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Camp report: Harrison on display in Sunday's Okie; Padded debate; Atkins takes tips; Dalton rebounds

Posted Jul 27, 2013

In Cincinnati, there is a bevy of rites of summer. Sunday afternoon at the Reds, Fourth of July at Riverbend with the Pops, and Marvin Lewis's Oklahoma Drill when the Bengals wear pads for the first time at training camp.


James Harrison

Updated: 7:25 p.m.

In Cincinnati, there is a bevy of rites of summer. Sunday afternoon at the Reds, Fourth of July at Riverbend with the Pops, and Marvin Lewis's Oklahoma Drill when the Bengals wear pads for the first time at training camp.

Lewis has set the date for Sunday on the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields in a 3 p.m. workout and it's pretty basic and brutal and done only once all season. An offensive blocker lines up in an alley with a defender across from him and a ball carrier behind him. The whistle goes and we're live.

"It's tradition," defensive tackle Domata Peko said before Saturday's practice.

All eyes are going to be on the man who has gone through his career as the most feared player in the NFL, hard-hitting James Harrison, the new Bengals SAM linebacker.

On Saturday cornerback Terence Newman admitted he can't wait for the show.

"It will be fun to watch No. 92 over here, a little pit bull," said the nodding Newman, one locker down. They're going to take his leash off and let him go bark at a couple people, so it will be interesting to watch. I'm going to lobby just to watch the Oklahoma Drill, stay out of his section and watch what goes on over there. That dude is strong. He's tough. He's got Kevlar in his helmet. That's how hard he hits."

Kevlar is a form of body armor that Newman has never seen during 11 NFL seasons in a helmet. That got him thinking about the preseason coming up. Last preseason safety Taylor Mays hurt some teammates in a couple of collisions.

"I've seen it on ribs on people, but never in the helmet," Newman said. "Actually, that's not a bad idea. I'll probably have to do it if Taylor stays at safety. Sometimes he comes in with a little bit of friendly fire every now and then."

PADDED DEBATE: Sunday's first day of pads unveils the new knee pads and thigh pads dictated by the NFL during the offseason. Like most of the players, Michael Johnson, the towering Bengals right end, hasn't worn them in the four years he's been out of college. He doesn't think it's going to matter much.

"It's just for show," Johnson said. "I'm going to wear the smallest ones I can. You want to be light out there. A few ounces aren't going to make a difference. You just have to get used to playing with it."

The 6-7 Johnson's knee pad doesn't look like it would cover a song. It's a Styrofoamish pad about two inches by three inches. His thigh pads are going to be built into the girdle he wears under his pants.

Bengals equipment manager Jeff Brickner says there are three kinds of knee pads and more than two dozen types of thigh pads. All have been tested and approved by the NFL and the players can choose which ones they want.

Newman, the 11-year man that has played the most NFL games on the Bengals roster, figures the last time he wore pads was in Bill Parcells's last season coaching the Cowboys in 2006.

"When I was returning more punts early in my career, I wore just the thigh pads. Well, actually, Parcells, he kind of mandated it," Newman said. "We had to wear thigh pads anyway. I wore them for quite a while, then kind of just shed them because I didn't really get hit in my thighs.

"It's not really what happens to DBs, so there was no sense in wearing them. Plus most guys want to be as light as possible. They think these are going to slow us down, but I don't think necessarily they do. You can get thinner thigh pads or smaller ones and it'll be all right."

Newman doesn't think it matters all that much when it comes to his position. Like Johnson, he's also going light, particularly with the thigh pads.

"It should be pretty simple, to be honest with you. The knee pads sometimes kind of annoy you a little bit. They move. That's probably going to be the worst part for me," Newman said. "I couldn't tell you the last time I wore knee pads. I had these little bitty donuts in college, but I guess you can't wear those. It shouldn't be that big of a deal though."

Center Kyle Cook never stopped wearing them when he got to the NFL out of Michigan State and he figures they've saved him some aches and pains.

"Like getting kneed in the thigh or something in a pile. I'm sure I've avoided bruises," Cook said. "They don't bother me. It won't be a big change for me. It will probably have an effect on the skill guys who have been just running in basically Spandex. I'm sure they'll get used to it."

