2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Bengals fine-tuning team that's been playoff flop

By JOE KAY - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-23 11:16

CINCINNATI (AP) - Marvin Lewis sees it as a whole new series rather than a summer repeat.

The Cincinnati Bengals agreed to be the focus of HBO's ``Hard Knocks'' training camp series for the second time this summer. They also were in the cable spotlight in 2009 with an entirely different cast that reached the playoffs and flopped.

``It is a lot different football team,'' the Bengals coach said. ``There are very few players on this squad that were here in '09, so there's a lot of interesting positions, some battles that we're going to have. There's been quite a bit of change.''

One thing hasn't changed: the knack for falling flat in the postseason. The Bengals have been to the playoffs each of the last two seasons and lost to Houston both times. Those poor performances extended the seventh-longest stretch of playoff futility in NFL history - no postseason win since the 1990 season.

Andy Dalton is entering his third season as the starting quarterback, and young players like receiver A.J. Green and defensive tackle Geno Atkins have emerged as stars. While HBO's audience watches, the Bengals will try to fine-tune a roster that returns nearly intact from last season and knows the stakes.

Five things to know as the Bengals prepare to open training camp with cameras rolling at their first practice at Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday.

1. IT'S DALTON'S TIME: He needs to take a big step in his third season. Dalton is the first Bengals quarterback to reach the playoffs in each of his first two seasons. He has 47 touchdown passes, trailing only Dan Marino and Peyton Manning for most in the first two seasons. But he's had two awful playoff games - no touchdowns, four interceptions and a 48.6 passer rating. He overthrew an open Green in the end zone late in the playoff loss at Houston last season. Dalton has been working on his long throws and needs to find receivers other than Green with more consistency. Tight end Tyler Eifert, taken in the first round, should give him another option.

2. DALTON'S BACKUP: One of Cincinnati's biggest losses in free agency was backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who gave the Bengals some security in case Dalton got hurt. They signed Josh Johnson, who started five games for Tampa Bay from 2008-11, and claimed John Skelton off waivers for Arizona, which couldn't settle on a starter last season. Johnson knows offensive coordinator Jay Gruden from their days in Tampa Bay. Skelton has never run a West Coast-style offense. Although Dalton has been very durable, missing only half of a game because of injury, a team with playoff aspirations needs some security at the backup spot.

3. WHAT'S UP WITH ANDRE? The Bengals reached a three-year deal with right tackle Andre Smith as the draft started in April, meaning their entire offensive line would return intact. But Smith missed all of the team's offseason workouts and its mandatory minicamp because of personal matters, the only player who wasn't available. His conditioning will be a focus in camp early. They'll also be looking at how center Kyle Cook has recovered from an ankle injury that required surgery and forced him to miss the first 12 games last season.

4. TURNING HARRISON LOOSE: The Bengals' biggest offseason acquisition was linebacker James Harrison, who left Pittsburgh after they couldn't agree on a restructured contract. Coordinator Mike Zimmer will be looking for ways to turn the outside linebacker loose in a defense than finished sixth in the NFL in yards allowed last season. Harrison says he's healthy and ready to make an impression with his new team, especially when it faces his old team.

5. PAGING DRE KIRKPATRICK: Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was the 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft, but missed all of training camp and the first seven games of the season after injuring his left knee during workouts. He played in five games, then suffered a concussion and was bothered again by the knee problem, ending his season. Kirkpatrick has been limited because of the knee in the offseason. His status will be another focus in camp.

---

Online: AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Adrian PetersonApr 16 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been informed that he will be reinstated from the commissioner exempt list starting Friday, April 17.

Sammy WatkinsApr 15 11:33p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (hip) is able to work out in some capacity during the team's offseason program, although head coach Rex Ryan indicated Wednesday, April 15, that [ More ]

Kai ForbathApr 15 10:53p

Washington Redskins restricted free-agent PK Kai Forbath posted on social media Wednesday, April 15, that he has re-signed with the team. The club has not yet confirmed the signing.

