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New staging for Bengals' Drive for Five


The stage is set for the Drive for Five.

When the Bengals arrive Monday at Paul Brown Stadium for the start of voluntary off-season workouts, they'll be greeted with a state-of-the-art renovation in the team space facility as well as a streamlined schedule. Overlooking all of it will be computer screens reminding them that the goal is Super Bowl 50 in the bid to reach the postseason for the fifth straight year.

The buzz of the workers and movers is a mirror of what's going on in the Bengals draft room, where on April 30-May 2 they'll have nine selections that include four in the first three rounds and six in the first four. This past week they hosted players that didn't make it to the NFL scouting combine so they could undergo physicals, as well as 24 local players for a workout and

A look at the construction being done to renovate the weight room and team area at Paul Brown Stadium.

physicals. The latter exercise is more for picking off players to round out the rookie minicamp set for the weekend of May 8-10.

They also are allowed to host up to 30 prospects before the draft and one of them is Oklahoma wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, one of the red flags in the draft. reported he's also visited the Vikings, Ravens, and 49ers.

Players have also been busy working out and with other commitments. The training exploits of defensive tackle Domata Peko and linebackers Rey Maualuga, Vincent Rey, and Jayson DiManche at Ignition in Mason, Ohio have appeared regularly on Twitter, and quarterbacks Andy Dalton and A.J. McCarron arrive after participating in Dr. Tom House's quarterback camp at USC.

Dalton and his wife Jordan are featured Sunday morning on the CBS show "Game Changers,' detailing their work in the community and it airs at 7:30 a.m. on Cincinnati's Channel 12.

Also back in town is Pro Bowl WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict as he rehabs from microfracture knee surgery.

A look at the construction being done to renovate the weight room and team area at Paul Brown Stadium

Burfict and some players such as tight end Tyler Eifert and right tackle Andre Smith will be rehabbing and aren't expected to take the field when the practices start in late May.

They'll be moving around in what basically amounts to new digs in a project of more than $2 million that not only includes an expanded weight room, but a 50-yard turf field at the foot of the weight room, a new players' lounge, and a new cafeteria and kitchen.

The centerpiece is the weight room, which is about 60 percent bigger than the original and is going to be stocked with mostly new equipment. The expansion allows more players to lift at the same time, meaning that there won't be staggered times throughout the voluntary workouts, which are limited to four hours per day four times a week. So, everyone checks in at 8 a.m. and leaves at noon.

"That should make us more efficient all the way around by consolidating the schedule,' says Chip Morton, the only head strength and conditioning coach head coach Marvin Lewis has had in his 13 seasons. "The people here have done a great job coming up with more space in what was already a great facility. There'll be more time for meetings and teaching in all areas. It's a double-edged sword.

"It's not always the best thing to have more people. The strength of our department has always been coaching, teaching, and the one-on-one stuff. We have to work twice as hard

A look at the construction being done to renovate the weight room and team area at Paul Brown Stadium

in our interaction with the players, recording information, tracking progress, the things we've done well. Yes, we have more athletes working at the same time, but the onus will be on us to coach harder."

Along with associate head strength and conditioning coach Jeff Friday, Morton also has a full-time assistant in charge of technology and tracking as well as three part-timers, putting five coaches in the weight room instead of four.

Morton has kept the effective machines and discarded the not so effective. Basically, if they like what a machine has done, they've ordered more of them. For instance, instead of one seated row machine, they'll now have two, as well as more racks, platforms, and leg presses. If the Bengals like a model but it's no longer available, they've kept it.

Morton has also taken a peek into the future by expanding the number of Keiser's Pneumatic machines, which have grown out of draft prospects training so extensively for the NFL scouting combine in the last five or so years.

 "It's air resistance and in our case it augments the iron on the bar," Morton says. "It's a way to add additional resistance while training at different velocities more safely and more effectively. its velocity training and some would say it's a methodology that is going to be used more and more in the future."

A prime example of how the Bengals can consolidate their training comes on the turf field. It is what Morton calls 'creating more options."

Because of weather restrictions and

A look at the construction being done to renovate the weight room and team area at Paul Brown Stadium

the distance to the fields from the weight room, the Bengals couldn't always incorporate some drills directly into the program.

"Now you can get right off a squat exercise and go right into a sled push. We've increased the creativity," Morton says. "We can use the field to run, warmup, and do mobility work, circuit training, sled work, sled drag, sled push. That can all become part of the workout."

And the Bengals might see some familiar faces along the way.

"I like the fact we'll all be in here together,' said veteran cornerback Leon Hall. "I think that will be good for everybody. It will be nice to see guys at some of the other positions. You can go or awhile without seeing an offensive or defensive lineman."

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