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On time timely for Bengals

Marvin Lewis

Updated: 8:40 p.m.

Even though the players didn't vote Wednesday to approve the proposed collective bargaining agreement, the pundits are indicating it is going to happen in time for the owners to approve it in the next day or two with ESPN's Chris Mortensen reporting the players have given De Smith "a vote of confidence" to finish it off.

According to the Twitter feed of's Jim Trotter, "the players vote is conditional, meaning they're prepared to forward the settlement if certain issues can be resolved with the owners. One of the issues presumably is the $320 million the players lost in benefits last season during the uncapped year."

So now might be a good time to review why the Bengals would love to have everything start on time with a new offensive coordinator and a rookie quarterback and why they need a delay to the regular season like a pick-six.

(And with the trucks ready to move out Monday to Georgetown College until further notice, the Bengals are still planning on a July 28 report date followed by the first practice on July 29.)

Here's why:

The Bengals open the season with three straight games against teams with first-year head coaches that have yet to work with their players when they go to Cleveland, then Denver, and stage the Sept. 25 Paul Brown Stadium opener against San Francisco. Four of Cincinnati's first five games are against defenses that ranked 20th and lower last season. The Bengals don't play a team that had a winning record last year until they host the Colts in Week 6 on Oct. 16.

More numbers in the Bengals' favor?

One of the linchpins of head coach Marvin Lewis' eight seasons has been the ability of his defenses to turn the ball over. Since '03 the Bengals are fourth in the NFL with 245 turnovers, just a dozen shy of NFL leader Baltimore. The Bears (255) are second with the Panthers and Patriots (249) tied for third.

The early opponents are coming off tough seasons protecting the ball in 2010. Buffalo, the foe at home Oct. 2, led the AFC with 39 turnovers despite putting up 49 points in what seemed to be the time it took to take a commercial break at PBS. The Jaguars, the next foe Oct. 9 in Jacksonville, were third with 33, and the Browns, the Sept. 11 opener opponent, were fifth with 29.

New Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has indicated he's ready to start second-rounder Andy Dalton at quarterback and it helps that it's not a killer schedule. It's not a walk in the park, either, but the first five games are against defenses that haven't had nearly success the Bengals have had in generating turnovers the past eight seasons.

Since 2003, the 49ers, Browns, Broncos and Jags are ranked 26-29 for most turnovers.

They're just numbers. But they're the kind of numbers that may make us hope the next big number is July 29.

Super Agent Tom Condon is telling his players the same number.

"Be ready for the start of training camp. I think by the end of this month," Condon told NFL Network when asked what he's telling his players. "They're scheduled for the 29th or so. I think you have to be ready to go on the 29th."

He also said he expects the players to approve the CBA Wednesday or Thursday.

Condon, whose firm represents Bengals first-round pick A.J. Green, said in the same interview that up to $100 million has been taken out of the rookie pool so that there is more for veterans in the proposed collective bargaining agreement.

"I think that for the top eight to 10 players in the draft, there will be some substantial reduction in terms of their first four years," said Condon, holding the No. 4 pick in Green. "And it will overall, if the clubs then exercise what my understanding is their ability for a fifth-year option, that option would be at a significant number; very possibly, the transition number. The transition number is defined as the average of top 10 players at the position. But nevertheless, it certainly is going to be less money than Sam Bradford and some of the players from last year."

What is unclear is how much negotiation is involved in the rookie deals and if the rookies have been given a date for when they must report.

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