Updated: 6:15 p.m.
Defensive captain Domata Peko had an upbeat day, lauding the leadership of middle linebacker Rey Maualuga and cornerback Leon Hall as Maualuga continues to work in the middle and adjust to making the signals, according to published reports chronicling the Bengals voluntary voluntaries.
On Wednesday, the offense and defense are scheduled to work together at the University of Cincinnati.
The theme of Joe Kay's Associated Press dispatch from Tuesday's defensive workout at Ignition Sports in Mason, Ohio is how the players are coaching it up with no coaches allowed. Maualuga, who may be the first Opening Day middle linebacker not Dhani Jones since 2007, has been one of the guys taking a bigger leadership role than before.
"Last year, I was just a person that was following the crowd, just listening," Maualuga told the AP. "Now I feel my presence and the way to speak to the guys will help one or two people. I'm just trying to be that leader and no matter how it works out, when the season starts I'm trying to be that captain. That's my goal.
"When it's third-and-short, I want everybody to look in my eyes and feel confidence knowing I can call a play, line everybody up and make that play."
Kay says Peko even looks like a coach as he holds a clipboard and flips through the plays.
"We have really been able to get at the playbook and get some of these young guys on the field," Peko told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "We're getting all the play calls and hand signals because I know how important OTAs are. It's important to get something like that going. I'm excited to see the guys who are here and committed to it. The only way to improve is to get back to basics."
Peko told the AP it's important to clear the cobwebs of last season's 4-12.
"When you have such a bad season like last year, people start pointing fingers and stuff," Peko told Kay. "I think the only way to get away from that is to go back to the basics, get better, look yourself in the mirror and say, 'How can I get better?' "
OPTIMISM REIGNS: Optimism abounded Tuesday from the practice field to the board room via Twitter and other NFL sources of info.
Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com and Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com posted stories saying the owners and players are dialed into getting a deal that ends the lockout. The stories mirror the conventional wisdom that a new collective bargaining agreement is going to be in place in the next two to three weeks.
ProFootballTalk.com reported the next key date is the owners' June 21 meeting and that the league has instructed them to prepare to stay overnight with the speculation they may be asked to vote on elements of a deal.
Meanwhile, Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson praised quarterbacks Andy Dalton, Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour with a tweet after Tuesday's workout at UC:
"Qb's getin that extra work n getting there steps rite! I love these 3 guys All hard workers! Jordan is also stepping up being a great leader."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Joe Reedy of *The Enquirer *reported that among the 17 players at the defensive workout Tuesday were a pair of safeties making their first appearances, rookie Robert Sands and veteran Tom Nelson, as well as linebacker Vincent Rey.
"I feel pretty good," Sands told The Enquirer. "The other defensive backs are helping me learn the plays and getting a good grasp of the plays and terminology. As a rookie, I'm going in at a little bit of a disadvantage because we have to pick up the speed and tempo of the veteran guys but also learn the plays."
» Maualuga told Reedy that he, Peko and Steelerssafety Troy Polamalu are going to America Samoa on June 27 for a week, which includes a three-day camp held by Polamalu's foundation.