Marvin Lewis deep-sixed the Oklahoma Drill with his eye on the Ravens Sept. 7.
One of the staples of the dozen seasons of the Marvin Lewis regime has been the famed/outdated Oklahoma Drill. But when he scratched it Sunday and went with the half-line drill in front of about 1,400 on the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields, it was more evidence how the game has changed in the 21st century.
Yet it is also indicative of where his team is. Deep and talented and coming off three straight post-season berths, what does this Bengals team get out of cracking each other over the head?
"It's not 2003. We know who 35, 40 of the players are going to be. Let's make sure those 35 to 40, we give them every opportunity to get to Baltimore in one piece,' Lewis said of the Sept. 7 NFL regular season-opener.
But it was a late scratch. Lewis, who knows some of his players and coaches aren't enamored with it, was ready to go. He had the Oklahoma Drill matchups posted in the locker room Sunday morning, but with the threat of severe weather, the state of some injured players, and the new rules getting more and more of a foothold, Lewis waved it off.
Instead, Lewis is pleased with how the club hit Saturday in shoulder pads and Sunday in the first day of full pads. They'll go full pads again Monday (3 p.m.) and Wednesday (3 p.m.) and then start backing it off, thanks to the collective bargaining agreement and the Aug. 7 pre-season opener in Kansas City.
"We were able to have a productive period that otherwise, literally, we would have had guys running into each other," Lewis said. "It's not quite as productive for the video. We got the same thing done. We got the stock-and-releases (the blocking by the receivers) in real football down there. We got the half-line offensive run work and defensive front work so we can look at technique. But to have somebody just step and prop, that's not how we play defense."
But he's got to take advantage of these days in pads because they're running out of them.
"After Wednesday, then we're 2/3 done with the amount of pads we wear for the rest of the year other than playing games," Lewis said. "Then I hold my breath and hope we don't run into anybody."
He hinted there could be a live period Friday in the 6 p.m. practice on the PBS practice fields.
PLAY OF THE DAY: In a practice that was run oriented (quarterback Andy Dalton was six of nine passing in 11-on-11), let's go with Lewis' decision to scrub the Oklahoma Drill.
"I guess there were a lot of guys still recovering from soreness from the days before. If everyone's not good to go and not practice, there's no point in doing it. We did another drill for the same physicality and it turned out well," said middle linebacker Rey Maualuga.
The half-line usually features three offensive linemen and a back against two down linemen and two linebackers. Maualuga thinks that's about as realistic as the Oklahoma.
"It's not realistic,' he said. "It's a half-line drill and the running back thinks he's free. It makes us look bad. At the same time, not everybody is there to play it. It's more for everyone to work together as opposed to going on your own."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Most definitely. Most definitely. Those guys (the defense) have been yapping all week. It's a friendly competition and I just wanted to get that done. That bravado is what allows them to play better. I'm glad we have a defense that plays with swagger and plays fast. That's going to make us better every day….Hopefully we can do it, if not we'll still continue to get better every day." Rookie running back Jeremy Hill on if he was disappointed the Oklahoma Drill was scratched.
PLAYER OF THE DAY: Hill. This second-round pick's kind of day. The 230-pound Hill is supposed to excel because of the way he runs with his pads. As he says, "Any time I get a full head of steam, the defense is going to be in trouble."
Hill lowered his pads in the half-line and doled out some shots in 11-on-11, too. On the last run of the first 11-on-11 period, he cut it back underneath a pulling guard on the power play as if he'd been running it for years.
In a way he has because Hill's offensive coordinator at LSU, Cam Cameron, has coached with Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
"They have some of the same sayings, some of the same jokes…Sometimes I laugh inside my head. No one else knows it," Hill said. "It's helped me a lot having a guy that comes from the same background. I relate quicker and it's an easier transition to a lot of the plays."
Hill also didn't look out of place in the blitz pickup drills. Linebacker Vincent Rey became the first Bengal ever to have three sacks and a pick in the same game last year in Baltimore, but on Sunday Hill stood him up both times in the drill.
"Some guys are faster, some guys are slower. Some guys can bull rush, some guys have a plethora of moves that they can use to beat you," Hill said. "I just think you have to know your opponent. Have a happy median on where to attack them. They're not going to play me no matter how well I run the ball if I can't pick up the blitz."
*SLANTS AND SCREENS: *
A pair of cornerbacks sat out Sunday. Terence Newman was dressed but not in pads as the Bengals take it easy on his 35-year-old knees, one of which had a sprained ligament at the end of last season that cost him the last four games. Dre Kirkpatrick didn't dress as he rested a sore hamstring...
Left guard Clint Boling,, coming off ACL surgery, appears to be working one day and resting the next. While he sat Sunday, Mike Pollak was back in at left guard...
Blitz pickup with the running backs going against linebackers never disappoints and Sunday was no exception. Besides Hill's work against Vinny Rey, runing back Rex Burkhead's matchup against Emmanuel Lamur was a keeper. The 5-10, 218-pound Burkhead has proven the last two days he'll block you and he showed his leg strength when he kept the 6-4, 240-pound Lamur at bay...
WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict, 240 pounds worth of Pro Bowler, rocked 214-pound Cedric Peerman...
Here's why undrafted rookie fullback Nikita Whitlock has such a challenge to make the roster. The converted nose tackle from Wake Forest has never played the position, so he's learning as he goes. When he lunged and then took his eyes off middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, Maualuga had a clear shot...
The O-line went against the D-Line in one-on-one pass rush, and among other things you could see are free-agent rookie guard Trey Hopkins' feet are nimble, veteran end Robert Geathers' technique is as sound as music, and veteran ends Dontay Moch and Christo Bilukidi are going have an impact on preseason games even though there seems to be no place for them on the roster....
Best matchup of the day was probably D-lineman Wallace Gilberry and his 14 sacks the past two years against new tackle Marshall Newhouse and his 31 starts for perennial NFC North champ Green Bay. Newhouse kept Gilberry at bay both times with some nice leverage...