As the fourth practice of the Bengals mandatory minicamp lagged in Wednesday afternoon's humidity, head coach Marvin Lewis felt compelled to call his team together about halfway through and urged them strongly to finish strongly.
"Today is the tough day, the fourth practice and you have to keep pushing through it," said Lewis, who sends his team home for the rest of the summer after Thursday morning's session. "We had a couple of lapses today mentally. Those are things you try and coach against and it's good to point those things out. Not only are these things that come up through training camp, but throughout the season." …
In the continuing debate about what is exactly real and what is not in these non-contact drills, Lewis said it's just good to get into football-type situations and here are two examples from Wednesday:
In the morning it looked like quarterback Carson Palmer got sacked on a play. But since there is no tackling, he kept going, ran up into the pocket, and hit receiver Andre Caldwell down the seam for what might have been a touchdown.
"That's the first ball to Andre down the middle and he caught it," Lewis said. "In all the practices we've had, he's caught very few balls in those situations and he made the catch. To me, that was a positive step. It's why you play the game. It's why we're out here."
In the afternoon during red zone drills, Lewis got on No. 1 pick Jermaine Gresham when the rookie tight end stopped his route in the end zone.
"The quarterback got flushed, he got frustrated, he stopped. You've got to keep playing. Stay alive," Lewis said. "You have an opportunity to make a learning play out of something in practice. We're losing a chance to practice something you don't get an opportunity to practice very often. That's staying alive. A big man like him making himself big for the quarterback and finish the play." …
By the way, that red-zone period showed why wide receiver Chad Ochocinco appears to have lost not much, if anything. Working against a top NFL cornerback in Leon Hall, The Ocho made like the last home game against Kansas City and tightroped the back line of the end zone with a falling-down, diving catch.
This in his second day back.
"Yeah, he was in. It was a hell of a play," said Lewis, who then watched Ochocinco catch a couple of more balls working against Hall's side in the period.
"Remember what we said when he went to Dancing With The Stars?" Lewis asked. "It was the best thing. Stay the hell away from me and give other guys reps and snaps and he wouldn't be in my ear all the time saying, 'Why am I here? I'm not getting any reps.'
"And it's good for him because you can't wear him out when he's here because he wants to take every snap. He's had four good practices. We've had guys out here that haven't been practicing and they look behind. He doesn't look behind. He's way different than he was in '08. He'll be fine." …
Wide receiver Antonio Bryant returned to practice in the afternoon after in the morning resting the knee that took him out of last year's training camp. Also in the afternoon safety Chris Crocker rested the ankle that was surgically repaired in the offseason. Tight end Reggie Kelly and right end Antwan Odom have each missed a practice the past two days as they go easy on their rebuilt Achilles.