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Help on the tee

Posted: 7:45 a.m.

Notes on a napkin from the Saturday night reception for Marvin Lewis' celebrity golf tournament ready to shotgun off Sunday morning at Shaker Run:

OTHER PALMER: Marvin Lewis spent Friday prepping merely by meeting with one of the game's greatest players.

The weather in Latrobe, Pa., wiped out a round with Arnold Palmer, but Lewis and friends got to hang out with the golfing legend for three hours in his office.

Lewis, who displayed his auctioneering skills at Saturday night's five-item live auction at Cadillac Ranch in downtown Cincinnati, has been known to bid on his own for other charities. That's how he ended up with the round with Palmer after making the winning bid at a juvenile diabetes function.

"Great day. His office is like a golf museum," Lewis said. "We couldn't play, but we're going to try again later, either there or at Bay Hill (in Orlando, Fla.). Great guy. Easy to talk to. Being from Pennsylvania, he was a guy I admired and followed."



Palmer knew that Lewis had coached for the Steelers and said that if he's not rooting for Pittsburgh, he's rooting for the Bengals. Lewis was immediately taken with Palmer's competitiveness as he discussed some of his matches.

"No," said Lewis with a smile. "He didn't talk about Jack (Nicklaus) much."

Lewis also noticed that the 78-year-old Palmer did more than just shoot the breeze with them. He was working.

"He's one of the guys that designs for the U.S. Open and he was working on some holes for next year," Lewis said.

MORE PITTSBURGH: There was a fairly big Steelers contingent Saturday night and not all were from that Lewis era in the mid-'90s. Cornerback Rod Woodson and linebacker Greg Lloyd spent much of the evening at the same table. Linebacker Kevin Greene also stopped by, but there was also defensive lineman L.C. Greenwood from Dave Lapham's days on the Bengals offensive line in the '70s and '80s.

"You said hello to him? He's the enemy," Lynne Lapham admonished and Dave shook his head. "You're worse than me," he said.

Also on hand was Lapham's old roommate, current Steelers quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson. Because of conflicts with camps, it was Anderson's first appearance in Lewis' tournament.

Woodson, one of the all-time Bengals killers, has become a familiar face to this generation of Bengaldom through his studio role on NFL Network. He thinks the AFC North is a tossup.

"Cleveland is coming off such a good year. Pittsburgh had a great draft and Baltimore is only two years removed from going 13-3," Woodson said. "If Cincinnati can stay healthy and get the big plays from their playmakers, they can win it, too."

Woodson, a Fort Wayne, Ind., product, has stayed close to Lewis down through the years after Lewis oversaw his switch to safety in Baltimore.

"I knew him when he was a green rookie coach (in Pittsburgh) and saw him mature into a defensive coordinator," Woodson said. "His personality is the main thing and he knows how to adjust. A coach can only get guys into position to make plays. In this league, your playmakers have to make plays. If (for example) they decide to run the ball, then they've got to make people miss and not get brought down by one-armed tackles. It's like that on every team."

Woodson has been a player in the Chad Johnson saga since Johnson has used NFL Network as one of his venues to ask for a trade.

"The hard line stance the organization has taken with Chad is inevitable," Woodson said. "Look at the players that have taken their stances to the media. They basically win out. It's refreshing to see an organization stand up for their position and stick with it."

The present got a handshake with the past. Bengals cornerback Leon Hall came away impressed with a guy he used to watch on tape after their first meeting.

"I was surprised to suddenly meet him," Hall said of his introduction to Woodson via Bengals coaching assistant Sandy Schick. "I didn't know he'd be here. I told him I wanted to get into what he's doing on TV and he gave me some tips. Try to do one or two things every offseason and make sure my agent gets my name out there."

MORE AFC NORTH: Ozzie Newsome didn't play for the Steelers, but he also has spent a good part of the last 30 years torturing the Bengals as either Cleveland's Hall of Fame tight end or Baltimore's general manager.

