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Posted Sep 6, 2011


Clint Boling

Updated: 7 p.m.

A few Opening Day snippets with the Bengals beginning their work week Wednesday in preparation for Sunday’s game in Cleveland (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Local 12) now that rookie Clint Boling has been installed as the No. 1 right guard on the depth chart:

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has plenty of underdog fodder to build that chip on the shoulder. He’s mixing the same kind of us-against-them chemistry that was bubbling in his first season of 2003.

Running back Cedric Benson started it earlier this week when asked about the low expectations and expect more of the same this week.

“Just tune in and watch. It will be fun. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people,” Benson said and when told Lewis’ teams seem to play better as the underdogs, he smiled.

“And nobody thinks we’re going to be worth a damn this year, huh? So it’s great for us.”

BIG FEAT: There’s no question that if rookie quarterback Andy Dalton goes up to Cleveland this Sunday and wins, it would be massive. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, a rookie quarterback winning on the road Opening Day has only happened four times since the 1970 merger. And it’s taken all kinds.

Hall of Famer John Elway won in Pittsburgh in 1983, 10 years after Buffalo’s Joe Ferguson did it for the first time in New England. It didn’t happen for 18 more years, when Carolina’s Chris Weinke won the first of his two NFL wins in a 2-18 career when the Panthers won in Minnesota to open the 2001 season.

And the Jets’ Mark Sanchez won in Houston to ignite the Rex Ryan era in 2009.

The last time the Bengals won on the road to open the season came on Sept. 10, 2006 in Kansas City, 23-10.

This is the first opener not quarterbacked by Carson Palmer since 2003. He was 3-4 on Opening Day, completing 64 percent of his passes (141-219) for seven yards per attempt (1,535 yards) with eight TDs and six interceptions for an 85.7 passer rating.

Dalton becomes the sixth different Bengals Opening Day quarterback since Peyton Manning came into the league in 1998 and started every game.

A.J. PREPS: No. 1 pick A.J. Green becomes the first rookie wide receiver to start on Opening Day for the Bengals since the rookie pair of Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans started the first game at Paul Brown Stadium in 2000. Against the Browns. Like Warrick, Green is the fourth pick in the draft but he has to hope he’ll match what Warrick and Dugans combined to do for that season with 898 yards.

But a 1,000-yard season is elusive for rookie receivers. The last one to do it in the NFL was the Saints’ Marques Colston in 2006 and the only one to do it for the Bengals was Cris Collinsworth in 1981 with 1,009.

Green’s take on his progress is right there with what everybody else is saying about him after he caught nine balls for 96 yards in the preseason. He dropped one ball that turned into an interception and lost a fumble in the red zone. But he also caught the team's only touchdown pass of the year, a 40-yard bomb from Dalton.

“I think I made a lot of strides out there from Week 1 to the last game. I’ve got a long way to go,” he said.

Green says he’s not focusing on one thing because he believes in order to be a great receiver “you have to keep working on your craft. Your study. Your preparation. Getting your sleep. (Everything) on and off the field.”

He says he’s not so much working on route-running as he is watching tape of Pro Bowlers like Larry Fitzgerald and the two Johnsons, Andre and Calvin. He has talked to Fitzgerald, the guy that seems to be serving as his model.

“Just being a student of the game. You have to find the holes, learning different defenses and picking your spots,” Green said. “(I’ve been) talking to Larry (about) his preparation and the way he goes about his business. He’s a great one. I’m trying to learn from all the great receivers.”

BOLING OFFICIAL: The Bengals made it official Tuesday and listed rookie Clint Boling as their starting right guard on this week’s depth chart heading into Sunday’s 1 p.m. opener in Cleveland (Cincinnati’s Local 12).

Boling, a fourth-round pick out of Georgia, would be the first rookie offensive lineman to start for the Bengals on Opening Day since left guard Eric Steinbach in 2003. Ironically, the Browns have put Steinbach (back) on injured reserve and are looking at starting a rookie in his place, fifth-rounder Jason Pinkston out of Pittsburgh.

The spot opened on Saturday when the NFL suspended Bobbie Williams for four games for violating its policy on physical enhancers and ending his skein of seven straight Opening Day starts for the Bengals. That same day Steinbach started, Matt O’Dwyer worked at right guard for quarterback Jon Kitna in what turned out to be the last opener not started by Palmer.

Other than Boling and the addition of wide receiver Brandon Tate as the kick and punt returner, the depth chart from the preseason holds. Since tight end Jermaine Gresham didn’t start last year’s opener, there could be six new offensive starters in Cleveland in Dalton, Green, Boling, Gresham, wide receiver Jerome Simpson and fullback Chris Pressley.

On defense it could be seven that didn’t line up in Foxboro but may for the first snap in Cleveland with tackle Geno Atkins, right end Michael Johnson, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, outside backers Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard, cornerback Nate Clements and safety Reggie Nelson.

After head coach Marvin Lewis had six different Opening Day middle backers in his first six seasons, it settled with Dhani Jones from 2008-2010 before Maualuga made the switch this preseason from SAM, where he started the past two openers. 

MORE MOVES: For the third straight year cornerback Rico Murray signed back with the Bengals on Tuesday after being released on Cutdown Day.

Also Tuesday, the team worked out and signed to the practice squad quarterback Zac Robinson while cutting Dan LeFevour. LeFevour, the Bengals No. 3 quarterback last season, got released on Cutdown Day when the team opted to go with just two quarterbacks and he only made it back to the practice squad.  

In the previous two seasons when Murray got cut, he joined the practice squad. But now he returns to fill the 53rd and last spot on the roster after the Bengals practiced with three cornerbacks Monday. Murray, the Cincinnati Moeller High School product, has played in four games each of his two seasons and can play safety as well as special teams.

Cornerback Kelly Jennings looks be in the late stages of recovering from a hamstring issue and could be iffy for the Sunday opener in Cleveland (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Local 12). He worked on the side Monday in his first chance to practice with the club since coming over in a trade from Seattle last week.

It means the Bengals are going into the game with two tight ends, which head coach Marvin Lewis said might happen anyway even if former Dolphins tight end Mickey Shuler had passed the physical and been on the 53.

The 6-3, 218-pound Robinson, drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round out of Oklahoma State in 2010, had stints in New England and Seattle before landing as the Lions No. 3 quarterback. He played in Detroit’s four preseason games this year (throwing a 28-yard touchdown pass against the Bengals in the opener) and completed nine of 15 passes for 91 yards and that one TD and no picks before being waived Sunday.

 

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