For the first time since his 12-year Bengals career ended just before the 2008 season, four-time Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson visited the locker room Wednesday and while he’s not returning as a player he is helping his old offensive line in other ways.
Dressed in a black T-shirt and black shorts, Anderson walked out to the practice field with Bengals president Mike Brown and chatted while the team stretched. Then when they broke, offensive line coach Paul Alexander took the rest of the line while dispatching right tackles
During lunch before practice Alexander grabbed Roland for a meeting and with Anderson already exiting the locker, speculation was rampant that the guy with the biggest shoe in Bengals history (19E) was sitting down the tallest Bengal ever as the 6-9 Roland comes off a tough game against the Panthers.
Head coach Marvin Lewis, who met with Anderson on Tuesday night after Anderson arrived in Cincinnati on business from his Atlanta home, said Lewis has a lot to offer to his young players. Anderson wants to start an "Offensive Line University," and develop a student-athlete handbook for youngsters. But right now his main interest is coaching his son's seventh-grade team.
“He was a very smart player who helped guys,” said Lewis, who thinks Anderson has some interesting takes now that he’s been out of the game since the end of the ’08 season.
Anderson, who played at 6-6, 350 pounds and upwards, looks thinner than his playing days and quarterback
"I'm rushing the passer," he said.
Alexander said he expects Roland to bounce back, but he also talked encouragingly after practice about Smith.
Alexander says Smith and the Bengals strength staff spearheaded by head man Chip Morton did a great job overcoming his weight gain and lack of conditioning. Although, Morton said during Smith’s three-a-days at Georgetown College he was always impressed with Smith’s fitness.
“Andre’s season is not over. Before the season is over, Andre has to have a good season. That does not mean him being on the bench,” Alexander said. “In my experience, if you miss training camp and you’re an offensive lineman, it is hard. Because you never practice full speed again. Everything out here (in regular-season practice) is timing and he’s getting it back.
“Based on where he came in and where he is now, (his conditioning) is night and day. And that’s to his credit and Chip’s credit.”
Alexander also said he needs his line to improve, but he thinks they’re doing admirably for the first three games of the year.
“We’ve got seven goals and so far we’re hitting five of them,” he said.
He also swears by center
“I’m a Cook guy,” Alexander said. “That’s why.”Anderson, 35, did want to hook on with a team this season but since he hasn’t he says he’s retired. Even though he has yet to file the papers.
Anderson was either 2-1 or 3-0 just three times here, so he has an idea why these Bengals are getting heat at 2-1.
"Back in the day day? Back in the Coslet/Shula days? That would have been great back then," Anderson said. "That tells you how great the team is doing right now and how well the organization is turned around that people can still complain about 2-1. That tells you expectations are higher for them now and that’s because they’re a better team. Once you can be good and you can be a better team people expect the world. Look at Tom Brady. Tom Brady said that after they’d won Super Bowls that the fans still weren’t satisfied. That comes from being a good team and a good organization. That’s a good thing, as Marvin would say."
The Browns had a host of players not practicing, led by quarterback Jake Delhomme (ankle) and nose tackle Shaun Rogers (hip and ankle). Also, running back Jerome Harrison (ankle), who missed last week, and all-world return man Josh Cribbs (thigh) were limited.
» Wide receiver
“Carson is fine. Blame me. I’m not being myself,” The Ocho said. “Not enough trash-talking.”
When someone brought up the old Pepto-Bismol gag from six years ago (The Ocho sending the Cleveland secondary each a bottle of Pepto),
“You should send them some Imodium,” said Owens, indicating that the Browns were “running at the mouth.”
The Ocho laughed and said he’s unaware of any trash-talking from up north and he says he hasn’t started any yet.
» Left tackle
» Browns big back Peyton Hills (6-2, 250) is coming off a huge game (the first Cleveland back to rush for 140 yards in the 21st century) and Bengals safety
» Benson hasn't been shy talking about the frustrations of the offense. Whether it is to Jim Rome on Tuesday or to local types on Wedneday. He sounded pretty upbeat.
"We know our potential. We’re just eager to get there. I feel real good about this week," Benson said. "The atmosphere is really good and I think guys this week are going to really hone on their jobs to achieve our maximum potential as an offense."