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CINCINNATI — The Bengals introduced a new form of competition during their OTAs this week.

During team drills, either the offense or defense got a point for each play they “won.” The losing side had to do push-ups.

The offense ended the first period of team drills on a high note, when quarterback Andy Dalton found Alex Erickson wide open down the sideline in what looked like a blown assignment by the defense. But it was the offense doing push-ups after that segment, likely after some earlier drops by the receivers.

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If you’re willing to accept the notion of a must-win game occurring in Week 1 of the NFL season, you’ll want to pay careful attention when the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants for a Sunday night game on Sept. 10.

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Can the Cincinnati Bengals be a Super Bowl contender in 2017?

The idea of the Bengals making a playoff run this year cooled off considerably after a 6-9-1 season in 2016. Despite five straight playoff appearances from 2011-2015 there’s a lot of skepticism surrounding the team’s chances this year.

A large part of that perception is because of their offensive line issues. The Bengals allowed 41 sacks last season. That was with Pro Bowlers Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth. Both left in free agency this year.

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Tez is working his tail off to keep in shape and prepare for the 2017 season, a contract year.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

At one point in his career, Vontaze Burfict was on the verge of becoming a top-three NFL linebacker.

But after two promising seasons to begin his career, Burfict has been derailed by injuries and suspensions during the last three seasons. Concussions and microfracture surgery limited him to just five games in 2014, and he wound up opening the 2015 season on PUP while recovering from the knee surgery.

Burfict would go on to play in 10 games that year, but he was never quite the impact player he was in 2013, easily the best season of football he’s put together. This past season, Burfict served a three-game season to begin what was a disastrous campaign for the Bengals.

Then came a concussion late in the year, which led to Burfict missing the final two games of a forgettable 6-9-1 season. While Burfict was productive during the games in which he played, 2016 was the third-straight season in which he missed five-plus games.

Now, Burfict is looking to get back to the player we saw in 2013 and even improve on that. This will be the first time since the 2014 offseason in which Burfict won’t have an offseason surgery to rehab through, nor a suspension to begin the season.

Burfict admits those issues led to him having a significant drop off in his level of play, but he’s ready to move past them.

“It set me back for pretty much, I would say two years because coming in you’re not able to mesh your whole body how you want to so you get other injuries,” Burfict told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “This offseason I was able to focus on all the little muscles in my body, conditioning and doing all types of yogas and stuff like that. I feel great. I came in in great shape and I’m just here to try and lead the team.”

A big reason why Burfict feels good about his offseason thus far is his newfound dedication to keeping his body healthy, both with conditioning and nourishment.

“Just eating right, knowing what to eat, counting my calories and stuff like that,” said Burfict. “That was the biggest thing for me. Just counting my calories and just seeing my body transform was huge for me.”


They don’t wanna see you winning !! @fatboy_sse (voice)

A post shared by Vontaze Burfict 5️⃣5️⃣ (@king55_tez) on

It may come as no surprise the Bengals had four of their six wins last season with Burfict in the lineup. Even when Burfict is at 70-percent of himself, he is still one of the NFL’s better backers, not to mention a major force in the Bengals’ defense. Having that for 16 games in 2017 would likely lead to more than six wins, but Burfict is obviously hoping to accomplish more.

“I just wanted to just fix my game, be a better leader, show up to everything on time, get stronger, faster, and I would say I did all those things,” Burfict said. “And a leader is still in motion.”


Last rep make it count @goldfeetglobal @sportsacademyhq

A post shared by Vontaze Burfict 5️⃣5️⃣ (@king55_tez) on

Leadership will be something the Bengals need from Burfict now more than ever. Gone are long-time defensive leaders Domata Peko and Rey Maualuga, paving the way for Burfict to take on a major role in that department.

“I know – I’ve just got to help the guys out, the young guys out, and do everything little right because they’re watching me,” Burfict said. “Just be that leader, be that role model and lead by example. Don’t ever do too much, just make sure you do your job, and they’ll follow along.”

Defensive Paul Guenther is thrilled with what he’s seen of Burfict thus far, which is mirroring the All-Pro-caliber backer we saw in 2013.

“He’s come back in tremendous shape,” Guenther said. “I have a picture of him walking out of the tunnel at the Pro Bowl, and he looked lean and like he should, and I said to him the other day man, I pulled that picture out there, and I said, man, you look just like that guy again.

“He’s come back, and he looks in great shape, he’s got his weight where he wants it, and it’ll help him be faster. He’s not carrying as much weight, so it’ll help him out with the longevity of his career and also his playing.”

