The Bengals signing of former Giants linebacker Michael Boley and the release of cornerback Curtis Marsh on Tuesday indicate the Bengals may get back this week at least one of their hamstrung defensive backs and maybe two.
Going off the end of last week, safety Reggie Nelson and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick are the leading candidates to return as the Bengals brace for Sunday's arrival (1 p.m.-Channel 12) of the undefeated Patriots at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Bengals have been short with five linebackers most of the season and now with people getting some miles on them the Bengals appear to be shoring up their depth. WILL backer Vontaze Burfict never comes out and all indications are he's fine, but he missed four plays last Sunday with a neck injury.
Boley seems to fit what the outside backers do in defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's 4-3 scheme. In fact Boley played under Zimmer in 2007 during Zimmer's one season in Atlanta and in 16 starts had three sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles, and 93 tackles.
The 6-3, 230-pound Boley, 31, hasn't been with a team this season after being with the Giants for five years following his first four years with the Falcons. He has played in 121 NFL games with 102 starts along with five postseason starts. He played 16 games for the Giants last season, with 11 starts, and finished fourth on the team in tackles (84) with five tackles for loss, three INTs, and two fumble recoveries. His career totals: 9.5 sacks, eight INTs, eight forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and 40 passes defensed. He was released by the Giants this past Feb. 5.
The Bengals now have two players from that Super Bowl in Indianapolis following the 2011 season with Boley joining former Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Boley has apparently put behind him a domestic incident that led to TMZ reporting via Pro Football Talk that he pled guilty to a child abuse charge that would be dropped if he went into a diversion program.
GHEE ENJOYS WORK: Except for one snap, the other 21 went pretty well for Bengals cornerback Brandon Ghee last Sunday in Cleveland. Just to be out there and not get hurt was a step after he played 22 snaps from scrimmage, nine more than the total of his career that began in 2010 when the Bengals took him in the third round out of Wake Forest.
The one he'd like to have back is the third-and-six over the middle to wide receiver Davone Bess that went for 17 yards and put the Browns on the 1 in their first TD drive.
"It was one bad snap. I shouldn't have let him inside. Bess is a decent player. I let him in and I made the tackle. I've just got to move on and get better," Ghee said. "Any time you're in the slot you have to get your hands on them. It was a two-man defense, and you can't let the guy inside. I made a mistake and it won't happen again."
Bess came in leading the NFL with 10 third-down catches, but that was the only one he had Sunday, along with another grab for eight yards.
"I could have played better. Not bad, not good. To me, that's bad. I just need to improve and capitalize on my opportunities," Ghee said.
It turned out to be Ghee's most snaps since he played every one against Vanderbilt in 2009. After being shelved for about a month with a concussion before he returned to practice last week, he sounded relieved.
"It was fun to play again. I need to improve on my technique and keep playing," Ghee said. "I'm not in football shape. I don't care if you sit out for just two weeks, you're not going to be in football shape. It's just different out there, especially when you play special teams and defense. There's a lot involved … I'm extremely sore." SWANN-ISH:On his conference call with New England media this week, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had some high praise for Bengals Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green and had to go back to the 1970s and compare him to a Steelers great in the context of playing Atlanta's Julio Jones this past Monday night.
"(Green is) big, but he's not the kind of powerful guy, Julio Jones or Vincent Jackson, but his quickness, his ability to separate and get away from people is outstanding and his ability to go up and get the ball is very good too," Belichick said. "Those other guys are big, strong guys that can go up and get it with good ball skills. He has that same kind of size, but I'd say it's a different type of athleticism. He makes some really spectacular catches, like Lynn Swann-ish.
"I'd say Green is as good a pure route runner as we'll see. He's a very good pure receiver: quick off the ball, creates separation, excellent timing, judgment on the ball, good deep ball receiver, good third down, red area receiver."
Let's see, the last time the Patriots came to Paul Brown Stadium was six years ago Tuesday and the only offensive player left is left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Talk about receivers, that's the game Chad Johnson melted down at the end of the half and went ballistic on quarterback Carson Palmer. Johnson had three catches for 53 yards while T.J. Houshmandzadeh had 10 catches for 100 yards that included a one-yard TD in a 34-13 loss on Monday Night.
While the 17-6 loss in Cleveland put all of Bengaldom in misery, Belichick is looking at the team many pundits had challenging his team for AFC supremacy.
"This is team that has a lot of explosive players, very dynamic players, "Belichick said. "Defensively, their front is outstanding. Really, they do a great job pressuring the quarterback; do a good job stopping the run. They're very athletic, they're quick, they're hard to block. The linebackers do a good job, make a lot of plays there … pretty experienced defense all the way across the board, up front, at linebacker and safety – they've played together for a while, most of them in the same system. It looks like they're well-coordinated, know what they're doing.
"Offensively, big, strong offensive line, very good skill players, good tight ends, good receivers, [Giovani] Bernard has been a very dynamic back for them early in the season. Of course, we know the type of toughness that [BenJarvus Green-Ellis] has. They're solid in the kicking game … it's a good team, well balanced, well coached. They have a lot of good skill players and they present a plot of problems in all three phases of the game."