FanPost

That's What They Said: Shifting Focus A Little


I love camp chatter. It's mostly optimistic, everyone looks good (unless they really do look bad), pads pop, passes fly, and football, real football; it's so o o close. Sometimes I'm a little slow to really get into football's realities again, but as fans, you wait so long for these days each summer, when they finally get here... very worth the wait.

We've had some good info from all the Twitter users out, there, I for one appreciate it, I am not a Tweet-er. With all that Steeler quotin' going on, I thought I'd bring you all some non-Brett Favre news for the day, while at the same time, looking at myself a little differently, because I also posted the Brett Favre news of the day yesterday. He got me... They got me. FAVRE WATCH!!

So, lets take a look around camps of our AFC North rivals, the teams we'll be battling directly for a playoff spot. Get our mind of the topic de jour.

Bengals


It helped out a lot because we knew that we had to be in the best shape we could be in order to come to both camps and compete. Just because the contract wasn’t done we still had to keep the mindset on football.

Bengals Rookie tightend Jermaine Gresham, talking about his pre-training camp work with fellow holdout, and fellow (formerly) wounded Sooner, Sam Bradford. Gresham who had a brief holdout (8 practices), will be on the field preparing for what will most likely be a starting role. He could be a game changer offensively, as Bob Bratkowski looks to exploit the coverage of linebackers through out the AFC North, a predominantly 3-4 defense division. A division featuring talented blitzing linebackers, who can be beaten at times when in the back pedal. Gresham provides the size (6'5"/ 261) to not be out bodied by by big 'backers, and the speed/ athleticism to possibly dominate safeties. Take a look, he seems tough to bring down to boot. 

Matt Jones (ankle), Jonathan Luigs (hip), Antonio Bryant (knee), Rey Maualuga (hamstring), Carlos Dunlap (concussion), Mike Nugent (groin) and Nate Livings did not practice. PUP — Andre Smith, Tom Nelson, Rashad Jeanty.

The timing between Palmer and Terrell Owens was way off.

Chad Ochocinco looked better with a couple of nice catches.

Roy Williams had an interception off a Palmer misfire.

Dave Rayner was 5 of 6 on field goals. He is 11 of his last 12.

Two practices tomorrow with the 9-11 a.m. one on the upper field and 7-9 p.m. evening practice in the stadium.

Notes from the afternoon practice, 8/3/10, by Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati.com's Bengals Blog. From what I've read so far, Matt Jones has been unimpressive, and will most likely not be making this team unless his play improves.  Antonio Bryant got big bucks, but his bum knee hasn't allowed him to get in the mix.

Rey Maualuga will take on a larger role this year. He has been working in the MLB spot more so far, to some fans' dismay. But his primary role is still Will, officially. His back up's include extremely athletic (former DE) Michael Johnson. His change of position is something to keep an eye on as well. This Bengals D will feature some 3-4 looks this year, and he'll be on the field in them. Maualuga's former USC team mate Keith Rivers has also looked impressive at times as well, forcing a fumble down field on a TE Monday.

Carlos Dunlap, who was at one time thought of as a real premier talent in this past draft, slid to the Bengals in the second round. There has been little news on his play since his signing last week, but potentially he could help bolster a pass rush already returning Antwon Odom, Jonathan Fanene, Robert Geathers, and some DT's who can get after it too.

Chad Johnson has looked pretty good so far, Palmer to TO has not. Quarterback to Wide Receiver combinations take time, and this is a work in progress.

He seems to be doing well. Since he’s been out of practice for awhile we did a little drive block, angle block, pass protection and put a little stress on his foot and see how it feels. He knows his assignments. It’s just about gaining confidence.

Former Steeler great (and should be Steelers Camp coach) Dermontti Dawson on Bengals high priced, prize pick from last year's draft, Andre Smith. Andre reportedly weighed in at 370 lbs. and is coming off of a foot injury, Smith never got ino the mix, after last year's lengthy holdout (followed by another foot injury), and has drawn the ire of some Bengals fans for his work ethic. One of those, um, fans? Marvin Lewis, who repotedly felt deceived by Alabama's coaching staff (cough Saban cough) prior to las year's draft. 

Ravens

I’m thankful for my time with the Ravens, but this is another great opportunity. Every time you get traded, it means another team wants you and thinks you can contribute.

