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Torch passing

Updated: 8:25 p.m.

With Willie Anderson's 181 games and 12 seasons in the books, some of Monday's locker-room discussion centered on finding an heir to his mantle of leadership.

And there is not a dearth of candidates, starting with the other side of the line in left tackle Levi Jones and left guard Andrew Whitworth. Jones is a natural as a fellow first-round pick who learned under some professional tackles.

"When I came in, I had a numbers of players like that; John Jackson, Richmond Webb, Willie Anderson," Jones said. "We learned how to become pros by watching those guys. I guess you could say the torch has been passed to some of the other players around. But that presence of someone who has been through everything for more than a decade is gone. This team just got a lot younger."

Jones says he's ready to take that torch.



"I will definitely do my part. I know Whit as well as I have been looked upon as guys that can step up as leaders and I'm sure we'll do what we can and do a good job."

Jones called Anderson "a tremendous loss," one that leaves long-snapper Brad St. Louis as The Dean with 123 Bengals games as he heads into his ninth season.

St. Louis and his wife, Michelle, talked about it Saturday night after the dust had cleared. Not only Anderson, but so many of the others.

"We'll definitely miss him. He was just a big rock for this team for a long time," St. Louis said. "We were talking about all the people we've met and known since we've been here. From all walks of life. A lot of neat people."

St. Louis recalled a moment from earlier this season when Anderson gave some advice to younger players about which places to stay away from and threw in, "Back in '96 ... "

"Some of the guys were looking at him like it was forever," he said.

St. Louis sees a lot of leader-types, including "the guys I work with, Kyle (Larson) and Shayne (Graham)."

St. Louis ticked off tight end Reggie Kelly and quarterback Carson Palmer, and agreed that emerging youngsters like Whitworth and first-round pick Keith Rivers look ready.

"They seem like guys that are going to be around for a long time," St. Louis said. "You can tell with Keith where he's coming from, what kind of base he's got on him. What kind of person he is. He just wants to do so well."

Chad Johnson is another stunned by the release of three former Pro Bowlers but he says it won't make the Bengals less of a team because "of what we have offensively." Still, he found it "shocking."

"To have that caliber of player (cut) at one time," Johnson said. "Usually you're able to give a reason why it happens to certain people. But I don't have a reason to let Willie Anderson go. What reason do you let a Rudi Johnson go? He's solid. Solid. Deltha O'Neal. He's solid. You're talking about people that have been consistent. Things might not have gone right for Rudi last year or the year before that, but there's a reason behind that. It's not all Rudi. They always say it's a team game."

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