Last year, Burfict reported to offseason workouts “grossly overweight.” It certainly appeared to linger into the regular season, as Burfict endured a rough start in his first few games back. The Bengals didn’t allow him to play in the preseason as to avoid injury, so, he didn’t get much practice in before getting thrust into action in Week 4.

It sounds like Burfict is on the right path to getting back to the star we saw him blossoming into before his recent setbacks. That will be critical to the Bengals getting back into the playoffs for the fifth time in Burfict’s sixth NFL season.


One of the biggest problems for the Bengals last year was a lack of weapons past A.J. Green. After losing Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency and watching Tyler Eifert deal with injury , Andy Dalton was too dependent on Green and it showed.

Needless to say, the Bengals quarterback is pretty excited about Cincinnati using a top-10 pick on a burner like John Ross , who Dalton called “the fastest guy in the NFL.”

“We’ve got the fastest guy in the NFL,” Dalton said. “Obviously that’s a good thing to have.

“Teams will have to know where he is because of that speed. It may level out some of these safeties who are tilting toward A.J. [Green]. Now when you’ve got a guy who can run like he can, you’ve got a big threat going deep.”

The wide receiver class in the 2017 NFL Draft wasn’t heavily heralded, but three guys ended up going in the top 10 anyway. And all three guys should have a huge impact with their respective teams.

And Ross goes really well with Green, as Dalton noted when speaking to Katherine Terrell of ESPN. If defenses spend a ton of effort trying to push coverage toward Green, who is one of the four or five best wideouts in the entire league, the Bengals can send Ross screaming up the other sideline.

Ross is more than just pure speed, though. He’s also an impressive route runner and a guy who can do some damage in the red zone as well.

Combine him with Green, the running back trio of Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard and rookie Joe Mixon, Eifert at tight end and Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd providing more depth/talent at wide receiver and there are no excuses for Dalton this year when it comes to weapons. Assuming all of those guys are healthy — Eifert is a question mark and Ross is dealing with some injuries even coming into the NFL — the Bengals did a really nice job reloading on offense and if the offensive line can protect Dalton, this could be a sneaky dangerous unit.


Municipal Court Judge Dwane Mallory took Adam Jones’ apologies into consideration when he sentenced him to time already served — two days — after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing official business. AP Photo/John Minchillo

CINCINNATI — Bengals cornerback Adam Jones pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single misdemeanor charge from an altercation earlier this year after two other charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Jones was arrested at a hotel in downtown Cincinnati in January after he allegedly pushed a security guard, poked him in the eye and refused to comply with law enforcement officers. He faced misdemeanor charges of assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing official business, and a felony count of harassment with a bodily substance.

Municipal Court Judge Dwane Mallory dismissed misdemeanor counts of assault and disorderly conduct at the prosecutor’s request. He sentenced Jones to time already served — two days — on the obstructing official business count. The Hamilton County prosecutor earlier dismissed the felony count, which had alleged that Jones spit on a jail nurse.

I’d like to apologize for my actions that night, to the police officer; that is not an example of me or how I want my kids to see me. I truly apologize for what I did, for my actions. I’m trying to get better every day.

Adam “Pacman” Jones’ apology in court

“There was no evidence of what was officially reported — assault, head-butting, any of that,” said Jones’ agent, Peter Schaffer, who said that Jones’ tone with the officer on the scene largely led to his arrest.

“He realizes he probably just could’ve handled himself better that night. Even though he was in the right, just be calm and let the system play itself out. That’s what it comes down to, he was probably justified, but he probably could’ve handled himself better.”

Jones, 33, apologized in court Tuesday for his behavior and specifically to a Cincinnati police officer to whom he made profane comments after his arrest.

A video released by the Cincinnati police showed Jones cursing at the officer while in the back of a police car and telling him “I hope you die tomorrow.”

“I’d like to apologize for my actions that night, to the police officer; that is not an example of me or how I want my kids to see me,” Jones said in court on Tuesday. “I truly apologize for what I did, for my actions. I’m trying to get better every day.”

The judge cited Jones’ apologies among a “multitude of factors” for his sentence.

“I don’t take into account celebrity,” the judge told The Associated Press. “I have 99 percent non-celebrities in my court.”

Jones, who is currently undergoing anger-management classes, is still subject to potential NFL discipline.

“We have been monitoring developments in this matter, which continues to be reviewed under the personal conduct policy,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said via email. “We have no timetable on any potential discipline.”

Bengals owner Mike Brown came out in public support of Jones, giving a long statement to reporters at the owners meetings about his decision to stand behind him.

