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Camp report: Sun shines at safety; Hawk vows to fly in '13

Posted Aug 12, 2013

Slot receiver Andrew Hawkins showed up in the locker room on crutches before Monday's 3 p.m. practice on the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields and said there's no surgery pending for his sprained ankle and that he expects to return some time this season.


Andrew Hawkins

Updated: 7:45 p.m.

PLAYER OF THE DAY: Somehow rookie safety Shawn Williams has picked up the nickname "Sunshine" from Mike Zimmer, his stormy defensive coordinator. For the second straight day Monday,  Williams cleared the clouds with a pick-6 interception. For the second straight day he read backup quarterback Josh Johnson and for the second straight day he darted in front of tight end Alex Smith.

On Sunday, Williams simply bolted into the flat and swiped it. On Monday as Smith ran a route over the middle, he baited Johnson into throwing the ball.

"I acted like I wasn't going to get there. I kind of delayed it," Williams said.

Pretty good for a guy that did most of his damage in the box at Georgia. Williams had high grades throughout the Bengals draft room and when they drafted him in the third round Zimmer told them he felt he could develop good coverage skills. It looks like he is as Williams finds himself battling with George Iloka for the starting job.

Iloka's tight coverage on rookie tight end Tyler Eifert in Sunday's final team period won't hurt him and Williams's back-to-back days with interceptions won't go unnoticed. Even though Zimmer has little tolerance for rookies, Williams can see some sunshine.

"I think he's beginning (to like me)," Williams said.

PLAY OF THE DAY: Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones's TD.

Since it was 11-on-11 with no hitting, who knows if Jones would have even got off the line of scrimmage? But what we do know is that Jones, who looked good before missing the opener with a tight hamstring, is looking good again and on Monday he popped into the end zone with a signature burst of speed on a red-zone screen pass from Andy Dalton.

And he did it by following hustling and scrambling left tackle Anthony Collins. No good deed goes unpunished. Collins paved the way and at the end got squeezed in the backwash of bodies and ended up somersaulting into the end zone as Jones went in chortling.

"A.C. was great getting out there," Jones said. "He was directing me all the way. 'Marv, cut left. Marv, go inside. Marv cut in here.' "

As Collins said, "I've got the back of my quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers."

It symbolizes the kind of camp Collins has had. Which is to say a never-rest-gut-check siege. First, right tackle Andre Smith missed the first few days of camp with a calf issue and Collins took his snaps.

Then when Smith came back, the Bengals decided to rest left tackle Andrew Whitworth's surgically-repaired knee for the last 15 days and Collins split the snaps with rookie Tanner Hawkinson. But this week Hawkinson has been out with a sprained ankle and except for a few snaps off when left guard Clint Boling spells him, there is Collins grinding down the field, going all out despite getting hammered and making the screen work.

"It's the best he's looked since he's been here," offensive line coach Paul Alexander said of Collins, a fourth-round pick in 2008. "A.C. has been terrific. He's sharp, he's polished, he's taking a million snaps and he hasn't complained once."

How many snaps?

"I'm on Week 17," Collins said with a weary smile.

Collins's relationship with his coaches hasn't always been so smooth, but head coach Marvin Lewis couldn't say enough after Monday's practice about how valuable Collins is and has been.

"Anthony's been here a long time and matured into a guy that you can really rely on," Lewis said. "He's done great. Whenever he goes into a game he's done a nice job. In Andre's absence during the offseason he's done a great job of working and being in there and with Andrew's absence … that's why he was signed to bring back here (in 2012) because he's a valuable player on our team."

Collins says he has no time to be frustrated with thoughts of going back to the bench when Whitworth returns in time for the season.

"I don’t have time to complain," Collins said. "I've got a  job to do. Whatever the bossman wants, the bossman gets."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: SAM backer James Harrison on his aversion to the Hard Knocks cameras:

"I don't feel they deserve to be here. They did nothing to be here other than they want to be here. They didn't put no blood, sweat and tears into (any) of this. All these men here, they've done that. They did nothing. No one deserves to see this, to come inside unless you're part of this."

ANOTHER QUOTE OF THE DAY: Harrison on signing a T-shirt that said, "Even God hates the Steelers":

"I don’t mind signing anything, as long as there’s no cusswords in it."

HAWK VOWS FLIGHT: Slot receiver Andrew Hawkins showed up in the locker room on crutches before Monday's 3 p.m. practice on the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields and said there's no surgery pending for his sprained ankle and that he expects to return some time this season.

