2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Bengals' special teams key part of surge

By JOE KAY - AP Sports Writer
    2013-11-18 16:05

CINCINNATI (AP) - Linebacker James Harrison was asked if he'd ever had a moment like the one safety Tony Dye was celebrating.

''Who?'' Harrison said.

A reporter pointed across the locker room to a young player getting interviewed.

''No. 44?'' Harrison said.

Yeah, that guy. The one that returned a blocked punt for a touchdown in his first game in the NFL, getting to be a big part of the biggest quarter in Bengals history. And just the latest out-of-the-spotlight player to contribute to Cincinnati's rise as undisputed AFC North leader.

It's been a special season in Cincinnati.

The Bengals (7-4) have taken control of their division by turning into a complete team this year. The defense is among the best in the league, the offense among its most diversified, and the special teams are doing things not seen in Cincinnati for many years.

''I've never had that happen,'' Harrison said, getting back to Dye's first-game touchdown. ''I've never had that type of impact on a game coming out.''

And Dye isn't alone.

Rookies galore played a big role in Cincinnati's 41-20 victory over Cleveland on Sunday that left the Bengals with a 2 1/2-game lead in their division heading into a bye week. They fell behind 13-0 in the first quarter, then scored a club-record 31 points in the second quarter, with special teams leading the way.

Rookie Shawn Williams, a third-round draft pick, partially blocked Spencer Lanning's punt, which went only 9 yards and gave the Bengals possession at the Cleveland 38-yard line. That set up Andy Dalton's touchdown pass.

Jayson DiManche, an undrafted rookie from Southern Illinois, blocked another of Lanning's punts, and Dye returned it 24 yards for a touchdown in his first NFL game. Dye, an undrafted free agent from UCLA, missed last season with an injury and was promoted off the practice squad Saturday with safety Chris Crocker injured.

''Whenever I call a rush or call something for when they're coming, they get the opportunity to go affect the game in a big way,'' special teams coach Darrin Simmons said. ''Sometimes Jayson DiManche and Shawn Williams, they don't have that opportunity except for in that role. Their sense of urgency gets ratcheted up pretty good.''

Those two plays by low-profile rookies changed the game.

''Other guys see that and it picks them up,'' Dye said. ''The punt block before that by Shawn Williams was a game-changing play. When he blocked that punt, you could see the energy go up. Here comes Jayson with the second blocked punt, and I was able to pick it up and score a touchdown.

''You can feel the energy on the sideline.''

It wasn't a fluke. The Bengals have blocked three kicks this season, the first time they've done that since 1991. And their special teams have been clutch in the biggest moments. Mike Nugent has two winning field goals, and punter Kevin Huber helped them hold on for a 13-6 win over New England by kicking the ball 57 yards into a storm.

Huber also had a 66-yard punt on Sunday against the Browns. He is tied for sixth in the NFL with 21 punts inside the 20-yard line.

The Bengals have put a lot of thought into special teams while building their roster the last few years.

''Some people take special teams for a joke, but over here, special teams is just as important as the starters on offense and defense,'' cornerback Adam ''Pacman'' Jones said.

NOTES: Coach Marvin Lewis expects to have several injured players back after the bye week. S Chris Crocker (hamstring) and RG Kevin Zeitler (foot) were inactive for Sunday's game. MLB Rey Maualuga has missed the last three with an injured left knee. ... DE Michael Johnson said Monday he got some critical tweets for questioning why fans at Paul Brown Stadium booed the Bengals during their ugly first quarter on Sunday. ''But that is expected anytime you have something to say,'' Johnson said. ''Some people are going to agree, some people are going to disagree.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Morgan BurnettJul 31 09:42a

Green Bay Packers FS Morgan Burnett (ankle) and SS Tanner Miller (undisclosed) are not practicing Thursday, July 31.

Nate GarnerJul 31 08:53a

Miami Dolphins C Nate Garner is working with the first-team offense again Thursday, July 31, over C Shelley Smith.

Allen RobinsonJul 30 10:13p

Updating a previous report, Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson (and fellow rookie WR Marqise Lee) have seen plenty of opportunity at training camp with WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and [ More ]

Andre JohnsonJul 30 12:33p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson (hamstring) did not participate in practice Wednesday, July 30. Head coach Bill O'Brien has said the team is being cautious with Johnson.

Joe LooneyJul 30 12:13p

San Francisco 49ers OG Joe Looney has been working with the first-team offense at guard in place of OG Alex Boone and has looked good during practices.

Allen RobinsonJul 30 11:53a

Jacksonville Jaguars WRs Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson have looked comfortable and consistent in the early part of training camp, according to John Oehser.

Nate GarnerJul 30 11:03a

Miami Dolphins C Shelley Smith and C Nate Garner are splitting reps with the first-team offense at center Wednesday, July 30.

Clay HarborJul 30 10:53a

Updating previous reports, Jacksonville Jaguars TE Clay Harbor (calf) will be out for a month due to the calf injury he suffered earlier in the week.