“He knows full well what he has done to himself,” Brown told and the Cincinnati Enquirer as part of his statement.”He regrets it. But it’s been made into a public issue, and maybe I am overly tolerant. If so, so be it.”

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in an interview with “NFL No Huddle” last week that Jones, who also made headlines for yelling at a local reporter in Cincinnati this offseason, has to work on his public image.

“Well, the public persona, unfortunately, you know, his words, he’s got to continually work at that,” Lewis said. “His words. He’s a passionate teammate for these guys. A diligent pro. He’s got to just continue to handle himself within the scope of day to day and be a great pro. He’s overcome his background, and it’s a day-to-day process. Most importantly, he’s at the point in his career where these things have to stay pointed towards football.”

However, Lewis also implied several months ago that he thought some parts of the arrest had been blown out of proportion.

“Other than his language, what did he do?” Lewis said at the coaches’ breakfast during the owners meetings.

Jones is widely known by his nickname “Pacman,” although since 2008, he has tried to separate himself from the moniker, as it began to be associated with his off-the-field troubles.



Will the Bengals return to winning football in 2017? Which game on the schedule could prove to be the make-or-break matchup? Sports Illustrated serves up its projections in response to those two questions.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ 6-9-1 record from 2016 offered a reality check for a team that had made the playoffs for five straight seasons. After notching the No. 9 overall selection in the NFL Draft and attempting to improve this offseason, it remains to be seen whether the Bengals have done enough to get back into playoff contention in 2017.

Sports Illustrated’s Jonathan Jones predicted each NFL team’s 2017 win-loss record and gave the Bengals a winning record and shot at the playoffs. Before we get to what he said about the Bengals, here’s a look at how he went about making his predictions.

In my first year of picking all 256 games for, I learned just how difficult it is to predict the future, and I reserve the right to be wrong. I made these picks with a few universal truths in mind before dissecting the schedule: I believe the Patriots, Steelers and Packers are among the best teams in the NFL, and that they will profit from weaker divisions from top to bottom. They are the only teams I could give at least 12 wins.

Here’s what Jones had to say specifically about the Bengals in 2017 and how the season could play out:

Projected record: 9–7

Here’s another AFC North team with a coach who could be on the hot seat. Marvin Lewis is the second-longest tenured coach in the NFL today, but he won’t be able to afford missing the playoffs in consecutive years on top of five years of wild-card futility. The Bengals caught some tough breaks last season by losing seven of nine by a possession. Starting the season against Baltimore, Houston, Green Bay, Cleveland and Buffalo could give the Bengals a 4–1 start going into their bye.

Pivotal game: Week 17 at Ravens. This game could decide who gets a wild card and who stays home. Both the Bengals and Ravens will have to deal with a competitive AFC West, so nine wins may not cut it for a wild-card berth.

The Steelers are projected at 12-4, the Ravens 9-7 and the Browns 2-14. And as for the other team Jones refers to as having a coach on the hot seat in the AFC North, that’s Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

Regarding his Bengals projection, I think expecting Cincinnati to win three more games than they did in 2016 is fair. The team lost seven games by one possession and an eighth game ended in a tie. With a new kicker, added speed and athleticism and a healthy roster, the Bengals could certainly win three more games this season and return to playoff contention. If the Bengals fail to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, maybe Lewis’ reign in Cincinnati will truly be over.

If the Bengals get off to a strong start and go 4-1 ahead of the bye, which I do believe the team is capable of doing, we could be in for an exciting season of Bengals football.


Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton carries the ball during their 16-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Nov. 20 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The website has come to a conclusion about championship quarterbacks that should interest Cincinnati Bengals fans.

In a post titled, “Is Having a Great QB More Important Than Ever To Win It All?” the answer turns out to be no.

When analysts say that you need a great quarterback (or a great passing game) to win it all, that’s simply not true unless they are using the phrase in a big tent sort of way: if a mediocre quarterback who plays well for four games qualifies as a great quarterback, then yes, you probably do need a great quarterback to win (except for, you know, the 2015 Broncos). But in general, far too much deference is given to the phrase “you need a great quarterback to win.”

This conclusion was reached upon the realization four of the last 10 Super Bowl champions had quarterbacks that ranked 14th or lower in adjusted net yards per attempt. That number (four) matches the total from the previous 41 Super Bowl winners.

It just so happens Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is 14th among active passers in ANY/A, but that’s not all.

This descriptor would also fit Dalton, who was third in the league in ANY/A two years ago but has not finished in the top 10 in any other season.

Last year with many of his best weapons hurt or gone via free agency, Dalton’s ANY/A slipped from 8.17 in ’15 to 6.53. His quarterback rating went from 106.2 to 91.8 last season.

