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News » Cincinnati Bengals Strategy and Personnel 2009-02-11

Cincinnati Bengals Strategy and Personnel 2009-02-11

Cincinnati Bengals Strategy and Personnel 2009-02-11
Despite an 11-20-1 record in the past two seasons, the Bengals coaching staff is likely to remain intact for the 2009 season. The Bengals are coaching the North squad in the annual Senior Bowl all-star game.


QUARTERBACK: Starter -- Carson Palmer. Backups -- Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jeff Rowe, Jordan Palmer.

Palmer appears to have dodged surgery on his inflamed throwing elbow. Fitzpatrick started 12 games and played well enough, improving throughout the season, to garner interest as a possible starter in free agency.

RUNNING BACK: Starters -- RB Cedric Benson, FB Daniel Coats. Backups -- RB Chris Perry, RB Kenny Watson, RB DeDe Dorsey, RB James Johnson.

The Bengals let go of former starter Rudi Johnson at the end of the season, and it's unlikely Perry will be back. The team would like to re-sign Benson, who had three 100-yard games and saved his NFL career. The Bengals probably will spend a draft pick on this position in the third or fourth rounds.

TIGHT END: Starter -- Reggie Kelly. Backups -- Ben Utecht, Nate Lawrie, Matt Sherry

Utecht was out most of the season with injuries, and more will be expected of him next year. Kelly was solid but, like the rest of the offensive line, his blocking declined.

WIDE RECEIVER: Starters -- T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Ocho Cinco. Backups -- Glenn Holt, Antonio Chatman, Andre Caldwell, Jerome Simpson, Chris Henry.

Houshmandzadeh will be a high-demand unrestricted free agent if he is not franchise-tagged by the Bengals. Ocho Cinco might be traded. One of the two long-time starters probably will be gone. Caldwell came on strong, especially on special teams, late in the season. Henry was a non-factor until December. This position is in flux.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LT Levi Jones, LG Andrew Whitworth, C Eric Ghiaciuc, RG Bobbie Williams, RT Stacy Andrews. Backups -- T/G Scott Kooistra, C Dan Santucci, G Nate Livings, T/G Anthony Collins, C Andrew Crummey, G Evan Mathis, T Dennis Roland.

The line is in flux, too, after a poor season in which the team surrendered 51 sacks. Andrews had January surgery on a torn ACL, so his future is cloudy. Collins and Livings played well in starting on the left side in the final third of the season, and both will have shots at starting in 2009. The team will draft a replacement for Ghiaciuc as high as Round 2.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- RE Antwan Odom, RT John Thornton, LT Domata Peko, LE Jonathan Fanene. Backups -- T Pat Sims, E Frostee Rucker, T Jason Shirley, T Orien Harris, E Chris Harrington, E Darryl Blackstock. Injured reserve -- E Robert Geathers.

The Bengals like three of their linemen a lot -- given the big contracts paid Odom, Geathers and now Peko. The pass rush was terrible all season, with Odom sustaining a shoulder injury. Sims' development gives reason for optimism. Don't look for 10-year vet Thornton to return. Geathers went down with a knee injury.

LINEBACKER: Starters -- WLB Keith Rivers, MLB Dhani Jones, SLB Rashad Jeanty. Backups -- Darryl Blackstock, Corey Mays, Jim Maxwell, Brandon Johnson, Corey Mays, Eric Henderson.

Extremely well-coached by Jeff FitzGerald, Cincinnati linebackers overachieved all season. Jones was the leading tackler. Rivers, limited to seven starts and games because of a broken jaw, is a keeper. Jeanty is tough. Johnson lived up to hype from training camp. The future is bright here.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- RCB Leon Hall, LCB Johnathan Joseph, SS Chinedum, FS Marvin White. Backups -- CB David Jones, FS Kyries Hebert, S Corey Lynch, CB Jamar Fletcher, CB Geoffrey Pope.

Injuries forced young players into major roles, and the secondary was primarily responsible for the defense's surprising No. 12 ranking. Hall played consistently. Ndukwe is a playmaker. Jones came on as a part-time starter and third cornerback. The investment of first-round picks in Hall and Joseph has paid off.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Shayne Graham, P Kyle Larson, LS Brad St. Louis, KR Caldwell Holt, PR Antonio Chatman/T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Chances are Graham won't be back; he might be too expensive as a free agent. Caldwell is a dangerous kickoff return man. Larson set a team single-season record with 100 punts.

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

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