Posted: 4:45 a.m.
By the time the fans arrive here at Georgetown College to see the Bengals take the field Friday for their first practice at 3 p.m., the players will have already had three sets of meetings, conditioning tests, and a lift in the weight room. Head coach Marvin Lewis is getting kudos for steering his team into this camp with no players on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and veterans like wide receiver Laveranues Coles and quarterback Carson Palmer hope the pace keeps going.
Coles, the long-time Jet who turns 32 the last week of the season as the Bengals prepare to play those Jets, had pace on his mind when he looked at teams in free agency back in March. Coles asked former Bengal Kevin Hardy about Lewis' notoriously tough camps and when Lewis told Coles that one of his major goals (as it always has been) was to get his team through camp healthy and refreshed it was a factor in is decision.
"(Hardy) said it was pretty tough," Coles recalled. "But it's one of those things I put my head down and just try to get through it like any training camp I've ever been in. I'm going to sit back and see what direction they're going to go in. Are they going to allow me to be a veteran or are they going to treat me like a rookie? I've got a staff here that doesn't really know me and hasn't been around me and understands me as a player. Hopefully they get me through camp and that's the most important thing."
That's exactly what Palmer is thinking. He watched Lewis cut back some during the spring and he thought it contributed to the best offseason workouts of his seven seasons provided by strength and conditioning coaches Chip Morton and Ray Oliver.
"They got us in shape, getting us ready to play but not breaking us down and that's important," Palmer said. "A lot of times different coaches' mindsets kind of break you down and wear you out and that wasn't their mindset. As long as we don't get broken down in training camp and we come out of it healthy we've got a great opportunity to win a bunch of games."
Palmer liked the sound of Lewis getting his team to the regular season intact.
"I hope he sticks to that plan," Palmer said. "He's definitely more of a grinder coach and wants to wear you out and break you down. If that's his mindset, I hope he sticks to it."
So far so good. Everyone seemed to like the 26-hour preparation before the first practice and the fact they'll have one session under their belt before the first of four double sessions on Saturday.
Lewis said the structure is based more on the day of the week camp opens. With the scrimmage and Mock Game still a week away, he had some time and he likes it.
"We get a lift in and get acclimated in the weight room here and it gives the coaches more installation time," Lewis said. "It allows the position coaches (to go into) more detail with our meetings … to detail their work and the finer points and nuances of the installation of the day."
An announcement may come as soon as this weekend on what the Bengals plans are for next year for camp. Indications last month were that the Bengals were coming back for another year. On Thursday, Lewis reiterated the pros of traveling to camp instead of staying at home.
"Some (teams) do meetings and meals at the hotel," said Lewis of teams that choose to have camp at their own facility. "Some do meetings and meals at their complex. Some do meetings at their complex. We're able to do everything under one roof here and it's not that far from our facility. We're an hour from downtown (Cincinnati). It gives us an opportunity for people to go back and forth. It works well. It's a good location. It gets us out and gets us removed."
With it already looking like the wettest camp in the Bengals' 13 seasons here, the constant rain is going to have an impact on how Lewis uses the soaked three fields. There were two downpours Thursday and another came slicing through in Friday's pre-dawn hours.
But at least it was a lot cooler than normal. Palmer isn't sure it will last.
"This is actually a bad thing because it means tomorrow and the next day, if it clears up, it will be extremely humid," he said. "We're used to it. I'm used to it. I've been here seven years now. I know about this humidity down here in Kentucky. It's definitely a hurdle to get over, but you get used to it after about a week."