Marvin White (Bengals photo)
Updated: 4-23-09, 5:25 a.m.
You never hear about the knees that bounce back from the unkindest cut of all, the torn anterior cruciate ligament.
No infection. No scar tissue. No second surgery. No complications.
Of course, when it comes to the knee of the Bengals' Marvin White, he never even knew he did it, never mind the rehab. After ripping the ACL when fellow safety Chris Crocker clipped him in the first quarter on Nov. 30, White didn't stop until he checked into the training room after the game to see about a little stiffness.
"They told me I had a torn ACL and I couldn't believe it," White recalled Wednesday. "How could I play? Yeah, there was some pain, but that's just football. You have to be tough. It's a physical game. Just deal with it."
That's why the Bengals took White in the fourth round out of Texas Christian two years ago. He bleeds leather and sweats laces. They love his tough hide and even tougher insides, and playing three quarters on a torn ACL is not, apparently, a complication.
White is five weeks into his regimen with Bengals rehab specialist Nick Cosgray, running at the pace of his teammates under tight supervision, cutting, and eyeing a return to the field for the start of training camp less than eight months after the Dec. 11 surgery.
Dr. James Andrews, the renowned Birmingham, Ala., knee surgeon who also did teammate Robert Geathers' microfracture surgery, had them down to his office about a month ago and had encouraging news.
"He said we're both fast healers," said White, estimating he's 85 percent there. "This type of knee injury, people don't come back as fast as I have. It's only by the grace of God and that I've got a great trainer like Nick that is taking me through it slowly. You have to be smart about it. I'm not winning a job on the field (May and June). The big thing is to be on the field for training camp."
The debut could come as early as the mandatory June 18-20 minicamp, but the competition against Crocker and Chinedum Ndukwe for a starting job won't start until the next month in pads. The only one who stayed healthy in the last two months last year was Crocker, so White isn't giving up on getting his starting job back.
"My mindset is I'm a starter. I just feel like I can't go from starting to not playing any type of role in the defense," White said. "I'm going to go out there and showcase what I can do. If not, then I'll play a role on special teams."
But White knows the Bengals are going to use three safeties fairly often and what he has to do to get his job back and stave off challenges by veterans Mike Doss and Kyries Hebert, and second-year man Corey Lynch:
Tame and time his aggression enough to make sure of his tackles, and cut down on his mistakes in the passing game.
"The main thing for me to get better at is just man coverage; they all know I'm going to be physical," White said. "Work on my coverage skills. Get better in that area. Show them I've improved in that area. That was kind of the knock on me coming out of college. Get better in my man skills and show them I'm an improved man cover guy and that should help."
It was Crocker that went diving for Ravens running back Le'Ron McClain and ended up hitting White instead. And it is Crocker that has gobbled up one safety spot with his four-year, $10 million contract. But White is glad Crocker is here.
"Crocker is a great guy," White said. "He's smart. He understands the game. He can pass that on to our younger guys. He shows us how to be smart out there and what to recognize. I'm glad he's here. We can learn a lot of things from him."
Without even knowing it, White showed how to do it back on Nov. 30.
"You always play with some kind of pain," he said. "That's all I thought it was."
GLOBAL SWARMING: Dhani Jones says the possibilities for the Bengals defense are "endless." Kind of what Jones just accomplished in his prime time globetrotting series on the Travel Channel that took him through eight sports in eight countries in eight weeks.
He says the Bengals picked up some fans around the globe in the wake of his jet-setting.
"We'll have some global swarming so to speak," he said Wednesday during a media break in the Bengals offseason workouts. "There are going to be a lot of people that have their eyes on us because we're the X-factor. You never know exactly what's going to happen. A lot of things happened last year, the defense allowed us to (stay) around, the offense was struggling. But now we have everybody back on offense and acquired a couple of different on defense as well. Special teams will get it together and it will be a successful year."
Jones closed out the series in Russia toasting his 31st birthday with homemade vodka off the stove while competing in sambo, a form of mixed martial arts, judo, wrestling and freestyle.
He agreed that no linebacker drafted this weekend has probably participated in sambo, which also includes weaponry and strategy employed by the Russian military.
"Maybe they will in the future," Jones said. "Maybe they'll do it at the combine. I doubt it. They're not get away from the 40-(yard dash) and the high jump."
Jones is back at Paul Brown Stadium preparing for the seemingly ho-hum task of trying to stop the Ravens and Steelers 1 p.m. on Sundays. But he's just as fired up as when he left last season as the Bengals leading tackler.
"It's not boring; it's exciting," he said. "A lot of the sports I do and the places I've been help me grow not only as an individual, but also grow as an athlete. People always ask the question (about playing any sport), 'How can you do that?' ... I take the different pieces of sports that I've done and become a better player because of it."
Jones says most of the people knew him from Google searches and YouTube scans, but now "they know me," and he says he does get recognized more in airports and out and about in America. The best stories he's heard involve fathers and sons watching the series together with the father showing the son he can visit different places and do different things.
Which is why he did the series in the first place.
"As long as they recognize me and then go get a passport, after that I'm happy," he said.
He has noticed that the Bengals have signed defensive tackle Tank Johnson along with re-signing safety Chris Crocker, and he's anticipating the return of such injured players as WILL linebacker Keith Rivers, and the wiles of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer with two years under his belt.
"Our acquisition of Tank and (along with) the people that have been around for a couple of years, and getting Keith back," said Jones as some of the reasons he's excited about his 9-to-5 job. "Getting more comfortable with one another, Zimmer (getting) his defense back in all over again and being a little more fresh with it so that we know it. I think that all helps.
"It's a maturity process as we gain years, as we gain leadership," he said. "Crocker is going to do a great job at the safety position. We sort of all join forces, combined with that maturity will allow us to be successful. ... I think we were ranked 20th and went all the way to 12th in the last two weeks. That says a lot, especially when we had a losing season like we did."
The Bengals have been silent about Jones' fling, which put the captain of their defense in some physical jeopardy. But as many of his mates went off to play lunch-time basketball Wednesday, he brought up some pretty salient points.
"Jai lai was risky. Hurling was risky. Rugby was risky. There wasn't any sport that wasn't risky," he said. "Maybe dragon boat racing, but if I fell out of the boat maybe there was some random shark I could have got my head bit off. I don't know. In Australia I was swimming. I think I saw a shark but nobody believes me. Everything has its own risk, but you risk every day when you wake up and walk out of your house."