But he doesn't have a time frame, although head coach Marvin Lewis has said he's a candidate to start the season on the injured reserve-recall list, where players are eligible to return in mid-season.

Hawkins, whose career lives on his feet and legs, said he expects no problems coming back stronger than he was when he got injured Aug. 1 making a diving catch in an 11-on-11 team drill. He said it was a freak accident because cornerback Brandon Ghee stepped on the ankle as he tried to avoid him.

The only thing we know for sure is Hawkins will begin his rehab after gets out of a cast in 10 days or so. And that he'll bring the same steely, 5-7, 180-pound resolve that won him an NFL roster spot despite going undrafted, enduring football unemployment and then taking advantage of a two-year CFL stint in Montreal.

His game is all about speed and burst and he says he'll get it back.

"I'm not worried about it. What happens is, that's been my game since I have been a little kid. If I don't have that game then I'm not back," Hawkins said. "I'm not going to go back out there playing at lineman speed. Otherwise that means I'm not healthy yet. I'm just going to rehab it and work with the trainers. The good thing about it is we have an incredible training staff that is great at situations like these and I'm going to do everything in my power and let God handle the rest."

Here's a 27-year-old guy that was sleeping on an ex-teammate's couch while he helped coach at his alma mater of Toledo before the call came from the north. So he's pretty sure this won't derail him.

"Trust me, this is low on the totem pole of hardships I've had in my career, so, that's why I'm good for it," Hawkins said. "I am not crying myself to sleep. I'm just going to go to work. This is no different. Every player in this locker room has gone through this, the rehab process and injury. I've just got to come out here and work with the trainers like I work with (Andy) Dalton, like I work with A.J. (Green), and all the rest of the receivers and coaches and get back as soon as possible."

Hawkins has no qualms about how he got hurt. That's how he got here. Scratching, clawing, diving on every snap.

"It was honestly a freak accident," he said. "It could have happened on any play; it was just a matter of a defender stepping on a certain part of my foot at a certain time. Two milliseconds later I'm fine, two inches to the left I'm fine. That's football. It's hard to turn off the way you play when you are on the practice field, especially in a situation like that. It's what has gotten me here. I'm going to keep playing the same way. At this point it's a hard habit to break.

"Marvin preaches us not to dive in practice, but when you are in the heat of the battle and that's who we are, most of the receivers. Every practice there is a new receiver diving because when the ball is in the air it's hard to say. If I don't get hurt it's a great effort play. I shouldn't have dove. I wish I wouldn't have dove. But if I didn’t get hurt, I'm happy I dove."

NOTABLES: Rookie cornerback Shaun Prater made a nice interception on a tipped ball…No. 1 running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been suited up and looks to be fine, but he's taking virtually no snaps from scrimmage…Wide receiver A.J. Green looks like he may give it a go on Wednesday after Tuesday's day off, which would be 19 days after he bruised his knee on the second day of camp. But still don't look for him in Saturday's 7 p.m. game against the Titans at PBS.

» Boling, the third-year left guard, is no neophyte when it comes to left tackle. At Georgia he started everywhere but in the state legislature with 19 games at left tackle, 19 at right guard and 11 at right tackle. Smart and athletic, it's a nice rainy day option with two left tackles down in Whitworth and Hawkinson.

"He's a good pass protector," Alexander said. "You never know."

» Lewis dismissed the rookies from autographs in order to prepare for Monday night's rookie show.

» WILL backer Vontaze Burfict and tight end Jermaine Gresham got into a little scuffle in practice and it was more like a baseball fight with a lot of standing around and pushing. It began after Gresham made a catch over the middle and Burfict made sure he wasn't going anywhere. Their helmets were grill-to-grill and it went from jawing to shoving until it was broken up.

INJURY UPDATE: Green, Hawkinson and Whitworth were joined on the shelf Monday by left end Carlos Dunlap (concussion), right end Michael Johnson (unknown), wide receiver Tyrone Goard (concussion), fullback John Conner (foot), WILL linebacker Emmanuel Lamur (hamstring), cornerback Brandon Ghee (head), linebacker Vincent Rey (knee), quarterback Zac Robinson (elbow), wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (ankle), defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (knee), and tackle Reid Fragel (knee).

After Tuesday's off day, the Bengals should have a lot of them back.

UP NEXT: The team is off Tuesday. Then comes the two final days of camp and both are on the PBS practice fields. Wednesday is from 3-5 p.m. with gates open at 2. Thursday is 11 a.m.-1 p.m. with gates open at 10 a.m.

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