Posted: 1:30 a.m.
If anyone knows what Antwan Odom faces as the newest Bengal, it is John Thornton, suddenly the senior Bengal along that much-maligned defensive front.
Like Thornton did in 2003, Odom arrives from the Tennessee Titans at age 26 looking to get out from under the shadow of much heralded linemates. For Thornton, it was Jevon Kearse and Albert Haynesworth. For Odom it is Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
But the common thread is Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn, the guy that coached both, a guy that Thornton calls "a great defensive line coach."
"If you survived four years with Jim Washburn, Antwan must be a good player," Thornton said Tuesday. "It's like anything else, he'll have to adjust. It's a different type of thing. Jim Washburn goes to bed every night thinking of different drills to rush the quarterback. He was trying to break the team sack records. It's a different attitude. I'm not saying it's a good or bad thing. I'm just saying a guy like Jevon Kearse had to adjust when he went to the Eagles, and Antwan will adjust, too. It's just different."
ThorntonThornton has spoken with the man Odom is going to replace at right end, Justin Smith, fresh off his $45 million deal in San Francisco, and said that everyone has to adapt.
"He's going to be asked to do different things out there than he did here," Thornton said of Smith. "Antwan's a different kind of player than Justin. It's all about adjusting."
Thornton hardly knows Odom, but he remains friendly with Washburn and believes Odom has had good preparation. He knows Odom will face what he faced. With a big contract and a bigger role, Odom will face more pressure.
"That's just the way it is," Thornton said. "That comes with the territory. I don't think you can judge Antwan right away, but I'm sure he'll settle in and do well."
MORE TACKLES? With Smith gone, Thornton, at 31, is the dean of the D-line. Scheduled to make $3.5 million this season in the last year of his deal, Thornton has watched the Bengals try to make trades for younger, bigger tackles. But as far as he knows, he's still got a job.
"I haven't talked to them. They're not supposed to talk to me. They don't have to talk to me. I'm under contract," Thornton said. "I really haven't paid much attention to it."
Here's why the Bengals may not do anything at defensive tackle until the first three rounds of the draft:
Compensatory draft picks, which are computed by a NASA-like formula that takes into consideration free agents lost and free agents signed. That doesn't count players that get cut with time still left on their deals.
The Bengals may bring in Bills veteran Larry Triplett to take a look at him, but would they pay him or a guy like him something like a $1 million bonus if they're going to draft one or two tackles?
In fact, they'll probably use a lot of discretion in signing any position. And not just because punter Kyle Larson's five-year deal counts about $1.5 million under this year's salary cap, leaving them about $4 million to spend.
Take a look at what happened last year when the Bengals went very cautiously in free agency after they lost guys like Eric Steinbach, Kevin Kaesviharn, Marcus Wilkins and Tony Stewart. Because their losses outnumbered their gains, they figure to be awarded three or four extra picks in this April's draft, a list that is usually released at the March 30-April 2 NFL meetings. And Steinbach figures to bring them a third-rounder.
With Smith and free safety Madieu Williams already gone now and Odom in the fold, the Bengals are probably going to get another third in '09 if they don't make any more significant signings. So they figure to be weighing what is left on a severely picked-over market against a couple of draft picks next year.