Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth lauded quarterback Jordan Palmer and linebacker Rey Maualuga for getting players together to practice together.
Now, Whitworth is getting his fellow offensive linemen into the act. About 20 teammates journeyed to his hometown of West Monroe, La., Sunday for his annual golf tournament. After the festivities, seven linemen will remain there and work out.
Said Whitworth, “I’m not an old veteran but I’ve always had older veterans around me. To see some of the younger guys take a role, step up and want to take control is good. For a guy like Jordan who doesn’t know what his role is going to be and for Rey to organize things says a lot.”
Whitworth got a copy of new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s playbook on April 29, the one day official work this offseason, and he said it will be productive having the linemen go through it.
He told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “It’s going to be different in terms of terminology and the plays are called differently but I really like it. Guys are going to have to get into it. I like Jay mostly because of his attitude and how he seems to go about things. After a season like we had we want to kind of avenge it.”
Attending the golf tournament will be rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and rookie guard Clint Boling.
Of Dalton, Whitworth said, “I was excited for him to be willing to come down and sit down and meet a lot of his teammates. I like his attitude. The guy definitely is a winner and is coming from a winning atmosphere.”
–While many thought that the Bengals would take a quarterback with the fourth overall pick, they stuck to their draft board and selected the player who was at the top – Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green.
“This is the best fit for me and I’m just ready to get to work,” Green said. “After sitting down with (offensive coordinator) Jay (Gruden) and watching film on offense, I feel like it’s similar to what we did at Georgia and I can step in right away and help.”
With Chad Ochocinco expecting to be traded or released, Green has the athleticism, explosiveness and big-play ability that would fit into any offense, especially when it comes to catching the ball in traffic.
Last year, despite missing four games due to an NCAA suspension, Green was a second-team All-American with 57 receptions for 848 yards and nine touchdowns. Over his career, he had 166 receptions for 2,542 yards, both of which rank third in school history and 23 touchdowns, which was second.
“He’s a unique player when you take into account the size (6-4), the speed, the ball skills, his natural ability running routes,” receivers coach James Urban said. “I think he’s rare. That’s why you take a guy like that with the fourth pick. Everything we’ve seen shows that he’s one of those once every couple years kind of guys.”
Even before his visit to Cincinnati last Wednesday, Green was the top offensive player on the Bengals’ draft board by a wide margin. Gruden and receivers coach James Urban spent plenty of time with Green both at the Scouting Combine and at Green’s pro day.
“Just as we tried to not pull the wool over everyone’s eyes we were going to stay true and pick the player and how we had them graded,” head coach Marvin Lewis said. “We spent a lot of time in the evaluation process making sure we were on the same page.”
Gruden was ebullient over selecting Green, saying that he felt like he just woke up on Christmas and got to open his favorite present.
“He can do everything a receiver needs to do to be great,” Gruden said. “We’re excited to start drawing up plays for him right now. I’m going to probably go on the chalkboard as soon as this draft is over and draw up about 20 more for him.”
Who will throw the ball to Green remains a big question with Carson Palmer demanding a trade or he will retire. Green said he didn’t know much about Jordan Palmer or Dan LeFevour and that the situation with Carson Palmer was something that was out of his hands.
“We’ll find somebody. Surely somebody will want to come to throw to this son of a gun,” Gruden said. “Somebody will be delighted to have him and (Jerome) Simpson and all our receivers that are here and (Jordan) Shipley and (Jermaine) Gresham.”
Urban said that Green can fit into a number of different spots but that he can play both inside and outside.
“He’s a complete player,” Urban said. “He’s very aggressive coming off the line especially if he’s blocking. That’s the beauty of this offense. We can have him at X, Z or inside. We can move him around. Make it as simple as possible but complex as possible.”
The Bengals are expected to take a quarterback in the second round as they have the third pick in the round. TCU’s Andy Dalton, who is a favorite of Gruden, and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett are expected to be on the board.
–The Bengals came into the draft needing a starting quarterback, No. 1 wide receiver and help at offensive line and safety. They ended up filling all of those needs.
With the selection of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, the Bengals have turned the page on offense with their future quarterback-receiver combination. Unlike 2003, when Carson Palmer sat for a season, head coach Marvin Lewis has not hid the fact that this time Dalton is expected to compete immediately for the starting spot.
Of the eight picks, five went on offense as Lewis is giving new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden new weapons to build around his West Coast system. The reason why Dalton was Gruden’s top quarterback is because he feels Dalton can come in and run his offense without having to make any changes. He also got a possible starter at guard in the fourth round in Clint Boling.
On defense, the Bengals didn’t address the line but did get a developmental linebacker and a playmaking safety.
Overall, it was the third straight year that Lewis and company has had a solid draft.
Quarterback Andy Dalton: He is the early favorite to be the first rookie quarterback to start the opener since Greg Cook in 1969. Lewis likes his anticipation on throws, his accuracy and how he can move in the pocket.
Safety Robert Sands: He is a big hitter that they are looking for in a unit that is lacking depth and has been hit hard by injuries the last two years. Sands is built as a linebacker but can be physical against the run and has enough closing speed to defend against the pass.
A closer look at the Bengals’ picks:
Round 1/4 – A.J. Green, WR, 6-4, 212, Georgia Can catch anything in traffic and is sound in all the routes. He was the top offensive player on the Bengals’ draft board.
Round 2/35 – Andy Dalton, QB, 6-2, 215, TCU This is the quarterback that new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden wanted all along. He certainly didn’t hide it over the past couple weeks but Dalton was able to fall to them and the Bengals didn’t have to make a trade.
