TRAINING CAMP 2008 INDEX: Features, news, notes, video, photos, schedule and more* * *
Updated: 8:45 p.m.
GEORGETOWN, Ky. - Chris Perry took his first body shots in 611 days Tuesday and got up from the ground with a shrug on the first day of full pads and live action.
"I don't want to get too far ahead of myself," said Perry, the star-crossed Bengals running back who hasn't been in a training camp in three years. "It's set up. It's 9-on-7 practice. It's not a game. Haven't focused on a game. Haven't carried the ball five times in a row. One practice doesn't mean that much. I'll be excited in February when we're (in the Super Bowl.) As for right now ... "
"I hope so. Maybe a little quicker," Perry said.
At 225 pounds, he is maybe five pounds heavier than that '05 season he averaged 5.4 yards per touch on 61 runs and 51 catches. He looked quick and strong Tuesday, particularly when he avoided the tackles in the Oklahoma drill, an exercise in which the back needs to cut at the last instant when he sees how the block is engaged.
But even Perry's biggest supporter, wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, cautions it's early.
"He might not be like he was when he first got here, but he looks like it to me," Houshmandzadeh said. "The thing with Chris is you have to see how his body reacts after a few days but, to me, he could start at running back for any team in the NFL."
No one is calling Perry a Hall of Famer like Marshall Faulk, but guys like Houshmandzadeh and quarterback Carson Palmer think his perimeter speed and hands can take pressure off the quarterback and wide receivers like Faulk did in St. Louis for Kurt Warner, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.
"He's not as fast as Marshall Faulk," Houshmandzadeh said. "But he's a lot bigger, he can catch, he can run, he can block. He can do everything."
Perry had no deep thoughts before he took the field Tuesday. He said he was just thinking about the 95-degree heat at the start of practice with 49 percent humidity.
"I was just thinking I want to get through this practice with no mistakes," Perry said.
Like on one swing pass. It really wasn't a mistake, but he didn't seem to be in sync with his blockers and slipped when he made his cut and got up yelling at himself.
But other than that, it was a pretty good day when compared to the other 611. He left the field intact for the next day.
"It felt good to get hit. I know that's an oxymoron," he said. "I'm good. And if I wasn't, I wouldn't tell you anyway."
The biggest hit came courtesy of right tackle Stacy Andrews, who backed up rookie defensive tackle Jason Shirley on to I-75 and got mobbed by the offense.
The best defensive hit probably belonged to David Jones, the third cornerback who came into this camp trying to show he can also hit as well as cover. He shed rookie receiver Clyde Logan like a rag doll and stuffed rookie running back James Johnson.
Veteran tight end Reggie Kelly always dominates these things and he impressively flung linebacker Rashad Jeanty to the ground. Fullback Daniel Coats was also impressive in his matchup with the linebackers.
But defensive tackle John Thornton, who also battled Andrews, said not to get down on the 6-5, 340-pound Shirley. Shirley, the fifth-rounder, simply looks a lot bigger than that. Thornton, a 10-year veteran, has seen plenty of Okies, and it's hard for him to get excited about them because the back can pick his hole.
At 285, Thornton gave 60 pounds to Andrews. He gave Andrews a pretty good run because he kept moving his feet and then used a swim move with his hands, but got nothing out of it because the back simply went to the other side.
"Shirley is going to be really good. The thing he has to do is get his footwork down," Thornton said. "Sometimes he's a little stationary. You've got to keep moving your feet. But he's strong. When he gets his hands on you, he can throw you. Once he understands what he's doing, I think he'll be really good."
As one coach said, "The veteran ought to win that one all the time because he understands leverage."
How good does Andrews look?
At 6-7, 345, he just gets better and better, now that the Bengals have planted him at what they think is his best position of right tackle and haven't moved him around like they've been forced the last two camps.
Since Andrews came to the sport late (he played 70 snaps in college), he's prone to make more mistakes in practice than in games. But when he gets a structured game plan and has a week to work in it, he's able to focus and narrow down what he has to do.
Willie Anderson, the four-time Pro Bowler Andrews has supplanted on the depth chart, also is looking good. He's probably in the Perry category of needing a few weeks to make a true evaluation and he has been working at all three practices.
The coaches limited him a little bit Monday night to get him full-go Tuesday and they'll probably limit him Wednesday morning before what figures to be another pad practice Wednesday night.
On Tuesday, Anderson got the honor of starting off the Okie against left end Robert Geathers and Anderson neatly used his own 80-pound advantage to envelop the 265-pound Geathers.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
In a hopeful sign that a deal is near for first-round pick Keith Rivers, an industry source said Tuesday that agent David Dunn arrived at Georgetown College on Tuesday presumably speaking to Bengals officials.
Word is that Dunn went back to Cincinnati at some point to visit Rivers, but there were no indications he was bringing him back for the Wednesday morning practice.
The snag? Rivers may be looking at Ted Ginn Jr's deal at No. 9 last year of $23 million instead of Jerod Mayo's $18.9 million deal at No. 10 this year.
Reports that Sedrick Ellis is going to sign at No. 7 Wednesday could speed things, but that still leaves Derrick Harvey at No. 8.
Defensive and Antwan Odom was on the field in civies wearing a boot. Safety Dexter Jackson, who had a cramp at the end of Monday night's practice, wasn't on the field.