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Bengals meet Tank; Smith visits

Posted Apr 2, 2009

Updated: 10:45 p.m.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Cowboys defensive tackle Tank Johnson visited the Bengals on Thursday, indicating that Cincinnati is still looking at the free-agent market.

Also Thursday night, ProFootballTalk.com cited an NFL source in reporting that Alabama left tackle Andre Smith ended a visit with the club Thursday. 

Johnson, who didn't have the same off-field problems during his two seasons with the Cowboys that he had in Chicago, played backup nose tackle in Dallas and forced a fumble in their win over the Bengals back in October.

Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer didn't coach Johnson in Dallas, but he has spent a bunch of time on the horn talking to players and coaches who have worked with him the past two seasons.

"I've had several good recommendations from football people; from both players and coaches," Zimmer said Thursday night. "Coach (Marvin) Lewis and I wanted to sit down with him and see if he was a fit and tell him what what we expected, and I think he would be a good fit in the right situation."

Jerrold Colton, Johnson's agent, said his client is "intrigued" by the Bengals and their young roster.

"There are other teams that have an interest in Tank, but he's intrigued by the Bengals," Colton said Thursday night. "He's interested because of Marvin Lewis, Mike Zimmer and (defensive line coach) Jay Hayes. He liked what he saw. He likes the look of the young guys on defense and how he could fit in."

Lewis, Zimmer, and Hayes are drawn to the 6-4, 300-pound Johnson's pass-rush abilities from the inside as they search for ways to cure the NFL's second-worst sack attack. He also could be more suited to Cincinnati's 4-3 in a potential rotation with Domata Peko and Pat Sims.

In his backup role last season, Johnson had one sack and 22 tackles. Johnson, 27, a second-round pick of the Bears out of Washington in 2004, had a career-high 25 tackles and five sacks in 2005 before going for 22 and 3.5 in '06.

"He's a quick, penetrating kind of guy," Zimmer said. "He could help us that way. He played in a 3-4 in Dallas and that was different than what he did in Chicago."

Johnson was released by the Bears in June 2007 following incidents they said "embarrassed" them and earned him a suspension for the first eight games of the 2007 season after spending two months in jail following violation of probation on a gun charge.

Zimmer said he made it clear that Johnson would have to fit into what the club envisions on defense.

"We've got good guys on defense; they do what we tell them," Zimmer said. "I told him that's what we want and that is what is going to be asked of him. We had a good talk. He said all the right things."

The Bengals have a long relationship with Colton, starting with quarterback Boomer Esiason and running through linebacker Brian Simmons and defensive lineman Carl Powell, and now with cornerback David Jones.

"Tank changed his lifestyle and he was happy to do it," Colton said. "He's a family man and those things are far in his past. I know the Bengals are being very careful with the players they're bringing in because of some of the things that have happened and today was a day where everyone could get together and get to know each other."
 
Colton wouldn't say if there were negotiations ongoing, but a deal didn't look to be imminent Thursday night.

Johnson's visit to Cincinnati came on a day that could impact the Bengals drafting plans on the defensive line. SI.com reported Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji had a positive test at February's scouting combine for an unknown drug. SI.com said NFL scouts were made aware before the 2008 season that Raji had tested positive for marijuana while in college.

PFT.com reported that Smith is also headed to the Eagles, Redskins and Lions and has met with the Ravens. Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome's hearty endorsement is part of Smith's climb back into the top 10 after a series postseason decisions dropped his stock briefly.

The Bengals traditionally bring in about 10 of the potential first-round picks to interview on campus. The agent for Mississippi left tackle Michael Oher said last month that his client is headed to Cincinnati. 

  

 

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