TRAINING CAMP 2008 INDEX: Features, news, notes, video, photos, schedule and more* * *
Updated: 8-6-08, 7:15 a.m.
GEORGETOWN, Ky. - Willie Anderson looks like he's turning back the clock as he grinds through the majority of training camp workouts and on Tuesday, Joe Walter helped him push back the hands.
Walter, of course, is the big affable Texan that anchored right tackle until Anderson came along with the 10th pick in the 1996 draft. Walter had such regard in the room that when he was cut in the middle of the next season, backup quarterback Boomer Esiason wore his helmet the next Sunday on the sidelines.
But before he became a locker-room rallying point, Walter helped a 20-year-old athletic wunderkind with NFL technique and when he reads about Anderson helping out Stacy Andrews while being a backup, Walter smiles.
"Good player, good man," Walter said as he waited to get some autographs with his son and friends. "To do what he's doing now to help these guys, help Stacy, that's what I did for Willie. When it's your time, for me, it was time to give it up. You hate to do it. It's the worst thing in the world, but you've got to do it."
How long is 11 years ago?
Long enough that Walter and old running back Stanford Jennings could be seen laughing and sharing old stories with Bengals president Mike Brown during practice Wednesday. Even though when Brown decided to cut them, they ended up being two of the more explosive cuts in team history. Head coach Sam Wyche nearly quit before the '91 season when Jennings got let go and Walter's release early in '97 nearly caused a revolt.
"It's a business," Walter shrugged and Jennings said, "Talking to Mike like this, he's been great. I hope the (current) players see it."
AndersonAnderson has felt the business side in being relegated to a backup role, but he remembers how those guys in the '90s responded to him.
"It was an awkward deal, really," Anderson said. "Here I was, the 10th pick in the draft and they hadn't had a first-round lineman in (12) years. A 20-year-old kid making all this money and all those veterans in there."
But Anderson said the way the veterans treated him, particularly Walter, was one of the highlights of the grim '90s for him. And he remembers.
"I've been the big name on the line for 12 years now. That's why when a new guy comes in, like Levi (Jones), I want to help them," Anderson said. "(Offensive line coach) Paul Alexander tells the new guys every year that this is a unique place because the veterans help the young guys and that doesn't happen on every team."
Anderson smiles when he remembers Walter.
"You could hear Joe coming around the corner, his knees and his feet with all those surgeries," Anderson said. "The NFL isn't as brutal now as when Joe played. Think about it back then. He was a (seventh-rounder) coming up through the ranks.
"It's always good to see Joe. Some of the young guys had never seen him and that was good. ... He was one of the best tackes in the league."
Walter has enjoyed watching Anderson go to four Pro Bowls and says, "Yeah, I think he can still play. So did I."
Jennings, the running back who went all the way on a Super Bowl kickoff, works for New Balance and was in nearby Lexington on business and was headed back to Atlanta. Walter lives in Burlington, Ky., and is a bank loan officer.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
Running back Rudi Johnson and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh continued to rest their hamstrings at Tuesday's lone practice in the afternoon, and defensive backs Herana-Daze Jones, Ethan Kilmer and Deltha O'Neal were out again. Chad Johnson's ankle must have responded overnight because he worked again. Word was he was in the weight room at 6:15 a.m. after Monday night's practice.
The Bengals are making the transition to a team that uses double tight-end formations rarely to frequently and more evidence came after practice on the upper-level field.
Quarterback Carson Palmer and tight end Ben Utecht cut solitary figures on the lower field for about 15 minutes as they ran routes.
"To get time alone with Carson is great because I want to see how he likes to get things done," said Utecht, the former Colt who makes his Bengals debut Monday night in Green Bay. "A lot of it is timing."
Hit of the day went to free safety Marvin White near the goal line. It was an inadverdent hit because the team was in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, but he dropped tight end Reggie Kelly in a collision.
White was also around the play when Chad Johnson had two straight passes batted from him before he could make a play on the ball. Johnson looked like he was trying to recover after his first two practices on Monday as he adjusts back to football shape. He hung with the black sweat pants.
Houshmandzadeh said he's not going to push it and doesn't know when he'll be back. He said he doubts Marvin Lewis will play him in Green Bay because he's missed too much practice.
"I know what happened before," said Houshmandzadeh of his '03 hamstring injury that cost him all but two games. "I kept coming back too soon."