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Lewis: Toughness back

Updated: 6:15 p.m.

After the last closed session with his team Friday afternoon, head coach Marvin Lewis praised the Bengals' tempo and intensity in the mandatory minicamp weekend that ends Saturday morning before the public at Paul Brown Stadium.

"I think there's some competitive groups," Lewis said, "and I think we've got the toughness back, particularly offensively, that we kind of slid away from. I think that tempo and mindset is back, and the good thing is that groups rallied behind each other very quickly."

Lewis hit on his constant theme that "the guys who thought they had it figured out" after the Bengals won the AFC North in '05 are pretty much off the roster and the guys that are left have something to prove.

Some to the draft experts that dropped them. Some to the pundits that don't think they can play a certain position. Some to the other NFL teams that cut them. Some to themselves after coming off bad seasons or Pro Bowlers who haven't been back lately.

Since wide receiver Chad Ochocinco falls into the latter categories, Lewis thinks he fits right in.

"He goes as 85 goes. He dances to a different beat," Lewis said. "At least his beat is back in tune with our beat. He's got the same beat as Carson does, as Andrew Whitworth does, Andre Smith does, as Kyle Cook has, as Dhani Jones does, as Rashad Jeanty does, as John Joseph does, as Chinedum does, as Roy Williams does, as Chris Crocker does, David Jones, Tank. Pat Sims, Robert Geathers, Antwan Odom, Michael Johnson, Rey Maualuga. Ben Utecht. They all have something to prove. It's a group that however you angle it, there is something there they need to atone for."

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Very fitting and no question that it is the scrum for the starting SAM linebacker job between the incumbent nicknamed  "Hard Knocks," Rashad Jeanty, and second-round pick Rey Maualuga.

Jeanty, regarded enough by his teammates to be named last year's winner of the Ed Block Courage Award for playing with plantar fasciitis much of the season, is known as one of the team's biggest hitters and toughest players in his fourth season out of the CFL.

And that's exactly Maualuga's M.O. coming out of USC.

"The only thing different between us is I think Rey's crazy," Jeanty said. "He goes in there to lay down somebody. He goes in, he handles his business. He's got a couple of loose screws. I think my (head is) pretty tight. He's a cool dude. Funny dude. He's definitely a great asset to the team this year. I look forward to working with him."


»Rookie punter Kevin Huber looked pretty solid in the afternoon session and looked to be getting a hang time of better than four seconds with some sideline shots.

» In the morning, when right tackle Andre Smith didn't move when needed, he ran about a half lap around the field while Dennis Roland filled in. In the afternoon, rookie center Jonathan Luigs snapped it to Carson Palmer on the wrong count and was off while Cook came in while Luigs ran it off.

Told it sounded like old school Lewis said, "We are old school. When you have a mental error, there are only two ways to handle it. Put another guy in his spot, or just a reminder. Those things will hurt us. That's the first step. The next step is stand beside me or you're on the street."

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