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Bicknell's football life finds a Green pasture


Bob Bicknell, back in his Philly days.

The football life of Bob Bicknell, which began in junior high when he held the cord of his father's headsets and had to duck the incoming fruit when Jack Bicknell called the right play to get Boston College into the Tangerine Bowl, just got even more interesting Monday when he was named A.J. Green's position coach.

"That's probably the next best thing about this was an opportunity to work with someone like him," said Bicknell, the Bengals' new receivers coach who arrives via a one-year stint coaching the Baylor receivers. "You just watch what he does as a player and everyone can see that, but (also) everything I've heard about him as a person and a professional."

The first best thing for Bicknell is his reunion with Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, the quarterbacks coach in 2013 when Bicknell coached the wide receivers during Chip Kelly's first season as the Eagles' cutting edge head coach that took the NFL by storm with an up-tempo, no huddle offense.

Lazor and head coach Marvin Lewis have indicated they feel that fast-paced style suits Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, although it remains to be seen how they'll deploy it.

But Green has to like the early returns. Bicknell shepherded Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson to a career year of 82 catches and 1,332 yards and nine TDs in 2013. The next season, when Jackson defected to Washington and Lazor became the Dolphins offensive coordinator, Bicknell plugged in Jeremy Maclin and he had a career year with 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 TDs. And when Maclin ended up in Kansas City the next year, Bicknell turned to second-year man Jordan Matthews and he came through with a career year in 2015 with 85 catches for 997 yards and eight TDs. Green is looking to get back to 1,300 yards for the first time since that 2013 season, when he had a career-best 1,426 yards.

"A lot of it was the way we all kind of put that offense together and hopefully we can use some of those things," Bicknell said. "Being around Chan Gailey and Chip Kelly, they're very similar. A lot of that can hopefully form a pretty good situation for the receivers."

Go back to '13 when Lazor and Bicknell were together and the Eagles not only set a record with 80 catches of at least 20 yards, they led the league with 18 of at least 40 yards. After finishing this past season 28th in the league with 39 catches of 20 yards, the Bengals would love to bottle that.

"Our experience together, there's a lot of good things that went on there," Bicknell said. "That offense created some situations and hopefully we'll be able to bring some of those matchups we got during those years.

"The excitement of just trying to put together something that Chip had brought from Oregon to the NFL was really something special. Anybody who's around Bill, there's not a smarter guy in football. He's very well organized. Whenever I thought there was an opportunity (to re-unite), I just remember how I enjoyed football with him. We think a lot the same way and it's exciting to be on a staff like that."

When Lazor came to the Bengals as quarterbacks coach in 2016, Bicknell moved the 49ers as Kelly's receivers coach for that one year before he ended up at Baylor last year. Now he's back in the league for a very seasoned 11th season with his fifth team and on his third position after coaching the Bills tight ends and on the Chiefs offensive line.

"I've heard about Paul Brown and the tradition, but believe me, I'm going to read more about it," Bicknell said. "Cincinnati is one of those places I'm excited about working there. It's like when I went to Kansas City and Buffalo. It's that old-school football."

And Bicknell, 48, is old school. He played tight end for his father, BC head coach Jack Bicknell. His brother, Jack Bicknell, Jr., was Doug Flutie's center for the 1984 Miracle in Miami, and is now the O-line coach at Ole Miss.

"Watch the play," Bob said of Flutie's Hail Mary that won him the Heisman Trophy and BC the game over the heavily-favored Hurricanes. "(Jack) almost held, but he didn't."

Bob ended up watching it at home. He was in his Holliston, Mass., house because he had to stay home to play for Holliston High against Westwood High on Thanksgiving morning. Dad, Mom, bother, and everyone else took off for Miami after the game.

"You know who was holding my dad's cord in Miami?" asked Bicknell.

It turns it was another coach's son. Pete Carmichael Jr.  Now the offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints.

"I watched it on TV like everyone else," Bob Bicknell said with the laugh of a football lifer.

Now he's hoping to help bring some of those big plays home to Bengaldom.

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