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Update: Crocker not sorry to see Ward go; Talks ongoing

Posted Mar 20, 2012


Chris Crocker

Updated: 11 p.m.

When Hines Ward retired, it was like Lou Gehrig hitting four homers the day John McGraw died.

Who knew, since it was the day Peyton Manning signed with Denver?

If it seems like nobody caught more balls for more TDs and more yards against the Bengals than the Steelers wide receiver, you're right.

According to Elias, in 14 seasons Ward caught 131 balls for 1,588 yards, and 15 TDs against the Bengals, the most ever in all three categories against Cincinnati.

Safety Chris Crocker, always an outspoken critic of Ward's approach, reiterated Tuesday he thinks Ward played a dirty game and that "he tried to end people's careers and that's not the way the game is supposed to be played."

But Crocker also said he respected Ward and believes he deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"He's probably the first receiver to make blocking such a big part of his game; he was an all-around receiver," Crocker said. "He was a dirty player, but he made a lot of plays. They used him perfectly to suit his abilities and he was a big-time player for them. Some people might think of him as a borderline Hall of Famer, but I think the fact he helped them win two Super Bowls and all the things he did for that team make him deserving."

Crocker joined the Bengals less than two weeks after Ward's most famous hit, a 2008 blindside block that broke Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers's jaw and ended his rookie season. In 2009, Crocker said Ward punched him in the face at the snap of the ball.

"Stuff like that, it's just not right," Crocker said. "And I'm not the only guy that thinks it."

ONGOING TALKS: Indications were Tuesday night that the Bengals were talking to the free agents that are coming off Paul Brown Stadium visits, including Raiders running back Michael Bush.

The Bengals are also talking to their own free agents, such as cornerback Adam Jones, and it's believed he's received interest from two other teams as well as Cincinnati.

The talks revolving around Bush aren't so clear cut, since the position involves system, fit and when computing the financial value of a deal. NFL.com is reporting that the Bengals are one of four teams looking at Bush and Seattle wants a visit. He visited Chicago, where he would be behind Matt Forte and he would back up Marshawn Lynch in Seattle.

Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has made it clear the team is looking at a rotation, so while Bush wouldn't be backing up, he would be splitting time with a rookie or veteran Bernard Scott, or both. How he feels about that and what price tag a team would put on that would be all part of fairly in-depth discussions.

Whatever is going on in the running back market, it is slow across the league. That's because teams are trying to figure out how much they'll spend knowing that they'll be wading in a deep pool of running backs next month in the draft.

One position that's gone under the radar has been SAM linebacker, but that bubbled up Tuesday night when new Titan Kamerion Wimbley told Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com on Sirius Radio that the Bengals were one of five teams that expressed interest in him, along with Tennessee, the Patriots, Seahawks and Packers. But Wimbley jumped on the $35 million deal with $13.5 million guaranteed and $11.5 million in the first season (as reported by Adam Caplan via ProFootballTalk.com) before leaving Nashville and making other visits.

Manny Lawson, the incumbent Bengals SAM, is a highly-rated free agent that strangely hasn't received much play. Until Tuesday night when reports surfaced the Packers were interested. Lawson arrived in Cincinnati last season with a good rep as a pass rusher, but he rushed just 46 times in 2011 and dropped in coverage three times as much, according to profootballfocus.com. But he's an athletic big body and solid locker room guy and it's believed he's also had discussions about staying in Cincinnati.

HOME DATE: With John Elway introducing Peyton Manning as Denver's new quarterback Tuesday, the Bengals home game against the Broncos this season just took on more urgency. Both Elway and Manning have a 7-0 record against the Bengals.

 

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