Updated: 10-6-11, 1 a.m.
That rhetorical 1980s question “Who’s The Boss?” got answered decisively Wednesday in the Bengals locker room when the man they call “Boss Man” for his leadership and experience practiced for the first time since his NFL suspension took him out of the first four games.
Right guard Bobbie Williams, who has played more Bengals games than anyone on the roster, hopes to play his 110th game in stripes Sunday in Jacksonville (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Local 12) but the club could very well keep him exempted before it has to make a call on Monday.
“Whatever coaches decide I’m grateful for it,” Williams said. “Can I start? Yes. Can I go? Absolutely. Will I take advantage of it? Most certainly.”
Head coach Marvin Lewis said a call could be made on activating Williams later in the week, but who would go? A spot could open Monday through an injury in Sunday's game or a decision on running back
“Bobbie’s been our starter in training camp and preseason,” Gruden said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s a hell of a player. We have good options with McGlynn and Boling. They’ve done some good things. Bobbie is the old vet. He’s got a lot of strength to him. It’s a good dilemma to have.”
McGlynn, picked off waivers from the Eagles just before the opener, started the last game at right guard after replacing Boling early in the game against the 49ers the week before. It's a credit to McGlynn's ability to pick up schemes since he's basically playing right guard for the first time in his life and he said Wednesday his footwork is improving. Boling, who is trying to play with lower technique, played about six snaps against the Bills and was in on the first field-goal drive.
“I did some good things. I have some things to work on,” McGlynn said. “I’m basically playing right guard for the first time in my career. It’s important we got the win and move on to the next game.”
McGlynn says he played one game at the University of Pittsburgh at right guard and barely any during his three seasons with the Eagles, for whom he played mostly center.
“I played (guard) a little bit here and there in the preseason, but that doesn’t really count,” said McGlynn, who says he’s adjusting. “Just getting the footwork down. Making sure your feet are coordinated with your upper body, I think more than anything. The first two weeks I’m gradually getting better at it. Especially after being parallel playing center (it isn’t an easy transition). You have to play with angles at guard. It’s a little different.”
While McGlynn, who ironically came over from the Eagles like Williams did in 2004, was grinding, so was Williams as he took out his frustration on his body.
“My wife said I picked up a second addiction besides eating, well lack of now, hitting the gym,” Williams said. “I took to it hard so I can come back. I trimmed up a little bit while I was out and away. I was doing about three-hour sessions about five days a week, making sure my time was occupied.”
He’s one of the team’s most popular players because he’s a stand-up guy and Wednesday was no different when he took responsibility for the violation of the NFL’s policy on substance enhancers.
He said he tested positive for a diuretic, but he ended up losing 12 pounds the old-fashioned way in the past month and pronounced himself as fit as when he came into the league in 2000. That came courtesy of former Bengals weight room assistant Clif Marshall’s program at Ignition Sports in suburban Mason, Ohio.
“Poor judgment. No one to blame but myself,” he said. “The first thing I said I was going to turn this from a negative into a positive and I have. I’ve been in best shape since entering the league. I’m light as I’ve ever been, quicker. With more knowledge so that makes me just as deadly.”
When the suspension was announced just before the regular season, there was concern in the Williams camp that that he was being lumped into a category of steroid users when it was clearly not a case of that or recreational drugs.
“That’s protocol. It’s one of those things. That’s how business is run. It’s my fault,” Williams said. “I’m responsible for what goes in my body. There’s no need to point the finger at anybody else. Regardless. I’m responsible for what goes in my body. That’s the job of being a pro.”
But his stature clearly hasn’t taken a hit in the locker room, where his fellow offensive line leader
“I feel like Boss is a guy who is a leader, he’s an example, he shows guys what it means to practice every day and work his butt off and be successful, so, and having a great attitude while doing it,” Whitworth said. “He’s just another guy who is inspirational for guys to play with and to see in the huddle and feel more confident. When you are dealing with young football players I think it is important for them to feel confidence in the huddle. And he is another guy that provides them a lot of confidence.”
Williams is excited about what has unfolded the past four weeks with the young Bengals at 2-2. When the Buffalo game popped on local TV for the last three minutes or so, he found himself rooting like a fan, especially when rookie quarterback
“Will and desire to make plays. I was excited and wowed,” he said. “I hungered to be a part of it. Now that I’m back it’s my duty to step up to the plate and match it.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, he got it.’ I’m like, ‘Challenge it, challenge it. He got it.’ … C’mon. It was awesome. It was nice. It was nice. It was real nice. Without getting too excited, it was real nice. Wish I was out there. You always critique it when you can watch it. But it was nice.”
Like everyone else in his locker room, Williams has become a Dalton fan.
“This guy is getting better every week. And he’s a rookie. But he’s not playing like a rookie. That’s awesome,” Williams said. “That just goes to show the upside to this organization and to this team. C’mon. You’ve got to be excited about that. The fans have to get excited about that.”
