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Hobson's Choice: J-Joe looks OK

Q: What's up with this injury to JoJo? Do you really think that he will be back for training camp or is Marvin just saying that so that we as Bengals Nation do not lose our heads? Second, why is everyone in Bengals Nation (I even heard that the coaches think he is overrated on ESPN) hating on my main man Madieu? I for one think he can do better than last year, but I still think he had a good season and I also think teams threw away from him instead of at him. What is up with his injury?
--Jake W., Fredericksburg, VA

JAKE: All indications are that Joseph's left foot problem is a five-to-six week injury and that Marvin ("I Am Not A Doctor") Lewis has made a successful diagnosis. But "overrated" isn't what ails Madieu.

Don't get me wrong. This is a huge season for Williams, his fourth. And if those two rookie safeties play as advertised, they'll be faced with a tidy dilemma on how much to pay Williams as he heads into free agency this season.

But even if he didn't make the number of impact plays people thought he would after his superb rookie season, he had a consistent year and you can't just laugh that off when you're talking about a guy that took more snaps (1,265) than anyone on the team last year.

I'm not sure what coaches were talking, but his secondary coaches have high regard for his reliability after a season he was probably the defense's most consistent player.

More big hits a la Bob Sanders? More picks a la Ed Reed? More of everything a la Troy Polamalu? Sure, you'd like a little bit more, maybe, but don't downplay his versatility as a cover man and his overall good guyness. They don't grow on trees and, yeah, I agree, he had a pretty good year last year.

But, let's face it, everybody has big expectations for him after that rookie year. Now nearly two years removed from shoulder surgery, he may very well be poised again.

Williams hasn't been on the field all that much this spring because of a bothersome hamstring, but no one is anticipating any long-range problems.

Same with Joseph, although the surgery may not happen for another day or two. His people and the Bengals people have to get on the same page, and that takes time, but nobody seems to think it's going to lay him up past, or much beyond the start, of training camp.

Q: I stood on the deck of the stadium Sunday to get a glimpse. Looks like our guys are practicing hard and hustling. Important to note I stood there with my "PEKO" jersey on and made sure I hit the practice field exit with my Sharpie. Not sure who was more excited, but the smile on my face was huge! I feel very confident our defense has already taken steps forward in youth and attitude with the decisions we have made in the offseason. Do you feel the defining moment will come when we make our first big stop? I want them to get attitude and be intimidating and know they have IT. Possible? WE BELIEVE!
--Cindy, Cincinnati, OH

CINDY: The defining moment would be if Ahmad Brooks can come downhill from middle linebacker and lay out Ravens running back Willis McGahee on Sept. 10. That's the team and guy the Bengals must stop and the player they must get it from.

Among others, of course, but the Ravens are division champs and the first opponent, so first things first.

There's no question that the Bengals are healthier, younger and faster than they were last year on defense, thanks in part to your man Peko at defensive tackle.

(The thinking on the defensive line seems while they don't have a Pro Bowl stud like Sam Adams, they didn't last year because he wasn't healthy and instead they've got guys like Peko, Michael Myers and Kendrick Allen to go along with John Thornton who have played and played more productively than the departed Adams or Shaun Smith did last year. And that's no knock on either because Sam was hurt and Smith just didn't get many snaps.)

Of course, how much smarter the Bengals are on defense to go along with that youth and speed in the back seven is the big question now that linebacker Brian Simmons and Kevin Kaesviharn are in New Orleans.

That's why Brooks is such a big key. If he can figure it out and match it with his sheer athleticism in the middle of the defense, he gives the Bengals an Odell-like presence without Odell.

That's why I like the Ed Hartwell pickup. Even if it looks like he's still feeling his way around as far as mobility goes at WILL, that's OK because they didn't get him to cover people in the nickel package.

If he can provide fierce downhill play on first and second down as well as give some ballast for the kids, a fine move. You have to love Hartwell's professionalism and experience. Let Landon Johnson and Caleb Miller work on third down.


If you play fast, anything is possible.

Q: Since Tony Stewart left via FA, Reggie Kelly's backup has to be able to run block, protect Carson, and play special teams. What are the chances they only take two tight ends and use Tab Perry as the third? Last year they wanted to use Tab as their third down TE. I think that is a great idea. I want to know if they have plans on using him in a two TE set that is just as much a three-receiver set? They talk about being multiple on defense, but that seems like a great opportunity to be multiple on offense. What do you think about Tab Perry and how he'll be able to contribute?
--Don, Stroudsburg, PA

DON: As Lewis reiterated Sunday, Perry's ability to play out of the backfield as well as tight end on passing downs is huge and they had planned to use him to replace Matt Schobel on passing downs before he was lost last season in the second game.

They would love to do that again, but the Chris Henry suspension complicates matters. If Perry is the third receiver in place of Henry in three or four wides, they can't really use him at tight end. Maybe they could move him there on third down if they feel Antonio Chatman or Bennie Brazell is good enough to team with Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Given that they don't have a backup tight end right now, never mind a third tight end, the odds are pretty good they will do what they did last year and keep only two. Unless, maybe, a veteran comes free on waivers, or they can't find a backup good enough to do everything, which includes playing some fullback.

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