As they left the field Tuesday afternoon, left tackle Andrew Whitworth doubted many of his teammates knew that head coach Marvin Lewis had signed an extension through 2014.
"Those things aren't important issues to us. It's exciting to hear, but we're not worried about that," Whitworth said. "We're worried about being as good a football team we can become opening week."
And that may be Lewis's legacy, which Bengals president Mike Brown chose to extend into a 12th season. Lewis has neutralized all the extracurricular that marred his first contender in Cincinnati to make another run with a formidable youthful nucleus.
"He's continued to battle through so many adversities we've had in this organization and always finds a way to put a good product on the field," Whitworth said. "It's a great win for both sides. (The last two years have) been exciting. There's been a new energy. We don't have a choral of things that don't matter ... some of our best players out here are taking the most reps because they want to get better and that's a neat way to practice. It's only going to make us better."
But tackle Domata Peko and cornerback Leon Hall, both team leaders, had received the word.
"Thank God," Peko said. "I couldn't see myself playing for anyone else. When you come to Cincinnati, you know Marvin Lewis is a hell of a coach and he's going to look after his players. That's what kind of coach he is. A player's coach."
Usually being called a player's coach is the kiss of death. But Hall says this player's coach spices it up.
"He's like an old school coach as far as hard work. Head down and grinding," Hall said. "At the same time he knows when to let up and give the players a break. As long as you're playing hard, he's always on your side."
Everyone on this roster has only played for Lewis in Cincinnati. From The Dean, Robert Geathers, the latest Bengals draft pick (2004) on this roster, to cornerback Nate Clements, the only player on the roster who was in the league before Lewis became coach of the Bengals in 2003.
Bengals president Mike Brown re-upped Lewis because he sees it going in the right direction. A major reason for that in the past 18 months or so the locker room has been cleansed of a certain segment of players that had short attention spans and even shorter commitments to the team.
"I've never had a locker-room issue," Hall said. "We don't have bad seeds that I can see. I'm more comfortable in this locker room than I have been in the last couple of years."
Maybe one of the reasons Lewis and Brown can work together is that both have stubborn streaks longer than Brett Favre consecutive starts skein. Whitworth admires that trait when listing what makes Lewis a good coach.
"His consistent path. He's really not a guy that veers off what he plans to do much at all," Whitworth said. "He's stubborn with them. As long as you adapt a little and are stubborn with your core values, I think you're going to have success. He wants guys who are grown men off the football field and guys who are grown men off it."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski couldn't help himself when he saw an ink-stained wretch after Tuesday's practice.
"So Andy Dalton has no arm strength," Gradkowski said, making fun of the media run in the spring that declared such things.
Dalton was a laser Tuesday in both 11-on-11 and 7-on-7, and except for one deep ball that floated short he threw all kinds of passes and completed nearly every one. He threw three strikes for touchdown bombs to wide receivers A.J. Green, Armon Binns and fifth-rounder Marvin Jones.
"There's a shocker. The guy's terrific," said quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese. "He was all over the field. Deep. Short. He threw deep very well today. It was exciting. He had a nice day today. He's more experienced now and getting to know the guys better. All that stuff plays into confidence with which you turn the ball loose with. And when you feel good when you throw it, you usually throw it pretty accurately."
» Talk about the cream rising to the top on the second day of pads ... Can anyone here cover Green? He showed just how monstrous he is. Not only did he strafe rookie corner Chris Lewis-Harris on the bomb, but he also scaled cornerback Brandon Ghee for an alley-oop touchdown on the goal line. Yet his best catch was a dart he caught from Dalton on short yardage despite blanket coverage from cornerback Terence Newman. He basically swiped the ball off Newman's back and pulled it away as he fell down.
How good is Green?
"That's the thing he's so good at; the ball in the air in tight," Lewis said. "On those deep balls, when the ball is in the air, we don't want him to get tangled up. I think the guys know that when he's the guy running down there, you're right with him and then let him go up and catch the ball. We don't want him to go up and get tangled up with him."
» The Bengals unveiled their short-yardage and goal-line stuff with live action and Lewis came away pleased with the way they pushed the ball forward up the middle with both running backs. Bernard Scott and BenJarvus Green-Ellis pushed the first two third-and-twos for first downs.
But he seemed most impressed with the first goal-line run on first down from the 3. It was Green-Ellis running to the right inside and smashing it to the half yard-line. For a team that always seemed to get hung up on the 2 or 1 the past few years, Lewis loved a second and half a yard, courtesy of BJGE's style of always thinking positive yards.
"That first goal-line run by Bennie was excellent," Lewis said. "It gives everybody else the confidence up front. If I do my job, you know that he's going to hit that crack and we have a chance to score."
The defense also came up with a couple of stops on third down. Ghee came blitzing in from the right to stop one and linebackers Roddrick Muckelroy and Vincent Rey combined to make another stop.
Lewis said the Bengals will roll out the short yardage in the scrimmage Saturday and then again in the preseason games.
» Wide receiver Brandon Tate (hamstring) and cornerback Adam Jones (calf) are day-to-day and didn't work Tuesday. Meanwhile, fifth-rounder Marvin Jones, the receiver from Cal, had his best day Tuesday. He caught a bomb on great separation after dropping two similar balls this week. And on another deep ball he leaped across his body and snatched it away from Hall in tight coverage.
» With the Bengals off Wednesday before their first Paul Brown Stadium practice Thursday at 6 p.m., look for Lewis to make some changes to the arrangement of the practice fields before the team returns for Friday's 3 p.m. workout. He's looking to rotate fields to keep the grass fresh. The Bengals attendance for their first five practices Friday-Tuesday: 1,500, 1,500, 1,600, 1,100, 800.