Does this all mean Dalton and the Bengals are poised to break through?

Well…. that might be stretching it, but it is interesting to see numbers that make it seem less unlikely than the general narrative around Dalton’s career — and quarterbacking in general in the NFL — might.


Nov 14, 2015; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Carl Lawson (55) walks on the sidelines during the first quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Former Auburn DE Carl Lawson picked up an impressive 9.5 sacks during the 2016 season, but still found himself waiting until Day 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft to hear his name called.

The ex-Tiger was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round, falling so far in part due to concerns about his lack of size.

However, according to the Springfield News-Sun, the Bengals are going to try to get the most out of the talented pass rusher by adding some new skills to his arsenal at the linebacker position:

“We’re going to use him in both areas,” Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “Right now he’s working half as a linebacker and half as an end in nickel situations. I’ve always said the more you can do the better.

“(His intelligence) is very key. It’s one of the factors why we took him. A guy who can’t understand football concepts can’t do the things we’re going to ask him to do.”

What the Bengals are going to ask him to do, in addition to rushing the passer, is cover an occasional tight end or running back out of the backfield on passing downs.

If he can adjust to his new role quickly, he could be one of the steals of this year’s draft.


CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 29: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates while running off of the field after defeating the Miami Dolphins 22-7 at Paul Brown Stadium on September 29, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

All it took was a quick scan of the locker room to remind Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green that he’s been around longer than most of his teammates.

But it wasn’t until last weekend when the rookies arrived that things really sunk in for Green after seeing one face in particular.

“The crazy part is I had this guy who participated when I first had my camp in South Carolina. He won the MVP, and he was here,” Green said, referring to University of Kentucky running back Boom Williams.

Asked how that made him feel, Green said, ‘Old. Very old. I’m getting up there.”

The good news for Green is that that feeling hasn’t moved beyond his mind. Speaking with reporters for the first time since the voluntary offseason workout program began last month, Green says his body, and specifically the hamstring that ended his 2016 season after 10 games, feels great.

“I feel good. I feel bigger,” he said. “My hamstring feels great. I had no problem with that. I’m ready to go. I’m anxious to get back out there and try to have one of the better seasons of my career.”

With 66 catches for 964 yards through nine games, Green was on pace for 117 receptions and 1,714 yards, both of which would have been career highs. He said he was 100 percent healthy the week leading up to the Christmas eve game in Houston, but the decision to shut him down with the Bengals out of the playoffs was out of his hands.

“I was ready to go,” he said. “I ran my fastest GPS time during the practice. Ran a big post down. So I was fine.”

But that disappointment is in the past, as are the Bengals careers of long-time leaders Andrew Whitworth and Domata Peko, who left in free agency. Green said he knows that means there is more responsibility on his shoulders to step into a role as a vocal leader.

“The 2011 class is going to be the leaders around here,” he said, referring to himself, quarterback Andy Dalton and left guard Clint Boling.

“I feel like we’ve still got to be more vocal for some of the young guys,” he added. “I think we’re ready to step up. I feel like we’ll be great leaders.”

Green also said he feels the offense as a whole is going to make more noise with the addition of first-round wide receiver John Ross and second-round running back Joe Mixon.

“I’ve played with some fast guys, but not that fast,” Green said of Ross. “That’s a different kind of speed.

“With (Ross’) speed, he’s always going to keep everything honest,” Green said. “That’s really going to help us. For me, it keeps the defense honest. Can’t just lock on me.

“Having him on the field just creates a different dynamic that we didn’t have here the past couple of years with his speed,” Green added. “I feel like we’re definitely getting a lift. We had Marvin (Jones) and Mo (Sanu) when they were coming into their own and had Tyler Eifert healthy, I feel like our offense was at its best when we all were on the field together. I feel like we’re getting back to that.”

Green has always been cordial and willing to speak to reporters, but he usually keeps his answers, and the interview as a whole, short. Monday he backed up what he said about being more vocal by talking for more than 11 minutes.

When the subject turned to the controversial pick of Mixon, Green didn’t shy away from offering his thoughts, just as he said he won’t shy away from offering to help his new teammate in any manner possible.

“I’m a god-fearing guy, and I feel like everybody deserves a second chance,” Green said. “I don’t condone what he’s done. He can’t take that back. I know he would like to. I feel like the Christian man in me, with my faith, that’s the Christian way to do. I’m going to give the guy a chance.

“You don’t look upon somebody, you help them,” he continued. “I feel like bringing him into the locker room with Andy and I being the leaders of the offense will really help him.”



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