size=6][b]Brown Savors A Life In Football [/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard on August 3, 2012 – 7:48 pm Actor/writer/director Rob Reiner has a great line about following his father – Hollywood and Broadway legend Carl Reiner – into the family business: “I want to thank my dad for not being a proctologist,” said Rob. It’s hard to imagine Mike Brown using the same line, but I’m sure that he feels the same way. Professional football has been the Brown’s family business since 1946 when Paul Brown was hired to coach the Cleveland franchise in the AAFC. “This whole life is what matters to me,” Mike told me. “I like the players, I like the practices, I like the coaches, I like the fans, I like the whole show. Every day is different and thank God for that.” The Bengals president has been attending NFL training camps since he was 10 years old and he savors the start of another season. “I’m excited for the same old reasons – there’s nothing new with me,” said Brown. “I’ve been doing this for 44 years here with the Bengals and I did it before I was here. I look forward to seeing the players up and at it. They’re all fascinating to me to watch and we’ll see how the team comes together. That’s the essence of what I do, so it interests me and I’m excited about it as always.” After the Bengals went 9-7 and made the playoffs with a rookie quarterback last year, Brown was named NFL Executive of the Year by Pro Football Talk and Peter King of Sports Illustrated. With a young nucleus led by four Pro Bowlers under the under the age of 25 (Andy Dalton, Geno Atkins, Jermaine Gresham, and A.J. Green), the Bengals appear to be building a team that can contend with Pittsburgh and Baltimore for supremacy in the AFC North. “We think our future is bright,” said Brown. “It’s not easy in this league. Every team thinks that its future is bright at this time of the year, but we’re ready to go with them. I think they’ll get better and improve and I look forward to seeing how we can do.” The next big step for the Bengals is to win a playoff game for the first time since 1990. Until that happens, Brown knows that his critics will remain vocal. “I think everyone is bothered by criticism, but I was brought up to believe that everyone has a right to say their piece,” Brown recently told Fox 19’s Joe Danneman. “Nothing says that I have to shut up – I can speak up if I feel sufficiently compelled so I’m not crying about it. The fact that people feel emotional about it or want to jump in – that’s good. I want them to be involved, that’s the first step, even if they don’t approve of what you’re doing.” One of Brown’s critics has been Reds announcer – and Bengals fan – Marty Brennaman. But the Hall of Fame broadcaster reconsidered his opinion after the two of them met for lunch. “It was sensational,” said Brennaman. “That’s the only way that I can put it, and that’s not a suck-up comment. I was bowled over by his storytelling ability – the stories he told about his dad, and the stories he told about former great players in the National Football League that he’s rubbed elbows with over all the years. In fact, I told his daughter Katie in the middle of the lunch that he ought to write a book, and he said, ‘I have no interest in writing a book.’ “I’m a Cincinnati Bengals fan and I’m no different from anybody else. Now maybe I have a public forum that other guys don’t have, but I want them to win. When they had that long run of futility, I got a little PO’d, and I’ve been very outspoken about him. I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that after having lunch with him – and we will do it again in the future – that I take a slightly different look at Mike Brown.” After a lifetime in football, the Bengals president knows that fans won’t be fully satisfied until the team wins a Super Bowl. He feels the same way. “I would like to do that in my lifetime and that’s a big goal for me,” Brown told Fox 19. “You can put that at the top of my agenda. “People are entitled to see me however they wish to see me. I’m pleased with the fact that we’ve done better here recently, and we want to do even better. Our goal is what you would think it is – we want to be the top dog. “ I’d love to hear from you at [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email] If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url] And I’m on Facebook at [url="http://www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1"]www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1[/url] http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/08/03/brown-savors-a-life-in-football/
  12. [size=6][b] [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/07/19/zac-robinson-looks-to-secure-nfl-home/"]Zac Robinson Looks To Secure NFL Home[/url][/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard on July 19, 2012 – 9:32 pm Imagine being in your twenties and renting a house with five buddies on Hermosa Beach, California for about a month. The wide, flat beach in the Los Angeles area is known for sunbathing, surfing, and beach volleyball. Sounds like fun right? But for Bengals quarterback Zac Robinson and five friends from other NFL teams that share the same agent, the purpose of the house was not fun in the sun. “We put our money together and got that house and a trainer for six weeks,” Robinson told me. “We figured that you only get this chance once in a lifetime, so we all had the same mindset to go out there and work. So that’s basically what we did. We played a little golf, but for the most part, it was a lot of hard work.” Robinson hopes that renting that house helps him secure a long-term NFL home. In two professional seasons, Zac has been employed by four teams – the Patriots, Seahawks, Lions, and Bengals. Robinson has played in seven preseason games with New England and Detroit, but has not appeared in a regular season game. “This is my third year and I’ve had maybe 20-something throws in the preseason,” said Robinson. “In my situation, that’s kind of where you make your mark – in the third and fourth quarter of the preseason games. Hopefully, I’ll get an opportunity to play in the games and play well.” The former Oklahoma State star is 15-for-30 for 162 yards with 1 TD and 0 INT in his NFL preseason games. Perhaps it should be no surprise that the Bengals signed Robinson last September after he was waived by Detroit, since Zac was 2-for-2 with a 28-yard touchdown pass against Cincinnati in last season’s exhibition opener ([url="http://www.nfl.com/videos/auto/09000d5d8216cbd6/Nate-Hughes-catches-a-28-yard-TD"]you can see the TD pass here[/url]). “He’s shown some signs of being pretty good,” said Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. “He has the arm to make all the throws, now he has to translate it mentally