Cam Cameron's former "project" quarterback John Beck reacting to his tradefrom Baltimore to Washington, possibly part of some Redskins revenge plot by new Ravens QB coach Jim Zorn. Maybe not. Zorn couldn't game plan something that complex (zing!). In return, the Ravens got a corner, Doug Dutch. I like a Dutch as much as the next guy (double zing!), but the Ravens will most likely need more, if their secondary can recover from the injury to Dominique Foxworth. Especially reading that...

DB's Chris Carr, KJ Gerrard and Lardarius Webb all sat out of practice today with injuries. Webb was on the sidelines going through numerous drills with a trainer which looked to strengthen his leg.

MaLoR reporting in from Ravens camp. Seems like the Ravens are plugging along nicely so far. Cody has been demanding double teams all along, as some expected him too. This after a now notorious failing of his conditioning test twice, as mostexpected him too. He is what we thought he was... so far. Derrick Mason left the field with an injury as well, while other WR's looked solid (including newly acquired Anquan Boldin, who MaLoR notes has not dropped a pass so far, to his knowledge).

[Coach Harbough] also related that the team is unsure about the health of tackle Jared Gaither, who supposedly has a muscle cramp and lost 20 pounds on his own in the off season. The team is concerned enough to hold him out of further practice and consider additional medical testing.

Potential scary news about Jared Gaither, from the post AM practice press conference August 1st as reported by Bruce Raffel. There was some question about what exactly was holding him out of practice early on, and this doesn't sound good. The projected starter at right tackle, Gaither is an enormous blocker, who has tons of skill, and would be sorely missed, should he miss real action. Hopefully it's not too serious, get well Jared.

The team was seen working three mystery lineman, and though it may be a lot more early than expected, and it could be way too early to speculate, but two guys that could take his place would be O'Neil Cousins or (big long shot) Ramon Harwood, who is young and raw, but physical (despite some hampered participation due to injury).

*UPDATE* Gaither has been practicing at both left and right tackle, but looks noticably thinner.

Browns

I think I'm player-friendly every year.

Browns Head Coach Eric Mangini, after cancelling practice, on day 4. Similarto what Coach Tomlin did in his second year, Mangini went from a tough, authoritarian camp in year one in Cleveland, to a more relaxed camp in year two. Mangini instead met with coaches, as players were given the time off. Cleveland's "Camp Cupcake" has fans hoping their season ends up where ours did.

After three days, I have to say I'm quite surprised that Eric Mangini has kept the same unit on the first team at linebacker. If you don't recall, that unit consists of Scott Fujita and Matt Roth on the outside, and Chris Gocong and D'Qwell Jackson on the inside.

Chris Pokorny's Day Three Evening Practicereport, updating what will be an interesting round of battles for the Browns' linebacking crew. With a lot of guys in the mix, and several new faces, I have to echo the sentiment of surprise that no one else has gotten any looks with the first team. With plenty of time left in camp, and a whole preseason to go, I'm sure there will be some other guys getting looks, just not yet. This is clearly an important part of a defensive unit, so watching how this plays out will probably be a good indicator of what kind of defense they'll be running out there. Several other good notes and links from around the team in this one.

After an impressive minicamp, second-year WR Brian Robiskie has followed that up with a good showing at training camp. He had a nice leaping catch in the back of the end zone on a pass from Jake Delhomme, and is crediting some of his success to the quarterbacks putting the ball in the right place.

Chris Pokorny's Day Three Morning Report, talking about what has been a great offseason for former Ohio State WR Brian Robiskie. COming into last year's draft, I like Robiskie a lot. He has good size, and is a well taught player. His father, an NFL wide receiver's coach, put him in a good position to succeed early, and I was surprised he didn't catch on quicker in Cleveland. Given his pedigree, I thought he was one of the most polished WR prospects available last year, but it takes time in this league.

It will be interesting to see how our competition's camps play out, and I find it even more interesting to see, comparatively, how our players who look good, match up with the players in our division who are looking good too. How does our linebacking core look in coverage, when a TE or two has dazzled in a rivals camp? How has our receiving crew looked, when others' corners are banged up, and there are question marks in terms of coverage linebackers elsewhere as well? How have our corners looked, when WR crews are looking deeper than ever in camps in the AFC North? This is how divisions are won and lost, and it all starts here.

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