Berk's Blog - 07/31/13
By Mike Berk - follow on twitter: @mike_berk
A day off really seemed to agree with the Bengals, who were all pretty lively during the Wednesday morning open locker room session with the media. "It's the grind of training camp, even though it's still early," said Quarterback Andy Dalton. "When you have a day off you're going to take advantage of it."
They're also taking advantage of those terms in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The players negotiated their way into more time off, and less time knocking heads when they are on the field.
"Thanks to the new CBA for that extra day off, that was big," joked, Defensive Tackle Domata Peko.
The Bengals resumed training camp today with an afternoon practice and will work through Friday before enjoying another day off over the weekend. On Sunday a short practice will precede their trip to Georgia, where they will spend two days practicing against the Atlanta Falcons. It's not something veteran Linebacker James Harrison is eagerly anticipating.
"I'm not one that's for scrimmaging against other teams," said the former Steelers all-pro. "There's no way you can scrimmage against another team and not go all out, he rationalized. It turns into three pre-season games, when it should just be (one) pre-season game. But I'm not the one to make those decisions."
No, James doesn't get to make that decision, but Coach Marvin Lewis does. "They're proving they're earning an opportunity to play in the game on Thursday night (against the Falcons), and how much opportunity," Lewis said of the practices the team will have in Atlanta. "That opportunity on Thursday night gives me and the other 31 clubs an opportunity to evaluate them," Lewis continued.
The message Lewis was delivering through the media was fairly obvious; he was stressing that everything the players do, including their practices against the Falcons, is an opportunity to not only learn and get better, but get noticed in the event someone doesn't make the Bengals final roster cut. And with 90 men on board right now, there will be plenty who don't come along to Chicago for Week 1. Lewis said he could cut the roster to 56 men right now, but, nothing is etched in stone. "We ended up keeping an extra wide receiver," the coach said of last summer when Ryan Whalen played his way onto the team with a great pre-eason. "You want to have guys make the football team by producing," Lewis added.
***One other note from today's media gathering also involves Harrison. He's switching defensive schemes after coming over from the Steelers, where he played outside in their 3-4 scheme. Admittedly, he's not totally comfortable yet with playing on the inside. "I'm not directly over the tight end," he said of his move to Mike Zimmer's 4-3 alignment. "I have to read different things, now. I've got centers, guards, running backs. It's not something like 'Oh, I'm going to go play inside after playing outside for 11 years in a week," Harrison said.
Marvin Lewis said he doesn't anticipate Harrison having too much difficulty based on his talent, football intellect, and the Steelers' terminology being very similar.
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)