Updated: 6 p.m.
The Bengals plan to meet but won't be on the field Thursday for their last OTA of the spring in what looks to be another of head coach Marvin Lewis's team bonding off-campus trips. The scuttlebutt is volleyball.
So Wednesday was a final tune-up for next week's mandatory minicamp and all signs are that incumbent middle linebacker Rey Maualuga is feeling as comfortable as ever in his four seasons as a Bengal.
"Just think about it," he said after practice Wednesday. "Last year at this time I didn't know if I was playing SAM or the middle."
Plus, Maualuga appears to be responding to new linebackers coach Paul Guenther's mantra of "Letting Rey be Rey." That means less thinking and more reacting.
"I'm not going to try and throw everything down your throats. I'm just going to tell you what you need to do and you get on the field and play football. There's only so much a coach can do," is the way Maualuga is hearing it. "I'm going to fill your guys' heads with less info and let you go out and do what you do best. That's been awesome.
"Having to mess up a little bit and then come back, correct it, and go back out and do what you've got to do."
Maualuga reiterated he played "scared" after he missed three games in midseason last year with a severe high ankle sprain that was corrected with postseason surgery. "I played wrong," he said because he was so concerned about getting cut-blocked at the feet.
Maualuga is crossing his fingers that no news is good news. He said he hasn't heard from the NFL concerning an offseason legal case that was dismissed.
SCOTT CO-CHAIR: This is Lewis's idea of how to make beautiful music in the locker room. To him, the perfect chorus has no opera singers.
No Me, Me, Me.
Just look what is going on with the running backs.
Here is what Bernard Scott said Wednesday about teaming with BenJarvus Green-Ellis in offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's running back committee.
"I think BenJarvus and I are going to be a good combination," Scott said after Wednesday's practice. "He's (shiftier) than I thought he was but at the same time he has good size and is able to take on the tackles.
"I have no idea how it's going to play out, but however it plays out I'm going to be ready. I'm not going to put any numbers on it. I'm just going to leave it up to the coach's numbers. I think me and BenJarvus are going to be ready to handle how many carries they want to give us. I think it will be pretty even, but you never know."
The last Bengals running back to say that? Did tape recorders exist?
The Bengals have had some big-time backs before and after Lewis arrived in 2003. And, God love them, one of the reasons the backs were good is because they never shied away from pounding it in the NFL's toughest division and always wanted the ball. The problem is if the running backs didn't get it there always seemed like there was heck to pay because they let everyone know.
You can go back to James Brooks wondering why head coach Sam Wyche didn't give him more than 15 touches in a game to Corey Dillon's combustible competitiveness to just last year Cedric Benson testing Gruden's patience as he questioned his rotation with Scott.
But don't look for the spicy postgame quotes to come out of this corner of the locker room this year.
Scott is a fourth-year guy just looking for more than five carries per game so he can prove himself and Green-Ellis is a 2012 graduate of the Bill Belichick School of Restraint.
"I know we're going more to a true running-back-by-committee, so I just want to make plays when my number is called and compete every down," Scott said.
Scott did allow he thinks the free-agent signing of left guard Travelle Wharton and the drafting of right guard Kevin Zeitler is going to aid the running game.
"I think that is going to help a lot," Scott said. "Last year that was our weak point as far as the offensive line but with the two new guys it is going to help out a lot."
But Scott is mainly pointing at himself. This is his moment. After three seasons he has flashed breakaway speed with his 5-10, 198-pound moves, he has carried just 247 times. When Benson got hurt in Scott's rookie season of 2009, Scott had a stretch of three games he carried 13, 21 and 18 times, and emerged with 4.6 yards per carry. Since then, he's had double-digit carries in a game four times.
"Of course I want the ball. I want the ball in my hands. I know I can get the ball 15 to 20 times a game," Scott said. "That's what I'm working for this whole summer, offseason, making sure I'm ready for this so when the opportunity comes I'll take advantage of it.
"I'm not the type of guy that is going to be taking a lot of head-on shots. When it's time for me to put my head down and get some yards, I'll do that, too, but my body's not built to take on head-on shots every time I touch the ball. I think me not doing that, that is going to help me last longer in the NFL."
The minute Scott was allowed to meet with running backs coach Jim Anderson this spring, he's watched tape and took notes, trying to become what he calls "a student of the game."
"After a while," he said, "you begin to learn that you need more than talent. There are a lot of talented guys. But the best guys are the guys that know what to do when."
Which is why Scott is pleased he's getting more chances in the passing game this spring, a skill that had been the exclusive property of Benson and third-down back Brian Leonard.
"I think that's what we've focused on in the OTAs; picking up the blitz, learning the right routes, being in the right place at the right time," Scott said. "It's not that it was tough, I just felt like I never got to show it. It was always, 'OK, I guess he's not big enough.' I never got a chance to show it. This year they're giving me the opportunity to show I know what I'm doing. I can pick up the blitz, I can catch the ball."
Some say that along with the linemen, running backs and linebackers are the toughest spots to judge in the padless spring. But Scott says there are things that can be achieved.
"Little things like making the right read," he said. "It's really hard to make the reads right now because we don't have any pads, so the holes aren't really there. But they still want you to make the right cut, make the right decision. Go through that mentally and physically so when you put on the pads on it just rolls over."
Right now in this spring of cooperation, the back committee sounds like a mutual admiration society.
"You can tell he knows what he's doing at all times. His IQ level for the game is good. I don't know if it's from New England or he just knows what he's doing because he knows how to read defenses real well," Scott said of BJGE. "We talk about things. As far as how the defenses are set up ... I never really got to see him play. I thought he was more of a power back but he's got some juice, too."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» The offense didn't have a great red-zone set and its one touchdown came on a snap just outside of it on quarterback Andy Dalton's 22-yard pass to wide receiver A.J. Green working in the right corner on cornerback Jason Alllen and safety Jeromy Miles.
» Two more draft picks were involved in the most interesting play of the first 11-on-11 drill.
Tight end Orson Charles, the fourth-rounder from Georgia who is supposed to be able to line up anywhere and make plays down the field, did exactly that. He made a fine lunging, diving catch of a 40-yard out-and-up thrown on the money over his shoulder from Dalton. And he made the play despite tight man coverage from first-rounder Dre Kirkpatrick, the cornerback from Alabama.
Near the end of the drill, cornerback Brandon Ghee had perfect position for an interception, but couldn't make the play and wide receiver Armon Binns came back to muscle out the catch.
»And this shows you how things can turn around in practice. In the next 11-on-11, Charles moved before the snap and was told to keep running. And he did as he ran into the end zone while the next play got reformed. Such is the up-and-down world of a promising rookie.
Same thing with Ghee, a guy that is impressing people. He bounced back and was mobbed by his mates later in the day when he made a leaping interception. He appears to be playing with more confidence and he's simply getting more snaps than ever before because of the injury situation.
»Lewis continued to hold out players that appear to be suffering nagging but not serious injuries. The list includes cornerbacks Nate Clements (abdomen) and Adam Jones (believed to be a strained muscle), running back Daniel Herron (foot), and defensive linemen Michael Johnson (believed to be a muscle strain) and Devon Still (unknown). Cornerback Leon Hall (Achilles) continues to rehab.