On Wednesday it turned out the guy Who’s The Boss was causing all the excitement.
“The big smile is back; he looks great,” Whitworth said. “You can tell he’s been training his butt off since he was gone. He keeps telling me he just wants to contribute in some way, somehow. So, he’s hungry and ready to prove himself like he has continued to do. We are really excited to have him.”
CED AND MJD: Only the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson has carried the ball more times this season than the two bell cows that are no doubt going to continue to get a bunch of work Sunday in Jacksonville so that they protect their rookie quarterbacks.
Cincinnati's Cedric Benson and Jacksonvile's Maurice Jones-Drew are the co-leaders in the AFC with 77 carries even with the Bengals working backup
“We know what kind of breakout back he can be,” Gruden said of Scott. “It might make some people a little unhappy, but we’re here to win games and Bernard has done everything in training camp and preseason and last year to prove he’s worthy of carrying the ball.”
From his actions on the sidelines during the game and his comments Monday and Wednesday, Benson seemed to be the unhappy camper displeased with Gruden throwing it 20 times in the first half and that Scott had four carries to Benson’s three after the first quarter. Even though Peterson is the only guy in the NFL with more carries at 81.
“He’s a great competitor and it’s hard sometimes when guys come in like that. When Bernard Scott comes in for him he feels like we don’t love him anymore,” Gruden said. “When we pass a couple times on first down and we have to punt he gets a little upset. Most great competitors are like that. He just has to channel his emotions and understand we’re all trying to do the best and win the game whether he gets the ball 10 or 50 times. I don’t care as long as he wins the game.”
But after there had been some lobbying at halftime to run the ball, which sparked the comeback victory over the Bills, Benson said Wednesday he’s staying out of it.
“I tried to reiterate it as subtly as I could last week, but it took us a half to get around to it,” Benson said. “I really don’t know what’s going on. I’d love to be more expressive or kind of tune in with the offensive coordinator. But I think with the way things went last week, I think it’s probably best I just kind of let them do what they do.”
That came after he wondered, “Sometimes you want to express how you feel about something but sometimes people don’t want to receive it the right way or how they receive it could be confusing or causes some conflict. There are guys who make those calls who put us in a position to win.”
Also in play is Benson’s possible suspension. There is some thought that while Benson looks cleared to play this Sunday, the club may find out his fate for the Colts game on Oct. 16 and beyond as early as this Friday. Could that impact what the Bengals do with Scott in Jacksonville? Gruden says he’s just fine with Scott,
“Wouldn’t lose sleep even though Cedric is a hell of a back,” Gruden said. “I hope it doesn’t happen. If it does, those are three backs I feel good about.”
If there is anybody who knows Benson is going to say what’s on his mind, it’s Jones-Drew. Benson was his first guest on his radio show during the lockout and Benson gave him an exclusive when he said it was time to move on without Carson Palmer if he didn’t want to be here.
“He’s a great running back and he’s a guy that speaks his mind. You know every week that you’re going to get 110 percent of his best,” Jones-Drew said in a conference call with Cincinnati media Wednesday.
“So our defense is definitely getting ready for him. When they ask me questions about him, he’s a downhill runner, he runs hard, he’ll make you miss. He’ll just be a guy that is going to be there the whole game no matter how hard you hit him. No matter what you do he’s going to keep coming back for more. I think that’s what makes him great. Not only does he have great vision but the guys up front are blocking well for him. So it’s going to be fun game.”
Jones-Drew said he wasn’t surprised about the quotes Benson gave him about Palmer.
“They were the truth. What I like about Ced is that he’s kind of like myself in that he’ll say what other people just think,” he said. “He’s not afraid to say it. We all knew Carson wasn’t coming back because he said he wasn’t coming back. He just said it. I think that’s a great personality trait. It’s a great trait for him. It shows he’s confident and he works hard and he feels if something needs to be said he’s going to say it. I bet you if something is going wrong in Cincinnati he’ll be the first one to get up and say it’s wrong. I think that’s a great thing. You need those types of guys on your team.”
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» With no ruling on his appeal, Benson is set to practice and play against the Jags as he looks for his first back-to-back 100-yard games since the middle of the 2009 season…Fullback
» Third-round pick
» Tight end
"I don't want to choose one over the other, but they're both good," Lee said before Wednesday's practice. "Playing with Finley, I've seen him do great things and playing with Jay, like I've said, if he continues to work hard, he can be one of the best tight ends that play this game. They're on the same course. Both of them can run, are big, athletic. Both have real good, natural hands. Both of them have big-play capabilities. They've got similarities. I don't think you can lose with either one."
Lee says he gives Gresham tips he picked up as a youngster from tight ends like Bubba Franks and Randy McMichael.
"I just see little things he might be rushing on and remind him that little things make a big difference," Lee said. "When I first got here I didn't know much about him, but he's the same kind of player as Finley."