and make quicker decisions.” “I thought he was really good in college,” said Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham who saw Robinson play at Oklahoma State. “He’s a smart guy and has a good football IQ. I think he’s worth working with – let’s put it that way.” Robinson spent all of last season on the Bengals practice squad as the third string quarterback behind Andy Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski. “I think it helped me out a lot,” said Robinson. “(Quarterbacks coach Ken) Zampese and I stayed after practice every single day for 45 minutes, so we got to work on a lot of footwork stuff. I tried to observe a lot because the top two guys got most of the reps against the defense, so I tried to absorb everything.” “Today he got stuck with the ball in his hands way too many times,” said Gruden after one of the Bengals minicamp practices in June. “He would have been carted off. He has to pick up the tempo and his decision making has to be quicker.” When the Bengals open training camp next week, it appears that Robinson will be battling rookie Tyler Hansen to be this season’s third string QB. How they fare in preseason games could determine who sticks. “That’s what we’re living for right now,” said Robinson. “That’s your opportunity to put it on tape.” I’d love to hear from you at [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email] If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url] And I’m on Facebook at [url="http://www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1"]www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1[/url] http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/07/19/zac-robinson-looks-to-secure-nfl-home/
  13. [b][size=6]Hawkins Ready For Training Camp Battle [/size][/b] Posted by Dan Hoard on July 16, 2012 – 8:13 pm Andrew Hawkins was more than a feel-good story for the Bengals last year – he was a productive NFL rookie with 24 receptions for 271 yards, 5 carries for 25 yards, and 5 special teams tackles in 14 games. Does the 26-year-old feel like he did enough to clinch a roster spot for the upcoming season? “No – last year doesn’t matter,” Hawkins told me. “It’s the nature of the business. They have to put their best players out there. I have to come in here and prove it all over again and that’s the name of the game.” The battle for the anticipated six roster spots among Bengals wide receivers figures to be one of the most intriguing storylines when training camp opens next week. A.J. Green is an obvious lock for one spot, with the alphabetically listed group of Armon Binns, Hawkins, Vidal Hazelton, Justin Hilton, Marvin Jones, Kashif Moore, Taveon Rogers, Mohamed Sanu, Jordan Shipley, Brandon Tate, and Ryan Whalen fighting for the other five. “You go to work,” said Hawkins when asked what he’ll do to try to earn a spot. “Teams are not going to be made in the spring. They’re going to be made in training camp and they are going to be made in preseason games. I tell the young guys that everybody is not going to be able to play here, but if you work on becoming a better receiver and put it on film, you’ll have a place to go play. That’s really what it’s all about.” The ability to contribute on special teams will be a factor that could help Hawkins make the team. “I’m hoping to do whatever they ask me to do,” Andrew told me. “If they want me to return punts or kickoffs, or run down on coverage, that’s what a football player does. I’m trying to get better at everything.” The 5’7” former Canadian Football League player was considered a long-shot to make the squad last year when he was acquired during the first week of training camp after being cut by the Rams. The younger brother of former Bengals cornerback Artrell Hawkins proved to be a quick and shifty weapon as a slot receiver, but is determined to show that he can be a more frequent target for Andy Dalton. “As a professional, it’s the most minute details that take you to the next level,” said Hawkins. “Whether you’re working on releases or getting the right depth on certain routes, you’re trying to get on the same page as the quarterback. That’s the biggest thing as a wide receiver – you have to see the same thing as the quarterback from a different perspective. That’s one of the things that I’ve focused on and hopefully it helps elevate my game a little bit.” Andrew enjoyed an eventful offseason, highlighted by the birth of his son Austin Wayne Hawkins on February 15th. When he wasn’t spending time with his own child, Andrew took the opportunity to share his story of overcoming the odds with other kids. “I did a lot of speaking at camps and schools,” said Hawkins. “I remember a time when they didn’t care to hear me speak and it will come again. Hopefully while I’m playing in the NFL, kids get excited and I’m able to tell my story. If it can help somebody, that’s the biggest thing for me.” And what is the crux of his message to children? “Perseverance and hard work man,” said Hawkins. “That’s the name of the game. You have to believe in yourself and you have to put in the work to back it up.” That’s exactly what he plans to do when camp opens on July 27th. I’d love to hear from you at [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email] If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url] And I’m on Facebook at [url="http://www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1"]www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1[/url] http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/07/16/hawkins-ready-for-training-camp-battle/
  14. [b] [size=6][url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/07/07/howard-preps-for-2nd-bengals-season-with-eye-on-future/"]Howard Preps For 2nd Bengals Season With Eye On Future [/url][/size][/b] Posted by Dan Hoard on July 7, 2012 – 3:11 am Adam Jones is not the only player on the Bengals roster who would have made a good speaker at the NFL’s recent rookie symposium. Perhaps next time the league should invite Thomas Howard too. While Jones shared embarrassing details about his checkered past and delivered a heartfelt message on how [b]not[/b] to behave, Howard could provide a good example of a professional athlete who entered the league realizing that fame and fortune are usually fleeting. “The misconception is that once you’re done playing, you’re going to retire,” said Howard. “That generally doesn’t happen unless you’re making a boatload of money and you’ve managed it well. The best thing that I’ve learned is that you have to learn about money and how to manage it. We’re football players – we’re not accountants or CPAs – and every day it’s football, football, football. When you read about guys who go broke or declare bankruptcy it’s sad. You need to manage your risks, do your due diligence, and