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

Mike PounceyJul 23 12:33p

Miami Dolphins C Mike Pouncey (hip) could miss the first eight weeks of the season because of the hip surgery he had this offseason, according to a source. He [ More ]

Evan RodriguezJul 23 12:23p

Buffalo Bills FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and TE Chris Gragg (cramps) were hospitalized because of complications from cramps and were getting hydrated, according to head coach Doug Marrone. Rodriguez [ More ]

Dustin HopkinsJul 23 12:20p

Buffalo Bills PK Dustin Hopkins will have to try to make the roster as a kickoff specialist, according to head coach Doug Marrone.

Vernon DavisJul 23 12:13p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis has reported to camp Wednesday, July 23, according to an Instagram post from 49ers S C.J. Spillman.

Jason BabinJul 23 12:03p

New York Jets signed DE Jason Babin (Jaguars) to a two-year contract, with the second year being a team option. He's expected to serve as a situational pass rusher.

Reggie WayneJul 23 11:13a

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (knee) said he has been medically cleared to practice. He's expected to be limited, though, especially in the near future.

Kraig UrbikJul 23 10:53a

Buffalo Bills OG Chris Hairston continued to receive first-team repetitions at right guard in the red zone drills Wednesday, July 23. OG Kraig Urbik struggled with first-team the previous day.

Jamaal CharlesJul 23 09:53a

Updating previous reports, Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles will not report to training camp Wednesday, July 23, barring a major contract breakthrough.

Vick BallardJul 23 09:33a

Indianapolis Colts RB Vick Ballard (knee) reported to camp and has passed his physical.

Rob GronkowskiJul 23 08:53a

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee) has been cleared for contact and will not be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, according to head coach Bill Belichick.

Evan RodriguezJul 23 08:43a

Buffalo Bills TE Chris Gragg (cramps), FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and CB Brandon E. Smith (leg) were out of practice Wednesday, July 23. OT Seantrel Henderson (hip) returned to action.

Rashad JenningsJul 23 08:23a

New York Giants RBs Rashad Jennings, David Wilson and Andre Williams could be used in a three-man rotation this season to keep Jennings fresh.

Caleb McSurdyJul 23 02:53a

The St. Louis Rams waived four players Tuesday, July 22, as they cut loose OL Abasi Salimu, WR Diontae Spencer, LB Caleb McSurdy, and LB Tavarius Wilson.

Carl NicksJul 23 02:43a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey, G Carl Nicks and DE Da'Quan Bowers may be fighting for roster spots once training camp begins due to other competition for their [ More ]

Chris CulliverJul 23 01:13a

San Francisco 49ers CB Chris Culliver (knee) has been cleared to take part in practice when training camp opens this week. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament to [ More ]

Ben TateJul 23 01:13a

Cleveland Browns RBs Ben Tate and Terrance West will compete for the starting tailback job during training camp and the preseason, and it's a battle head coach Mike Pettine [ More ]

Joel BitonioJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OG Joel Bitonio (ankle) lined up with the first-team offense during organized team activities (OTAs), and he held the spot until he suffered a sprained ankle June [ More ]

Paul McQuistanJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OLs Garrett Gilkey, Paul McQuistan and Jason Pinkston are fighting for position in the pecking order at right guard, and one of them might even push OG [ More ]

Craig RobertsonJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns LBs Christian Kirksey and Craig Robertson will compete for an inside linebacker job during training camp, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Joe HadenJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns CBs Justin Gilbert and Buster Skrine will compete for the starting cornerback job opposite CB Joe Haden in training camp. 'We weren't going to hand Justin that [ More ]

Gary BarnidgeJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns TEs Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray will battle for the No. 2 tight end spot during training camp and the preseason.

Eli ManningJul 23 12:23a

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) has shown no ill effects during camp from ankle surgery that sidelined him for earlier offseason activities.

Tom CoughlinJul 22 11:53p

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was not happy that several players were forced to leave practice with dehydration issues Tuesday, July 22. 'It pisses me off,' Coughlin [ More ]

Brandon LloydJul 22 11:23p

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson is the frontrunner for the No. 3 WR job, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, but he added that neither Johnson nor WR [ More ]

Darren SprolesJul 22 11:13p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles' ability to win one-on-one matchups in space is what head coach Chip Kelly plans to exploit this season. Kelly said opposing defenses played a [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 11:03p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and WR Tori Gurley had miscommunications on three occasions Tuesday, July 22, resulting in two incomplete passes and an interception. Joe Buscaglia of WGR [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:53p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and QB Jeff Tuel are in an open competition for the backup quarterback job, head coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday, July 22.

Brian MoormanJul 22 10:43p

Buffalo Bills P Brian Moorman was more effective than P Jake Dombrowski on punts in terms of both average hang time and average distance Tuesday, July 22.

Titus YoungJul 22 09:53p

Updating a previous story, free-agent WR Titus Young (Lions) was charged with felony battery with serious bodily injury from an alleged July 8 incident inside a Los Angeles-area hospital. [ More ]

Ryan MathewsJul 22 09:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews' rookie contract will expire after the 2014 season, which means this could be his final year with the organization, in the opinion of [ More ]

Mario WilliamsJul 22 09:43p

Buffalo Bills DE Mario Williams, DT Marcell Dareus and DT Kyle D. Williams were all rotated out of the lineup at times during team drills Tuesday, July 22. LB [ More ]

Nigel BradhamJul 22 09:23p

Buffalo Bills LB Nigel Bradham was one of eight players to record sacks during team drills Tuesday, July 22. The team's pass rush has been consistent since camp began, [ More ]

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