SPRINGBORO, Ohio – Some allegiances are hard to break. Bengals kicker Mike Nugent not only plays for the local NFL club, and has done well with them, but he’s also a Buckeye. Yet, as Nugent walked out down the gauntlet of fans lining the path to the field at CareFlight Field in Springboro more than a few boos could be heard.
Nugent understood. He’s an alumnus of Centerville High School, just to the north of Springboro and a rival in the Greater Western Ohio Conference.
The rest of his teammates were warmly welcomed, however, as the Bengals got back to work Monday night, taking a trip 40 miles north to practice in front of an estimated crowd of 6,800. Coming off a 27-19 win against Tennessee in last Saturday night’s preseason home opener, the Bengals also welcomed back several players who had been out of practice with injuries.
Defensive ends Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap were at the top of the list of returning players. They are expected to see action Saturday when the Bengals travel to Dallas for the third preseason game against the Cowboys. At least that’s Johnson’s plan.
“That’s the game you play the most, the third game, so we’ll get some good time in,” said Johnson.
Johnson’s injury that kept him out of practice was undisclosed but Dunlap had been out for the past couple of weeks with a concussion. Linebackers Vinnie Rey and Emmanuel Lamur, defensive tackle Brandon Thompson and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis also practiced after not playing against Tennessee.
Quarterback Andy Dalton was limited to participating in seven-on-seven and individual drills, while backups Josh Johnson and John Skelton took the snaps in team drills. Dalton completed nine of 14 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown while leading the offense to another touchdown against Tennessee in three series.
“They just wanted to give me a little rest, I guess,” said Dalton. “I’m doing all right. I still did some throwing. It was a good day.”
Tight end Tyler Eifert, safety George Iloka and defensive end Robert Geathers were in uniform but did not participate in drills. Eifert and Geathers played against Tennessee, but Iloka did not. Rookie linebacker Sean Porter was not in uniform and did not practice. There has been no official announcement on Porter’s injury but radio analyst Dave Lapham reported prior to Saturday’s game that Porter suffered a torn labrum.
Head coach Marvin Lewis spoke with the Springboro varsity team prior to practice. The Panthers went 10-0 last season and reached the first round of the Division I playoffs before losing to Lakota East. Lewis’ message to them was simple, one he has preached to his own team.
“They don’t get an opportunity to start where they left off, they’ve got to go back to work and get busy and do things and make plays,” said Lewis. “Guys that were on the football team last year have got to push more and work harder. The guys that are coming in new are going to be filling in different roles. They’ve got to step up and play to their ability.”
As far as his own team, Lewis was positive about the first two weeks of preseason games as they head to Dallas.
“We’ve had two good starts thus far to the preseason games so we just want to keep playing consistent football,” said Lewis. “Each time I give them some goals to reach and we’ve done a nice job of getting those done. We’ve got to continue forward on that.”