don’t rush into anything.” Although he’s only 28 years old, the Bengals linebacker is already preparing for life after football. In February, Thomas took advantage of a job-shadowing opportunity at NFL headquarters in New York ([url="http://www.bengals.com/media-lounge/videos/NFL-Network-Thomas-Howard-22012/85839fb0-7908-4a16-bb5e-3f1a9c77a72b"]you can see video here[/url]). “I went to the league office and spent three days there, and I saw some things that I can transfer from the football field to an everyday job,” said Howard. “I was there from eight to five, and I really gained an appreciation for what they do. I went everywhere from sales, to human resources, to player discipline, to game day operations, to public relations, and to community relations. I learned a lot and it narrowed down what I think that I could possibly do when I’m done playing. “The NFL also offers the BM & E which is a business, management, entrepreneurial program at different business schools. Last year, I was among a group of guys including Bruce Gradkowski that attended the one at Harvard. I try to feed my brain.” While Howard is preparing for his future, he isn’t ignoring the present. After leading the Bengals in tackles in his first year on Mike Zimmer’s defense, Thomas expects to be even more productive in 2012. “After being here for a year, you get a little more comfortable and play with a little more confidence,” said Howard. “You get a better feel for where everybody is and you understand Zim’s system better. Your communication is better and it’s all about communication on defense.” “He took a lot of snaps last year and was learning as he went along, but now he’s fine-tuning everything and you can see that it’s starting to pay off,” said linebackers coach Paul Guenther. “He really understands the details now.” “When I’m playing behind guys like Geno Atkins, Robert Gathers, and Domata Peko, I should have a good year because those guys are phenomenal and they make my job easy…or at least easier,” said Howard. The Bengals went 9-7 in Howard’s first year in Cincinnati and Thomas says the team is setting the bar higher this season. “We had a decent year and got a taste of the playoffs, but we want more,” said Howard. “Everyone plays this game to win the Lombardi Trophy and that’s our goal. We have high standards and if we don’t win it all, that’s a failed year.” I’d love to hear from you at [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email] If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url] And I’m on Facebook at [url="http://www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1"]www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1[/url] http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/07/07/howard-preps-for-2nd-bengals-season-with-eye-on-future/
  15. [b] [size=6][url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/06/16/as-sandusky-trial-continues-still-focuses-on-nfl-future/"]As Sandusky Trial Continues, Still Focuses On NFL Future[/url][/size][/b] Posted by Dan Hoard on June 16, 2012 – 3:18 pm [size=4][color=#393939]For four days last week, prosecutors in the child-molestation trial of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky bombarded the jury with horrific testimony from eight alleged victims.[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]Bengals rookie Devon Still did not soak up coverage of the trial. He got his fill of those gut-wrenching allegations while playing for the Nittany Lions when the scandal broke last year.[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]“I don’t really follow his trial, but I do follow how my teammates are handling the situation and whether they are able to push through it as a team,” Still told me.[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]As one of Penn State’s captains last year, Devon played a big role in helping to steer his teammates through the crisis.[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]“You never expect adversity when you’re going through life,” Still told reporters at the NFL Combine. “We were hit so hard, blindsided by it, but we were able to make it through – I think that helped us grow as men and helped us get over challenges that we face in life.”[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]One of the biggest hurdles that Devon faced was the firing of legendary coach Joe Paterno, who died after a bout with lung cancer less than three months later.[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]“He showed me how to carry myself as an athlete, as a role model, and as a person,” Devon said. “I was really immature when I first got there, but the values that he instilled in me and my teammates, helped me to mature over the four years that I was there and become a better person. Being his last All-American and being one of his last captains means a lot to me. I’m going to try to pay him back by upholding what he taught me while I’m in the NFL.”[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]Despite the Sandusky scandal that devastated the Penn State community and cost Paterno his job, Still was named the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 and was widely-projected to be a first round NFL draft pick. But the 6’5”, 305 lb. defensive tackle slipped to the second round where the Bengals selected him 53[sup]rd[/sup] overall.[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]“That does provide some added motivation for me because I felt like I didn’t get the respect that I deserved and I want to go out and show everybody why I should have been drafted higher,” said Still. “I plan on proving that. It’s up to me to go out and show everybody.”[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]Still was not on the field during last week’s mandatory minicamp because of what he described as a minor back strain, but Devon did take part in previous workouts while beginning to learn Mike Zimmer’s defense.[/color] [color=#393939]“I love being a Bengal and I think that I’m fitting in very well,” said Still. “In the time that I had on the field, I think I started to understand the defense and what they expect me to do and what role I have to play.[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]“I’ve been through this before at Penn State. I was injured my first two years there when I was trying to make an impression on the coaches and that helped me understand what I have to do, so that when I do get back on the field I can hit the ground running. (My back) feels a lot better, but I think they’re just being cautious with me.”[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]Still figures to play a significant role in the Bengals defensive line rotation as a rookie, adding bulk to one of the deepest and most talented units on the team.