Updated: 6:40 p.m.
If the Bengals have any more questions about Auburn quarterback Cam Newton before he visits Paul Brown Stadium next week, they can go across town and huddle with two of his teammates from Westlake High School in Atlanta and ask them about the bucket of water balloons junior year.
Running back Brandon Brown and cornerback Will Palmer are plying their trade this spring in Cincinnati at Division III power College of Mount Saint Joseph. Heading into their senior years, the duo have been a bit bemused and irritated by what they've been hearing about Newton.
Brown and Palmer haven't talked to Newton since graduation. But Brown has known him since elementary school. Palmer has known him since middle school. They hear that he has a fake smile and that he's not a good teammate and they offer to differ.
"I'm getting mad watching SportsCenter," Brown said the other day. "He's a leader. We relied on him ever since we were in middle school. He was the face of our school."
"I played defense," Palmer said, "but you could feel the difference Cam would make in games. He would come through. He's an action leader. You feed off his energy. As a person, if Cam's on the field, you feel it. If he comes to Cincinnati, they'll feel it. The stadium will be filled."
Not only did Newton give his teammates energy, but the teachers could feel it, too.
"He's always smiling. That's his spirit. He's got a joking spirit. He's a happy-go-lucky guy," Palmer said. "He'd come into the cafeteria and the teachers knew he was going to do something crazy because he'd be smiling too hard."
Brown said Newton was at his best when he pulled off the water balloons.
"It was the funniest thing I ever saw him do," Brown said. "It was second semester junior year. Just when it started to feel like summer. He brought in a lot of water balloons in this big bucket and it was crazy. Funniest thing ever."
And Brown and Palmer think the good times will continue wherever Newton goes.
"He finds a way to win," Brown said. "He always has."
WHIT LOOKS TO JUDGE: With movement bubbling between owners and players, left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who had been the Bengals NFL Players Association representative, has gone national to predict that federal court judge Susan Nelson is going to lift the NFL's lockout of the players.
"Not just because I'm a player, but ultimately, I feel like her best decision is to lift the lockout,'' Whitworth told Jim Corbett of *USA Today *via ProFootballTalk.com. With the lockout lifted, there's really all kinds of incentives. As players, it really doesn't help us that much other than the lockout is lifted. But then, owners have more incentive to say, 'Hey, let's get this deal done.' "
Nelson's conference call about mediation with lawyers for the NFL and the players Friday ended with her gag order for both sides. She is trying to get the sides to agree on mediation before she delivers a decision in the next week or two regarding the players' bid to lift the lockout with an injunction. The longer it goes, Whitworth fears the worse football is going to get worse.
"Guys are human beings. And if you tell guys 'It doesn't look like you're doing anything until July or August,' guys will lose a lot of incentive to train and to get better," Whitworth told Corbett. "You will get a lot of guys who will say, 'We're not even going to play. I'm not going to work hard all the time.' You're going to ruin the chance for quality football. There will be more injuries and things that affect the game. Period."
BENGALS PONDER: Len Pasquarelli of The Sports Xchange reports that Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder visited the Bengals earlier this week and they've had some company in the region. The Colts are hosting Nevada's Colin Kaepernick on Friday and Ponder is expected to make it up there at some point.
Ponder falls into the first category of visits. The Bengals no doubt wanted to do a medical recheck of his arm injuries. They were exposed to his brains and talent at the Senior Bowl and later at his Pro Day.
It almost makes you wonder what the Colts are going to do with that 22nd pick and what the future is for contract-less Peyton Manning. He's got the franchise tag so one wouldn't think they'd go for a QB in the first, but maybe with their next pick.