Found May 21, 2013 on Fox Sports Ohio:
CINCINNATI Remember those days back in school when teachers would assign work over the summer break? Despite how sure we all were that it was just a form of adult torture as they attempted to ruin our summers with reading and review, turns out they actually wanted us to be as ready as possible for that next school year. Welcome to the start of the Bengals organized team activities. Tuesday morning, which did its best imitation of a July training camp day with its mid-80s temperature and warm breeze of humidity coming off the Ohio River, was the first day back to on-field school for the team. The Bengals return all 11 starters on offense and nine starters on defense as well as a multitude of backup players who saw significant time last season. As quarterback Andy Dalton put it: Theres not a whole lot of teaching and getting used to new guys in there. Weve got a nice core group here. Now its just perfecting the little things. One of those two defensive spots without a returning starter is the safety spot next to Reggie Nelson. On the depth chart its the strong safety position that Chris Crocker has occupied for the past few seasons but in reality the Bengals dont see a big difference in the traditional free safety and strong safety. The spots are interchangeable in the scheme of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and whoever is playing had better be able to cover as well as play the run. Nelson has quietly become one of the better safeties in the NFL since arriving via trade from Jacksonville at the start of the 2010 season. Hes had nine interceptions, broken up 24 passes and forced six fumbles in the past three seasons as well as been one of the leading tacklers on the team. It was Nelsons interception of a Ben Roethlisberger pass late in the game at Pittsburgh last December 23 that led to the winning field goal in a 13-10 victory against the Steelers that clinched a second straight playoff berth. He is a ball hawk who will come out and hit you, said wide receiver A.J. Green, who sees his share of safeties with all of the double-team and exotic defensive looks he attracts. He has got a nose for the ball. He can hit, he can come down and fill in the gap. He can get interceptions. He can do a lot of things. What the Bengals are looking for is someone to grab the starting role next to Nelson. Theyve got a bevy of candidates, starting with third-round pick Shawn Williams out of Georgia and fourth-year player Taylor Mays. Whoever is in there we expect you to match the level of the other guys in the huddle, said defensive backs coach Mark Carrier. Its there to take but weve got to see the full slate, see the full package and see how it fits with our team. They all know whoever the guy is, or is not the guy, weve all got to get better. Williams started 30 of 54 games during his career at Georgia and impressed the Bengals coaches and scouts with his headiness on the field to go along with the versatile talent they seek. Mays is a player theyve been waiting on the past couple of seasons since acquiring him at the end of the 2011 preseason in a trade with San Francisco. A former second-round draft choice out of Southern California, he started three times last season but never found that groove that kept him consistently in the lineup. Mays is one of those players who spent time going back over his season performance, watching the film and taking to heart the critiquing he got from coaches. The season was up-and-down but one thing Zim said to me was that you have to be a pro at all times regardless of what is happening, said Mays. I didnt necessarily agree with everything last year but Zim is a hell of a coach and I believe in him as a coach. I believe in myself as a player so Ive got to keep on pushing. I feel like Zim wants me to be a really good player and that says a lot coming from him because he doesnt really say things just to say them. I want to be a good player for myself and for this team. Mays spent the offseason in California working to improve his flexibility and techniques like back-pedaling. He said he's dropped some weight from the 230 pounds he was listed at last season. He wants to be able to move around the field better. Hes always had the athleticism but how does that translate over to the football field? I think thats what hes beginning to understand, said Carrier. Hes starting to understand how to play with his ability, with what he does well and what he doesnt do well. Hes understanding that just because youre an athlete that doesnt make you a player. You have to understand the nuances, the mindset, the recognition. Hes growing up where his mind is starting to expand and understand that there are a lot of things that I can do but I have to start learning them, and seeing them beforehand and reacting to them.

Bengals' Leon Hall recovering from torn thumb ligament

Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Leon Hall will miss the beginning of OTAs due to a torn ligament in his thumb, according to Geoff Hobson of While the ailment will keep Hall out for a "bit," Hobson says that the corner is expected back at some point during OTAs. For this reason, it doesn't sound like the injury is a concern when it comes to Halls availability...

Dalton already working on the long pass

Andy Dalton saw A.J. Green lined up on the outside and let it fly. The Bengals aren't wasting time on fixing one of their shortcomings. They're throwing long passes during their offseason team workouts this week, trying to get the long-distance connection that was missing in their biggest games last season. Dalton overthrew an open Green in the end zone on a long pass in...

Competition opens for Bengals backup QB job

The Bengals have opened the competition for the backup quarterback job, one of the few notable spots that are open on the roster. The job opened when Bruce Gradkowski left for Pittsburgh after spending two seasons in Cincinnati backing up Andy Dalton. Rather than picking one guy to replace him, the Bengals have decided to hold a competition. They signed former Tampa Bay quarterback...

LT goes one-on-one with Bengals QB Andy Dalton

LaDainian Tomlinson goes one-on-one with Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. LT catches up with Dalton as he prepares for his third season in the NFL and gets his thoughts on his alma mater, TCU, in an exclusive interview for LaDainian Tomlinson: This is your second full offseason in the NFL. How have you been spending it so far? Andy Dalton: Getting...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.