[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]“They are a close-knit group and they bring in the rookies and try to teach them as much as possible,” said Still. “I think they all bring something different to the defensive line and obviously with me being a three-technique, I watch a lot of what Geno Atkins does. He’s a Pro Bowler and a heck of a football player. Hopefully, with me playing behind him, I can learn a lot. I didn’t know how good of a player he was until I had a chance to watch him on tape. He’s a great football player. His quickness really stands out.”[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]Atkins was a fourth round draft pick who has blossomed into one of the best pass-rushing defensive tackles in football. Still hopes to follow a similar storyline.[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]“I’m motivated because I want to be great,” Devon told me. “I want to make an impact on the NFL.”[/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]I’d love to hear from you at [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email][/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url][/color][/size] [size=4][color=#393939]And I’m on Facebook at [url="http://www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1"]www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1[/url][/color][/size] [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/06/16/as-sandusky-trial-continues-still-focuses-on-nfl-future/"]http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/06/16/as-sandusky-trial-continues-still-focuses-on-nfl-future/[/url]
  16. [size=6][b] [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/06/13/brandon-ghee-wants-more-than-a-roster-spot/"]Brandon Ghee Wants More Than A Roster Spot[/url][/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard on June 13, 2012 – 2:51 pm Brandon Ghee obviously knows that he’s battling to earn a roster spot as he enters his third season with the Bengals. But that’s not how the 25-year-old cornerback looks at his situation. “I’m not just competing for a spot – I’m trying to play,” said Ghee. “I’m trying to earn a starting position on this team.” The Bengals currently have six cornerbacks that were first-round draft picks on their roster, but the former third-round selection out of Wake Forest has been earning strong reviews during OTAs and this week’s mandatory minicamp. “Ghee is out there competing every day and he’s one of the best corners that we have here,” said Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green. “I feel like this year is going to be his year. I feel like he’s healthier and he’s playing fast.” Ghee’s first two NFL seasons have been hampered by injuries, including a concussion as a rookie and a hamstring injury last year. That helps explain why he’s only been on the field for 13 snaps at cornerback in his first two seasons. “He’s been in that redshirt mode unfortunately because of injuries,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “He obviously has had a good offseason training before he came back to be with us, and he’s really had an outstanding nine practices.” “I feel like I’ve been doing a good job but there’s always room for improvement,” said Ghee. “More interceptions, more plays on the ball…I just need to keep getting better every day. I’ve been in the film room and working on technique in the off-season and now I think that I’m ready.” Ghee ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and is one of the most athletic cornerbacks on the Bengals roster. He also has good size at 6’0”, 193 pounds. But “measurables” only get you so far in the NFL. “The reason why he’s here is we see the potential,” said defensive backs coach Mark Carrier. “Now – especially going into your third year which is kind of the year where you sink or swim – this is his chance to blossom.” “Obviously if you’re here, you have the talent to play in the NFL,” said wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. “As you get more comfortable, you get more confidence and I think that’s what they’re seeing in Brandon Ghee. That’s part of the maturation of an NFL football player. He’s had an incredible off-season. He looks great and hopefully he can continue to build on that momentum.” “I needed to learn a little bit of everything,” said Ghee. “Some maturity, some technique…there’s a learning curve. I got hurt my first few years and it kind of set me back, but now I’m 100% healthy and I think I’m around the curve now.” And while there is no hitting during OTAs and the current minicamp, Brandon is trying to show that he’s ready to contribute. “Regardless of what it’s called, this is the beginning of camp,” Ghee told me. “We know that we get a little break (before training camp in July), but this is camp and you have to show what you’ve got out there. “I’m trying to play for respect. We have a lot of guys here who are competing – we have first round picks and a lot of talent on this team but I’m just worried about myself right now. I’ve been waiting for two years and I’ve been preparing so now I’m ready to go.” I’d love to hear from you at [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email] If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url] And I’m on Facebook at [url="http://www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1"]www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1[/url] [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/06/13/brandon-ghee-wants-more-than-a-roster-spot/"]http://blogs.bengals...-a-roster-spot/[/url]
  17. [size=6][b] [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/06/12/bengals-rookie-has-plenty-of-drive-but-no-car/"]Bengals Rookie Has Plenty Of Drive…But No Car[/url][/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard on June 12, 2012 – 3:12 pm We’ve all heard stories about first round draft picks that sign a lucrative contract and immediately go out and spend a huge sum on a flashy car. Kevin Zeitler isn’t one of them. It’s been two-and-a-half weeks since the rookie from Wisconsin signed a 4-year deal with the Bengals – reportedly worth $7.5 million dollars – and Kevin still doesn’t have a vehicle. “I’ve never owned a car,” Zeitler said. “I do have my license, but I haven’t had time to go look. It’s going to be weird buying something like that. It’s not that urgent yet. I’ll get one eventually, but I’m in no rush really.” The 22-year-old offensive lineman has been staying at a hotel close to Paul Brown Stadium and says he’s had no problems getting where he needs to go. “Taxis and the public shuttle – that’s what I’ve been taking everywhere,” said Zeitler. “There’s no place to park (at Wisconsin) so you just take buses or walk. So I’m used to walking or taking public transportation.” Are his teammates aware