With all of Bengaldom holding its collective breath for the Johnathan Joseph derby to end Thursday, the Bengals running back picture should also come into focus sharply with the club scheduled to take the field Saturday at 3 p.m. at Georgetown College.
Like every free agent or unrestricted free agent, Joseph won't be able to take the field at left cornerback at the Georgetown, Ky., campus until on or about Aug. 4, when the recertification of the NFL Players Association is expected. But concern for the status of the Bengals' top offseason priority blew up late Wednesday with ESPN's John Clayton reporting the Bengals are competing with the Lions and Texans for their 2006 first-round pick.
But before Joseph, 27, decided, Clayton said that the top corner in the market, the Raiders' Nnamdi Asomugha, had to go to either the Jets or Texans. The Texans, according to The Houston Chronicle's John McClain, would have to unload players in a salary cap purge to fit either one of them. Joseph's agent, Jason Chayut, had no comment.
In nearby Austin, Texas, running back Cedric Benson is still in talks with the Bengals, but DeAngelo Williams' five-year, $43 million deal with the Panthers is the only major deal a back has struck. It's believed the Bengals have also talked to the Packers' Brandon Jackson and the Colts' Joseph Addai, among others. They are also interested in re-upping third-down back Brian Leonard.
The rookies can take the field Saturday and with No. 1 pick A.J. Green tweeting that he's moving to Cincinnati on Thursday, there was hope the Bengals were close to concluding talks with agent Ben Dogra. The Bengals are taking their physicals Thursday at Paul Brown Stadium and check-in at Georgetown runs from noon-4 Friday.
The Bengals continued to make calls on offensive linemen and linebackers, but no deals were appearing to surface late Wednesday.