MOBILE, Ala. - One of the most familiar figures in Bengals history surfaced Tuesday morning at the Senior Bowl when Jim McNally stalked the North offensive line during workouts at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
McNally, the original guru when he developed Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz and coached the Bengals offensive line in two Super Bowls, has come off University of Cincinnati guard Trevor Canfield's VCR and into his life. McNally actually started working with him before both knew it.
By the time Canfield emerged at Cincinnati's Western Hills High School, McNally had moved on to the Giants and then the Bills before a high school mentor introduced Canfield to McNally's coaching video he put together when he was in New York.
Life imitated art this past summer when McNally cliniced with Canfield and he came back to Cincinnati to work with him late last week before Canfield left for the Senior Bowl.
McNally retired at the end of his 28th NFL season last year from his hometown Bills, but he stays active on the clinic tour and in the college scene. He's now training clients of Sportstars, a New York City agency where McNally knows one of the representatives, Dave Butz, son of the All-Pro defensive lineman by the same name.
If he's as tough as McNally says, the 6-4, 300-pound Canfield will go in the third round because that's where the Rams took Nebraska center Richie Incognito in 2005 with the 81st pick.
It has nothing to do with enraging fans and head coaches, all of which Incognito did this season. McNally is simply talking about the toughness factor and although Incognito's rep took a hit when interim coach Jim Haslett exploded when he missed this season's finale with "an illness," he has plenty of tape showing he's extremely tough to play against.
"Canfield is the toughest kid I've seen on tape since Richie Incognito. That's who he reminds me of. A real tough kid who finishes well," McNally said as he watched Canfield mix it up with a pretty impressive group of defensive tackles from Boston College (B.J. Raji and Ron Brace) and Missouri (Ziggy Hood).
After practice, McNally chatted with Canfield about staying patient when getting into his pass sets.
"He so aggressive on the run, he just has to slow it down on the pass," McNally said. "He needs to work on his pass pro, but he's a real good run blocker. I think he can be a real good player."
He must because he says Canfield's mindset and desire to finish blocks reminds him of Bruce Reimers. That's a holy name in Bengals O-line lore since he became one of the ultimate tough guys as an integral part of a running game that finished ranked in the NFL at No. 2, 4, 1, 1 and 5 from 1986-90.
"Yeah, he has to work on some things," McNally said. "But he's got two things you can't teach: toughness and wanting to finish."
Cincinnati's historic Senior Bowl Five saw their ranks cut by one when cornerback Mike Mickens had to bow out after Monday's practice because of the knee injury that wiped out the last portion of his season. He sucked it up so he could play in the Orange Bowl, but he had a tough time getting through Monday's practice.
By the way, Incognito is scheduled to be a restricted free agent so he could be on the Bengals radar if the Rams choose not to tender him. But even though he's been inconsistent and outspoken, he is an absolute load for foes and may get a new lease with a new head coach.