that Kevin doesn’t own a car? “Yes, I am aware of that because I have to go pick him up every time that we do something,” said Andrew Whitworth. “Zeitler is just an old-school guy. He told me that he didn’t have air conditioning in college.” Has the former Badger been subjected to some verbal abuse in the locker room for being car-free? “Coach gives me crap…everyone else gives me crap,” Kevin said with a grin. “They all give me crap.” “Once he gets to training camp, I’m sure that he’ll have one,” said Whitworth. “As long as he has one by then, he’ll be alright.” While Zeitler lacks an automobile, nobody questions his drive to succeed. “He’s a passionate guy and very intense about his job,” said Whitworth. “Getting him to just relax and enjoy himself is probably hard because he wants to do really well…but that’s a good thing.” One of the reasons why the Bengals selected Zeitler with the 27[sup]th[/sup] pick in the draft is his smarts – he reportedly scored a 33 on the Wonderlic test. Head Coach Marvin Lewis says Kevin’s intelligence has been obvious during the OTA practice sessions. “It was evident right away,” said Lewis. “From the day that we brought him in right after the draft, he was going to be a quick study on what to do in NFL football. Now we have to teach him how to do it all the time. Obviously, when you get to training camp after the first couple of days, we have to make the transition of doing it in football pads because there are a lot of offensive lineman that look really good without shoulder pads on.” “I’ve learned a lot,” said Zeitler. “It’s definitely a different type of defense that you’re going up against and a different style of athlete. I’m just getting the playbook and terminology down and doing the techniques to get those plays done.” When the Bengals mandatory minicamp ends on Thursday, Zeitler plans to continue working out in Cincinnati before attending the NFL’s Rookie Symposium in Aurora, OH at the end of June. Then he’ll head back to Wisconsin where he’ll finally have time to go car-shopping. “It will happen – it’s just a matter of finding some time to do it and trying to get a good deal,” said Zeitler. “He can afford one, but he’s Zeitler man,” said Whitworth. “He’s pretty detailed so I’m sure he has a plan for exactly when and where he’s going to buy a car. I think he’s got it handled.” “I just want a good car that will take care of business,” Kevin told me. “Maybe if my next contract is a nice one, I’ll go out and get a nice car. But I’m not going to blow my money right away.” I’d love to hear from you at [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email] If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url] And I’m on Facebook at [url="http://www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1"]www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1[/url] [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/06/12/bengals-rookie-has-plenty-of-drive-but-no-car/"]http://blogs.bengals...ive-but-no-car/[/url]
  18. [size=6][b]A Start For Zeitler[/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard on May 22, 2012 – 6:16 pm When the Bengals ran their first play from scrimmage during the opening practice of OTAs, rookie Kevin Zeitler was the starting right guard. “I think it’s good that when we went out for the first huddle he was in there,” said quarterback Andy Dalton. “Up front it’s all about getting a feel for everybody.” But Zeitler didn’t put much stock into being part of the starting lineup in the first full-squad practice of his NFL career. “It’s cool to be up there getting some reps, but I have a long way to go,” Zeitler told me. “If they did put me with the first unit – great. If they didn’t, I would have just tried to work my way up. I just try to do my job and try to get better.” The Bengals drafted the former Wisconsin standout with the 27th overall pick in this year’s draft with the expectation that he would compete for a starting spot as a rookie. As a result, Zeitler drew plenty of attention from teammates and coaches when practices began on Tuesday. “He did pretty good for a rookie, but that’s a loaded comment,” said offensive line coach Paul Alexander. “He obviously is going to be a good player but has a lot to learn.” “He’s trying to do all the right things.” said Dalton. “He doesn’t want to mess up right now and once he gets it all down and gets into the groove, I think he’s going to be just fine.” “This was his first time working with the first unit as a whole and he’s doing a tremendous job,” said right tackle Andre Smith. “It’s a starting point and I know that I can only get better,” said Zeitler. The Bengals will hold 10 practices over three weeks during OTAs, giving Zeitler an opportunity to learn the playbook while growing comfortable with the other members of the offensive line. “Every play that we run here, we basically had the same thing at Wisconsin – the only difference is terminology,” said Zeitler. “It’s just good to work on communication with the other offensive lineman and work on seeing different looks and different blitzes. I wish we could have had these in college. A couple of practices during the summer would have been nice.” “Every day, me and him are going to get better together,” said Smith. “There are growing pains because we all do things a certain way and have to adapt to each other.” And while it’s hard to draw too many conclusions based on one limited-contact practice, Zeitler is off to a good start. “He is as smart a young guy as I’ve ever been around,” said Alexander. “He scores A-plus in effort and toughness and he’s going to be fine.” “He’s really powerful and he’s smart too,” said Smith. “He is going to be a tremendous offensive lineman I think.” I’d love to hear from you at [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email] If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url] And I’m on Facebook at [url="http://www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1"]www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1[/url] http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/05/22/a-start-for-zeitler/