On Saturday in his annual Lewis appearance, Newsome still had last year's loss in the opener down the street on his mind.

"And we have to open with them again; at least it's at home," said Newsome of the Sept. 7 opener against the Bengals in Baltimore. "I don't like it. Carson (Palmer). That's what bothers me about it: Carson."

Newsome says the Ravens will be defined by their own quarterback play and he says the Ravens don't know if it will be Kyle Boller or rookie Joe Flacco. But he does like his new quarterbacks coach, Hue Jackson, the former Bengals receivers coach.

"Love him," Newsome said. "He brings great energy and he's a great teacher. He's good for the building. That was a good hire by (new head coach) John Harbaugh."

Newsome also praised Lewis for luring Jeff FitzGerald away from the Ravens to be the Bengals linebackers coach after doing the same job in Baltimore the past four years.

"Oh yeah, another high energy guy," Newsome said. "He'll help them."

But Newsome is picking his old team as the division favorite.

"Everybody is talking about (the Browns), so that's what I've been saying," Newsome said. "They got some offense last year. They needed defense and they went out and got the two defensive linemen (Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers)."

Newsome says his defense will be better after they drafted for cornerback depth behind Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister.

"When our corners got hurt, we were done," he said. "Now we've got two guys behind them and we'll be all right."

ADVICE CORNER: New Falcons coach Mike Smith has made no bones about picking the brains of Lewis and the other coaches from the Baltimore staff where he coached the defensive line. He's been on the horn with Lewis, former Ravens head coach Brian Billick, Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio and 49ers head coach Mike Nolan.

"I consider those guys, especially Marvin, my mentors," Smith said. "It's where I started. What I took from Marvin is how he made everyone on the defensive staff feel like they had ownership of the defense. He made us feel like we all had a part of it.

"Marvin was the guy who said we were going to work our plan and plan our work. Very forward thinking. I've taken a lot from him. We're orchestrating practices and using the same structure we had in Baltimore."

Smith talks to Lewis every two or three weeks and says his best advice may have come when he found out he was interviewing in Atlanta.

"He told me to be myself," Smith said. "He told me, 'You know what you want to do. Make sure you go in and present it in a structured and organized way.' "

Smith says he only talked about drafting a quarterback in general terms with Lewis and everyone else. The Bengals' selection of Palmer at No. 1 and then not playing him for a year is seen as the gold standard of grooming a franchise quarterback. The Falcons' choice of Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan at No. 3 actually fits one trend.

"Someone told me that 85 percent of first-year head coaches take guys from their side of the ball," Smith said. "But I was thinking Marvin Lewis-Carson Palmer, Jack Del Rio-Byron Leftwich, Mike Nolan-Alex Smith. We know as defensive coaches if you're playing a quarterback that can really operate and make plays, you're going to have trouble."



CHANGE UP: Bengals kicker Shayne Graham changed it up Friday night when he started a baseball game by throwing out the first pitch of the Reds' win over the Indians at Great American Ball Park. So he threw a changeup.

"It was a strike. I know it was," said Graham, who rocked back on the pitching rubber. "I was afraid of skipping it, getting it to him on a hop. I hadn't thrown a baseball since PE in high school. I didn't get a chance to practice at all. I bought a few baseballs from Dick's Sporting Goods, but never was able to throw them. I'm so confident when I'm kicking, but to go out there and do something I'm not used to, that was a different adrenaline rush."

There was no question Graham would stop by Saturday. He's one of the more visible Bengals in the community and he showed up wearing two Matt Maupin dog tags, an idea he fostered to help raise money for funds of fallen soldiers.

"This (event) says a lot about him and a lot about the community," Graham said. "Marvin has always helped me with the stuff I do in the community. I remember the first time I met him. I wasn't at training camp. I didn't get here until the first week of the (2003) season. It was Monday in a team meeting and he said, 'Tomorrow is Tuesday, the off-day. Let's get out there in the community and do a few things.' That stuck with me."

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