1-17-03, 5:25 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
MOBILE, Ala. _ Redskins defensive line coach Ricky Hunley still has that Bengals phone someone gave him, and it is reportedly finally ringing after 20 years off the hook.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis worked the phones furiously Thursday to build his new coaching staff, leaving enough clues on the internet to confirm that the Bengals coaching staff is going under its most massive renovation in years.
Even Hunley is getting some play as the possible next linebackers coach. Hunley, a Bengals' first-round pick who never signed 20 years ago, is a candidate for the job, according to "The Washington Times." According to the newspaper, Lewis, the Redskins former defensive coordinator, is also considering bringing along strength coach Chip Morton from the Redskins.
That report was followed by Friday morning's retirement of long-time strength and conditioning coach Kim Wood, a staff staple since 1975. Although he had run into criticism from players in recent years, he was also known as a pioneer in the field and a nationally-known crusader against steroids.
"He was one of the first strength and conditioning coaches in the NFL, and he blazed a trail for others to follow in this area," said Bengals president Mike Brown. "We were privileged to have him with us for so long. He's a good friend who had a tremendous influence on some of our most successful teams."
Wood is known around the nation for his outspoken stance against the use of steroids in strength training. The Bengals' training program was aggressively steroid-free long before official sanctions against the drugs became a nationwide norm.
"It was a great run for me," Wood said in a statement, "and I want to thank Mike Brown for having me be a part of a very classy organization. It has been exciting for me to work with great players such as Anthony Munoz, Tim Krumrie, James Brooks, Reggie Williams and Rodney Holman. I also enjoyed very much working the last few years with Corey Dillon and seeing him develop himself into one of the elite rushers in the NFL."
Also, "The St. Paul Pioneer Press," reported Thursday that Vikings quarterbacks coach Alex Wood has received permission to talk to the Bengals about the same job in Cincinnati, where the franchise's all-time leading passer, Ken Anderson, has served since 1992. Wood worked on the staffs at Washington State and Miami with Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski.
It also appears that Paul Alexander, offensive line coach since 1995, is headed to Buffalo. A NFL source said Thursday night that Jaguars offensive line coach Mike Maser, the only line coach the Jags have had, is going to interview Friday.
Hunley, who ended up playing linebacker for the Broncos and Raiders for seven seasons, is the most intriguing name in the hot stove league. On Wednesday, Hunley said he wasn't aware of any interest, but had some interesting things to say about his old boss.
"With Marvin Lewis, the players don't run the ship," Hunley said here at the
Senior Bowl. "There's only one captain. Coaches coach. Players play."
Offsides on third-and-one? Taunting on the first play of the game? Late getting onto the field? Hunley doesn't see it happening with Lewis. This past year in Washington, future Hall-of-Fame end Bruce Smith got pulled if he went offsides.
"Details. He's a detail-oriented guy and the people surrounding him will become that way," Hunley said. "If you worry about the little things, you don't have to worry about the big things. He leaves no stone unturned. In the beginning (in Washington), it took awhile for them, but they began to buy in. He saw the big picture. It's kind of like all those "Life," magazines pictures where they're taken together. Then you look at it from a distance and it's a picture of somebody. He sees it coming together. You've got to have a little patience, the players will buy in, then suddenly, boom."
Hunley coached Bengals defensive end Justin Smith in college at Missouri and thinks his speed fits with Lewis' ideas.
"If you can run," Hunley said. "In Marvin's scheme, you have to run and use hands well to separate from blocks. Fundamentals. You do it over and over and over and it's going to be boring, but when you put it all together, it's a thing of beauty."
Lewis confirmed Thursday night in a radio interview that Bratkowski signed up for another hitch even before Lewis was hired. Bengals President Mike Brown apparently approached Bratkowski after all three head-coaching candidates – Lewis, Tom Coughlin and Mike Mularkey _ expressed interest in keeping Bratkowski in some capacity. Lewis knows him from their recruiting days in the Big Sky Conference and going against his offenses and receivers for the Steelers and Bengals. Coughlin once interviewed Bratkowski for a job, and Mularkey is one of his closest friends in the business.
Brown still apparently gave Lewis the right make a move even after he signed Bratkowski because he was confident Bratkowski would get another job in the league and he wouldn't have to eat the two-year contract.
Alex Wood, 47, is a Massillon, Ohio native with Bratkowksi ties and is a former college head coach at James Madison. Morton, 40, has been in the league since 1992, worked with Lewis in Baltimore and Washington, and got a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens.
Steve Mooshagian, the Bengals' receivers coach for four years, started his job as the head coach at Sacramento State Thursday.
"I'm doing the same thing Marvin is doing," he said. "I'm able to sign my assistants and by next week that better be done before I go on the road recruiting."