Rookie update: Huber wastes no time

Posted May 1, 2009

Updated: 6:30 p.m.

The product of McNicholas High School and the University of Cincinnati, Kevin Huber, grew up watching the Bengals. Now after his first day punting as a Bengal, he's growing on the Bengals.

This is why head coach Marvin Lewis is toying with going to training camp with just one punter.

According to the I-Watch of The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy, Huber averaged a hang time of about 4.0 seconds in a series of 11-on-11 punts that featured two of 5.0.

"He put on a show out there today," Lewis said of his fifth-round pick. "When he hits a bad ball, he hits a bad ball. He comes back and hits the next one. That's what impressed me as well as the guy's strength and ability. He can shake off what is not a great punt and (have) a great punt. He's not going to get unnerved."

After Cincinnati cut its two other punters earlier this week, one of them five-year veteran Kyle Larson, Huber could very well be IT despite the rookie status.

"With 80 guys going to training camp," Lewis said, "if you can save a spot there, we'll save a spot."

EASY PERMISSION: Usually when a guy misses the first meetings and practice of rookie camp, the red flags go up. But in wide receiver Quan Cosby's case, the state flag of Texas can be raised.

Cosby signed his free-agent deal at noon Friday and was on the field for the afternoon practice. It was the quickest he could get to Cincinnati after delivering a speech at a Houston fundraiser Thursday night for the University of Texas School of Social Work.

Also representing the school were UT president William Powers and the dean of the school of social work, Barbara White, but the draw was the charismatic and community-minded Cosby.

"I'm a social work major and I walk on the 23rd," he said of the UT graduation. "President Powers, Dean White, and I spoke as representatives of the school."

That's a pretty good permission slip. Cosby said he talked about how his major influenced his commitment to the community in such projects at the stadium as raising money for Down Syndrome and Cancer research.

SLANTS AND SCREENS:  First-round pick Andre Smith may be wearing the No. 71 of four-time Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson, but he lined up at left tackle in Friday morning's first drill of the rookie minicamp.

"I hope forever," Smith said of how long he hopes to be at left tackle after the morning workout.

The players hit the field again Friday afternoon, twice Saturday and once Sunday in the morning before breaking camp.

The Bengals want to see how Smith reacts on that side and so far, so good. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander said he's more like a golf pro when it comes to a guy like Smith and spent the morning basically adjusting his grip. 

"You're fine-tuning with a player like that rather than overhauling," he said.

But the starting tackles are going to depend on who can play right tackle as much as it does left tackle so it's still an evolving situation.

"It's a decision that's going to be made Day B and this is only Day A," Alexander said.

» Meanwhile, second-rounder Rey Maualuga, a middle linebacker during his star-studded career at USC, worked on the outside at what looked to be the SAM position on base downs. Maualuga also surfaced wearing his college number, 58, and later moved into the middle for some snaps in nickel defenses.

He spent about 10 minutes after practice talking to linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald as defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer walked off the field saying he wants to see more of Maualuga at SAM as well as in the middle.

"Our whole deal is to see what these guys can do as players and then figure out where to put them," Zimmer said. "We don't want them thinking so much they're not athletes, especially today.  Let them play football and let them do what they're good at."

Maualuga, of course, is good at running to the ball. It also helped that fellow 'SC and Bengals backer Keith Rivers stopped by his hotel room Thursday night to go over the playbook as well as take him for a Mexican dinner at Nada's.

"It doesn't really mater where I play," Maualuga said. "Just give me a playbook, just give me some pads and a helmet and I'll go out there and play. I've never played SAM in college, but it's nothing difficult I can't learn and get adjusted to. I just have to spend time in the film room and playbook and I'll be squared away."

» Maualuga talked about his Polynesian heritage, pointing to the tattoos on his body and his Samoan teammates, Domata Peko and Jonathan Fanene. He noted his wild bushy hair, but said it's not as long as Peko's.

"I'm going to try and use some of his panteen shampoo and let my hair grow as long as his, but I doubt it," he said.

» Maualuga went out of his way Friday to let people know he's OK with coming here via the second round. Here's a guy who was one of the greatest players for one of the nation's greatest programs coming off the cover of Sports Illustrated and apologizing for being nervous in his first appearance before the Cincinnati media. 

"I was upset, but that was just the immature part of myself," he said of his first reaction. "I didn't think about the team, the fans and everybody out there that was ecstatic that I'm here. I apologize about not being too happy then. I'm excited and happy to be here. I thank the fans for having me in open arms. I'm happy I'm here, and I thank them. Words can't express how good I feel now."

» Third-rounder Michael Johnson, a defensive end from Georgia Tech, also moved around a tad and took a couple of snaps at SAM. If Maualuga comes in with a chip on his shoulder, listen to Johnson after he arrived here criticized for lack of a motor and physicality.

"They don't know me. If they were to ask my teammates, the guys that played around me, even the guys that played against me, they would tell you that's bogus," Johnson said. "But it is what it is. I'm here now and I'm looking forward to getting better every day. ... My guys who I played with and talk to people I played against and they'll tell you otherwise."

He says he stood up a few times at Tech, so SAM is not exactly a crushing transition.

"You're just reading different keys and being a football player," he said, but at 6-7 he's also "dunked on a few people" in basketball. Particulalry in intramurals, where "all the football players get out there and beat up on folks," he said.

Johnson said the plan was to also play hoop at Tech, but it never panned out.

» The other third-rounder, Missouri tight end Chase Coffman, won't be full speed until June 1 and he'll probably sit it out until then. He broke his fifth metatarsel on his left foot on the last play of the Tigers bowl game. He says he's started running back at Mizzou and the Bengals have him jogging on the underwater treadmill.

Coffman hooked up with the dean of the Bengals before practice, 10-year long snapper Brad St. Louis. They are from rival high schools in Missouri and he played against St. Louis' cousin.



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