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On the brink?


Solomon Wilcots, who lived the NFL's 1987 work stoppage as a rookie safety with the Bengals, says he's all for Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller showing up at the NFL Draft later this month as well as putting his name on the lawsuit that's been filed against the league.

He just hopes that Miller is aware of the nooks and crannies of a fascinating two-way street that NFL rookies are now careering through.

"I've spent a lot of time with him in our studio and I think Von is a very worthy guy to have the mantle of the future players passed to him," says Wilcots, an NFL Network analyst. "He's one of the most astute and one of the most courageous guys in the draft.

"But after the confetti is done falling, how many of these guys hold out after they say they're so thankful for the opportunity? And now their team can't even talk to them about a contract. And I think he's doing the right thing. But he also has to realize that the guy he's shaking hands with (NFL commissioner Roger Goodell) is looking to put a cap on how much he and the other rookies can make. The issues are so much more complicated now."

Wilcots says this is a far different world than the '87 strike that yielded one missed game and three weeks of games with replacement players. Literally, he sees the game on the brink.

"This is the Cuban Missile Crisis," Wilcots says. "Back then, the fight was about free agency and we didn't have any leverage at all. Now, both sides have The Bomb. They can blow each other up, so it's a lot more dangerous now. I'm optimistic something is going to get done. No one is going to split the baby. They're going to keep the golden goose alive. I'm also equally pessimistic. The wild card is ego. You know what they say: Pride always comes before the fall."

The issues might have been a lot simpler 24 years ago. But imagine what it was like for an eighth-rounder out of Colorado when he got this phone call during the strike:

"It was a representative of the Bengals telling me that I wasn't guaranteed a spot whenever the strike was over," he says of the warning to cross the picket line. "I knew even then that I probably wouldn't be around to reap the benefits of what we were striking for. And I was right. But I figured if I was good enough to make the team after training camp, I could make another one."

Free agency arrived in 1993, a year after Wilcots' last season with the Steelers. He's confident a guy like Miller, four years younger than free agency, understands.

"I think he gets it that the former players have passed on something sacred," Wilcots says.

By the way, the Bengals picking Miller at No. 4 might not be all that outrageous. It is extremely high for a SAM linebacker. But they are very impressed with his ability to rush the passer, which they saw every day coaching against him in the Senior Bowl. 

QB TALK: reported the Bengals visited Auburn quarterback Cam Newton on Monday and worked him out.

More evidence Newton probably won't be there at No. 4 surfaced Monday when NFL Network's Mike Mayock moved him up to No. 2 in his QB rankings. Via, Mayock, one of the best media draft evaluators, offered that Newton "has done a great job in team interviews. I'm starting to buy that the kid cares." also reported Monday that the Bengals have discussed internally Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb.

The Bengals, no doubt, have discussed all the options at quarterback since Carson Palmer dropped his own version of The Bomb. Veterans and rookies. The Kolb option was raised here Feb. 21 when the club hired receivers coach James Urban, Kolb's position coach in Philly:

"With the Urban hire, how soon do the rumors start for Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb? With Carson Palmer's trade-me-or-trade-me edict, one option the Bengals the Bengals are probably looking at is pursuing a veteran. They are also probably mulling drafting one high."

Nothing has changed since then. The problem is that during the lockout the Bengals are not only prohibited to make a trade, they can't talk to other teams about a trade. So Eagles coach Andy Reid gave the right answer two weeks ago when asked by at the NFL meetings if he thought the Bengals would be interested in Kolb.

"I don't know. We're getting quite a little bit of play on it, so we'll see," Reid said on March 20.

MORE QB TALK: Hall of Famer Ken Anderson returns to town next week to teach the craft that made him one of the NFL's top quarterbacks during 16 seasons in Cincinnati.

From April 14-17 St. Xavier High School is hosting Ken Anderson's Elite Football Camp where Anderson offers individual instruction for a dozen youths between the eighth and 11th grades. The sessions begin after school April 14 and 15 and close with 9 a.m. weekend sessions April 16 and 17 at $500 per player. Those interested can email

"It's just me and the kids," Anderson said. "We're going to be focusing mainly on throwing mechanics and I want there to be as much work with each individual as possible."

Anderson is going to do a follow-up camp in May as well as a camp in Rock Island, Ill., home of Augustana College, his alma mater.

» Former Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake is putting together a charity event April 13 in his adopted hometown of Austin, Tex., that features Bengals middle linebacker Dhani Jones. Blake, who is a consultant for Texas state representative Sylvester Turner, emerged from a brainstorming session with the idea of teaming up Jones' Bow Tie Foundation with Texas state senator Eddie Lucio Jr., a guy that has been known to wear bow ties. Lucio also has a foundation and for a fundraiser Jones' group has been charged with designing a tie for Lucio.

"I played with Dhani in Philly and I've hung out with him a few times. He's a good dude," Blake said.

He's also hoping a few Longhorns who play for the Bengals are going to show in running back Cedric Benson and wide receivers Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley.

» Blake has a pretty good idea how he'll fare on the Hall of Fame ballot.

"I won't get many votes," he said. "To get something like that, you have to win. We were able to throw the ball and put some points on the board, but we didn't win many games."  

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