George JohnsonApr 15 08:33a

Detroit Lions DE George Johnson was acquired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, April 15. Tampa signed Johnson to an offer sheet that was disputed by Detroit, but the [ More ]

Philip RiversApr 15 12:13a

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers is under contract for one more season, and he has expressed a desire to play out his deal. However, the Chargers might be [ More ]

Josh GordyApr 14 06:03p

Free-agent CB Josh Gordy (Colts) signed a veteran minimum deal with the New York Giants Tuesday, April 14, according to a source.

Ricardo LocketteApr 14 05:23p

Seattle Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette signed his exclusive-rights tender Tuesday, April 14.

Ike TaylorApr 14 09:32a

Free-agent CB Ike Taylor (Steelers) announced his retirement Tuesday, April 14.

Wade SmithApr 14 02:12a

Free-agent OG Wade Smith (Eagles) announced his retirement after 12 years in the National Football League.

Michael CrabtreeApr 14 01:13a

The Oakland Raiders are giving free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) a one-year, $3 million deal with another $2 million in incentives, a source said Monday, April 13.

Eben BrittonApr 14 01:03a

Free-agent OT Eben Britton (Bears) has been suspended four games by the NFL for an unspecified violation.

Matt ForteApr 13 08:02p

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte was not present for the start of the offseason workouts Monday, April 13, according to sources. Forte is entering the final year of his [ More ]

Cody LatimerApr 13 08:02p

Denver Broncos WR Cody Latimer, who is expected to line up across from WR Demaryius Thomas in 2015, has been praised by WR Emmanuel Sanders, who figures to move [ More ]

Joe MaysApr 13 04:32p

Free-agent LB Joe Mays (Chiefs) signed an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Monday, April 13.

Zackary BowmanApr 13 02:22p

Free-agent CB Zack Bowman (Giants) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Monday, April 13.

Sean RichardsonApr 13 02:02p

Green Bay Packers restricted free-agent SS Sean Richardson will remain with the Packers after the team decided to match the one-year, $2.55 million offer he signed with the Oakland Raiders, according to a source.

Sean RichardsonApr 12 10:02a

Green Bay Packers restricted free-agent SS Sean Richardson signed an offer sheet with the Oakland Raiders, and the Packers have until Monday, April 13, to inform him if they [ More ]

Jason CampbellApr 12 07:02a

Free-agent QB Jason Campbell (Bengals) is considering retirement, according to sources close to the team. Campbell has rejected multiple opportunities to sign a contract for 2015, including offers from [ More ]

James CaseyApr 11 01:02p

Free-agent TE James Casey (Eagles) agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos Saturday, April 11. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Johnny ManzielApr 11 12:22p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel has been released from his rehab facility.

Victor ButlerApr 10 03:22p

New York Giants LB Victor Butler has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Anthony SpencerApr 10 01:12p

Free-agent DE Anthony Spencer (Cowboys) signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints Friday, April 10. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Charles TillmanApr 9 04:02p

Free-agent CB Charles Tillman (Bears) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Thursday, April 9. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rob HouslerApr 9 12:42p

Free-agent TE Rob Housler (Cardinals) has agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns on a one-year deal, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Le'Veon BellApr 9 09:52a

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell was suspended three games and fined an additional game check after violating the league's substance abuse policy, according to league sources. He has appealed.

Stevan RidleyApr 8 07:53p

New York Jets RB Stevan Ridley signed a one-year deal with the team.

Amobi OkoyeApr 8 04:53p

Dallas Cowboys DT Amobi Okoye was released Wednesday, April 8.

Emmanuel LamurApr 8 03:43p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Emmanuel Lamur officially re-signed Wednesday, April 8, to a one-year, $2.356 million deal.

Adrian PetersonApr 8 01:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is 'highly unlikely' to face more suspension from the league when he's finally off the Commissioner's Exempt List, according to a source. Peterson's next [ More ]

George JohnsonApr 7 10:23p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed restricted free-agent DE George Johnson (Lions) to a three-year offer sheet Tuesday, April 7. Financial terms are undisclosed. The Lions have five days to match the offer.

Le'Veon BellApr 7 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell is expected to be suspended for the first two games of next season, according to sources. Bell is being suspended following an arrest last [ More ]

Erin HendersonApr 7 05:13p

Free-agent LB Erin Henderson (Vikings) agreed to terms on an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Tuesday, April 7, according to a source. Henderson didn't play last year [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group