Notes: Point of no return; Reflective Rey

Posted Dec 27, 2011

Cedric Peerman

Maybe Sunday’s all-in regular-season finale at 4:15 p.m. against the Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium is the day for it.

Maybe that’s the day head coach Marvin Lewis eschews the regular starting lineup and has the Bengals kick cover team announced. After all, the Ravens are fifth in the league returning kicks and the Bengals are fourth covering them as well as leading the NFL in drive start following a kickoff at the 20.2-yard line.

Throw in the fact that running back Cedric Peerman is Cincinnati's special teams leading tackler and former Ravens draft pick (sixth round in 2009) and why not?

“For us, it’s a total team effort,” Peerman said Monday. “Dan Skuta, Jeromy Miles, all the special teams guys have been playing with their hair on fire. It’s a testament to perseverance throughout the year.”

If the Bengals announced the kick cover team the corps would look something like this: Peerman, linebacker Skuta, safety Miles, wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, safety Taylor Mays, linebackers Vincent Rey and Brandon Johnson, cornerback Brandon Ghee, safeties Gibril Wilson and Reggie Nelson. Nelson, a starter, has also found time for a career-high four interceptions.

On Saturday in the 23-16 win over the Cardinals, special teams coach Darrin Simmons had to dig deep when he lost Mays with an unknown ailment early in the game. Mays, who is playing on all four kick units and is one of seven players with at least eight special teams tackles, was replaced by starting outside linebacker Manny Lawson on kick cover and rookie receiver Ryan Whalen on other phases as the Bengals stoned the productive Arizona return teams.

After Mike Nugent kicked off Saturday, the Cards got the ball at their 12, 17, 20 (on a touchback), 26, 20 and 14-yard lines. It’s a season-long trend that peaked three games ago and eagle-eyed Pete Schramm of the Bengals public relations department uncovered the numbers since the Dec. 11 Houston game:

Out of 16 kickoffs, the farthest return has been to the 29-yard line and none have been returned past the 20 in the last 10 kickoffs. Nugent has three touchbacks and the average drive start of the other 13 has been the 17.5-yard line. Brandon Johnson also forced a fumble in St. Louis that was recovered by the Rams.

Certainly the new kickoff from the 35 instead of the 30 has helped, but not that much.

“When the rule change occurred, I thought there would be some advantage for us, but I think our guys have done a nice job of turning it into a real advantage thus far,” Lewis said. “But we have to keep it up. They take great ownership in it, great pride in it. It’s a bunch of different players. There’s a lot of confidence, and they have fun. They know how important it is. Some of the guys start and play in certain phases full time, some don’t. But I think they’ve earned the respect of everyone on the football team for what a great job they do.”

Simmons has some standbys from past years, such as Johnson, Peerman, Skuta, Miles, Rey and Nelson. But he’s also had to work in Mays, Hawkins and Wilson.

“Having guys with the year of experience, having some ‘pros’ (helps). We’ve got some pros sprinkled into that group,” Lewis said. “Manny Lawson comes in and does a great job filling in this last week in a couple of phases. Gibril Wilson is a guy who has been a starter in this league and has done a great job for us all year. And there’s the guys who have been the core of the unit throughout: Jeromy, Skuta, Peerman, Vinnie Rey. Those guys do a yeoman job week in and week out. We keep having guys step up and come to the forefront.”

The Bengals knew about Peerman early because they coached him at the 2009 Senior Bowl and they had him on their list. A fast, willing guy during practices and they were also aware of his extremely high character and commitment. When the Ravens released Peerman into the world of NFL transactions after that first training camp, the Bengals would make sure they got him.

On Monday, Peerman, a licensed minister, was talking about Miles’s big tackle on Arizona's punt return in the final minute and how huge it was dumping Andre Roberts at his own 40 for a one-yard loss.

“He had room to run; and Hawkins was right there, too,” Peerman said. “Coach Simmons had been talking all week about tightening up the ship and I thought we were solid in coverage.”

Although the Ravens won’t have David Reed, last year’s NFL kick return leader who suffered a torn ACL last week, their head coach is a former special teams coach and the Ravens are always high in the rankings.

“It never stops, does it?” Peerman asked.

Neither, it seems, do his fellow cover men.

OH BABY: Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga had an extra special Christmas when his baby girl arrived Thursday, two days before the Cardinals win and three days before Christmas.

“To bring a new life into this world, it changes everything,” Maualuga reflected Monday. “My mindset is different now. I have something to actually wake up to and look at and to play for. So now I can’t be the Rey that I used to be: knucklehead. ... I’m happy, I’m excited. That was the best gift I ever got.”

Somehow, Abayah figures to get another present. Dad has the ball from Saturday’s first interception of the season.


Recent Articles

  • TDBH: P.B. draws it up to shock Raiders again

    By Geoff Hobson - Posted 7 hours ago

    This Day in Bengals History - September 20

  • Bengals Help Raise $100,000 for Hurricane Relief Efforts

    Posted 15 hours ago

    The Bengals teamed up with the American Red Cross, WLWT, Kroger, the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County to raise $100,000 for hurricane relief efforts.

  • Top 50 Moments: Paul Brown Stadium Opens Gates to 130,000 Fans

    Posted 20 hours ago

    The Paul Brown Stadium gates open for the first time on Aug. 16, 2000 and Cincinnati police estimate about 130,000 stream through the riverfront super structure during an open house between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. The club is expecting about 25,000 for the entire six hours, but by 6:30 the count is already at 35,000 passing through sampling concessions and seats and touring the player facilities.

  • Fantasy Recap: Week 2

    By James Morris - Posted 21 hours ago

    Changes are in the wind, both in fantasy football and in the NFL. The Bengals made the decision to part ways with OC Ken Zampese, and promoted QB Coach Bill Lazor to Offensive Coordinator.

  • Taking the offensive

    By Geoff Hobson - Posted Sep 19, 2017

    Clint Boling, in a line of proud offensive linemen stretching back to Pro Bowlers Andrew Whitworth and Willie Anderson, back to Hall-of-Famer Anthony Munoz, even back to Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham, is ready to begin this sudden new era of offense. He’s volunteering his guys to carry their share of the load in order to rejuvenate the running game. That figures to be one of the first few issues to be resolved by the Bill Lazor Administration. How much do they run it and how many run it?

Recent Videos