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News » Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2009-05-08

Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2009-05-08

Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2009-05-08
In a four-week period, the Bengals have shored up their defense with major acquisitions via signings and the draft.

It started April 8 when they signed defensive lineman Tank Johnson, continued with the drafting of linebacker Rey Maualuga and defensive end Michael Johnson in the second and third rounds and concluded with safety Roy Williams signing a one-year deal on Wednesday.

"One of the things I heard when I came here is defensive players weren't taken care of, and they felt like they were second class," defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said. "We re-signed Chris (Crocker), Brandon (Johnson) and Rashad (Jeanty) and are trying to keep as many players as we can. In the draft some of those things fell to us.

"One of the players said it best -- competition is great for everyone. The more guys you have, the practices are harder, players prepare better and they all want to play. We're excited to get more competition but at the same time we wanted to keep the same chemistry we had last year. Above all we want to do the same things we did well last year -- not make too many mistakes or give up big plays. We're moving in the right direction."

The aforementioned four additions will make for some interesting competition at training camp.

Tank Johnson, Domata Peko and Pat Sims will vie for two of the starting spots at defensive tackle. Peko, who led the line in tackles last season with 108, looks to have the inside track for left tackle with Johnson and Sims battling for right tackle. Sims was a third-round pick last year and impressed coach Marvin Lewis with starts in six of the last seven games, but it is hoped that Johnson can upgrade a pass rush that mustered just 18 sacks last year.

The picture at linebacker should also be interesting, especially where Maualuga begins the season. During last weekend's rookie minicamp, he played the strong side in base formations and then switched to his natural position in the middle in nickel formations.

With Dhani Jones leading the team in tackles last year and being the emotional leader of the unit, he should remain in the middle with Maualuga at strong-side and Keith Rivers playing the weak side.

Michael Johnson's development will also be something to watch. During minicamp, the third-round pick alternated between the defensive line and linebacker. In 11-on-11 drills, Andre Smith dominated him in line drills, but he does have the quickness and size (6-feet-7) to drop back in coverage or rush the passer.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 8, 2009

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