Bengals Open Camp Under the Spotlight
The Cincinnati Bengals’ fan base has long compared the trials and tribulations surrounding the team to television, whether it be a soap opera or at times a situation comedy, the team hasn’t strayed far from its share of drama. Now the men in stripes who are vying for a spot on the 2009-2010 roster have gone documentary as they hope to convey a message of professionalism and dedication to success as they star in the HBO series “Hard Knocks.”
Optimism abounds as the players gather in Georgetown Kentucky and unpack in college dorm rooms. The squad has enjoyed perhaps its best off season in a decade with solid free agent signings, a widely acclaimed draft and the return of many key players who spent last season either on the injured reserve list or physically unable to perform.
That injury bug has shown its ugly head once again unfortunately and seems to have targeted the tight end position in particular. The best blocking tight end in the fold, Reggie Kelly is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon suffered as he simply broke off the line on what was to be one of the last plays of a day’s work. Kelly is a recognized leader in the locker room and a player that was to provide stability to a revamped offensive line. Carson Palmer said it best: “It makes me sick to my stomach…all that he's invested and committed, and he's such a good guy and a great player. It's awful.”* As awful as that was, it didn’t take long to lose the best pass snatcher at the position as well as Ben Utecht suffered a concussion and is being evaluated this week. He could be out for the year as well. Bengals.com reports that “If he's out, that would give the team a blocking tight end in Daniel Coats and a receiving tight end in rookie Chase Coffman. The two remaining tight ends on the roster, '08 sixth-rounder Matt Sherry and college free agent Darius Hill, aren't blockers and the Bengals may decide if they have to go out and get one for the last spot at that position.”*
The team has had the seemingly “normal” early camp skirmishes between offensive players and defenders when someone feels that someone else is “going a little too hard” or hitting “just a bit too aggressively.” Running back Cedric Benson has mixed it up on a few different occasions. It’s the sort of thing that coaches may publicly scorn while privately they are appreciative of the intensity that leads to such confrontations.
It’s not just his passes that flu…Quarterback Carson Palmer missed several practices due to bronchitis that he caught from his wife and kids as they passed it around his house. Nice to know that we all have something in common with the leader of the team…when in doubt, blame the family.
All Hands on Deck…Well…The Bengals have signed every player drafted in the 2009 NFL Draft…except first round selection Andre Smith who is missing a huge amount of key snaps for an offensive line that is being re-worked completely. He has now officially been dropped to third on the depth chart at his position, which is listed as right tackle.
Steal of the Century? Defensive End, twenty two year old Michael Johnson stands six foot seven, weighs in at two hundred sixty pounds and quite frankly wreaks havoc on nearly every play. During the full squad scrimmage and the Mock Game he was impressive to say the least.
In the Army…It’s Called Desertion…Jason Shirley has switched sides, he’s moving from Defensive Tackle to Offensive Guard. He literally took the black jersey number 97 off, stepped across the line and put on the white jersey number 70. The coaches approached him about making a change and it was of course a tough thing to digest” I was always playing the defensive line and had that mentality for so long it was kind of hard (to think about changing positions)…I thought about it a little bit and it's all football. If it helps the team, I'm willing to do it.”* He will be leaning on his new line mates for help as he makes the transition.
*Content courtesy Geoff Hobson at www.bengals.com
About the Author
Written by Daryl Miller
I'm a lifelong sports fan. From short track auto racing, hockey, baseball, football and everything else...I love it.