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FBs on display

Posted May 2, 2009


After the rookies' fourth practice of the weekend Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium, some observations are beginning to harden into absolutes:

The Bengals just can't get enough of second-round pick Rey Maualuga and believe they've got a keeper no matter where they put him. So why not let him learn both SAM and middle linebacker as a rookie knowing he's going to be on the field every snap?

First-round pick Andre Smith is selling them on left tackle, but his fate seems to hinge on the Bengals finding an answer at right tackle.

Third-round pick Michael Johnson continues to put as many smiles on the defensive coaches as Carson Palmer. On Saturday they had a blast with him, first grouping Johnson with the linebackers in the morning and then with the defensive linemen in the afternoon.

And the Bengals feel a lot better about fullback than they did on Thursday. They made sure that Jeremi Johnson is going to have his hands full with seventh-rounder Fui Vakapuna and free agent Chris Pressley.

The 5-11, 244-pound Vakapuna and Abilene Christian running back Bernard Scott have been the most impressive running the ball with both displaying some quickness and burst.

Meanwhile, the 5-11, 257-pound Pressley is picking up the offense like any kid who hasn't received a grade less than an A since junior high while retaining his strongman rep since YouTube made one of his squat sessions famous a few years ago.

"I'm really anxious to get the pads on and show the coaches I've got the pop that they're looking for," Pressley said. "That's my game. Being physical, running into people.

"It's a position you want to be intimidating out there. Teams don't want to play against him knowing he's being reckless."

These guys will hit people and they're smart, which are pretty much the two prerequisites for a fullback. One coach observed after Saturday morning's session that there have been some collisions in the middle with Maualuga and neither have turned them down.

If Vakapuna has some similarities to Vikings fullback Naufahu Tahi, he should. That's his workout partner back in Utah and he's known Tahi since his freshman year at BYU, when the Bengals signed him as a free agent. The rest is recent history. Tahi was so impressive (including a stint at running back in the preseason finale), that the Bengals nearly kept him on the roster.

The Vikings plucked Tahi from the practice squad, but the Bengals tried to get him back when they signed him to an offer sheet in restricted free agency back in March.

"He thought he was going back there and he was pretty happy," Vakapuna said. "But they ended up drafting me. He told me the guys are great here, especially Coach (Jim) Anderson. He told me he knows the game and he'll teach me well."

Pressley, who used the fall season to pad his football resume at Wisconsin while getting a master's degree in science communications, has been 4.0 all the way since his freshman year of high school at Woodbury, N.J.

"No, it wasn't that hard (in college). College is all time management. It's like what the coach says here. We're grown(up) men," Pressley said. "That's the approach I took. I'm a grown(up) man. When I'm in class, when I'm in college, I'm ready to get a degree. I'll get two or three of them. I'll take advantage of the opportunity. Football paves the way for that. It teaches a lot about opportunity and perseverance."

Both had a chance to run the ball Saturday with Nebraska running back Marlon Lucky still sidelined after Friday morning's unspecified injury. It's a chance for Pressley to improve on his ball skills and a chance for Vakapuna to show some of his upfield quickness with the ball.

Also added to the injured list is cornerback Morgan Trent, the sixth-rounder from Michigan who appeared to hurt his foot Saturday morning and wasn't on the field in the afternoon.


 

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