  19. [size=6][b]Binns Ready To Graduate — On and Off The Field[/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard on May 10, 2012 – 4:08 pm In February, near the end of a long interview with Marvin Lewis during the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, I asked him how Armon Binns progressed last year as a member of the Bengals practice squad. “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.” It didn’t take long for those words to get passed along to the former UC Bearcat. “It felt good to know that the coaches had confidence in me – especially the head coach – and that the work that I was putting in at practice was paying off,” said Binns. “It makes me feel good to know that the coaches here believe in me and think that I can help this team win games.” He’s about to get his chance to prove them right. After losing Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell as free agents, the Bengals have an opening for a #2 wide receiver opposite A.J. Green. Binns will be one of several candidates battling for the spot, including recent third round draft pick Mohamed Sanu out of Rutgers, and fifth rounder Marvin Jones out of Cal. “There’s an open spot out there and you just have to go out there and compete and go get a job,” Binns told me. “I’m very eager. I sat back for a year and got to learn and watch everybody. It was kind of like a redshirt year for me and I’m just ready to get back out there and play the game again.” “I got to sit back and watch how the NFL game goes and how to be a pro. I watched how NFL corners are playing and how defenses are so much more advanced and sophisticated.” Binns continued to study after the season, but the subject wasn’t just football. Armon, who majored in criminal justice at UC with a minor in sociology, returned to the classroom in the off-season and will go through graduation ceremonies on June 8th “It’s huge,” said Binns with a grin. “I’ve been in Cincinnati for so long and to come away with a degree is going to mean the world to me and my mom. I was a student-athlete again so it’s all good.” I’d love to hear from you at [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email] If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url] And I’m on Facebook at [url="http://www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1"]www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1[/url] http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/05/10/binns-ready-to-graduate-on-and-off-the-field/
  20. [size=6][b]Andrew Whitworth Tees Off…Literally[/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard on May 7, 2012 – 12:19 pm If you’re at a Cincinnati-area golf course and see a 6’7”, 335 pound behemoth approach the first tee you should look closely – it might be Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Whitworth, recently ranked 82nd on the Pro Football Focus list of the Top 101 players in the NFL, is one of several avid golfers in the Bengals locker room. “Oh man., I love the game and play every single day after our workouts,” Andrew told me. “I play about four or five days a week. I’m about a nine handicap I would guess. “I actually played a little bit in college for about two years and then I stopped until last year. Since January or February of last year, I’ve played a few times a week.” Whitworth recently joined Hyde Park Country Club but plays a variety of Cincinnati-area courses with his Bengals teammates. So who are the best golfers on the team? “I would probably say Zac Robinson…Leon Hall…Kevin Huber,” said Whitworth. “I hear that Terence Newman is good, but I haven’t played with him yet. Oh, Clint Boling – he’s a good one. We have some guys that like to play. We have a group of about four or five of us that play every day.” On the surface, football and golf would not appear to have much in common, but Whitworth says the challenge of blocking guys like Terrell Suggs and James Harrison is similar to hitting a little white ball. “The violence and physicality are different, but in some ways, being a left tackle and facing elite pass rushers all comes down to your technique,” said Whitworth. “Offensive linemen have to be able to play with the exact same technique 70 to 80 times in a game. A golf swing is the same – you have to be able to make your body do exactly what you want it to do over and over again. “For me to be able to kick out of a stance and be in the exact position that I want to be in is the number one key to blocking elite pass rushers. It’s no different than standing on the tee box and trying to hit the most accurate drive that I can when the pressure is on.” Whitworth estimates that his best drives exceed 310 yards (Bengals.com editor Geoff Hobson says he can attest to it), but the 7th-year pro out of LSU says he does not try to “grip it and rip it.” “People expect to see me swing violently at a golf ball, but I value learning the proper techniques of the swing,” said Whitworth. “I worked with the pro at Maketewah (Country Club) last Thursday and he laughed and told me it’s the best swing he’s ever seen from a 6-foot-7 guy in his life.” You can see for yourself [url="http://www.bengals.com/media-lounge/videos/Andrew-Whitworth-Golf-Tournament-51110/4be48dc3-1729-4eec-b53e-6442ac27bc43"]at the 1:10 mark of this video[/url] I’d love to hear from you at [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email] If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url] And I’m on Facebook at [url="http://www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1"]www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1[/url] http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/05/07/andrew-whitworth-tees-off-literally/
  21. [size=6][b]Pike Grateful For Bengals Opportunity[/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard on May 2, 2012 – 6:46 pm On Wednesday, the Bengals announced that Pike is among the unsigned players who will attend the team’s May 11-13 minicamp on a tryout basis. After spending the 2010 season as a backup with the Carolina Panthers, the 26-year-old quarterback missed all of last year after having elbow surgery. “I’ve been back in Cincinnati rehabbing for a long time and the Bengals reached out to my agent with some questions about my health and when I was going to get back to 100%,” said Pike. “After that, it was just a matter of me getting healthy and the timing being right for the mini-camp. It’s an unbelievable opportunity. Growing up in Cincinnati and being a Bengals fan, it’s been a life-long dream to be a Bengal. For them to give me that opportunity to come into mini-camp and see what I can do means a lot.” After leading the UC Bearcats to a perfect regular season and trip to the Sugar Bowl as a senior, Pike was selected by Carolina in the 6th round of the 2010 draft. Tony appeared in one regular season game as a rookie, going 6-for-12 for 47 yards in a loss to New Orleans. But last July, Pike needed surgery to fix a nerve injury in his right elbow. When the first procedure didn’t correct the problem, the former Bearcat had a more extensive operation eight weeks ago. “On the second surgery, they cut the muscle in my forearm and they tucked the nerve underneath the muscle,” said Pike. “Then they sewed the muscle back together to protect that nerve from moving around. It was a more painful procedure, but with my history at UC, it’s nothing that I haven’t been through before. The end result was a lot better than