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Quick hits: Players see big changes; Slim Mixon; Driskel improves after costly catch


Joe Mixon reported Monday a bit svelte.

Marvin Lewis may be going into his 16th season as head coach, but some of his most veteran players on both sides of the ball sound like they're going back to their rookie seasons.

After getting his first look at the playbooks during Monday's first day of off-season workouts at Paul Brown Stadium, quarterback Andy Dalton declared, "All of it is new."

Wide receiver A.J. Green, who has commandeered this offense since he and Dalton arrived with coordinator Jay Gruden in 2011, says he'll have to adjust to a new way of calling pass routes since current offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is going with the number tree rather than the word-based system of Gruden's offense that has been the base of the scheme for seven seasons.

Lazor, who has crafted his own playbook since he got the job on a permanent basis back in January, has also surrounded himself with a new offensive line coach in Frank Pollack, a new receivers coach in Bob Bicknell and a new quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt.

"Anytime you've got that many new coaches it's going to be different," Green said.

Coordinator Teryl Austin is the only change on defense, but linebacker Vincent Rey, a rookie in 2010, already sees a difference between what he's played in the last eight seasons under Mike Zimmer and Paul Guenther.

"It looks to me like we're going to be more multiple," Rey said.

TAG-TEAM: Even though Monday was former Bills middle linebacker Preston Brown's first day of work in Bengaldom after signing a one-year deal last month, it was just another off-season workout with him for Rey. The two know each other well as workout partners for the past five offseasons at Ignition Sports in Mason, Ohio.

So Rey has watched tape of him down through the years because he wanted to keep tabs on his friend.

"The thing about Preston is that he's smart," Rey said. "And he's reliable. He's never missed an NFL game. So you know he's going to be there."

With Brown and former Bills teammate Cordy Glenn at left tackle, Rey said, "We're a better a team."

JOE IN THE MIX: Running back Joe Mixon looks nowhere like the guy that showed up at rookie minicamp last season. He figured he was 238 pounds then. Now after a full offseason of working out rather than traveling around the NFL he's a svelte 225 pounds and he's looking to drop five more.

"Trying to get a step quicker," he said.

STATE OF QBS:  Paul Dehner Jr., of The Cincinnati Enquirer via Pro Football keenly observed Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in the locker room Monday, suggesting he's one of the Bengals' 30 prospects making an on-site visit.

You may have to file that one under due diligence. Even though the Bengals have signed journeyman vet Matt Barkley for the derby to replace backup AJ McCarron, it's believed they might start getting interested around the fourth round or so for a rookie QB.  Jackson will be long gone by then, but, knows? Who knows what happens above them at No. 21? Or if somebody, like them, trades back? That's why they call it due diligence.

The improving health of No. 3 QB Jeff Driskel, as well as the Barkley signing, would seem to quell an urgent need for a back-up QB. Driskell said Monday his broken non-throwing arm feels excellent and he's hoping he can get cleared in time for the on-field drills when they start in late May.

Driskel missed most of the year when he fractured his throwing hand in the pre-season finale. But they really like his athleticism and that's how he got hurt in the last week of practice. With numbers dwindling at receiver they asked Driskel, a former Red Sox draft pick, if he wanted to jump in on the scout team and he didn't hesitate. On one play he leaped to make a one-handed catch with his right hand. But he got jostled, lost his balance, and when he hit the ground he shattered his left arm.

"It was the least of my worries, but yes," said Driskel when asked if he made the catch. "It was OK. I was standing right there. I hadn't done anything all year so I was happy to go in and help. Just bad luck. All year. But now it's good luck. It's feeling good."

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