AFC North: Ben Utecht

Links: Bengals release Jamaal Anderson

July, 11, 2013
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Baltimore Ravens

Training camp is less than two weeks away, but the Ravens' front office is still considering tweaking the roster, writes Garrett Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com. When asked about the possibility of making further roster changes, coach John Harbaugh said, "There are still players who are out there unsigned, and we’re in love with, so personnel-wise, yeah.”

The Ravens' starting five on the offensive line appears to be set, but there's plenty of competition behind them as nearly a dozen players vie for four or five reserve spots, writes Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun.

Bryan Hall has shed nearly 45 pounds in his transition from defensive lineman to inside linebacker, writes The Sun's Aaron Wilson.

Cincinnati Bengals

The team released backup defensive end Jamaal Anderson, who suffered a season-ending quad injury in his second game with the Bengals last season.

The team announced its schedule for training camp, which will begin July 25 and include a pep rally at Paul Brown Stadium, reports Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Former tight end Ben Utecht won an arbitration hearing against the Bengals and will be paid the remainder of his 2009 salary. Utrecht suffered a concussion during training camp in 2009 and was later released.

Cleveland Browns

Expect the Browns to pass on this year's crop of players available in the supplemental draft, writes Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer.

Frank Minnifield comes in at No. 18 on The Plain Dealer's list of the top 100 Browns of all time.

Matt Florjancic of the team's official website takes a look at the offensive line headed toward training camp and identifies Jason Pinkston and John Greco as players to watch.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The team released their complete training camp schedule.

What's the hardest thing about playing cornerback? "There is very little room for error," Cortez Allen said in a Q&A with fans on the team's official website. "A lot of what we do if you make a mistake it’s big, it’s a touchdown. We aren’t like linemen where you have a second level of defense, or linebackers. We are out there by ourselves for the most part. That is why I do it. I like the challenge of being able to go against their best athlete and compete at that level."

Pennlive.com's Dustin Hockensmith has a training camp preview of the defensive linemen and safeties, including a breakdown of the projected starters, key reserves, new faces to watch and key losses.

Bengals tried to make a move

October, 22, 2009
10/22/09
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Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

There was a mystery team connected to the Dallas Cowboys before Tuesday’s trade deadline, and according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, that team was the Cincinnati Bengals.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters a team put forth a "significant" offer for one of his players this week that Jones turned down. Mortensen reports the player was Cowboys backup tight end Martellus Bennett and the team was the first-place Bengals (4-2).

It makes sense. Cincinnati has been banged up at tight end as Reggie Kelly (Achilles) and Ben Utecht (concussion) both went down early with season-ending injuries. Daniel Coats, a tight end/fullback hybrid, has struggled catching the ball. The Bengals also have a pair of young, developing tight ends on their roster in J.P. Foschi and Chase Coffman.

Cincinnati rarely makes many splashes in the trade market. But at least the reported attempt this week shows the Bengals are trying to win now and hold onto the AFC North division lead.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

HBO's much-anticipated "Hard Knocks" series featuring the Cincinnati Bengals made its debut Wednesday night. Every week the AFC North blog we will break down highlights of the show for ESPN.com readers.

 
  AP Photo/Al Behrman
  Chad Ochocinco unveiled his new catchphrase during the first episode of "Hard Knocks."

Here is a recap of the first episode:

Synopsis: After a 4-11-1 season that Bengals owner Mike Brown deemed "an embarrassment," the team is trying to fight back from the bottom to the top of the NFL. The series starts with the Olympics-style competition that the team held during minicamp, which displayed an attempt to build unity and a willingness to compete. Once arriving in Georgetown, Ky., the Oklahoma drill serves as an early highlight. The injury bug also strikes the tight end position, where starter Reggie Kelly (Achilles) is lost for the season and Ben Utecht suffers a severe concussion.

Next tight end up: Last year, then-rookie tight end Martellus Bennett of the Dallas Cowboys was the "Hard Knocks" goat early in training camp. This season Bengals rookie tight end Chase Coffman filled the same void in the debut episode. The show displayed all of Coffman's early mistakes in camp, such as poor routes and sloppy footwork. Ironically, I detailed many of those same initial struggles during my visit to Georgetown. But Coffman has actually improved since and is challenging for first-team reps.

Funny moment No. 1: In a welcome-to-Bengaldom moment, new safety Roy Williams -- who had spent his entire career in Dallas -- is shocked that players have to pay money to rent televisions for their dorm rooms. "There's no TV?" a startled Williams asked. The prices range from $93 to $266 depending on the size. The Bengals are notorious for their cost-cutting ways and this was yet another example.

