Giovani Bernard is the buzz early in Bengals training camp. But head trainer Paul Sparling, who has hijacked the killer "Animal House," line of "Remain calm," and made it his own, didn't blink. All the elements were here for a supersonic comeback from an ACL tear, which Bernard pulled off in about eight months with Friday's dazzling show on the first day of camp.
But then, it has become a rather common occurrence lately. Leon Hall (two Achilles tears), left guard Clint Boling (ACL), and tight end Tyler Eifert (take your pick), have all made quick comebacks in the last four offseasons to be ready in time for camp.
Sparling, who has taped the ankles of Isaac Curtis as well as A.J. Green in his four decades in the Bengals training room, has seen the space shuttle catch the horse-and-buggy. The surgeries are not only better than the old days, but the Bengals have beefed up their training and consultants staffs, starting with director of rehab Nick Cosgray and the trust he has built with each success.
Eifert took Cosgray and his wife to the Pro Bowl two years ago when Cosgray led his rehab for a dislocated elbow and separated shoulder and got him ready for Opening Day. "I've had four pretty serious surgeries and I've come out the same." After Friday's practice, Bernard recalled how Cosgray kept working him and checking on him even though his family dealt with the death of his mother-in-law in March.
"There (are) so many words to describe him," Bernard said. "I know him and his family went through a tough time during this process … It was just one of those things where his attitude didn't change. His drive for me to get back on the field didn't change. For somebody to do that during a time like that with him and his family, it's tough. And he was there every single day pushing me. Obviously you're not going to feel great every single day trying to do this rehab stuff. To have that guy next to you, to be able to help, it meant the world to me."
Sparling also points to his staff that also includes assistant trainers Keith Justice and Dan Willen and is augmented by top local consultants. And then there are shoulder and knee surgeons such as Marc Galloway and foot surgeon Jim Amis. Galloway fixed the knees of Bernard and Boling and Amis brought Hall back from the abyss with brilliant knife work.
"You can't underestimate the surgery," Sparling said. "Plus, it's a team approach. Dan and Keith play a role. The guys have developed a rapport and confidence (in Cosgray) and he does a great job of keeping them on track. And they stayed here and did the rehab, and that's a big thing that helps."
In Bernard's case, he also didn't have the elements that make for a longer rehab, such as bone bruises and notable cartilage damage. He had what is known as "an isolated ACL." ...
SLANTS AND SCREENS: When the Bengals waived rookie wide receiver Monty Madaris (failed physical) Saturday, they signed free agent rookie wide receiver Levonte Whitfield, best known for turning around a 2014 playoff game for Florida State with a kick return. Why not? The off-season theme is speed and the 5-8, 184-pounder has clocked 4.4 seconds in the 40. He signed with the Bears May 11 and was waived after rookie minicamp … The Bengals worked out Arizona State wide receiver Trey Griffey, son of baseball Hall-of-Famer Ken Griffey Jr. … … The Bengals wear shoulder pads for the first time Sunday ….
Cincinnati Bengals host Training Camp at Paul Brown stadium Practice Fields 7/29/2017