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Notes: Rookies face changes; Bengals sign another tackle; Practice shots

Posted Jun 11, 2014

The Bengals signed career veteran backup tackle Will Svitek Wednesday as they continue fortify their depth along the offensive front for training camp.

Cornerback Darqueze Dennard is on a blitz to learn to blitz.

Updated: 6:30 p.m.

Two rookies the Bengals are counting on to make big impacts quickly are undergoing the slow growing pains of transition as they work with the first units at this week’s mandatory minicamp on the field at Paul Brown Stadium.

Cornerback Darqueze Dennard and center Russell Bodine are both being asked to do tasks they didn’t do very much in college. For Dennard, it’s blitzing out of the slot and for Bodine it’s making checks at the line of scrimmage.

“I probably need to find some moves,” Dennard said as he broke into a smile before Wednesday’s practice. “The tackles and guards, they get me kind of easy. I need to go into somebody’s repertoire, talk to them and see what they do to get the offensive linemen off of them. I just need to find some moves somewhere. “

Dennard, the first-rounder from Michigan State, only played the slot in college pretty much in practice, but he’s getting a steady diet here as he works with the first nickel package in rehabbing Leon Hall’s spot. Told he’s got to ask the coaches to get him matchups with running backs, Dennard has already learned that’s not how it works.

“Sometimes it won't be like that. If there is an offensive lineman on me then there’s a defensive end or defensive tackle on the running back and a mismatch, so that's a win for the defense,” Dennard said. “I can’t go out there first and just spin. That would be all bad, I’d end up on my back. I just got to learn how to work my hands better and use my speed and my agility.”

 It wasn’t surprising to anyone _ Bodine his teammates, his coaches _ that he lined up with the first unit Tuesday since they traded up in the fourth round to get him and then pronounced him a possible starter as soon as they got off the phone with him. He’s had to school himself on the changeable nature of NFL  offense compared to what he dealt with at North Carolina.

“In the offense I ran in college, we didn’t change plays. We’d call a play, we’d get up there and our goal was to run a play every 12 seconds,” Bodine said. “So there wasn’t a whole lot of checking and (audibles) at the line of scrimmage or anything like that. Handling those checks is big for me. It’s definitely the most difficult aspect right now. When that play changes, all my calls change and I’ve got to get everybody on the same page, and that’s been the most difficult thing.”

Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said on Tuesday Bodine has to have better snaps and Bodine thinks he will once he gets settled.

“It’s a little chaotic for me right now,” Bodine said. “Handling the checks, handling all the calls and all that. I think that’s something that will happen with comfort level. That won’t be a problem.”

Among the biggest adjustments are off the field for  rookies as they cope with money and fame. It’s believed Dennard’s contract is hung up on technicality that gets resolved soon. But once he signs, he becomes fair game to pay for a rookie dinner.

“Haven’t thought about it yet,” Dennard said. “ I haven’t got signed so I don’t have any money.” 

 Bodine has to get used to the attention. He doesn’t like it and admitted to a couple of reporters Tuesday, “I don’t like you guys. Not you. Just what you do.” It turns out it is publicity he doesn’t like.

“If they don’t even know my name, that’s all right,” Bodine said. “Don’t mess anything up. That’s about the only way they figure out who you are.”

TACKLE ADDED: The Bengals signed career veteran backup tackle Will Svitek Wednesday as they continue fortify their depth along the offensive front for training camp.

They also announced the deal with rookie cornerback Victor Hampton of South Carolina and then released two to make room on the 90-man roster, linebacker Bruce Taylor and cornerback Brandon Burton.

The 6-6, 310-pound Svitek joins first-year Chandler Burden as tackles signed in the last week. Burden is seen as more of a guard while Svitek has played most of his 74 NFL games with three teams at tackle.

Svitek, 32, a sixth-round pick of the Chiefs out of Stanford in 2005, played his first three seasons in Kansas City, then four with the Falcons and made two starts with the Patriots last season. He joins Burden and Tanner Hawkinson on the roster as the Bengals mull a potential fourth tackle behind starters Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith and backup Marshall Newhouse. Hawkinson has played both left guard and left tackle this spring.

The 5-9, 197-pound Hampton had been projected as a mid-round pick in last month’s draft until two brushes with the law, according to published reports.  He arrives with 22 college starts and has an uphill climb at cornerback.

Burton, who signed before the season, has 19 games in the NFL. Taylor, who spent the final seven weeks of the season on the Bengals’ practice squad last season, spent last training camp in Cincinnati as a college free agent out of Virginia Tech.

PRACTICE SHOTS: Pro Bowl WILL backer Vontaze Burfict practices in June with a November intensity and that usually means he's mixing it up with linemen and backs. (Running back Giovani Bernard is a frequent target.) On Wednesday he almost made a breakneck interception off one of two batted balls by Wallace Gilberry inside at tackle. Burfict sprinted and stretched out as if the AFC North were on the line and came up just short...

Gilberry can also be quite vocal and active.

"Don't bring that in here, Andy," he said to quarterback Andy Dalton after one of his tips...

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth had a veteran's day off and Marshall Newhouse took his snaps...

Defensive tackle Devon Still is believed to have been excused this week as he copes with his daughter's cancer diagnosis...

The No. 2 defense had a big interception of backup quarterback Jason Campbell in the red zone when linebacker Sean Porter leaped high in the air to pick off a third-and-three pass over the middle. When the first teamers had the same situation moments before, cornerback Adam Jones broke up a slant to wide receiver Marvin Jones with an aggressive play...

Rookie quarterback AJ McCarron threw for the second straight day and he says his shoulder feels a lot better.

"I felt like I threw it well. That's what I needed,' said McCarron of Tuesday's work. "I needed to get my flexibility back in (the shoulder)."

But McCarron isn't getting many throws. As usual, the No. 3 QB gets the last one or two plays in a period.

"Thats my role right now," he said. "When I get my shots I have to make the most of it."


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