NOTABLES: It didn't look like left guard Clint Boling was hurt seriously, but veteran free-agent pickup Mike Pollak worked with the first unit late in practice.

» Rookie free-agent wide receiver Tyrone Goard (finger) practiced for the second time after coming off PUP.

» Even though the players were only in shoulder pads and the full regalia doesn't come out until Sunday, there was some popping from the fullback position when the offensive and defensive lines worked on the running game in a run-only drill. Orson Charles, working with the first group, got such a good shot in against the backup group that WILL backer Vontaze Burfict came over to congratulate him. Then a few snaps later backup John Conner leveled 6-8 rookie end Margus Hunt.

» Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick keeps showing up. He broke up Dalton's last pass of the day when he leaped in front to get both hands on a ball that seemed all but complete to wide open wide receiver Ryan Whalen.

PLAYER OF THE DAY: Quarterback Andy Dalton.

Tough call because wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and running back Giovani Bernard were all over the place Saturday. It would have been Dalton in a walk if he had completed two of his last five passes in 11-on-11, but defensive tackle Geno Atkins had his second batted ball of the practice and Dalton badly overthrew Sanu running wide open down the middle.

Still, Dalton rebounded nicely after his first pass of the day in 11-on-11 was picked off by cornerback Terence Newman cutting in front of wide receiver Ryan Whalen on a quick out. He went on to hit his next 10 and finish 18-for-26 in a guestimate during team periods on top of looking sharp in one-on-one passing.

Dalton threw a good deep ball to wide receiver Marvin Jones after Jones got great separation from cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris, but Jones couldn't control his body long enough to hang on.

If Friday's go-to guy was rookie tight end Tyler Eifert, then on Saturday, Dalton got aid comfort from Sanu on a combination of deep crosses and quick outs.

Free-agent rookie receiver Roy Roundtree also had a good day, catching long ones from Dalton in both 11-on-11 and one-on-ones.

It looked like Newman baited Dalton a bit to make him throw it outside.

"Terence Newman made a great play and they'll make their plays because they're a great defense; they'll drive on routes," said offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. "He needs to throw that one away from Newman. Ryan came down like he was supposed to and the ball should have been inside and Andy threw it outside a little bit."

But it was the kind of day Gruden wanted to see from his quarterback.

"It's important for him to make sound decisions, not make multiple mistakes, don’t make bad plays worse, get us into good plays when I call a bad one. So far so good."

The showing by Sanu and Bernard reflects the versatility the Bengals think they have in the passing game a day after Marvin Jones and rookie tight end Tyler Eifert dominated. But Dalton got his throws into Eifert on Saturday. He found him over the middle on one play and Eifert made an outstretched fingertip grab when Dalton had to throw it away from SAM backer James Harrison's tight coverage on a quick-hitter.  

PLAY OF THE DAY: In 11-on-11, Dalton dropped back to throw a screen pass to Bernard and two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins got his hand on it and tipped it up into the air. But Bernard hung with it, and came back a few steps to catch it and took it upfield.

Which not only showed Bernard's fierce concentration, but Atkins's mindset.

"I think tipped passes are just as important as sacks," Atkins said. "It stops the play. I just get my hands up. If you're not going to sack the quarterback, it's always good to try and put your hands up in the passing lanes. Who knows what is going to happen?"

This time, Bernard caught it. But against Cleveland last season, Atkins tipped a pass and right end Michael Johnson picked it off.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden on the 6-1 Atkins batting down two passes from the 6-2 Dalton: "If Geno tipped them, then our quarterback must not be putting it high enough. Surely it wasn't Geno. Don't tell me Geno. It had to be (6-6 Carlos) Dunlap or (6-7 Michael) Johnson. We already know (Atkins) is great, but now if he's tipping passes, which makes me really mad."

MORE QUOTE OF THE DAY: Newman on the Okie: "It's always fun to put pads on. We're on the edges, so the guys in the trenches, those are the ones that's going to be fun to watch because they're hitting every play. I'm pretty sure there's going to be some talk going on, some people getting laid-out tomorrow - in a right way, in a friendly way. You like to kiss your teammates on the shoulders with your shoulders every now and then."

UP NEXT: Sunday's practice from 3-5 p.m. with gates opening at 2 p.m. The Oklahoma Drill is scheduled to begin approximately at 3:30 p.m.

 

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