the first procedure, so I’m really happy. “I saw (Cincinnati Reds) Dr. Kremchek here in Cincinnati and he said he does this surgery every year on pitchers here. He told me it’s something that pitchers come back stronger from and that’s how I feel right now.” Pike broke his left arm in his junior and senior years at UC, but bounced back quickly to lead the Bearcats to back-to-back Big East Championships. Tony says that he has completely recovered from his elbow injury and is ready to show the Bengals the powerful arm that tossed 29 touchdown passes and only 6 interceptions in his final college season. “I feel great,” Pike told me. “My strength and accuracy are back. That was the biggest thing with the elbow – the nerve was causing my accuracy to go down a little bit, so with that being back, I feel great about my chance here. “The frustrating thing about the nerve surgery was that we couldn’t really give teams a timetable for when I would be healthy. The Bengals rookie mini-camp fell at just about the right time. I just saw the doctor (Wednesday) to get cleared. I’ve been throwing a lot and staying in shape. I’ve actually been going over to Elder a little bit to throw to my brother and some of those receivers. So, it’s been a long process and a slow process, but it’s all coming together at just the right time.” Pike might seem like a longshot to make the Bengals roster, but keep in mind that he began the 2008 season as the fifth-string quarterback at UC before becoming the starting QB and leading the team to the Orange Bowl. All he needed was a chance. http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/05/02/pike-greatful-for-bengals-opportunity/
  22. 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. [url="http://nflbengals.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/new-nfl-uniforms.jpg"][img]http://nflbengals.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/new-nfl-uniforms.jpg[/img][/url] “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 [email="Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net"]Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net[/email] If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [url="http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard"]http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard[/url] And I’m on Facebook. Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad. http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/04/16/shipley-progessing-as-bengals-return-to-pbs/
  23. [size=6][b] [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/01/05/hawkins-savors-first-anniversary/"]Hawkins Savors First Anniversary [/url][/b][/size] Posted by Dan Hoard Posted on January 5, 2012 – 4:19 pm On January 5, 2011 – one year ago today – Andrew Hawkins took a big step toward realizing a dream when he had his first NFL tryout with the Cincinnati Bengals. What does Hawkins remember about that day? “It was cold,” the rookie receiver told me. “I remember thinking, ‘I hope I can run a good 40 out here in the snow.’ I was just excited about the opportunity. I remember being surprised that Coach Lewis was out there, and the owner was out there, and the offensive coordinator was out there…I didn’t know that everybody was going to be out there for the workout. I was a little nervous, but here we are today and everything worked out.” Hawkins is one of the best feel-good stories in the NFL this year. The former factory worker (cleaned engines), caddy (all-time best tip $50), and reality TV show participant ([i]4[sup]th[/sup] and Long[/i] hosted by Michael Irvin), not only made the Bengals roster, but ranks 5[sup]th[/sup] on the team with 23 receptions. “I’m not surprised,” said quarterback Bruce Gradkowski who played with Hawkins at the University of Toledo. “Hawk is such a competitor and handles his business the way a professional should. He was like that in college and he’s like that to this day. You know he is going to work his tail off and know what to do. His athletic ability sure puts him above the rest.” Although he is an NFL rookie, Hawkins has playoff experience. He earned a pair of championship rings as a member of Montreal’s Grey Cup-winning teams in the Canadian Football League in each of the last two seasons. “I have one ring with me here in Cincinnati and the other one is back home where I’m from,” said Hawkins. “I might wear it occasionally on the road. They’re pretty big and gaudy so I can’t wear ‘em both at the same time, but I like to show them off a little bit.” Hawkins has every right to be proud of his championship rings and the fact that he’s overcome long odds to become a key contributor on a playoff-bound NFL team. “If you tell him, ‘Hey, you’re never going to play in the NFL,’ he’s like, ‘What? I [b]will[/b] play in the NFL,’ said Gradkowski. “If I said to him, ‘You’re never going to be a movie star,’ he might try to do that.” He’s already done a reality TV show, and while it helped him get exposure, it has also had its drawbacks. “My girlfriend hates watching reality shows with me because I break down all the secrets about what’s going on behind the scenes. She’s like, ‘Shut up and let me enjoy the Kardashians.’” [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2012/01/05/hawkins-savors-first-anniversary/"]http://blogs.bengals...st-anniversary/[/url]
  24. [b] [size=6] [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2011/11/03/website-ranks-carlos-dunlap-number-one/"]Website Ranks Carlos Dunlap Number One [/url][/size][/b] Posted by Dan Hoard Posted on November 3, 2011 – 3:57 pm Perhaps you read over the weekend that the website [url="http://www.profootballfocus.com/"]ProFootballFocus.com [/url]has Andrew Whitworth rated as the top left tackle in the AFC. Would it surprise you to hear that another member of the Cincinnati Bengals is rated number one at his position? Sam Monson, an analyst for ProFootballFocus.com, joined Dave Lapham and me on “Bengals Gameplan” this Wednesday night on Fox Sports 1360, and said that Carlos Dunlap is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season to date. “He only has one sack, but in terms of pressures and hits, he’s getting to the quarterback with the same kind of frequency as Trent Cole,” said Monson. “Dunlap has 23 pressures (19 according to Bengals stats) and nine knockdowns of the quarterback. He’s applying pressure on one out of every five attempts at rushing the passer which is a ridiculous level. I mean, Dwight Freeney in his best seasons applies pressure one out of every six snaps. We’re talking a crazy level – he’s actually at the moment our top-ranked 4-3 defensive end.” I passed that lofty ranking along to Dunlap. “That’s an amazing acknowledgement, but it’s still half-way through the season,” Carlos told me. “I want to hear that at