The Bengals have been the team of wide receiver A.J. Green and quarterback Andy Dalton pretty much since they arrived within 24 hours of each other in April of 2011. But their teammates made it official Monday when they voted Green and Dalton captains of the offense. They joined right end Michael Johnson, strong safety Shawn Williams, linebacker Vincent Rey and free safety Clayton Fejedelem.
Dalton's position put him there before but Green had a hard time running past left tackle Andrew Whitworth, an offensive captain until he left after the 2016 season. Last year the Bengals had game captains, but this year they went back to voting, a practice Dalton likes, particularly with this year's roster.
"I keep reading we're the youngest team in the league," Dalton said. "But we also have a good veteran presence on this team, guys that have played a lot of games and started. There are a lot of guys the younger guys can look to and ask questions."
Although Green is soft-spoken, Dalton says he's got the personality of a captain.
"If he's not in there, he's watching the other guys and if he sees something he thinks he can give them help with, he'll do it. It is his personality," Dalton said. "He's not going to be outspoken or get noticed doing it. He has the guys' respect. Not only is he the best player on this team, he's one of the best players in the NFL. When you've got a guy like that, everybody is going to look at him."
_Michael Johnson was a no-brainer as a captain on his first day back after was released on Saturday. Only in the NFL, right? The Bengals apparently re-did his deal that The Cincinnati Enquirer said didn't involve a pay cut. On Monday, head coach Marvin Lewis reiterated how valuable his defensive dean is as he heads into his ninth year with the team.
"His ability and what he does, his contributions on Sundays are great for this team, this defense. He's a great leader," Lewis said.
The return of Johnson, 31, hiked their overall average age to 25.4, making them a percentage point higher than Cleveland, according to an annual PhillyVoice.com survey conducted by Jimmy Kempski and putting them in a tie with the Cowboys for second youngest team.
_Since the Bengals didn't move wide receiver Cody Core (back) to injured reserve and kept him on the 53, they must think he'll be back soon. But not this week, apparently. Core was the only Bengal not suited at Monday's practice. Left tackle Cordy Glenn (shoulder) was dressed, but it didn't look like he was working.
_Former Jets, Raiders and Eagles quarterback Christian Hackenberg signed the last spot on the practice squad and got here just in time for the team picture. The 2016 second-rounder found a few familiar faces at Paul Brown Stadium Monday morning. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, then at Virginia, was the first college coach to recruit Hackenberg. Linebackers coach Jim Haslett was a consultant at Penn State in the 6-4, 228-pound Hackenberg's last season.
"Highly recruited guy. No. 1 guy coming out of high school," Haslett said. "He's athletic. Big. He can run when he wants. He can make every throw. He's smart. Can pick it up fast."
Before Lazor went back to the NFL to coach the Eagles quarterbacks, he offered a scholarship to Hackenbnurg, a hometown guy that went to high school in Fluvanna County, a neighbor of UVA. He kept tabs on him and was impressed. They passed on putting seventh-rounder Logan Woodside on the practice squad (who ended up on Tennessee's squad) and went with a guy on his fourth club in three years looking to throw his first NFL pass.
"Absolutely," Lazor said of his tools. "When I was at the Eagles, he was playing at Penn State. So I got to see him on TV a lot. You know how it is for that spot, you get a guy who's proven to have some abilities and gives you a good opportunity to work with him.
"On the whole roster you not only want guys who are going to practice great and help your defense get ready, but you'd also like to have guys with a future at every position -- your practice squad linemen, your practice squad receivers because shoot, you'd like to think that over time you're going to develop them. So I think it fits the bill on both of those things. We expect him to help get the defense ready and at the same time, a guy with some talent, we'd like to see if we can help him get better."
Lazor sees a good future despite the past.
"I watched him play on TV at Penn State, so I thought he looked pretty good there," Lazor said. "It's hard to say. Some guys just have to get in the right system and work with the right people and settle in a little bit and they have a chance to become what they can become. It'll be fun."