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Graham a Raven; Odom, Kelly, Crocker return

Posted Jun 3, 2010

Updated: 9:50 p.m.

After waiting on June instead of the Bengals, kicker Shayne Graham signed a one-year deal Thursday with AFC North rival Baltimore. 

The Bengals had the right to offer a Graham a one-year tender by June 1, but opted not to, largely because they would have had to pay him 110 percent more than his last year's take of $2.44 million. By waiting until after June 1 to sign Graham, the Ravens don't get charged in the compensatory draft pick free agent system.

It is believed the Bengals offered Graham early in free agency either a one-year deal or multiyear deal worth a little less than $2 million annually. The Ravens apparently sweetened a similar offer with incentives.

After Thursday's practice, head coach Marvin Lewis made it quite clear that Graham made the decision to leave. While he indicated the money was pretty much the same, Lewis felt the two short missed field goals in the Wild Card game against the Jets were a big influence in Graham’s decision.

“He had an opportunity to probably regain what he had here,” Lewis said. “Unfortunately for him, he’s got the demons of his last kicks here with us. He didn’t make them. He’s got to overcome those demons and I think that was a lot of it. Whether or not he could come back here in this locker room. That was going to be difficult to overcome those demons. Missing the kicks. Unfortunately that’s what the fans remember around here are the kicks that he missed. That’s the way that it goes. I wish him good luck

“He had a good opportunity to come back here. The guy that got Shayne going was his coach here (Darrin Simmons). He had an opportunity to say, ‘Hey look, Coach, I just want to get this done and be a part of the team, ‘and I don’t think that’s what he wanted to do. So it worked out the way he wanted it to work out.”

When he met with the Ravens media Thursday, Graham agreed with Lewis that he had the chance to come back.

“I had the opportunity to go back there,” he said. “There’s really no true motivation or any type of spite. They were very good to me. I love the organization. You move on and you make changes in life. This is where it’s brought me, and I’m happy to be here. When I play there, I’ll have friends in the stands and across the sidelines. Other than that, every kick is just as important than the next.”

Graham knows the Paul Brown Stadium fans are going to get on him.

"I always enjoy that. It’ll be different being in a stadium that was home for me so long," he said. "I’ve always enjoyed that feeling when you walk into a hostile situation where the fans are booing your whole team and you. It’ll be a little different when it’s a team that used to cheer for me."

Simmons, who coached Graham in Carolina before he convinced the Bengals to pick him up on waivers the week of the 2003 opener, helped Graham become the most accurate kicker in Bengals history as well as the club’s only Pro Bowl kicker. He is now working with free agents Mike Nugent and Dave Rayner, and Rayner recently returned to work after missing some time with a hip flexor this spring.

“It’s tough to see a guy like that go because you do build relationships,” Simmons said. “I appreciate what he did here for us and it’s time to move forward. There is only one windshield and it’s the front windshield.

“It’s refreshing to have two guys that are hungry to improve.”

» Left end Antwan Odom and tight end Reggie Kelly have returned to the field for the first time since they ruptured their Achilles last season. Thursday marked their fourth day back and both wore a relieved look after practice.

“It doesn’t feel much different at all,” Odom said.

When he got hurt back on Oct. 18, Odom was leading the NFL with eight sacks. He doesn't know if that's how it would have ended up ("You never know," he says), but his goal is "to keep trucking away at it," and get two sacks a game. That would give him 32, nearly 10 more than Michael Strahan's 2001 record of 22.5. "It's a little steep," Odom said.

Also back for the first time since offseason ankle surgery is starter Chris Crocker. After his fourth day, Crocker said he wasn’t having much trouble moving around.

But right tackle Andre Smith (foot) won’t be back until training camp, according to Lewis.

» Cornerback Adam Jones has hamstring tightness and sat out Thursday's workout. So did running back Bernard Scott after he twisted his ankle early in the day during cuts in one-on-one drills. He says he should be ready for the June 15-17 mandatory minicamp. Rookie wide receiver Dez Briscoe, who has been battling some muscle soreness, is set to return next week.

» Bengals middle linebacker Dhani Jones, the defensive signal caller, makes another call June 12 at the Kentucky Speedway when he tells the drivers to start their engines as the grand marshal of the Meijer 300.

Jones has become world famous as the athlete who travels to play other countries' national games, but he has found himself in a race car only in the United States. He has been on such tracks as Pocono and Lime Rock in his own car and once spent a day in a stock car at the Richard Petty Driving School. So at Thursday's news conference at PBS he made no bones about trying to get a ride from somebody sometime with the big boys and girls.

"I haven't done any rubbing and I know that's racing," said Jones, reprising Days of Thunder. "Hopefully one day I can do a little rubbing."

» With the Bengals roster teeming at 89 players, look for the deepest cuts to come Thursday, June 17. That is the last day the Bengals are on the field before they head to Georgetown, Ky., later next month. The Bengals have to start practice with no more than 80 players under contract. They currently are at 80 under contract with the nine draft picks unsigned. 

 

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