Monday, August 9, 2010
By James Walker ESPN.com
With training camps now open and the regular season getting closer, here is the first "Seven-step drop" of the 2010 season:
Johnathan Joseph recorded 69 tackles and six interceptions for Cincinnati's fourth-ranked defense in 2009.
Word out of Cincinnati Bengals camp is that contract talks could resume soon with cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal. The AFC North blog reported earlier this summer that Cincinnati exchanged at least two proposals with Joseph’s representation. The Bengals then shifted their focus to getting all of their rookie deals done heading into training camp. Now that business is complete, more dialogue is expected between now and the start of the regular season.
I'm also hearing an indoor practice facility appears to be one point of contention between Bengals ownership and head coach Marvin Lewis. It's no secret that it gets very cold in Ohio during the winter, and the Bengals' only options are to practice outside in inclement weather or travel approximately 20 miles each way to a training complex in Mason, Ohio. Usually these bus trips, which can be even more challenging during rush-hour traffic, happen late in the season when the stakes are the highest. Lewis also has one year left on his contract and spoke at the NFL combine about making sure the proper things are in place to maintain a winning culture.
The buzz in Cleveland right now is that Browns cornerback Eric Wright is having the best training camp of his career. Wright is covering well and showed up this summer in great shape. I will get to watch him closely in camp this week, but it all makes sense, because Wright has plenty of motivation. First, Wright is in a contract year. Second, the Browns traded for veteran cornerback Sheldon Brown and drafted Joe Haden to potentially take his starting job.
Browns coach Eric Mangini says cornerback Brandon McDonald could face discipline for his offensive tweet towards Bengals receiver Terrell Owens. Mangini doesn't plan to put an end to his players tweeting, but he feels they need to make sure they represent the team the right way.
It was just one play. However, I found it very interesting that Browns receiver and Pro Bowl kick returner Josh Cribbs came on an outside blitz in this weekend's scrimmage. Cribbs playing defense was intriguing enough. But also coming on a quarterback blitz is a wrinkle to keep an eye on.
There is no reason to believe Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not get his conditional six-game suspension reduced to four games. Based on commissioner Roger Goodell’s recent comments praising Roethlisberger, the league appears to be setting the table for such an announcement. The Steelers are providing the company line that they’re expecting six games until told otherwise. But it would seem very strange if that happened after all the good things Goodell had to say during his recent visit to Latrobe, Pa.
Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is in for a huge payday, and he can partially thank the 2010 NFL draft. This year's class had two defensive tackles -- Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy -- taken in the top three. And with the rookie wage scale, which many believe is over inflated, both players received around $35-$40 million in guaranteed money. Ngata, who is in the final year of his contract, rightfully will command more than these unproven rookies, which provides a very high starting point for the Ravens. But there is no denying Ngata is a franchise building block in Baltimore.