As voluntary and mandatory OTA come to conclusion around the NFL in June, â€œIn The Hoodâ€ takes a look at each teamâ€™s off season moves and what remains to be accomplished heading into training camp. Today weâ€™ll take a gander at the team in tiger stripes. Letâ€™s look at Who Dey are at the moment.
Many observers felt that the 2006 Bengals had the makings of a serious playoff and even a Super Bowl contender. In an up-and-down season that saw the team win its first 3, lose 5 of its next 6, then ran off 4 straight wins only to lose its last 3 to finish a disappointing 8-8. The Bengals ranked 30th in defense in the NFL, but some positive signs were demonstrated as the team held its opponents to a combined 33 points during the 4 game win streak in November.
With a sometimes explosive offense despite an injury-plagued O-line, the Bengals needed to focus on the defensive side of the football during the off season. The Bengals took plenty of action with a slight bend towards a youth movement and the Cincinnati defense will have a new look to it in 2007. The team re-signed DE Robert Geathers, LB Landon Johnson, LB Caleb Miller, and DE Justin Smith. The team re-leased or chose not to re-sign veterans DT Sam Adams (Broncos), CB Tory James (Patriots), LB Brian Simmons, and S Kevin Kaesviharn (Saints).
Free agent acquisitions include: CB Blue Adams (Buccaneers), DT Kenderick Allen (Packers), LB Ed Hartwell (Falcons) and DT Michael Myers (Broncos). To improve its secondary the team used its #1 draft selection on Michigan CB Leon Hall and picked up S Marvin White in round 4. ITH is intrigued at the potential CB combo of Hall and Johnathan Joseph as a future force in the league. Though the unit appears to have been upgraded talent-wise it lacks a true, pure leader and it will take time for the unit to gel, if in fact it ever does. As of this writing the NFL has not cleared suspended LB Odell Thurmanâ€™s return to the team, and ITH assumes that injured LB David Pollack will not be returning to play in 2007.
The Bengals wonâ€™t have trouble scoring points. A roster loaded with arguably the most talent at the skill positions in the league (WR Chad Johnson, TJ Houshmandzadeh, and RB Rudi Johnson) and a QB who is entering the prime of his career in Carson Palmer, the offense needs to carry the show early on until the defense comes together. The unit does have holes to fill as G Eric Steinbach moved to Cleveland and 3rd WR Chris Henry will be serving an 8-game suspension as the season begins. To add flexibility and depth to the rushing attack, the team drafted RB Kenny Irons (Auburn) in round 2.
Next up….the Cleveland Browns.