Updated: 7:45 p.m.
With three weeks to the day of their first training camp practice, the Bengals waived three free agents in an effort to get down to the 80-man limit by the time they head to Georgetown College.
Defensive tackles Titus Adams and Michael Marquardt were let go, as was cornerback Jerrid Gaines, a local product out of Springfield, Ohio and Miami University.
The 80-man limit had always been a bit of a misnomer because teams were granted roster exemptions for their NFL Europe players. With that league now defunct, the 80 is a hard number for a roster that the Bengals currently list with 82 players.
Monday's moves leave the club with 12 defensive linemen (six tackles) and 14 defensive backs, half of which are cornerbacks, and reinforces the notion that versatility is going to be a huge factor at the final cutdown to 53.
The Bengals probably plan to keep eight or nine defensive linemen, four of which are tackles and nine or 10 DBs, including five or six cornerbacks.
Ends Jonathan Fanene and Frostee Rucker can also play tackle while safety Herana-Daze Jones worked a ton at corner this past spring. Cornerback Ethan Kilmer was a safety as a rookie before he missed all last season with an injury.
One DB question mark heading into training camp is backup cornerback Blue Adams. He didn't practice at all this spring with an undisclosed ailment.
With the numbers being crunched on the roster, it's doubtful the Bengals would sign a free agent with a severe injury history like the one belonging to former Browns center LeCharles Bentley. There has been no indication yet that the club plans to bring him in for a workout.
Palmer and brother Jordan began a three-day-a-week program throwing to five Bengals receivers, as well as other pros and collegians.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh led the Cincinnati contingent that also included Antonio Chatman as well as rookies Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell and Maurice Purify.
While it is unclear if Johnson is going to be full-go for the start of practice July 28 in the wake of the June 18 arthroscopic surgery that removed bone spurs and loose bodies from his ankle, Collins says the plan is to take it slowly.
Johnson is already running on the beach in Miami, but Collins says he'll have to undergo more individual work before he starts pounding the ankle with routes on grass.
"He feels a lot better than when he first had (the surgery), but we're not going to push it. The key is not to let him do too much too soon," said Collins, who is helping coach the Bengals receivers this spring and summer as part of an NFL coaching intern program. "He's got to build up his ankle first. Then the closer we get to camp, we'll let him time up some things in the last couple of workouts."
Just how important are Palmer, Johnson and Houshmandzadeh? One only has to look at the recently released 2008 NFL Record and Fact Book.
During the last three seasons, Johnson leads all NFL receivers in yards while only Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have thrown more touchdown passes than Palmer and only Torry Holt has caught more passes than Johnson and Houshmandzadeh.
On the strength of last year's NFL-leading 112 catches, Houshmandzadeh has 280 compared to Johnson's 277 over the last three seasons in which Holt caught 288, and Houshmandzadeh's 202 leads all receivers over the last two years.
During Palmer's first four seasons as a starter, he is one of four quarterbacks to throw for more than 100 TDs since 2004 with 104, behind Manning (139), Brady (128), Drew Brees (105) and ahead of Brett Favre's 96.
Palmer is also in the top five of leaders in pass attempts and yards over the past two, three and four seasons.
But the deal with the biggest impact is the one they may not get despite almost two years of trying.
At least not yet.
With no word on any potential long-term deal for franchise player Stacy Andrews despite a two-year effort, the Bengals are eight days away from Andrews' $7.5 million salary counting under the salary cap for the entire season.
The Bengals have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal with him and if they don't, they have to wait until after the season. The Bengals started talking to Andrews about extending his contract nearly two years ago and haven't been able to come to terms yet, indicating it could be a longshot.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
Another Shayne Graham event. This one involves Karts and has the Bengals kicker hosting the Shayne Graham Celebrity Race-Off at the Motorsports Club of Cincinnati in Batavia, Ohio on Friday from noon to 4 p.m. The celebrities will be announced at the event. Admission is $10.
For the first time in history the Bengals plan to show their preseason games in high definition through a partnership with hhgregg. The Bengals are producing the final three games in 11 days, starting Aug. 17 against the Lions and Aug. 23 against the Saints in 7:30 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium games, and finishing with the Aug. 28 finale in a 7 p.m. kickoff at Indianapolis' new stadium. The Aug. 11 preseason opener in Green Bay is part of the ESPN Monday night package.
Jeff Pearson, vice president-marketing for hhgregg, issued the following statement in a press release issued by the Bengals.
"Hhgregg is pleased to partner with the Bengals in order to provide game broadcasts in HD. As a leading retailer of HDTVs, we know firsthand how much seeing the game in HD adds to the overall viewing experience of Cincinnati Bengals football. We hope the fans enjoy these games even more."