MOBILE, Ala. - The potential lockout looming March 4 has already had an impact on the Bengals both big and small.
It appears to be a reason they didn't shake up their coaching staff with a number of moves and why they are waiting to re-up key starters such as cornerback Johnathan Joseph and running back Cedric Benson. A small detail emerged after the North's Wednesday morning practice, when Bengals strength coaches Chip Morton and Jeff Friday were locked in conversation with MMA trainer Jay Glazier here at the Under Armour Senior Bowl.
Glazier is an NFL insider for Fox Sports who doubles as a guru that applies martial arts and fighting to the NFL in a vigorous training regimen that Bengals WILL linebacker Keith Rivers and left tackle Andrew Whitworth did last offseason. The company that Glazier owns with martial arts legend Randy Couture worked with the Rams and Falcons last season on site and the Bengals would like to employ them sometime this spring in what could be four- or eight-week blocks as a complement to work on the field and in the weight room.
But dates are on hold because of the unsigned CBA. What Morton does know is that he's immersed himself in wrestling in the nine years his son has competed and while his family has become big fans of the combination of the sport and fighting, Morton sees the value of the training.
"It's understanding leverage; where your body is in space; the mobility of the hips," Morton said. "I use the term 'combat training' because the similarity between fighting and football is they're both combat sports. They both involve close contact; they both involve striking, and taking an opponent to the ground. A lot of the conditioning, a lot of the training, the mobility, there is lots of carryover."
Glazier likes it as much as for developing the mental toughness that's needed in the league and rode Rivers hard "because he's such a nice guy. I love the guy."
"He loved it. He put on eight to 12 pounds and he didn't lift at all," Glazier said.
Glazier is recruiting Rivers' former USC linebacker mates Clay Matthews and Brian Cushing, so he figures he'll get Rivers and a shot at another USC backer, Bengals SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga.
"That's who I want," Glazier said. "Maualuga. He has my attitude."
Meanwhile, the Bengals hope they get a spring window to bring the MMA to town and work with everyone.
LES IS MORE: Another former Marvin Lewis assistant is getting kudos down here for a well-earned shot at head coaching. Leslie Frazier, Lewis's first defensive coordinator in Cincinnati from 2003-04, just got the tag after an interim stint in Minnesota in which he displayed his quiet and confident leadership abilities that Lewis said he's always had. Frazier guided the Vikes through the collapse of the Metrodome roof and their quarterback situation, when they had to turn to their No. 3.
"What we went through in the last six weeks of the season was unbelievable. I don't think any of those things will happen in league history again," Frazier said. "I take my hat off to our players for fighting through some adverse situations that were unforeseen and you really couldn't plan for. … I told some of them in our exit interviews, next year when I have to talk to them about handling adversity, we've been through much worse and it will be the truth."
Frazier's split from the Bengals was awkward. He was surprised Lewis dismissed him after the '04 season, when the defense rose from No. 28 to No. 19. Lewis even called the defenses for one game (a 34-17 loss in Cleveland), but Frazier has never said a word about the move, only to say exactly that:
He was surprised.
And on Wednesday he said he has simply learned from every situation he's been in, starting with suffering a career-ending knee injury in the '85 Bears Super Bowl win over New England. He's taking over a different kind of team than the one Lewis took over in '03. It is a more veteran team and he's got to find a quarterback with the retirement of Brett Favre, whether it is a rookie or veteran.
"We've got to find the right guy under center. Otherwise we'll fall behind the teams in our division," Frazier said.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Lewis thinks he's got some defensive ends the pros are going to love in Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal, Cal's Cameron Jordan and Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan. "I know one thing we'll be able to do is rush the passer," he said.
» It was noted that the 268-pound Beal dropped in pass coverage some at outside linebacker and asked how he did, Lewis said, "That's a two-play analysis. It's something down the line he'll continue to work at ... it's something he and Ryan can do if they keep working at it."
» Lewis said the quarterbacks had a better day Wednesday when it came to "getting the ball out of their hands quickly" and avoiding the "free runners," getting through in pass protection by staying "calm and composed."
» The pads come off Thursday as the North works on red zone, short yardage, goal line, and one-minute offense and defense.