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Slants and screens

Posted Jul 27, 2010

Packing up the last few items for Georgetown and Wednesday’s check-in day.

» The most overlooked rookie contract in Bengals history:

Fourth-rounder Roddrick Muckelroy signed it a half hour before the Bengals agreed to terms with Terrell Owens. Third-rounder Jordan Shipley appeared to be headed to the fold Wednesday morning, leaving the only two unsigned rookies the top two picks in tight end Jermaine Gresham and defensive end Carlos Dunlap.

Muckelroy broke his left hand late last month during on-field drills, but is ready from the get-go for Thursday's first practice.

If it wasn’t for Owens, the theme of check-in day would be how Mike Zimmer’s defense has returned man-for-man intact and its goal of being the NFL’s No. 1 unit looks to be much more than fool’s gold. And Zimmer, one never to play the underestimation game, will say he thinks his defense is better than the one that finished fourth last season.

“We have more depth and more talent and more guys that understand the system,” Zimmer said, pointing to his second-year SAM backers. “Rey Maualuga isn’t a rookie. Michael Johnson isn’t a rookie. More guys are ready than they were at this time last year. Michael Johnson is prepared now. Maualuga was a guy that was already prepared coming in, so that’s not a big deal, but a guy like (cornerback) Morgan Trent is with those (’09) rookies."

Zimmer also thinks he has more pass rushers than he had a year ago and he knows he better because he’s been thinking of those six games against 4,000-yard quarterbacks all offseason.

“I feel better,” he said. “The scheme is pretty much set. We’ve been tinkering around with it for a few years now and I think we’re set on that now.”

» Bengals equipment manager Jeff Brickner and assistant Adam Knollman have been packing for the last month. That’s what happens when you have to fill four semis with field equipment and a 48-foot box truck stuffed with practice wardrobe for players and coaches.

Brickner says the clothes truck is packed so tightly “you can’t fit a strand of hay in there.”

 

 

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