Notes: Fan pitch; Broncos update


Andrew Whitworth

Updated: 6:20 p.m.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth and WILL linebacker Keith Rivers made a pitch to the fans Monday to sell out Sunday's NFL opener at Paul Brown Stadium against the Broncos.

The club-record 44 straight sellouts is on the line, not to mention a local TV blackout if it isn't sold out 72 hours in advance. On Monday, Whitworth and Rivers gave reasons to the fans why they think this is going to be a different season in Bengaldom.

"You have to treat each season as a different season," Whitworth said. "This is a group of young guys, new faces, new talent. We're excited about the season. We have a newfound commitment to our team and a newfound passion for our team and we want a newfound faith in the fans. We want them to buy in and believe if they sell out the crowd, we're going to put shows on for them."

Rivers pointed to a roster that has 16 players that weren't on it at the end of last season and the 22 that weren't here last Opening Day.

"You look around and two out of every five guys are new," Rivers said. "It's a brand new team. It's not the same old team. We need to start fast and we need the fan support screaming and yelling to help us to get that fast start."

Obviously head coach Marvin Lewis must be expecting some leadership from Whitworth since his teammates voted him an offensive captain on Monday. Lewis also must be expecting some kind of leadership from the USC linebacker tandem of Rivers and rookie Rey Maualuga. Rivers kept his corner locker right by the main entrance of the locker room. With his temporary locker gone, Maualuga is now opposite Rivers on the other corner of the door, so they are the two lockers players pass on their way to meetings and the cafeteria.

Whitworth shrugged.

"It means you're going to get tackled," he said.

CAPTAINS NAMED: The Bengals took their 2009 team picture Monday morning at Paul Brown Stadium and Marvin Lewis felt pretty good about his seventh photo as head coach.

"I'm excited about this team and their commitment to winning," Lewis said before Monday's practice. "It's a team that has really, really strong leaders, and (we've) really subtracted from the not so positive influences that we've had here. I think this group has each and every guy pulling in the right direction."

The group voted Whitworth and quarterback Carson Palmer as captains of the offense, middle linebacker Dhani Jones and defensive tackle Domata Peko captains of the defense and safety Kyries Hebert special teams captain.

The players also are expected to vote for Whitworth later in the month as their permanent NFL Players Association representative.

Whitworth, otherwise known as "The Governor," who may or may not pursue elective office in his home state of Louisiana, says he looks forward to having the job for real as the collective bargainning negotiations begin to heat up. With the departures of T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Dexter Jackson, Whitworth has been serving as the interim.

The Governor describes himself as a moderate on the CBA issue.

"To me the key is realizing that playing football is the most important thing," he said Monday. "Us putting on a show for fans is more important than exactly how many millions of dollars everyone gets. The real issue is a lot of these deals only affect the top percentile of the NFL. A lot of your top players see this money, but your minimum salary guys don't. ... There needs to be give on both sides."

Whitworth agrees that there must be a rookie wage scale.

"A lot of guys, especially players, will tell you ... it doesn't make sense for rookies to come into the NFL as one of the top paid players at their position," he said.

BIG REY DAY: Rookie Rey Maualuga also got a vote of confidence Monday. He said he was told he'll be the starting SAM linebacker for Sunday's opener.

With the Trojans playing at Ohio State on Saturday, Maualuga kidded quarterback and fellow USC product Carson Palmer with "I'm going to talk trash. I'm just kidding," knowing full well that Palmer got embroiled in a controversy when he ripped the Buckeyes before last year's game on a national radio show.

It was Maualuga that broke open last year's game and turned it into a rout with his interception return for a touchdown. He admits he hears Buckeye Nation.

"Since the moment I got here," he said. "I'll hear a little funny remark, 'Go Buckeyes,' and they'll laugh about it. And I'll say, 'I've only played them once. We did win, so I've got a 1-0 record under my belt.' I don't really need to talk. I just nod my head and walk away."

Maualuga said Palmer tried to arrange a road trip with Rivers for the game, but the three of them couldn't get back in time for the 7:30 p.m. meetings the night before the opener.

BRONCOS UPDATE: Denver worked Sunday, had Monday off and goes Tuesday. The Bengals did it the oppposite with workouts Sunday and Monday and Tuesday off. Lewis had said that the only injured players he had were cornerback David Jones and backup tackle-guard Scott Kooistra. Neither worked Monday, but Lewis also said that Carson Palmer was full go.

Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall, suspended for nine days and two preseason games in his quest for a trade, came back to work Sunday and practiced. For the first time Tuesday quarterback Kyle Orton is expected to try and throw with stitches on his fingers. Behind him are Chris Simms, who has thrown two passes since injuring his spleen nearly three years ago on Sept. 24, 2006, and Fresno State sixth-rounder Tom Brandstater.

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