Pat Sims (Bengals photo)
Updated: 4:35 p.m.
Quick hits from Wednesday's locker-room media session:
Pat Sims had that little glint in his eye Wednesday while he talked about how he's going to be a better player than he was last year as defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer continues to emphasize pass rush during the offseason.
"I believe we're going to be a better pass-rush team," said Sims, the starting tackle who is looking for more than the one sack he had as a rookie. "I believe I'm going to be a better pass rusher myself. He's letting us go a little more. He's letting us go and do our thing."
Left end Robert Geathers, the lone Bengal with a double-digit sack season, has also seen the differences in various meetings and drills with Zimmer and line coach Jay Hayes.
"We'll be a little different than what we've had," said Geathers, indicating the coaches seek more straight ahead one-gap rushes.
Geathers insists he won't be any different once he gets back on the field for the first time in June's mandatory minicamp. He revealed Wednesday he's rehabbing from January's microfracture knee procedure performed by renowned surgeon James Andrews.
Geathers suffered the injury Nov. 20 slipping on Pittsburgh's muddy field. But it is apparently a small tear to the articular cartilage, which is repaired with small fractures in the bone that Geathers says "promotes healing where the cartilage is removed. I feel good. It's coming along well. I'm pretty sure I'll be out there in June. It's going to be 100 percent. Because you don't want it to cut loose, you can't push it like an ACL (injury). So I'm making sure I don't overdo it, and it's responded."
Geathers, Sims, and the rest of the line had their first meetings this week with their newest member, former Bears and Cowboys tackle Tank Johnson, pursued by the Bengals to fill that same pass-rush void. Geathers, who says he hasn't played with a guy like Johnson since he arrived in 2004, says Johnson's "suddenness" is impressive.
"He's a different type of a guy," Geathers said. "I saw him play in Chicago a few years ago and he's a penetrator, an up-the-field guy. Different than the type of guy we have now. With the guys we've got, he's a good addition. (Tackle) Domata (Peko) is a good penetrator, too, and with what Zim is having us do, being aggressive on third down, I think it's going to be a good fit."
Sims said when he had a chance to talk with Johnson in the weight room this week Johnson talked about how he thought there was a good rotation in place. Sims knows he doesn't get mentioned as a pass rusher and that he's known primarily as a run player, but he's excited about trying to earn a shot with the nickel tackles that figure to start with Peko and Johnson.
Sims also hasn't forgotten John Thornton, the man that urged the coaches to put Sims in his spot last year in midseason, a move that appears to have sped up Thornton's free-agency exit.
"I have a lot of confidence. I got a little bigger, better, faster. I'm going to be a better player this year," said Sims, who says he'll get his weight of 329 down to 310-315 for the season. "I'm much better reading offenses, pre-snap reads. Looking harder at that. I learned from JT last year how to pretty much predict what happens before the play starts."
» Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer says the Bengals are a different enough team that they'll "definitely win a lot more than" the four games they won last year. Palmer made his comments in reference to the release Tuesday of the 2009 schedule.
"The way everybody looks at it, they compare your schedule to what teams did last year. Last year's last year," Palmer said. "We won four games last year. We'll definitely win a lot more than that this year. Teams look at us and say, 'We got the Bengals on the schedule.' We're a whole different team this upcoming year than we were last year. People look a little too deep as far as last year is concerned. Look at Atlanta. They turned it around in one year. There are a number of teams that have done that."
Not only more wins, but he added, "No more ties."
» As usual, Palmer is looking for the Bengals to take a wide receiver and offensive tackle with all 11 picks but, "obviously that's a quarterback's fantasy." He's had some opinions over the years, but he knows his job title.
"That's not my forte. I can throw the football, but I'm not a draft expert," Palmer said. "I'm not Mel Kiper Jr. Jr."
» Palmer on no prime-time games for the first time since he became the starter in 2004:
"Hopefully there's a point in the season where guys on TV are saying, 'Wow, the Bengals are 9-1 or 10-2,' or something like that," Palmer said. "It's not like we're on national television year in and year out ... we're used to it. It's a small market. You know when you come here you're not playing in New York, you're not playing in a big market and there's not going to be (many) nationally televised games unless you win a Super Bowl."
» Tank Johnson plans to meet the media Thursday morning.