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News » Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2009-02-11

Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2009-02-11

Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2009-02-11
Carson Palmer does not need surgery on his inflamed right (throwing) elbow, or at least that's the word from the Bengals as Palmer continues to rehab in California.

Starting right tackle Stacy Andrews had surgery Jan. 8 on his torn right ACL, a procedure that the team categorizes as successful. He was the Bengals' franchise player in 2008, but now there is a question whether Andrews will even be with the team in 2009.

Linebacker Keith Rivers, lost for the season with a broken jaw midway through his rookie season, had a clean-out operation on his ankle. Rivers, the third consecutive first-round defensive pick for the team, is looking forward to his role on a defense that improved to a No. 12 ranking under first-year coordinator Mike Zimmer.

The Bengals' staff is coaching the North team in the annual Senior Bowl all-star game.

Just another January for Cincinnati's NFL franchise.

Onlookers are optimistic about the chances for a rebound by the Bengals, who were 4-3-1 in the final eight games after starting 0-8.

Count former Steelers coach Bill Cowher among those who like what they see on the horizon.

The focus of Cowher's reasoning is Palmer, the quarterback who did not play in the Bengals' final 11 games because of the injured elbow. Palmer is expected to be fully healthy when the Bengals begin training camp in July.

"The big key is Carson because with him you can really exploit the weapons the Bengals have on offense," Cowher said. "And with stability on defense, they look like a real team. But it starts with Carson."

Cowher, who gave Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis his first NFL job as Steelers linebackers coach in 1992, liked the fire Lewis showed in defending his team to the media during a 3-0 run to end the season.

"A football team takes on the personality of its coach," Cowher said. "In that incident with the media, Marvin displayed a sense of 'enough is enough.' This is a good team, and they responded by backing him up. There's something to be said for a coach who still believes in you even in a tough year. Marvin's a fighter, and he showed that in his own way."

The defense is another reason for optimism.

Rivers said he will be ready for the team's offseason program in late March.

Despite playing in only seven games, Rivers was among the team leaders in tackles (50). He also had an interception and a forced fumble.

"I was disappointed about the injury. There were some goals that I was hoping to achieve that got dashed," Rivers said. "The good thing was I was able to get better each week. My first game was awful, and I missed a couple tackles. But after that, I think I missed only one or two tackles the rest of the season."

Rivers should bolster a Bengals defense that made big gains under Zimmer. The 12th-place finish was the franchise's best standing since 2001, when it was ninth.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 11, 2009

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