the end of the season.” The staff at ProFootballFocus.com watches every NFL game on a play-by-play basis and grades every player on every snap. Dunlap has posted a positive grade in all seven games, and had the best game of his career last Sunday according to the website with seven QB pressures, three QB hits, and one sack in 58 snaps. “I feel like that game and the Jets game from last year were probably about the same,” said Dunlap. “I felt like this one was right up there, but I might give the Jets game an edge because that was my first two-sack game.” Dunlap’s fourth quarter sack of Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson last week was his first of the season, and while he’s determined to add to his sack total, his primary goal is to continue applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks. “That’s just as good,” said Dunlap. “It’s one of those stats that don’t show up on paper, but it’s as important as getting the sack itself. If you can consistently give pressure, that’s better than getting a sack every now and then.” * * * * * You might have also read [url="http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/os-bianchi-jay-gruden-1021-20111020,0,6038413.column"]this recent story [/url]in the [i]Orlando Sentinel [/i]that makes the case that the Miami Dolphins or Jacksonville Jaguars should hire Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to be their new head coach. I asked Jay for his reaction to the article. “I’ve told people this and they probably think that I’m lying, but I’ve never really looked beyond where I’m at right now,” Coach Gruden said. “I’m happy where I am and my only focus is to put these guys into position to make plays. Whatever happens 5, 6, 10 years down the road happens, and there’s no way that I’m ready to be a head coach right now. He’s been an Orlando writer for a long time and it was a nice article, but it’s very, very far-fetched. ”This is a fun group to coach and I’m not looking to go anywhere else. It’s not very often that you get a guy to work with like Andy Dalton and a receiver to work with like A.J. Green. We have a good, young offensive line that’s playing pretty well together and the sky is the limit for this team. Down the road – maybe – but right now, I’m definitely looking forward to watching these guys grow up as players and as men.” * * * * * I hope you’ll join Artrell Hawkins and me for “Bengals Pep Rally” on Friday from 3-6 at the Firehouse Grill in Blue Ash. If you can’t join us in person, you can listen to the show on ESPN 1530. [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2011/11/03/website-ranks-carlos-dunlap-number-one/"]http://blogs.bengals...lap-number-one/[/url]
  25. [size=6][b]A Fictional Mobster Would Approve Of Leonard’s Growing Role [/b][/size] [size="1"][color="#666666"]Posted by Dan Hoard Posted on October 29, 2011 – 10:02 pm [/color][/size] Perhaps I should survey the locker room to be sure, but I’m pretty confident in thinking that Brian Leonard is the only member of the Cincinnati Bengals that has had Tony Soprano in his apartment. And yes, I mean actor James Gandolfini and not Dolphins coach Tony Sparano. Gandolfini is a proud Rutgers grad and avid football fan who once wore Leonard’s #23 jersey on the sidelines while Brian was playing for the Scarlet Knights. “My sophomore year at Rutgers, he was at the game when we beat Michigan State and sat next to my parents so they got to know him a little bit,” Leonard told me. “His old roommate eventually became the Rutgers chiropractor and he knew where the players lived, so he brought James Gandolfini over to our house. He hung out with us after a huge win. It was pretty cool.” Unlike Gandolfini in [i]The Sopranos[/i], Leonard is not the star of the Bengals show, but he is averaging an impressive 9.3 yards when he touches the football this year (9 runs, 9 receptions). With Cedric Benson serving a one game suspension on Sunday in Seattle, Bernard Scott is expected to get the bulk of the carries, but Leonard figures to play an increased role as well. “He’ll be used a little bit more,” said offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. “It will depend on how Bernard is holding up. I think he’ll need a blow from time to time and we might also see Cedric Peerman a little bit, but Leonard is ready to go. We might use him every third series kind of like we do with Bernard Scott right now and I would expect Leonard to get more touches.” Leonard is in his third year with the Bengals after being obtained from St. Louis in a trade for defensive tackle Orien Harris who is currently a member of the Virginia Destroyers of the United Football League. It is one of the more lopsided trades in Bengals history. “I was kind of surprised when I was traded,” said Leonard. “I did pretty well in my rookie year in St. Louis. I started four games at running back and I started the rest at fullback. In my second year, I tore my rotator cuff in the preseason and had to get surgery. I had to sit out nearly that whole season and when a new coaching staff came in with Coach Spagnuolo from the Giants, they really didn’t give me a chance to be honest. I don’t think they really knew how to use me – I’m kind of a unique player and they decided to trade me. “You know what? It worked out for the best. I love it here in Cincinnati. I love the fans; I love my teammates, so I’m glad to be here.” Leonard made his mark in his third game with Cincinnati back in 2009. With :36 seconds left and the Bengals trailing Pittsburgh 20-15, Leonard took a swing pass from Carson Palmer and lunged for a game-saving first down ([url="http://www.nfl.com/videos/cincinnati-bengals/09000d5d81300a3b/Drive-of-the-Week"][b][color="#f04e23"]You can see the play here[/color][/b][/url]. Leonard’s catch is at the 1:50 mark). Two plays later, Palmer hit Andre Caldwell for the game-winning TD to give the Bengals the first of their six division wins that season. “I think that play was actually really important for my career,” said Leonard. “Before that play, I wasn’t getting many reps. I was probably getting five reps a game – not touching the ball five times a game – I was on the field for about five offensive plays a game. After that, my role got bigger and now I’m touching the ball four or five times a game and I’m out there all of the time on third down and in the two-minute drill.” [i]The Sopranos[/i] has been off the air for four years. Fortunately, another Rutgers guy is helping to give Bengals fans compelling TV viewing on Sunday afternoons. [url="http://blogs.bengals.com/2011/10/29/a-fictional-mobster-would-approve-of-leonards-growing-role/"]http://blogs.bengals.com/2011/10/29/a-fictional-mobster-would-approve-of-leonards-growing-role/[/url]
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