Only two are not with the club (fullback Jeremi Johnson and wide receiver Laveranues Coles) and the other, The Ocho, is still dancing. On defense, right end
Most of the rookies aren’t expected until the camp that begins May 18.
Here are five things to watch in May and June that will let you know this isn’t exactly the same club that pulled off its first division sweep in history last season in its attempt to upgrade from division winner to Super Bowl winner.
Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has been saying it all offseason: The Bengals are staring at six games against 4,000-yard passers and they need to get more pressure than what they brought last year while getting their 34 sacks.
One of the many places where Zimmer is tinkering is here. The best way to get pressure? Man-to-man coverage.
So having one of the best cornerback tandems hasn’t stopped the Bengals from adding physical talent there. They drafted a cornerback early (Wake Forest’s
Plus, the Bengals look to be nearing a deal with veteran safety Gibril Wilson, a guy that has started 80 NFL games, is 6-1, 197 pounds, smart, handy, and started 13 games for the 2007 Super Bowl champion Giants. He has shown he can get his hands on the ball (his 13 career picks would be third best behind safety
Another reason it will look different than ’09 is the presence of Williams, who played virtually no snaps after September with a broken forearm that has healed well enough for him to be cleared.
2. WIDE RECEIVER
What have we been hearing for months?
Gone is Laveranues Coles and up is
Without Ocho and Henry, this is a different spring show. Outside of Caldwell, no other receiver has caught five balls from quarterback Carson Palmer. Even when Ocho comes back, this group has a different look with third-rounder
3. FRONT SEVEN
Here is the corollary to Zimmer’s quest for more pressure. Right end
And when the kids get here, the nickel package is going to have a decidedly different look with second-rounder
4. BRAT’S TOYS
With the drafting of Briscoe, Shipley and tight end
Probably 2005, when running back Chris Perry was healthy and the Ocho, Henry and T.J. Houshmandzadeh were feared down the field. There is no one here as accomplished as Henry and Houshmandzadeh. But Bryant is an 80-catch guy and Gresham looks like the force Palmer has never had over the middle. The interesting thing will be to see if the passing game can be kicked in gear without fouling up the rhythm of the running game.
But here may be the question of the OTAs:
How does second-year tight end
Remember, he couldn’t participate in these workouts last year because of his broken foot. Then he was never active for a game. Is he close to the NCAA’s all-time receiving tight end, like he was at Missouri? With Gresham and Coffman running around, this is a look Bratkowski has never had in his nine previous seasons. Two guys that can potentially split the seam instead of a once-in-awhile Reggie Kelly.
That was something you didn’t get to see a year ago.
But the Bengals still are talking to Kelly in the hopes of re-signing him.
5. MORE LINEBACKER
The spring is supposed to be a time of experimentation, so look for second-year SAM backer
Maualuga is expected to make his first appearance on the field after his season ended with a broken fibula in the next-to-last game. Keep an eye on the backers. Four of them, Jones,