Updated: 6-18-08, 3:50 p.m.
The Bengals and Georgetown College reached another one-year extension Wednesday for training camp at the Kentucky college's East Campus Athletic Complex.
"We're happy to announce an agreement to extend our relationship with Georgetown College," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis in a press release announcing a deal that runs through '09 in what will mark the 13th season of the relationship. "We like the traditional setup of conducting training camp away from our in-season facility, and, really, the setup at Georgetown's athletic complex is perfect for all of our camp needs.
"Additionally, we can't say enough good things about the college's staff members who run camp for us. Not only can they do just about anything we would ever need them to, but they also make us feel very much at home."
The school released a similar statement.
"Our relationship with the Cincinnati Bengals organization continues to be a very positive thing for the college, and we're glad they're confident enough in us to extend the agreement for another year," said Eric Ward, Georgetown College athletic director. "We have a great working relationship with the Bengals staff and coaches, and know what they expect from us when they arrive for camp."
Many NFL teams have moved their camps to their facilities, but the Bengals don't have the three grass practice fields that Georgetown does. They will when the old Astroturf surface is replaced by grass, but the Bengals still opted to head south again next season.
Field conditions have been a concern in the past at Georgetown, but not lately. Ward says the unknowns now revolve around attendance.
"Our major concern this year is the economy. Are people going to be traveling?" he asked on Tuesday.
After setting an attendance record of an estimated 55,000 in 2006, Ward says about 50,000 more came through the gates last year on a Perfect Storm sort of calendar with camp opening on a weekend for two extra dates. With the Bengals not starting their preseason this year until the Monday night game in Green Bay Aug. 11, their first practice isn't until two weeks before on Monday, July 28.
Ward says the annual intrasquad scrimmage and mock game are set for the following weekend on Friday night Aug. 1 and Saturday afternoon Aug. 2, and the club comes back to Kentucky after the opener before breaking camp Aug. 15 for the Aug. 17 home opener against the Lions.
"It's really an unknown what the crowds are going to be like," Ward said Tuesday. "The Bengals have had some controversy during the offseason and gas could be $4.50 a gallon. And, is Chad (Johnson) going to show up? That's a factor because he's one of the marquee names and a player whose autograph people want."
It appears that Ward will get his man. Although agent Drew Rosenhaus wouldn't confirm his remarks later, he did tell ESPN last week that Johnson is going to report to training camp. And Johnson had arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle Wednesday, a procedure the club said wouldn't prevent him from being ready for camp.
The full 2008 training camp schedule is expected to be released next week.
WhitworthGUARD-ED TALKS: Now that defensive tackle Domata Peko is in the fold, it's time to start the watch on 2006 draft classmate Andrew Whitworth.
Steve Colson, Whitworth's agent, said Wednesday he has met face-to-face with the Bengals front office about an extension for the rookie deal that is up in 2009.
Since being taken in the second round out of LSU in '06, Whitworth has emerged as one of the more important Bengals with 28 starts almost evenly divided at two different spots. The current left guard has made 15 starts there and the other 13 at left tackle at the age of 26.
"We've met and the process has started," Colson said. "By reaching out now they obviously know they've got somebody special and Whit loves it there. It's a good start."
Peko, a fourth-round pick in '06, signed a five-year, $30 million extension last week.