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J.T. goes OT with rookies

John Thornton is used to donating his time around Cincinnati. On Thursday night after dinner the former Bengals defensive tackle is going to do it right in the team room at Paul Brown Stadium when he speaks to the rookie draft class gathering for its first meeting.

Thornton bumped into Marvin Lewis at a charity event about a week ago and his old coach extended the invitation. He knows why Lewis did it. After six seasons with the Bengals and 10 in an NFL career that ended after the 2009 season, Thornton was the consummate pro.

And that could be the title of his speech.

"I'm going to talk about the small things people never talk about," Thornton said. "Do the things that are expected of you. Come in early. Watch film. Stay in shape. Staying in shape is one of those things you just assume it. But I just read where (Titans wide receiver) Kenny Britt came in out of shape and they kept him out of a practice. Jeff (Fisher) shouldn't have to tell his No. 1 receiver he's not in shape and doesn't want him to get hurt. That's not being a pro. Do the things that are expected of you."

Thornton isn't going to delve into the outside issues, like how not to be Ben Roethlisberger. He knows they're going to hear plenty on that score from Bengals director of player development Eric Ball over the next few months and through the season.

"Eric is going to meet with them every Monday and go over that stuff. The NFL does a great job with that," Thornton said. "And they'll be going to the (rookie) symposium.

"I'm just looking at it from a personal thing. There are guys I admire how they project themselves. Derek Jeter. What's the first thing you think about when you think of him? Class? Guys like him and Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Larry Fitzgerald. There are young athletes out there that know how to dress, treat the fans and the community, talk to the media."

Thornton wants to give some ins and outs. What the coaches and front office expect. How what was once a dream is now very attainable. Being a pro.

"I wasn't a great player. I had to drive myself and do it other ways," said Thornton, a second-round pick of the Titans. "Everybody here starts with a clean slate. Take advantage of it. It doesn't matter if you were drafted or not. You've got the opportunity. You've got to come up and get it."

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