Camp views: Deep thoughts; Sims to return; WR help on way

Posted Aug 16, 2011

Jay Gruden

Updated: 8-17-11, 7:30 a.m.

GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden knows the big play has to be coming soon and he's starting to eye more and more the downfield stuff.

"We've been focusing on ball control, but it's hard nowadays to keep having eight-, 10-, 12-play drives. You have to get the big chunk," Gruden said Tuesday here before the night practice at Georgetown College. "We're going to be focusing on that pretty soon. Your play-action lets you take shots. Obviously everything starts with the run, but we have to do a better job in pass protection."

Both Gruden and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese are encouraged by how rookie quarterback Andy Dalton played in his debut, although they know the Jets this Sunday pose a much tougher challenge with their changing alignments.

"Things started out going wrong, but they didn't continue and that's important," Zampese said. "(Dalton) rebounded fast. His eyes were clear; mentally he's resilient. If he's that way as a pup, who knows what he's going to be when gets a couple of skins?"

Here's the kind of stuff Dalton has to bounce back from as Gruden broke down the tape: Remember the third-and-two from the Lions 45 when Dalton overthrew fullback Chris Pressley in the flat?

"We messed up the route. Poor communication with our tight ends," Gruden said. "The guy covering one of the tight ends hung out there to cover the fullback. Andy had to drop it over his head. It would have been a hell of a throw."

It's an example of how things can go wrong in a game. If everyone is in their proper places, the linebacker isn't running in front of Pressley. The Bengals ran the play a couple of times in practice with Jermaine Gresham and Chase Coffman at tight end.

"It came off clean in practice, but Jermaine got jammed up and Chase took a poor route to get over the top," Gruden said. "But the more reps we get, the better we'll be."

MARV TAKES: Head coach Marvin Lewis said the club isn't interested in Bills former No. 1 pick Aaron Maybin, shook his head over Cincinnati radio speculation that the Bengals were interested in Brett Favre, and confirmed that the Bengals have signed another rescue receiver in UFL speedster Calvin Russell.

Lewis made the remarks following Tuesday night's practice at Georgetown College highlighted by a rare tussle between center Kyle Cook and mild-mannered nose man Domata Peko, a pair that goes back to Michigan State.

"We talked after. We're fine. We've been going at each other how many years?" Cook asked. "Five here and then at school. I got him then he got me. That's how it goes, but he's got it in him. I call him 'The Quiet Assassin.' "

Lewis kept defensive lineman Jon Fanene out of his first practice since signing, noting wryly that, "I guess while he was negotiating his contract he wasn't going to the gym." But Lewis expects Fanene to be in shape soon at the hands of strength coaches Chip Morton and Jeff Friday. In camp one day, Fanene has been through five workouts to build up his cardio.

Fanene joins a defensive line that lost veteran Tank Johnson earlier in the day when the Bengals released the eight-year veteran. Lewis preferred to talk about the guys replacing him.

"It was the best time to close another chapter. It is what it is, which is what coaches say, " Lewis said. "We've got good young guys that did good things at the end of last season."

But Lewis said defensive tackle is a spot the Bengals will continue to seek as rosters get pared down. He also expects defensive tackle Pat Sims (knee) to be back at practice for the first time this season next week after rehabbing last year's injury.

"He was probably a victim of the lockout," said Lewis, when teams couldn't rehab players.

Left end Carlos Dunlap missed the last half of practice when trainers iced his knee. He had returned to practice on Monday after missing practice the previous week.

With Sims out as well, defensive line coach Jay Hayes said don't mind the different combinations of the nickel line that went out there because "I've got guys hurt. I'm just scrambling to get guys in there." Peko worked a little inside but "it was either him or you."

BACK HOME: When Zampese went to the press box to work Friday's game, it was the first time he'd been there in his nine Bengals seasons after working it from the field, but he'd been there before in his previous NFL stints in Green Bay, Philadelphia and St. Louis, not to mention at Miami University. Gruden has opted to stay on the sidelines with Zampese being the eyes and ears of the quarterbacks.

"You're looking at things in a different way. You have to keep your eyes on specific parts of the play and not the whole play," Zampese said. "From the sky you can see a little more and you can replay the picture of the whole thing in your mind while you're looking at your picture. On the sidelines you don't get to see the same perspective. It has its advantages. It's nice you can see things coming and you know what the reaction is supposed to be by the quarterback and you've got a mental checklist of those responses.

