Update: 1-11-13, 10 a.m.
Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham knew he was going to his second straight Pro Bowl when he was named a first alternate last month, but the NFL made it official Thursday. Gresham got the call four days after Steelers tight end Heath Miller tore his ACL in Cincinnati's Dec. 23 victory in Pittsburgh.
Gresham joins wide receiver A.J. Green and defensive tackle Geno Atkins in the late January game in Hawaii while left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the club's other first alternate, waits word on his possible selection.
Gresham's two drops in a game he finished with just two catches for seven yards in last Saturday's AFC Wild Card loss in Houston overshadowed another season he put up better numbers than the year before with a career-high 64 catches and 737 yards while becoming the first Bengals tight end to have more than 50 catches in three straight seasons.
"It's great to hear Jermaine is joining our group," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said in a news release. "He's been a very fine player ever since we drafted him, and he keeps getting better every week."
ANOTHER HAUL? The Bengals took Gresham with the 21st pick in the 2010 draft and they are there again this season. With three draft picks in the first 54 selections during the first two days of the April 25-27 event, recent history suggests the Bengals will get some productive regulars.
Thanks to the trade with Oakland for quarterback Carson Palmer, the Bengals also get the 37th pick with the fifth selection in the second round. They picked the franchise's all-time leading receiver with the 36th pick for Chad Johnson in 2001, a top guard in Eric Steinbach with the 33rd pick in 2003, and the current starting quarterback with one Pro Bowl appearance in Andy Dalton with the 35th pick in 2011.
The Bengals plucked left end Carlos Dunlap with the 54th pick late in the second round in 2010 and he's responded with 20 sacks and two touchdowns off a fumble return and interception during his first three seasons. The Bengals drafted Whitworth, their left tackle who has started all 64 games of the last four seasons, with the 55th pick in 2006. Last year's 53rd pick, defensive tackle Devon Still, flashed early in the year with 20 tackles, a half sack and a forced fumble in limited playing time during the first eight games in Pat Sims's absence, and he's expected to contribute more next year.
GRUDEN SPEAKS: Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden met the Arizona press Thursday after he interviewed for the Cardinals head coaching job and reiterated why he's listening to job offers this year and didn't last year.
"Last year the Brown family gave me an opportunity to be an offensive coordinator and I didn't want to jump ship at the first call," said Gruden, who signed a three-year extension after those calls. "I wanted to go there and see Andy Dalton improve another year and see A.J. Green improve another year and see what we can do. We did some good things and made it to the playoffs again.
"I got some calls fortunately again this year and decided to take them or else people might stop calling if I say no again. It's a great situation up in Cincinnati. I still feel like we underachieved a little bit on offense. We have to do a lot better up there. But to be thought of as a head coach candidate is a great honor and I appreciate the Bidwills for taking a chance."
Gruden, 45, made it clear he thinks he can do the job for a team that played four different quarterbacks in 2012 and noted his head coaching and general manager experience while working in arena ball. He was also a head coach in the UFL.
"I've been a head coach for a while. I know it's a different league and it's not the NFL, but I've handled people, handled organizations, handled salary caps, done all the things necessary to be a head coach," Gruden said. "I understand the game, and I think it would be a good fit."
Gruden sketched out his strengths for the job.
"Hopefully, some confidence, I'd bring some confidence and some wins. That's what every head coach wants to do. It's all about winning. Coaches are getting fired after one year now. If you don't win right away, then you'll be out of work, unfortunately," Gruden said. "It's a very tough business. But, if you have some confidence in what you do, the system that you bring, and the coaches that you hire, and people want to come to work and they want to get better every day, then your players have a chance.
"You have to convince the players that what you're doing is right, that you're going to put them in the right position to succeed, and they will if they do what you're coaching them to do. If you lose that trust, you lose that faith with the players then you're going to have a tough time. Hopefully we have a common trust with each other. They play hard for the coaches and we coach hard for them."
The next Arizona coach is in a dreadful position when it comes to quarterbacks. The Cards went through four this past season and the media wanted to know how Gruden could develop one for the franchise that has yet to replace Kurt Warner.
"There are a lot of teams looking for quarterbacks right now like Tom Brady, and there are not many of them out there. It's important to try to develop somebody that you have in-house, or continue to look for a quality, top-notch guy," he said. "If you don't have that guy, then you have to develop the skill set that the guys that you have have. That's the most difficult thing to do.
"(You have to find out) what skill set the quarterbacks have here, which quarterback you're going to go with, and then develop him the best way you can, and try to get people around him that can do great things also. The one thing that people have to understand is it's not always just about the quarterback. There are other issues when an offense fails. I know first-hand; it's not always about the quarterback. Sometimes it's the left tackle, sometimes it's the right guard, sometimes it's the tight end running a bad route, so there are a lot of things that need to be addressed when your offense sputters, and they need to be addressed quickly."
Gruden indicated he may head to Philadelphia next week for an interview with the Eagles.
According to reports, new Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski is bringing former Chargers head coach Norv Turner on board as an offensive coordinator. Not only did those hires deny Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer a shot at a head coaching job in Cleveland, where he interviewed this week, but it also marks the fourth time in Marvin Lewis's 11 seasons as Bengals head coach that he'll be facing a new Cleveland head coach and offensive coordinator. Dating back to 2005, the Bengals are 6-0 against the Browns in the years they change coaches.
Even though Turner has been an NFL head coach or coordinator for the past 22 seasons, the Bengals have faced him just five times. They are 2-1 against him as a head coach, all since '09 while he was the head coach in San Diego. They are 0-2 against Turner as a coordinator, dating back to a 1991 loss in Dallas (with Troy Aikman as his quarterback) and to a 2001 loss in San Diego with Doug Flutie.
The Chudzinski hire narrows the pool for Zimmer. Reports have Lovie Smith headed to San Diego for an interview, where the Chargers reportedly have interest in Zimmer.