John Thornton still isn't a big fan of offseason workouts, but the former Bengals defensive tackle couldn't help but be impressed by the detail the Bengals put into their voluntary workout Wednesday at the University of Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy tweeted that the team's next sessions after this week depend on the lockout, but they could be official and with coaches. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth told the media he agrees that the stalemate looks to be nearing the end of the process.
After watching Whitworth and quarterback Jordan Palmer run the offense and tackle Domata Peko run the defense, Thornton said it looked like a regular OTA.
"They started out with screen drills, just like a Marvin Lewis practice," Thornton said. "We hated it, but it was good to see. I know they've had meeting times to go over the playbook, and they ran some plays 11-on-11. They did seven-on-seven when the rains came and the linemen went inside to work. I think (the offensive linemen) have been getting good work because they've been doing drills for the last couple of weeks. I was very impressed by the detail."
Even the post-practice meal was planned. Thornton said defensive end Robert Geathers catered lunch for everyone and they dined in a luxury suite above the basketball court.
"I thought it was a good sign. None of these guys had to be here," Thornton said. "There's nothing mandatory and there's the injury risk. But they wanted to be with their teammates, and that says a lot."
And he was really impressed with running back Cedric Benson showing up even though he's a free agent. Benson told the media Wednesday he came to last week's Thursday session and has been here all three days this week. The last few times we saw him before the lockout, he was endorsing new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's vow to run the ball and the belief the Bengals can move on beyond quarterback Carson Palmer.
Nothing has changed. Benson said in a Cincinnati Enquirer blog post that Gruden's scheme appears to be more his style: between the tackles instead of the stretch plays to the perimeter.
"It's quite different. It's a totally different style. It's going to take some work but granted everything works out it can be successful with the tools the Bengals have," Benson said in the post.
First, the club has to sign him. Second, Benson would see a new, more high-profile role for himself after three seasons as the bell cow.
"I've been very passive the last three years almost because I've had to," Benson said in the blog. "I'm not saying I'm a totally different person or I'd be crazy vocal or anything like that. I would be a little bit more expressive. I work hard and am passionate about it. I want the guys I'm playing with to be the same way."
Benson didn't back off his stance on Palmer when he met the media, saying he took the chance on Sirius Radio to reiterate "one gentleman's happiness and the kind of things I've seen this offense go through." The other Palmer, quarterback Jordan, can figure out where the coaches are going to go without his brother and is pushing for a Benson signing.
"When you're a running back like Cedric who wants the ball every single play, you have an offense coordinator that says we want to have a running identity and an uncertain quarterback situation which is going to be more carries that's the green light for him," Palmer said in* The Enquirer* blog. "He's one of the best running backs in the league and he is going to be primed to have one of the best seasons of his career. I want him here more than anybody."
Wednesday was a good day to run. According to Thornton, the quarerbacks didn't have wide receivers Chad Ochocinco, A.J. Green, Andre Caldwell, Quan Cosby, as well as tight end Jermaine Gresham.