Hobson's Choice: Lynch-Pin?

Q: Given that Corey Lynch is going to make it real hard on the team not to make the roster, who does he push off? The way I see it there are three guys he can displace. (All of whom I think are good players.) John Busing, has been a great special teams workhorse who has stayed healthy. Is Corey an upgrade? Or is Herana-Daze Jones, who is on the sideline, not going to be healthy enough to keep his roster spot? In my opinion Jones has been a stellar special teams player, consistent and reliable. Or could it be Ethan Kilmer? Ethan had a great 2006 rookie campaign (a seventh-rounder himself) but can't seem to get on the field. Or would it be someone else?
--David, Oakville, Ontario, Canada, Bengal Fan since 1979

DAVID: Figure they keep, what? Six safeties out of 10 DBs since they only have four healthy veteran cornerbacks?

So there are one or two open safety spots behind Marvin White, Chinedum Ndukwe and Dexter Jackson out of four guys: Busing, Jones, Lynch and Kyries Hebert. I'm with you. The guys that get cut won't be out of work long.

You have to feel that Jones has got to be here even though he's missed virtually all of the preseason with what is believed to be some kind of muscle pull. Here's a guy that has shown no fear on teams (he's led the team in special tackles the past two years) and he can play corner as well as safety.

So that's four.

You have to love Lynch because he always seems to make something happen, plus they've indicated he might be a guy that's able to play both corner and safety down the road.

So that's five.

But there also must be something said for Busing and Hebert. Both are former linebackers who are very explosive and sure in the box. Hebert is probably better in space, but Busing is their strongest DB and one of their smartest and is, like you say, another that has played very solid teams for them.

So that 's an extremely tough cut.

Still, they very well may keep six safeties, which is another reason to keep Jones since he can also be the fifth corner and they can put rookie free-agent corner Simeon Castille on the practice squad.

Kilmer is listed as a cornerback and it is just a tough nut for him right now, given he's a special teams guy that is still learning to play defense. He is believed to have also suffered some kind of muscle pull that has kept him out of all but the first practices of camp.

On top of missing all last season with a knee injury, Kilmer is in a big-time scrap. And they've kept him around because they loved that athleticism he flashed in '06. With springs and wheels like that, it makes the playbook a little smaller.

But as you can see, they get to 10 pretty quickly without him stepping back on the field, so he knows he has to grind.


Q: I want to hear your thoughts on why the Bengals are not just getting the cold shoulder from national media for even having a shot at the AFC North, but practically being ignored. The Steelers lost some key players on their O-line, the one-year OK Browns picked up two beefy defenders (but does anyone know how great our line is when healthy? (Probably one of the best in the league), and the Ravens still have no offense. And everyone knows of the holes we filled and up-and-coming players on the defensive side. I don't understand. Has it just been too many years of letdowns that even with our 2005 season, everyone nationwide thinks we won't be able to turn around our mentality for years to come?
--Rick, Cincinnati, OH

RICK: It's their own fault. They have to won to stay in the public conscience. We used to live in the Johnny-Come-Lately-Bandwagon Society. Now it's the What-Have-You-Done-For-Me-Lately-24-7 Society and 2005 might as well be 1905.

I hear you. The modern media's attention span is slightly shorter than the life cycle of an amoeba, so they've gone all the way back to the end of last season to research it.

The Cliff Notes Version is first losing season under Marvin Lewis, Chad goes nuts, defense bad again, Chad goes nuts, they can't pull off the Shaun Rogers trade, Chad goes nuts, franchise in disarray.

But there is some context missing in the AFC North when it comes to the Bengals.

They have the division's best quarterback, best pair of wide receivers, the potential best rookie defensive player, the best kicker, and the best offensive line along with the Browns.

Not enough to be mentioned as Super Bowl contenders, but you would think enough to be mentioned as AFC North contenders.

But they only have themselves to blame. In this day-and-age, it takes just a blip to fall off the radar.

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