With that brief introduction, let's get to know the Cincinnati Bengals.
What are the Bengals plans if Carson Palmer misses time with injury?
He’s definitely missing the game this Thursday against the Rams, especially after missing three practices this week with a mild high ankle sprain. The biggest problem he’s having is on his drop backs – I suppose for a quarterback, that’s kind of important. Luckily, his arm is crisp and his throws have had some zip. Once his ankle heals, he should be fine. There’s already word that Palmer is expected to return against the Colts next week, hoping to get in some work before the regular season kicks off.
During the offseason, the Bengals reiterated, several times, that the offense is taking a proactive approach to rushing the ball with more frequency and dedication. This new philosophy they’re working to incorporate has a lot to do with being in the same division as the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers; teams that battled for the AFC Championship last year. It’s why we made an effort to improve the position with the acquisitions of Brian Leonard and Bernard Scott during the offseason.
If Palmer misses time, the Bengals will likely push their philosophy to rush the ball, setting up play action to allow our great wide receivers the little room they need to break big gains.
With Housh gone, give us an idea about the Bengals situation at WR? Does Coles have any legs left?
Chad Esteban Ochocinco Johnson Fitzgerald worked fiercely this offseason with the goal of recapturing his old form. Much was publicized about his desire to leave Cincinnati and many pointed towards that as being the reason he had the worst season in his career. However, he also dealt with ankle and shoulder issues all year which basically neutralized the team’s downfield threat.
With that said, our wildcard is Chris Henry. If you’re unaware of his past transgressions, do a quick Google search to get yourself up to snuff. After being exonerated after his latest "incident", Henry returned with the team midway through last season. Since then, Henry has shown remarkable progress towards a maturity level that still has us speechless. Furthermore, Palmer has taken the kid under his wings, spending time with him during the offseason in California, working out together. We believe he’s turned that page, realizing the gifts and opportunities that he has. On the field, he hasn’t just been a weapon on the offense; he’s been the offense.
We haven’t seen much of Laveranues Coles, so I can’t really say with much authority. But you know how preseason is with older guys; you just don’t get a good look. Some are predicting that Henry will unseat Coles as the number two wide receiver, which might make the most sense. Henry, we believe, can beat any cornerback with his size and speed. Putting Coles in the slot could be very dangerous for opposing defenses. And while you’re thinking of all that, just remember, Chad is determined to have his best year in his career to make up for the disaster that he experienced last year. He’s expressed immense guilt over all of that.
With all of that said, we also have Andre Caldwell, who shows remarkable similarities to Houshmandzadeh. Jerome Simpson has made some amazing catches and is arguably the fastest wide receiver on the team. We have one hell of a wide receiver group.
Is Andre Smith ever going to sign?
One can hope. All I’m good for is a quick rundown on where we are; which in itself could bore the hell out of your readers. So, the quickest version is that both sides are roughly $12 million apart in negotiations. The Bengals claim that they want to pay Smith something closer to the rest of the first round picks; however disregarding the slotting system. Alvin Keels, Andre Smith’s representative, only wants Smith to be paid where he’s slotted. It’s an impasse that requires some compromise and creative negotiations. We’re stuck like trench warfare during World War I. At this rate, we’re not expecting to see Smith in the first regular season game this year.
How have the Bengals other draft picks looked so far? We're especially interested in how Maualuga looks since the Rams had he and Laurinaitis to choose from. Any surprises from this year's draft class?
This has been a great class. Rey Maualuga shows flashes of his talents; ranging from reckless abandonment, shooting through gaps and clogging the point of attack. Speed and aggression are his best attributes; however lack recognition and over-aggressiveness have also shown to be his biggest liability. Moving from middle linebacker to outside linebacker has risen concerns about his coverage skills, which we expect will take some time. As of now, he’s the backup strong side linebacker with an inside track to being the team’s middle linebacker once Dhani Jones leaves Cincinnati.
Michael Johnson could be the steal of the draft – not for just the Bengals, but for the NFL. A little over-optimistic? Well, you’re talking to a Bengals fan in the preseason. We tend to do that. Anyway, he has the size and speed and has drawn comparisons to players like Jevon Kearse and DeMarcus Ware from "experts". Due to injury at the position, Chase Coffman has a real chance to start at Tight End and Kevin Huber is the punter, hands down. There’s a very good chance that five of the top six players selected by the Bengals could be starters by year’s end.
How has former Ram Brian Leonard looked this year? Where does he figure to be on the depth chart?
Let me make this relative to the Bengals, rather than specifically an examination of a single player comparable to the position standards. When the regular season kicked off last year, the Bengals had Chris Perry, Kenny Watson and DeDe Dorsey. Perry and Watson were released soon after the season ended and Dorsey is desperately competing for a roster spot. That alone expresses the first question that the team is taking a proactive approach towards dedicating themselves into a stronger rushing offense.
Brian Leonard is an improvement over those guys, easily. As of now, Leonard is competing against Bernard Scott for the backup role. Scott, one of the team’s two sixth round picks, has attributes that are best used as a change-of-pace back while Leonard is probably the team’s best third-down option. However, those two are back and forth in terms of their talents, so it could easily be the other way around.