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Notes: Miami drama surprises locker room leaders; Bilukidi contract voided as Atkins IRed

Posted Nov 4, 2013

The Bengals put defensive tackle Geno Atkins on season-ending injured reserve and had the contract of Christo Bilukidi voided.

Updated: 7:30 p.m.

Chris Crocker and Andrew Whitworth, two elder statesmen of the Bengals locker room, are just as amazed and puzzled as anybody about what may have or may not have happened in the Miami locker room.

After getting the weekend off and having a walkthrough Monday afternoon, the Bengals' own locker room had time to digest the news of Richie Incognito's suspension amid reports he left threats and racial slurs on the cell phone of AWOL Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin.

Both Crocker, an 11-year veteran with four teams, and Whitworth, in his eighth NFL season all with the Bengals, say they've never seen bullying. And while an NFL locker room isn't your normal, everyday workplace, both talked about a line never being crossed.

"Not any kind of picking on anybody. Never. That's never happened here," said Whitworth, the team's rep to the NFL Players Association. "But if it's a rookie dinner or something like that and you like feel somebody's maybe pushing it too far or making it where it's almost personal, that's really the fine line. The fine line is it's fun and it's all in good jest and then as soon as it crossed the line that this could be deemed as personal, it's your job as a leader of that team to stop it.

"I've never seen it. But that's what you're really looking for. Could this be deemed personal? Could this guy be taking this home with him and his feelings being hurt or just being affected by this?"

There are the usual rookie rites. Getting food for the position group. Carrying helmets and pads of the veterans off the practice field. The rookie show and singing on demand.

"That’s OK, because pretty much everybody has done that. But when you single out one person time and time and time and time again, it just becomes something that’s a little strange," Crocker said. "And I could see how someone could take that personal. I would also take that as a ‘Hey, leave me alone. I’ve done my [time]. I’ve sung, I’ve carried stuff and all of that.’ At some point, it’s just about trying to win football games. You don’t need any distractions like that. Conduct detrimental is serious. That’s as serious as it gets. You’re talking about really being a distraction to the team. You’re a distraction to winning games and you’re losing a lot of money."

Both men emphasize that no one knows what went on for certain in Miami and they won't comment on that situation. But they both talked about how the environment is different than most in corporate America.

"(A rookie) is not learning from guys who have been an attorney or this or that, an understudy. He's thrown in the starting lineup. He needs all the help and information he can get, and it's basically your job to provide it to him," Whitworth said. "Yet he's going to take your job one day, the more you provide him. Part of the deal is 'hey, I'll help you all you want but there's little things, you being a young player, if we want some breakfast on Friday or we want to do this or that.' And those things are perfectly healthy. There's nothing wrong with them.

"They're actually a great instrument for those guys to learn 'hey, proving my value to those guys for why I'm here.' Then there's a certain line that just never should be crossed, and that is if somebody is offended or somebody doesn't like what's happening to them, that should stop."

The big question is why can't these strongest of men stand up to the smallest of minds and push back?

"Guys have egos. This is an ego-driven profession. Guys have egos and it’s a very manly sport. It’s a Gladiator sport. Guys don’t want to stand down," Crocker said. "You fight until the death, so to speak. That’s where it’s really tough to say, ‘Alright, this guy’s had enough, I’m going to leave him alone.’

"Sometimes it’s just about testing guys. Coaches do it all the time where they pick on a certain guy and try to motivate him. And pick on him and pick on him and see if they can break him, and that guy just takes it. You don’t do that in corporate America.

"But there is a line that you just don’t cross. There are certain things you just don’t do. Obviously, there’s something going on that went a little too far."

ATKINS IRed; BILUKIDI DEAL VOIDED: The Bengals lost a game on a walkoff safety last Thursday night and then saw a player on Monday have to walk off because of paperwork.   

They put defensive tackle Geno Atkins on season-ending injured reserve Monday, but their contract for Raiders 2012 draft pick Christo Bilukidi was voided by the NFL because the Canadian does not have proper documentation to work in the United States. The NFL said the work permit Bilukidi had with the Raiders before he was waived last week doesn't transfer. Once his documentation is properly filed, he'll be eligible to sign but that could be a week or two and since the Bengals can't wait it's believed they'll sign another defensive lineman before Wednesday's practice.

After Bilukidi worked out at Paul Brown Stadium on Monday, the club signed him with the hope he could take some snaps Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Baltimore if needed.

The club's search for a veteran to add to the line was brief, since it was looking for a healthy guy that could play right away, was in shape, and had at least a training camp and preseason under him. A lot of the vets didn't qualify and in Bilukidi the Bengals not only got a guy who has played all season until the last week, but a guy they liked in the scouting process.

The 6-5, 320-pound Bilukidi, who played 71 downs for the Raiders  this season and had a sack before being waived last week, is a sixth-rounder out of the Margus Hunt mold with little football experience but with an interesting athletic upside.

Bilukidi, 23, took 249 snaps as a rookie last season in 13 games after being the first player drafted out of Georgia State's new program. He didn't begin playing football until he was a senior in high school in Ottawa, but still ended up also being a third-round pick of Winnipeg in the CFL draft. Last season Pro Football Focus graded Bilukidi 59th out of the 84 defensive tackles the Web site graded.

Bilukidi, whose father is a diplomat, was born in Angola and lived in France and Brazil before arriving in Ottawa, where he was a second-team all-region selection in basketball after lettering all four years in high school.

With Atkins down the Bengals finished last Thursday's game in Miami with just Domata Peko and Brandon Thompson as their tackles. Devon Still, a second-round 2012 pick, is recovering from what has been reported as a dislocated elbow and may not be able to go Sunday.

Also Monday the Bengals signed linebacker Bruce Taylor to the practice squad to fill the spot vacated by rookie tackle Reid Fragel's move to Cleveland's active roster. The 6-1, 245-pound Taylor, a rookie free agent out of Virginia Tech, played in all four Bengals preseason games while becoming a favorite of the Hard Knocks cameras. He had 10 tackles before he was waived in the 53-man cutdown. Earlier this season he spent two weeks on the Cardinals practice squad.

 

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