Funny moment No. 2: Fullback Jeremi Johnson entered training camp 11 pounds overweight. And with team trainers working with Johnson every day, he somehow gained three additional pounds in the first week. Weight has always been an issue for Johnson since he arrived to Cincinnati in 2003. But lately he's gotten it together and is getting work with the first team.

Brown vs. the media: The Bengals have been a running joke in the media for quite some time and Brown acknowledged that in his address to the team.

"We exposed ourselves to the media, which criticized us and mocked us," the Bengals owner said. "This is a hard business. It can be a tough, bottom-line business where all that matters is did you win or did you lose? Now is the time for us to answer back, and the place for us to answer back is on the playing field. From there, our critics will hear us loud and clear."

The Ocho Show: In somewhat of an upset, entertaining receiver Chad Ochocinco didn't get his own segment until about 40 minutes into the hour-long program. At that time Ochocinco explained one of his favorite sayings: "Child please!"

"Child please is a nice way to say [expletive] you," said Ochocinco, who recommends that everyone try his new catchphrase.

Ochocinco also explains why Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo split up with Jessica Simpson.

"She bought him a $100,000 boat and now her birthday is coming up. That's a lot of pressure," Ochocinco said to laughing teammates. "As an athlete, we got money. But we don't got money like they [entertainers] got money, so pressure caused the breakup."

Spin control: Executive vice president Katie Blackburn displayed a perfect example of the Bengals being able to control the message. Wednesday's episode briefly touched on Cincinnati first-round pick Andre Smith being the lone absentee because of a contract dispute. But instead of being fair to both sides and pointing out Cincinnati's awful track record with rookie holdouts, Blackburn had an open forum.

"It's extremely frustrating," Blackburn said. "You're offering them so much money, and yet for some reason they're saying it's not enough."

Grade: B

Why: I'm intrigued by the potential of this show, but I thought the first episode was just good, not great. It focused mostly on the players, where I believe the most-compelling stories and mystery surrounding the Bengals involves ownership and the family-run business. I want to see more of Mike Brown, who is a polarizing figure in Cincinnati and rarely in the public eye. I want to see more of the Bengals' football operation, which is scant compared to other NFL teams and has been criticized tremendously over the years. Although I cover the Bengals regularly, I'm still eager to learn something new about the organization with its doors completely open this summer. The debut episode failed to accomplish that goal.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories Friday in the AFC North:

Morning take: For those unaware, Snoop runs a very popular youth football league in California where he also serves as a head coach. Does Snoop have aspirations of taking his coaching skills to the next level?

  • Veteran cornerback Ike Taylor already believes rookie receiver Mike Wallace is among the three fastest Pittsburgh Steelers.

Morning take: It's early but Wallace is making a good impression. I thought he was lightning-quick in shorts during the spring, and he still looks fast in pads during training camp.

  • Cincinnati Bengals tight end Ben Utecht was released from the hospital Thursday and will have further tests following a concussion.

Morning take: It is good to hear that there is already progress with Utecht, who suffered a scary moment in practice earlier in the week.

  • The Cleveland Browns may lose offensive guard Rex Hadnot for an extended period after suffering what appeared to be a severe knee injury.

Morning take: This marks the first major injury of the summer for Cleveland. But the team remains deep with plenty of offensive linemen if Hadnot cannot return.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC North:

Morning take: With Reggie Kelly already out for the season, it may be up to rookie tight end Chase Coffman to start for Cincinnati in the preseason. Coffman also is coming back from foot surgery.

  • Things are still quiet on the status of Pittsburgh Steelers starting offensive guard Darnell Stapleton (knee).

Morning take: Stapleton already had an MRI, which leads me to believe the team knows the deal by now. I'm not exactly sure why an update hasn't been provided.

  • Baltimore Ravens safety Dawan Landry is on the mend after suffering a spinal injury last season.

Morning take: With Jim Leonhard's exit in free agency, the Ravens could use a good year from Landry back in the starting lineup.

  • Cleveland Browns running backs Jamal Lewis and James Davis are forging a good bond in training camp.

Morning take: The veteran and the rookie both went to Douglass High School in Atlanta about a decade apart. Now they join in Cleveland with hopes of bringing the Browns a running game this season.

