Notes: Lining up the accolades

Posted: 8:20 p.m.





The Bengals offensive line continues to move from obscurity to celebrity with Willie Anderson and Levi Jones named the NFL's top tackles tandem by virtue of the only "A" from The Sporting News, and Jones tabbed by USA Today as one of the NFL's up-and-coming linemen.

Only Green Bay, St. Louis and Seattle came close with an A-minus. The Colts were Cincinnati's closest pursuers in the AFC with a B-plus after a season the Bengals set a dizzying array of team single-season offensive records that ranged from allowing the fewest sacks, to Carson Palmer throwing the most touchdown passes, to Rudi Johnson rushing for the most yards, to Chad Johnson catching the most yards.

TSN said Anderson-Jones "are skilled as run blockers and pass protectors." In rating Jones with Patriots guard Logan Mankins, Titans tackle Michael Roos, and Jets rookie tackle D'Brickshaw Ferguson,

USA Today quotes former Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason saying Jones is on the verge of the Pro Bowl.

Anderson, who has made it the past three seasons, is bidding this season to become the seventh Bengal to go to four Pro Bowls. In his fifth season, Jones is trying to become the third Bengals tackle to make it and join Anderson and Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz.

The nation's newspaper earmarked another Jones, Seattle left tackle Walter, and Steelers guard Alan Faneca as the NFL's elite linemen. After nine seasons, Walter Jones's ability and contract ($16 million bonus) are the current yardsticks for left tackle.

Levi Jones and his agent are still discussing a contract extension beyond 2006 with the Bengals and no doubt the major topic is where he rates on the list of NFL tackles. The club would like to get a long-term deal with Jones before being faced with designating him the franchise free agent, a number that could be as much as $9 million.

The talks appear to be more alive than those with Anderson and left guard Eric Steinbach, also in the last year of their deals.

GOOD PRESS: For the first time in their history, the Bengals have won the Pro Football Writers of America's prestigious Pete Rozelle Award for having the league's top public relations department in 2005.

It celebrates a unique double for public relations director Jack Brennan, a former member of the PFWA while he covered the Bengals for The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Cincinnati Post.

Brennan, who came to the Bengals in 1994, and his staff have been intact since 1995 when assistant P.J. Combs also arrived from newspaper stints. They joined Inky Moore, the PR assistant since 1973.

"I'm very humbled when I look at all the other great PR departments in the NFL," Brennan said. "I do think it certainly helped us to make the playoffs and receive a little more exposure with the national media. We try our best to give everybody personal attention and take their requests seriously."

David Elfin, president of the PFWA who covers the Redskins for The Washington Times, said the department's newspaper background is obvious.

"I think what did it for them is the human touch," said Elfin of the voting. "By far, the Seahawks and the Texans got the most nominations and with the Texans winning it before, I think we assumed the Super Bowl team (Seattle) would get it. But it wasn't really that close.

"It means a lot to Jack because he is a past member of our organization and he knows what we need; he's one of us. Not many national guys have been to Cincinnati because there was no reason to go in there, but they have been up to the task. I worked with Marvin (Lewis) in Washington and he's the same kind of guy as Jack. They're both professional. From what our guys say there, Marvin lets you do your job."

Elfin's vice president, Alex Marvez, who covers the Dolphins for The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, broke into the league covering the Bengals for The Dayton Daily News.

"I'm overjoyed that the rest of the country realizes what I've known for 12 years," Marvez said. "They're excellent and it's nice to see them get recognized. I think it also speaks volumes for the cooperation of the Bengals players and the kind of locker room that Marvin Lewis has put together."

Combs spearheads the credentialing for each game and he sees the national exposure the Bengals are getting firsthand. Last season he had a capacity press box for the two games against the Steelers, as well as the Browns and Colts.

"No question it was the most national media we've ever dealt with, so I'm sure that helped us," Combs said. "It's always nice to be appreciated for doing your job. I can't tell you how nice it is to hear a simple 'Thank you, I appreciate your help.' But, jeez, the Pete Rozelle Award? That's the biggest honor out there for an NFL PR staff."

Elfin had hoped to give Brennan the hardware on the field before the Aug. 13 preseason opener at PBS when he's here with the Redskins. But he expects a delay in the making of the plaque, so the duty falls to The Enquirer's Mark Curnutte later in the season as the PFWA's chairman of the AFC North.



SUPPLEMENTAL SCOUTING: Bengals linebackers coach Ricky Hunley figures just about every NFL team was present at last week's workout of former University of Virginia linebacker Ahmad Brooks, the top prospect in next month's supplemental draft .

But since he was the only position coach in attendance, the scouts nominated Hunley to run the workout for a player some think could have been drafted in the top five after his sophomore year and pre-knee injury.

"He talked it over with John Dorsey who played linebacker in the league," said Brooks agent Greg Williams of the Packers director of college scouting, "and they decided that Ricky was the guy."

Brooks has obvious red flags for a Bengals club hurting with the character issue as published reports say he failed multiple drug tests for marijuana that led to his ouster from the Cavaliers.

The Miami Herald reported Williams presented information at the workout showing Brooks has passed drug tests taken on a regular basis over the past two months. On Monday, Williams admitted taking Brooks would be a tough pick for the Bengals.

"He's not a troublemaker. He's a good kid, but he's made bad decisions because of immaturity," Williams said. "But how hard he has worked the last 10 weeks shows how far he has come with his maturity.

"I think there are two categories of teams. There are teams that have an immediate, major need at linebacker, and there are others who recognize his talent and realize that they may be able to get a value pick if he slips. I think (the Bengals) are in that category."

Looking at the Bengals' track record with the supplemental draft before and during Lewis's tenure, it's something they don't do.

If they take a player, they lose that pick in the corresponding round in the 2007 draft. Throw in the off-field incidents, and the fact they've selected five linebackers in the last three drafts, it looks far from a fit.

But it's not the first time the Bengals have done due diligence and pondered on a supplemental prospect. USC defensive tackle Manuel Wright visited PBS last summer before the Dolphins took him in the fifth round. The Dolphins have also shown intense interest in Brooks (The Herald reported they sent him to a psychologist) and some see Brooks getting drafted in a similar position, if not sooner.

Hunley is the Bengals man to get the answers about Brooks, a fellow Virginian.

"I recruited him when he was coming out of high school and I know his dad," said Hunley of his days at the University of Florida. "He's a big kid that's fast."

The scouts, reportedly, aren't so much concerned about the knee, but the weight he put on coming back. Williams said his client had "a solid workout," and it could have been better, in part, because he dropped from 290 to 260 pounds in just 10 weeks.

"In the next four weeks before training camp we're going to work on his endurance and I think you're going to see he'll be even further along in these 10 weeks," Williams said.

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