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Heavy hitters

Posted May 12, 2009

Updated: 9:50 p.m.

Right end Antwan Odom has emerged from the Bengals weight room in time for next week's first voluntary on-field sessions as a PowerPoint presentation for how they seek to use the offseason to build and cultivate.

Odom has capped a regimen that began 14 months ago when he arrived as the richest Bengals free agent ever. Much like his hear-a-pin-drop personality, Odom's agenda in the laboratory of head strength coach Chip Morton and associate Ray Oliver has been low-profile, steady and every day in his effort to bulk up against the AFC North behemoths and improve his durability.

Back in March '07, his $6 million per year check might have weighed more than his 246 pounds. But after reaching as high as 260 and leaving last December at 253, Odom says he's packing 286 and feels stronger and recharged.

"You're looking at a year-long progression in the offseason, in season, and in this offseason," Morton said. "It's textbook when you look at the numbers."

Among the numbers is a steady rise in his bench press even though Odom missed four games with a separated shoulder in the second half of the season. He began the season bench-pressing 275 pounds five times and ended it doing 295 four times. Now he's doing 315 pounds five times even though he tore the same shoulder a few times in college.

"Let me tell you something," Oliver said. "If you're doing 315 five times, the shoulder isn't a problem now."

Odom says nothing else is, either. He's squatting more this offseason in an effort to build up his legs. He doesn't forget that he also missed virtually all of the preseason when he cracked a bone in his foot in the first 40 minutes of training camp.

He also knows he's carrying around more than size.

"I'm just trying to get bigger and stronger so I can stay healthy and have a big year," Odom said. "I want them to feel like they spent their money well. I want to earn what they gave me."

There were a lot of reasons Odom had just three sacks after hauling down eight the year before playing for Tennessee. There were the injuries, the Bengals rarely had a lead, and Titans Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth didn't come in the deal.

But the addition of pass-rushing defensive tackle Tank Johnson and some more strength should change some of the equation.

"He's a guy that has come in here and done the job quietly," Morton said. "We like him. He's one of the guys we claim. He's a good guy that works hard."

There are no secrets.

Newcomers Laveranues Coles and Tank Johnson have already said they've been impressed by the intensity and organization of the Bengals workouts after each arrived via two other NFL teams. And Morton and Oliver are doing what they've always done. During the offseason it's not a drive-thru workout where players pick and choose what they want to do. The coaches supervise each station.

"Big, basic exercises; traditional exercises," Morton said of the effort to build strength and mass. "Squats. Bench press. Incline press. Straight military press."

And they've got a more than willing client.

"Antwan has done the job," Oliver said. "Everything we do, he's been at all of it."

Ever since he arrived Odom has talked about his struggles to keep weight on and the three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches a night. Now he can lose some in the voluntaries and still be at the 270-275 mark. He says he felt comfortable in college playing at 295 at Alabama.

Also helping his diet during this offseason, he says, is treatment for sleep apnea, a disorder in which there are pauses in breathing while sleeping. With the aid of a machine, Odom says he's now sleeping better and more regularly.

"It was tough waking up some nights 40 to 50 times," he said. "Now I'm rested and I've got more energy."

MARV AGAIN: The Marvin Lewis Golf Classic presented by Cincinnati Bell is always one of the top tickets in town and this weekend is no different when Shaker Run Golf Course in Lebanon, Ohio hosts the event Sunday.

Where else in Cincinnati are there Hall of Famers like Paul Warfield and Kellen Winslow, national voices like Cris Collinsworth, Super Bowl braniacs like Ozzie Newsome, and Bengals icons like Ickey Woods under one tent?

The event raises about $300,000 for a variety of causes with a lion's share going to three local high school students for a college scholarship. Highlighting the weekend is how Lewis and his group have decided to honor its late executive director with the Sharon Thomas College Scholarship for the student of a single parent. Thomas died of breast cancer in March and the scholarship is funded by the "Pink Out Night" Lewis hosted at Paul Brown Stadium last month.

CHAD CHECK: Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco is still unreachable, but Charles Collins says he's in much better shape than last year.

Collins, The Ocho's junior college coach who runs the receivers camp known as "The Phenom Factory" in the Los Angeles area, says Ochocinco looks to be about 200 pounds and that he appears to have strengthened the shoulder he separated last season with conditioning in Miami before he headed west to work with him on the field.

Collins said their first day was Monday and he expects him at the camp through Memorial Day, which means Ochocinco won't be at the first two weeks of voluntary workouts. The first workout is a week from Tuesday.

"I don't know what he'll do after that, but I expect him to be at the minicamp," said Collins of the June 18-20 mandatory weekend. "He knows he had a bad year last year. He wants to get his name back where it was. He's not the same guy as last year. He looks stronger."

As for his mindset about playing for the Bengals, Collins said he believes Ochocinco realizes he's not playing anywhere else.

"It's a foregone conclusion," he said. "He's looking to have a good summer and a good season."

AGENT TALK: Bengals first-round pick Andre Smith still may retain agent Rick Smith even though he fired him on Friday, a league source not connected with the team said Tuesday night.

Andre Smith fired Alvin Keels and hired Rick Smith the week before last month's draft, but Keels said in an e-mail to Bengals.com, "I have not yet been rehired. I would think I'm in consideration, but nothing has been finalized."

The source indicated the Bengals have concerns with the decision to fire Rick Smith, a member of the Priority Sports agency that has represented a variety of former Bengals such as Levi Jones, Bryan Robinson and Tory James. After it drafted Andre Smith, the club indicated that Smith's decision to hire Priority had been part of the decision-making process.

On draft day, Rick Smith told Bengals.com: "I told (Andre) we're used to being around elite offensive linemen (Kevin Mawae, Alan Faneca) that get to meetings 15 minutes early, participate in the offseason program, are diligent when they're not in the building, control their weight with good nutrition, all those things. "I told him, 'I'm going to be on top of you until you're not satisfied until you go to the Pro Bowl and the Hall of Fame. He has that kind of talent."

While league observers analyze this latest development, they note that Andre Smith overcame a batch of questionable decisions (agent-related suspension from bowl game, leaving NFL scouting combine without telling anyone) to become the sixth pick and second lineman drafted.

There is a five-day waiting period before an agent switch is official.

 

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