Lewis defends Benson; Smith ready but has to earn start

Posted Jul 20, 2010

Updated: 8 p.m.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis on Tuesday defended two of his players charged recently in bar fights, saying that running back Cedric Benson and wide receiver Maurice Purify were jumped.

In an interview with and The Cincinnati Enquirer previewing next week’s opening of training camp, Lewis was clearly upset at the circumstances of Benson's case. He was hot that he was even asked if he thought Benson would be suspended by the NFL.

“I don’t even know why we bring that up,” Lewis said. “To me, it’s unbelievable. It wouldn’t be brought up in 31 other cites in the country I don’t think.”

Lewis also gave no indication the club is interested in free-agent wide receiver Terrell Owens.

“I don’t want to speak (about Terrell). We’ve been down that road,” Lewis said. “I don’t have a concern that we need to add anybody (at receiver).”

Asked if he thinks Benson is going to be suspended for any games following an assault charge, Lewis left no doubt where he stands. The league said Tuesday it is still investigating the incident that occured in a Texas bar in late May. 

“The truth about Cedric is that he got sucker-punched in a bar. Cedric got attacked in a bar,” Lewis said. “Only because it was Cedric Benson does it become news. I think that’s something you have to understand. Same thing with Purify. A guy swung at Purify.

“Every one of these situations needs to be dealt with individually. Until all the facts are on the table can any judgments be made on that. They have to constantly be able to walk away. When two guys didn’t walk away totally, this is what happens. And they‘re not necessarily in the wrong, but they‘re a little bit wrong in my standards for not walking away totally. But they were not the initiator in any of these cases.”

Also Tuesday, Lewis said he expects right tackle Andre Smith to be ready for July 29, the first practice of training camp, after he missed all offseason work on the field following foot surgery. Since Smith never made it to training camp last year because of a monthlong holdout and originally broke his foot in his third NFL practice, Lewis says he’s behind guys like incumbent Dennis Roland.

“I expect him to work to earn a starting spot,” Lewis said. “He’s got some ground to make up ... he’s going to have to work to get his football legs under him. We’re going to have to watch him and not overwork him early on to allow him to get to where the other guys are because the other guys will be a little further ahead as far as the work they’ve done.”

Also, Lewis admitted he hasn’t watched Chad Ochocinco’s reality TV show, The Ultimate Catch, but they have been texting and talking. Even though he saw him practice for only three days this spring in last month’s mandatory minicamp, Lewis liked what he saw from his 32-year-old star of stage and screen and said “he was better than I expected him, and I expect a lot out of him and he didn’t disappoint.”  

“I don’t think it will take away from his game,” said Lewis when asked if the dizzying offseason will hurt The Ocho. “Chad plays with a chip on his shoulder. And Chad plays best with a chip on his shoulder. That’s not going to change. And right now he’s got a chip on his shoulder because people are doubting him. Like the questions you just asked. That motivates Chad. That excites Chad. He’ll work harder.”


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