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Notes: Mentoring begins; Carson on Chad

Jermaine Gresham

Too bad Hard Knocks is in New York this year because they're missing one of those timeless training camp stories.

The Veteran and The Rookie, starring 12-year man Reggie Kelly and first-round draft pick Jermaine Gresham as the Bengals orchestrate the tight end transition.

The first take came off with just one take Tuesday when Gresham sought out Kelly in the weight room and introduced himself.

"That's a sign of a guy who's humble. That's the sign of a guy who wants to learn," Kelly said after Wednesday's practice. "I'm going to do what it takes to help him along."

But that's not to say that Kelly isn't going to try and beat him out. As he said last week when he signed his one-year deal, the only way Kelly can prepare for the season is as if he's the starter. But he sees the future, and he's quite impressed with the 6-5, 261-pound Gresham. Kelly took one look at Gresham and realized he shouldn't be pigeon-holed as just a receiving tight end.

"I think he's going to be a really good overall receiver and blocker and be an every down tight end; he's a special talent," Kelly said. "I just need to make sure I nurture him and bring him up the right way so when he does step on the field he'll be ready for any challenge that comes upon him. I think he's going to be a great tight end in this league for a long time to come."

They wasted no time after practice Tuesday. Even though Kelly is not on the field early in these OTAs while he rests his surgically-repaired Achilles, he caught some balls with Gresham. But more importantly, he said these words:

"I told him he doesn't have to be like every tight end in the league; he doesn't have to be one-dimensional," Kelly said. "He has an opportunity to (do) both catching and blocking. And when you have those capabilities, be different from everybody else. That will set him apart."

Quarterback Carson Palmer has seen this movie before. When he came in as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft in 2003, starting quarterback Jon Kitna took him under his wing even though he knew he'd eventually have his job.

"(Kitna) taught me how to study, how to prepare and how to take care of my body besides how to play football," Palmer said. "Reggie will rub off on all those things. He's played more years than anyone would expect him to play. It's not all athletic ability and God-given talent. It's the things he does away from the game and how he prepares himself. The respect he shows to coaches, teammates and opponents too. Those are all little things Jermaine will pick up on. He's a sponge and wants to learn. Combining him and Reggie it's going to be great."

Gresham started drawing raves at rookie camp three weeks ago and they aren't stopping with the veterans in town.

"He's a 'yes sir, no sir' type of guy which always rubs off going into your second year," Palmer said. "But he's very respectful. He's a sponge. You don't want an arrogant first-round pick who thinks he has it down. He's come in and tries to get as much information that he can. He seems to be and have the right demeanor, mindset and focus for a guy who wants to learn right away."


» Palmer saw The Ocho got bounced off Dancing With The Stars, but he was empathetic.

"He was competing against professionals and he's in the wrong sport," he said. "He's a football player, not a dancer and he's competing against dancers so it makes it difficult. I'm glad he'll be here now. Hopefully."

The Ocho has been saying he'll show up the same time he did last season, which is a couple of voluntary practices before the June 15-17 mandatory minicamp.

"The way the game has changed and how athletes are now celebrities it's par for the course. I'd love him to be here working with us but he'll be here when he gets here," Palmer said. "He's done this the last 2-3 years. He's come in great shape the last couple years so we expect him to come in great shape this year."

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