First day at work as Bengals open rookie mini-camp

CINCINNATI – Tyler Eifert and John Goodman were on the golf course the Sunday following the NFL Draft, something the longtime friends and football teammates at Fort Wayne Dwenger High School and then Notre Dame. Eifert was selected in the first round of the draft by the Bengals three days earlier but Goodman had gone undrafted and hadn’t gotten a call to sign on with any teams as a free agent.

Goodman happened to notice he had missed a call during the round.

It was the Bengals calling to see if he’d like to join them for a tryout during their rookie mini-camp.

“I said ‘Hey, Ty, I guess I’m going to be joining you again.’ It was pretty funny,” said Goodman on Friday after the rookies and a few first-year players had finished up a morning practice session.

There were a total of 46 players on the mini-camp roster, including 20 players who were there on a tryout basis. They have no contracts and after Sunday’s final workout ends there is no guarantee they will ever set foot in an NFL locker room again. It’s a three-day orientation into the Bengals franchise for all of the players but for guys like Goodman it’s more like a three-day audition.

“There’s five practices, and my mindset is just to do everything right,” said Goodman. “I’m just following all the details, being on time, being where I need to be, studying the playbook, doing all the right things and the rest will come into play. I’ll use my athleticism. I’ll do whatever I can out on the field. I’m just trying to put everything together to show these coaches that I’m a reliable player.”

Eifert is in a much more comfortable position. He’s got to do the same things – show up on time, get into the playbook, be attentive in meetings and make sure he’s in the right spots at practice – but he is expected to play a big role in the Bengals’ offense this season.

“I’m just trying to get better, stay confident in what has gotten me here, and move forward from there,” said Eifert. “Day One they already moved me around a lot. That was good. I think I picked it up better than I thought I would have at first. It’s not a whole lot, but it’s definitely something new for me. I’m catching on pretty quickly and moving around quite a bit.”

Head coach Marvin Lewis said he was pleased with how Eifert and second-round running back Geovani Bernard performed their first days.

“It’s evident that both Tyler and Geovani will be able to help us offensively and have an opportunity to carve out roles and niches early on in the their rookie seasons,” said Lewis. “The game’s not going to be too big for either one of them.”

Goodman is a year older than Eifert. He was a grad student at Notre Dame last year. The two have known each other since grade school when they played against one another. They met up at Dwenger. Goodman was moved to quarterback his senior season of 2007
and led Dwenger to an undefeated regular season and an appearance in the state semifinals.

He completed 95 of 175 passes for 1,697 yards and 16 touchdowns that season. Eifert caught 33 of those completions for 586 yards and four touchdowns as a junior. Dwenger reached the state championship game Eifert’s senior season as he caught nine touchdown passes on offense and made five interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, on defense.

The pair drove to Cincinnati from Fort Wayne on Thursday. They started their first mini-camp day Friday with 6:00 a.m. wake up calls.

“It was like we were on our way to a football camp but it was a little bit different than before,” Eifert said of the drive. “It’s been great having him here.”

SIGNED – The Bengals signed seventh-round draft choices Reid Fragel, an offensive tackle from Ohio State, and South Carolina center T.J. Johnson Friday. They are the first of the 10-player draft class to sign but with the new collective bargaining agreement the rest should follow quickly.

“The way the system works now, they’ve got a great summer job,” said Lewis. “It’s the first time in their life they’ve got some money in their pocket, they’re not having to go to class all day long. They’ve got a real job that has an opportunity to make some real good money for a period of time so take it seriously and do everything you can to stay here.”
LOCAL FLAVOR – There are plenty of players at this camp with local connections. Linebacker J.K. Schaffer, from UC and La Salle, was on the Bengals’ practice squad for the final eight games and postseason last season, while fellow former Bearcat Camerron Cheatham is trying out as a cornerback. Schaffer is one of four Cincinnatians at the camp, along with defensive tackle Larry Black (Wyoming), linebacker Dwayne Woods (Princeton) and wide receiver Nick Truesdell (Anderson).

Wide receiver Roy Roundtree (Trotwood-Madison) is also at this weekend’s camp.

Schaffer has been working out with the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium since the team’s offseason conditioning program began last month.

“I was on the practice squad last year and I just never got that many quality reps with the actual calls and making adjustments. It was just on the cards and everything was drawn up. I think it’s a real good opportunity for me to get back myself rolling and get back into some football,” said Schaffer. “It was like being red-shirted. I was never red-shirted in college but I kind of felt like that’s what was going on.”

SWITCHING POSITIONS – Undrafted free agent Onterio McCalebb has been switched from running back to cornerback. McCalebb is also being looked at as a candidate to return punts and kickoffs.