Odell Beckham Jr.Jul 30 10:43a

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) is expected to be out at least another week, although tests on his hamstring came back negative Tuesday, July 29. The [ More ]

Marquis FlowersJul 30 10:33a

Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (knee) and LB Marquis Flowers (hamstring) were activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list.

David WilsonJul 30 10:13a

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) will sit out of practice the rest of the week and won't play in the first preseason game. He underwent tests Tuesday, [ More ]

Lardarius WebbJul 30 08:33a

Baltimore Ravens CB Lardarius Webb (back) had recent examinations reveal no structural damage to his back. It's believed to be a muscular problem that will require rest and rehabilitation. [ More ]

Chris RaineyJul 30 02:13a

LB Darrin Kitchens (Bills), OT Chris Faulk (Browns), PK Jake Rogers (Browns), OT Aslam Sterling (Broncos), RB Chris Rainey (Colts), WR Gerald Ford (Dolphins), OT DeMarcus Love (Giants) and [ More ]

Ricky SappJul 30 02:03a

The Houston Texans released LB Ricky Sapp (undisclosed) from their Non-Football Injury list Tuesday, July 29. Sapp is free to sign with any team.

Demarcus LawrenceJul 30 01:33a

Dallas Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence (foot) suffered a broken foot Tuesday, July 29, and he will need eight to 10 weeks recovery time, according to a source.

Brandon PettigrewJul 30 12:53a

Detroit Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew and the other tight ends have split time between working on the offensive line and working with the pass-catching receivers and running backs catching [ More ]

Corey HilliardJul 30 12:53a

Detroit Lions OTs Corey Hilliard and LaAdrian Waddle appear to be getting an equal shot at the starting right tackle job. Hilliard worked with the first-team offense Monday, July [ More ]

Kevin OgletreeJul 30 12:53a

Detroit Lions WR Kevin Ogletree has been spent time on the top unit each of the first two days of training camp, working as the No. 3 receiver. He [ More ]

Jason HatcherJul 30 12:13a

Washington Redskins DE Jarvis Jenkins said the team's signing of DE Jason Hatcher this offseason was a wakeup call that has motivated him to become a better player. 'I've [ More ]

Patrick PetersonJul 30 12:03a

Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson announced via Twitter Tuesday, July 29, that he has signed a five-year contract extension worth $70 million with $48 million guaranteed.

Robert MeachemJul 29 11:53p

New Orleans Saints WR Robert Meachem (back) and OT Tavon Rooks (back) returned to practice Tuesday, July 29.

Greg ScruggsJul 29 11:43p

Seattle Seahawks DT Jordan Hill, SS Jeron Johnson, DE Greg Scruggs and LB Mike Morgan are four players that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn mentioned when asked what players have [ More ]

Jonathan DwyerJul 29 11:33p

Arizona Cardinals RB Stepfan Taylor worked with the first-team offense in place of RB Andre Ellington (neck) Tuesday, July 29. Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com believes the move means that [ More ]

Jake MatthewsJul 29 11:23p

Atlanta Falcons OT Jake Matthews has impressed QB Matt Ryan during training camp. 'I think Jake, his size and he's very strong, very athletic,' Ryan said Tuesday, July [ More ]

Dale MossJul 29 11:03p

The Chicago Bears signed free-agent WR Dale Moss (Panthers) to a one-year deal Tuesday, July 29. The financial terms were not disclosed.

Jerrel JerniganJul 29 10:43p

New York Giants CB Charles James could make the roster as a punt returner as a result of injuries to RB David Wilson (neck) and WR Odell Beckham Jr. [ More ]

Zac StacyJul 29 10:23p

St. Louis Ram RB Tre Mason saw received some snaps with the first-team Tuesday, July 29, with RB Zac Stacy receiving a majority of the work with the first-team.

Ray McDonaldJul 29 09:53p

San Francisco 49ers CB Chris Culliver (knee), CB Tramaine Brock (knee) and DE Ray McDonald (leg) did not practice Tuesday, July 29.

O'Brien SchofieldJul 29 09:33p

Seattle Seahawks LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (stomach) missed practice Tuesday, July 29, with a stomach injury, and LB O'Brien Schofield was given a scheduled day of rest.

Bryan BulagaJul 29 08:43p

Green Bay Packers OT Bryan Bulaga (knee) performed well in one-on-one pass-blocking drills Monday, July 28, stopping a rush attempt from LB Clay Matthews and two attempts from LB Julius Peppers.

Calvin JohnsonJul 29 08:23p

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson is taking part in fewer reps in training camp this year than in years past and said he is trying to be smarter about [ More ]

Giorgio TavecchioJul 29 08:13p

Detroit Lions K Nate Freese and K Giorgio Tavecchio both missed field-goal attempts from nearly 50 yards during practice Tuesday, July 29, and the two remain in a competition for the starting kicking job.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group