"We're still talking on the phone. You don’t get the same face-to-face reaction, but that's why Jay is there. I don't want to do it all the time because you want a guy to get his roll going. But if there's something particular to remind him of. 'Hey, this is the blitz down. If we get it again, let's try this.' That kind of reinforcement."

O-LINE TALK: The first-team tackles continued to play well Tuesday night. That came on a day offensive line coach Paul Alexander declared that left tackle Andrew Whitworth "killed" Lions Pro Bowl right end Kyle Vanden Bosch in Friday night's game.

While Alexander defended left guard Nate Livings, he did say he'll play rookie guard Clint Boling sooner on Sunday in order to get a better evaluation on him. "The Jets are all man out there." But he's not sure which side Boling will be on.

Livings got beat for a sack Friday night, but Alexander says one of the things he's improved is his reaction to pass-rush moves. He said Corey Williams jumped the snap count "and you would have had to have been Gumby to get in the way of him."

With Reggie Kelly officially gone to Atlanta, Alexander knows he's missing one of his best friends at tight end because he blocked like a tackle against those exotic defenses. But Alexander thinks there are some new, tough blockers vying for the second and third spots behind Jermaine Gresham. He likes the looks of rookie Colin Cochart and second-year man John Nalbone in that role, but he also says, "There's nothing wrong with the way Gresham blocks. He's a good blocker."

A camera crew was on campus Tuesday shooting an NFL Network piece on how Alexander has used his piano playing to help with his coaching and vice versa.

RECEIVER RESCUE: Green came up limping after one snap and took a few plays to walk it off, but didn’t miss a period. It's a good thing because the receivers are still a MASH unit of muscle pulls and forced Gruden again to go to his UFL roster. A few days after pulling John Standeford off the street he found Russell.

On Tuesday night, only six receivers were dressed when Russell showed up at the end of practice after signing. Out again were rookies Ryan Whalen, Andrew Hawkins and Landon Cox, as well as veterans Andre Caldwell and Quan Cosby.

"On Monday we only had five up and we were wearing them out on third and long and you had to wait for them to come back (to the huddle) and they're gassed," Gruden said. "We need to get another guy in here," Gruden said. "Cosby may be ready for (Sunday), but he's not practicing. If they're not practicing and we're having two-hour practices with four and five wide receivers, it's hard. The first three guys, A.J., Jerome and Shipley are going to be in good shape for sure."

Lewis indicated he thought the lockout was the reason for that one spot getting hammered with injuries. "Maybe that's something, too. They're probably not in the same shape. But it is what it is. We're getting healthier. We should have a few guys back (Wednesday) and if not, the next day."


» The offense looked a little better Tuesday night after Monday's worst practice of camp in another full padded practice, but the defense still was playing tighter coverage after defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's weekend appeal. Cornerback Nate Clements had a good night, getting inside position on wide receiver Jerome Simpson's go pattern to knock away Andy Dalton's pass. That was at right corner. Later he roamed on the left to step in front of rookie wide receiver Bart Johnson to pick off Bruce Gradkowski.

» The Gradkowski pick ended a hurry-up drill. On his turn, Dalton got a first down when he scrambled to find wide receiver Jordan Shipley at the sticks. With tight end Jermaine Gresham out for the second straight day (ailment unknown), Shipley was Dalton's go-to guy much of the practice across the middle and the quarterbacks had trouble going downfield to the tight ends.

» Dalton didn't get much in the red zone stuff, although he did throw  a TD on the last snap of the period when wide receiver A.J. Green did one of those leap jobs over cornerback Leon Hall. But the other time Dalton tried to go into the end zone, he would have been sacked by left end Robert Geathers running past tight end Chase Coffman.

» The offense did score on four out of five shots on the goal line. The one time they didn't get in was the first one when running back Cedric Benson tried to leap over the line in front of fullback Chris Pressley, and it looked he didn't get in with Peko and inside linebackers Rey Maualuga and Dan Skuta making the stop.

» The other four backsBernard Scott, Brian Leonard, and rookies John Griffin and Jonathan Williams—got in. It was Scott's first work in 11-on-11 in pads, but rookie Jay Finley missed his second straight practice with an unknown ailment.


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