Updated: 10 p.m.
The funny thing is, it was offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s passing scheme that was supposed to unveil the breathtaking talents of Bengals running back Bernard Scott.
But Scott didn’t catch a pass in his 2011 debut Thursday night. Instead, he screeched for 63 yards on six carries, the last a stick-in-the-foot-reverse-field-12-yard touchdown run.
And, yes, the 5-10, 200-pound Scott loves Gruden’s running game, too.
“When you see it, you hit it. You don’t have to do too much reading. You can just go out there and play off your natural instincts,” Scott said. “The last offense it was like you had two or three different keys you needed to read. To me, I could just never let it loose. I was reading and trying to play perfect instead of just playing football.”
It doesn’t mean Scott is now drawing his own plays in the dirt.
“You still have your aiming point where the play’s designed,” he said, “But if it’s not there, I feel like it gives you the freedom to go out there and make plays.”
But Scott said he probably would have made the same move on the touchdown run last year because the entire Panthers defense was shifted to the right “and there was no place else to go," he said. "That’s what I try to do: just run to daylight.”
He feels like he can do that now, and he’s looking forward to that first catch because unlike the last two seasons, he’s got to be ready.
“The thing about this offense is that anybody can get the ball at any time,” Scott said. “Every pass play there’s a possibility the running back can get the ball. And it seems like he gets you in space so the running back is on a linebacker and most of the time the running back is going to win that one.”
Remember when these guys were thought to be busts, that the ’08 draft was left for dead? Well, Gruden has basically said Caldwell is the team's most complete receiver, and Simpson is getting open even when he isn't targeted for receptions. And Lewis can’t say enough about them both.
And he had to laugh as he talked about Simpson.
“That position has lent itself to a “look at me” (attitude), and we could have looked at him a few times the other night,” Lewis said. “But the ball had already gone the other way. He’s already done some amazing things. When (Jordan) Shipley caught the ball against the Jets, if the focus on that play would have been Jerome, it would have been a touchdown. It was a beautiful move he made. He’s done a lot of good things – he’s blocked excellently. He had one error in the game early on. You never know when you’re going to be the guy, and that’s something he has to get used to.
“As for Andre, he seized his moment the other night and did well. He continues to carve out more and more time for himself. We have a good rotation going whether it is the three wide receivers or the alternating of the two wide receiver (set). Andre is going to have the opportunity to come in and do a lot, and he deserves it. He’s been up to the challenge and has been making good on it.”
BENSON RESOLVES MATTERS: Bengals running back
JONES LOOKING AT PUP: Lewis confirmed what cornerback
“He is progressing well in everything, and all indications are to this point that things will work out very well for him,” Lewis said. “I try to keep telling him he should be grateful for those things because that wasn’t necessarily the prognosis at different points since he’s been injured. He has worked hard and there has been a total improvement in where they see him being and how quickly and how early (he can recover). He should feel good about that.”
Lewis sees what happened to Jones and defensive tackle
“A couple guys’ surgeries were (probably) delayed that normally would have been attended to earlier,” Lewis said. “They would have been back trying to function and do certain things and so they would have known their body was not quite responding the way it ought to or what they were used to it doing. And they would have looked for more guidance earlier on. It is the situation we are in now, and we have to deal with it and make the best of it.”
WHAT'S IN A NAME? The nicknames are coming fast and furious for Bengals rookie quarterback
Bengals radio play-by-play man Dan Hoard has come out of the gate with “The Red Rifle.” Bengals.com modestly proposes, “The Red Ryder (or Rider),” named after Ralphie’s BB gun in the holiday classic “A Christmas Story.” You want your quarterback throwing BBs, right?
On Monday, Dalton politely said he likes them both nicknames and added, “You guys can call me anything you want.”
Then he paused.
“As long as it’s good.”
MORE DALTON: As expected, the coaches gave Dalton the word that there’ll be no more scrambles like his 15-yarder on Thursday night against Carolina that got called back on tight end
“It was the most awkward thing,” Dalton said. “I’ve never slid before. In college I always dove head first. I have to work on my sliding. I tried I thought. But I got my foot stuck in the ground. It was just awkward and not how I wanted to do it.”
On the next play, Dalton said he botched the fumbled handoff to running back Cedric Benson when he went the wrong way.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Wide receiver
“My mouthpiece fell out when I was going after a fumble,” said Hawkins, who didn’t miss a practice. “Not for a tooth.”
Lewis, who coached big brother Artrell Hawkins here, refers to him as "Little Hawkins." At 5-7, Hawkins, as Lewis knows, is very big on professionalism.
"He's worked extremely hard and kind of caught up to everybody else quickly after being released by the Rams," Lewis said. "He’s making the most of this opportunity. When you’ve got guys competing for jobs on football teams, that’s the way you want to go about it. He’s a great lesson for some of these rookie players in their first time in professional football. Obviously he’s been around for a little bit. He’s had a couple of years playing in Canada and so forth, so he’s been through it a little bit. I think he’s making the most of this opportunity, no question.”
» For the second straight practice Monday, the Bengals were without tight end Jermaine Gresham (ankle), left end