Round 3/66 – Dontay Moch, LB, 6-1, 248, Nevada He played on the defensive line at Nevada but projects to an outside linebacker in Mike Zimmer’s 4-3 system. Moch will start out mainly on special teams and be a situational pass rusher. He certainly has the speed, running a 4.4 in the 40 at the Scouting Combine.
Round 4/101 – Clint Boling, OG, 6-5, 310, Georgia Boling will eventually be a starter and offers plenty of versatility. He projects at guard right now with right guard Bobbie Williams in the last year of his contract and the left side in flux.
Round 5/134 – Robert Sands, S, 6-4, 217, West Virginia He has the size to play at strong safety as the Bengals needed to add depth to that position.
Round 6/167 – Ryan Whalen, WR, 6-1, 204, Stanford A little bit of a surprise pick but receivers coach James Urban raved about Whalen’s consistency in running routes.
Round 7/207 – Korey Lindsey, DB, 5-10, 189, Southern Illinois More of a developmental pick right now in what is a deep group. He could find a spot though as a punt returner.
Round 7/246 – Jay Finley, RB, 5-11, 198, Baylor Finley is a good outside back, but is not built to run between the tackles. His blocking is suspect.
–Coach Marvin Lewis believes quarterback Andy Dalton, the team’s second-round pick, has a good chance of starting at the beginning of the season.
“I feel really good about the guy we were able to draft,” Lewis said. “If he ends up being the starter as a rookie, I think he can do that.”
Incumbent starter Carson Palmer has said he will retire if the team doesn’t trade or release him.
Said Dalton, “Everybody says that (he) is not coming back, but I can’t worry about that. I just have to come in and learn as much as I can as quickly as I can, and put myself in a position to be successful when I get the opportunity.
“Obviously, everyone knows about the current situation with Carson Palmer. As far as I know, it’s open (competition). We’re trying to figure out who will be the guy, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has raved about Dalton and his strengths.
“What impresses me is the location of the throws. He gives his guy a chance to run after the catch,” Gruden said. “That’s very important throwing to backs, throwing to (tight end Jermaine) Gresham, throwing to (rookie) A.J. Green. A big part of these guys’ strength is the ability to run after the catch.
“This offense, if we do throw shorter passes, four, five yards, we’re throwing it to a location so they can catch and run. I think this guy does the best job of anybody in the draft, in my opinion, of doing that. I’m not saying nobody else can’t. I just thought he was the best one at it.”
As for those that question Dalton’s arm strength, Gruden noted that accuracy is what’s most important and said of arm strength, “It’s so overrated, it’s stupid.”
–White talking up Dalton, Lewis is making it clear he’s not closing the door on the possible return of Palmer.
Palmer has said he will retire if he’s not traded or released, and the Bengals have claimed they won’t do either.
During a conference call with fans, Lewis said, “If Palmer comes back he would be the starting QB and we would groom Andy (Dalton) to be the QB of the future.”
Lewis added, “Carson feels like his time here is over. He feels like the best thing is to retire and spend time with family.”
–Meanwhile, running back Cedric Benson, who is scheduled to be a free agent when the lockout ends, said it’s best if Palmer isn’t with the team if he doesn’t want to be there.
On SiriusXM NFL radio, Benson said, “It wouldn’t be healthy for the team to bring him back. To bring him back would be detrimental to the team. If he’s there (and) not happy he’s not gonna give us his best.”
When asked about wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, Benson wouldn’t be specific, but said, “For this team to be a winner, management needs to make changes.”
Benson also believes he’s earned a big contract based on his play with the team.
Asked about getting a large deal, Benson said, “I think I’m deserving of that I just hope a couple teams feel the same way. It would be nice if it would be the Bengals, they drafted a quarterback in the second round and have young receivers, they’re going to need a horse in there.”
–More on Palmer: He had his house for sale in Indian Hill since March. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported May 16 that the house has been sold, although it is not known how close Palmer got to the asking price of $2.1 million.
Comey & Shepherd Realtors now lists the house as under contract. The stone and brick house is on five acres and has 5 1/2 bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen, swimming pool, solarium, spa, golf green and pond.
The listing describes the house as “an exceptional home that exudes comfort, character and privacy.”
–Third-round pick Dontay Moch caught an overnight flight from Phoenix to be at Paul Brown Stadium in time for Saturday morning’s press conference.
His flight left Phoenix at 11 p.m. (MST) with a layover in Atlanta before continuing on to Cincinnati. When he arrived at the press conference he was much more energized than the average red-eye passenger and dressed in a black suit, with an orange shirt and black tie.
“I just went shopping and bought this shirt a week or so ago,” said Moch. “It’s just a weird coincidence that I got picked by the Bengals.”
–For a guy who many are expecting to take over from Carson Palmer as the starter, Dalton added one more bit of pressure by choosing No 14. It was his number at Texas Christian, but it was also Ken Anderson’s number here. Since Anderson retired in 1986, the only other player to wear it was Maurice Purify for five games in ’09. Before Anderson, Sam Wyche wore it for three years (1968-70).
“I don’t know a lot about him but I know that he played here for a long time and was very successful. It was great to get No. 14,” Dalton said. “My best friend’s wife’s dad went to high school with Kenny Anderson.”
–When Moch was asked about Nevada’s upset win over Boise State last season, Dalton had to reach over and give him a little fist bump. It was Nevada’s upset that allowed Texas Christian to play in the Rose Bowl and get a spot in the BCS.