Bengals training camp notes

August, 1, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

GEORGETOWN, Ky.--The Cincinnati Bengals opened their second day of training camp Saturday with the first of two practices.

Here are some notes and observations from the morning session:

  • I'm really impressed with how clean Cincinnati's practices have been so far. There are very few procedural screw-ups or mental errors such as false starts and offside penalties. A high participation in this year's voluntary program likely has something to do with it, and the team has continued that momentum from the spring into the early portion of training camp.
  • There were not a lot of mental errors but there were several physical mishaps Saturday, particularly among the receivers. There were five drops in team drills. Tight end Ben Utecht had two, while receivers Chad Ochocinco, Chris Henry and Freddie Brown all dropped one pass each.
  • The obligatory Andre Smith question was presented to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis again as Smith missed his second straight day training camp. Lewis said there was no update but still has the door open for Smith to keep his starting job at right tackle.

"Until he comes to a contract agreement [with] his people and our people, he won't be here," Lewis said. "When he gets here, we'll work with him and give him every opportunity to contribute to this football team as quick as possible. Based on his ability, I believe he'll be able to do that."

  • Backup cornerback David Jones tweaked his left ankle in practice, but the injury didn't appear serious. He got the ankle re-taped and remained on the sideline for team drills. (Update: Saturday evening before the second practice, Jones was wearing a walking boot and didn't participate. The team classifying it as a left foot injury.)
  • The Bengals will complete their first two-a-day with a Saturday night practice from 7-9 p.m. As we mentioned Friday, starting quarterback Carson Palmer is expected to participate, which is an alteration from minicamp when he sat out the second sessions. Lewis said the team will continue to closely monitor Palmer's reps but also wants to maintain a rhythm offensively.

Posted by ESPN.com staff

Baltimore Ravens

  • Veteran cornerback Samari Rolle signed a four-year deal with the Ravens nearly three weeks after he was released by the team, reports Baltimore Sun.
  • Murray takes a look back at quarterback Kyle Boller's star-crossed tenure with the team.
Cincinnati Bengals
  • Tight end Ben Utecht recently visited six different Cincinnati public schools to promote GEARUP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness in Undergraduate Programs) to fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-graders across the city, according to the team's Web site.
Cleveland Browns
  • Jay Cutler's agent, Bus Cook, denied a Chicago Sun-Times report that Cutler wouldn't want to play for Browns coach Eric Mangini, writes The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot.
Pittsburgh Steelers

Bengals' drops

April, 3, 2009
4/03/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Wrapping up our series of 2008 drops in the AFC North, we take a look at the Cincinnati Bengals.

These drops are for the regular season only and according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Who had the dropsies in Cincinnati?
Player Position Drops REC Drops as a %
of drops+REC
Chad Ocho Cinco WR 5 53 8.6
T.J. Houshmandzadeh WR 5 92 5.1
Glenn Holt WR 4 3 57.1
Chris Perry RB 4 20 16.7
Ben Utecht TE 3 16 15.8
Chris Henry WR 3 19 13.6
Reggie Kelly TE 2 31 6.1
Daniel Coats FB/TE 2 2 50.0
Kenny Watson RB 1 3 25.0
James Johnson RB 1 6 14.3
Source: Elias Sports Bureau

AFC North stock watch

October, 6, 2008
10/06/08
10:15
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Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Five weeks into the 2008 regular season, let's take a look at who's hot and who's not in the AFC North division:

Roethlisberger

Who's hot

1. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Roethlisberger had his fifth career 300-yard game and it came at a time when the Steelers needed every yard in a 26-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. On the road and shorthanded, Roethlisberger stepped up big and took over the game by throwing for 309 yards and three touchdowns. After his interception on Pittsburgh's opening drive, he was masterful in making plays with both his legs and arm. The no-huddle option on offense also seems to have instilled new life into the Steelers' offense that hit a lull a few weeks ago.

Woodley

2. LaMarr Woodley, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers seem to develop a stud linebacker nearly every year, and Woodley looks like the next up-and-coming talent in line. Woodley, in his second year, is proving that he can be an every-down linebacker. His six tackles and two sacks led Pittsburgh on Sunday. Last week, Woodley also recovered a fumble and scored his first career touchdown. He has a knack for making the big plays and has 5.5 sacks and an interception through five games.
McAlister

3. Chris McAlister, CB, Baltimore Ravens

McAlister is quietly having a terrific season by making both the big plays and routine plays for the Ravens (2-2). He recorded his third interception in four games during a 13-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Not to put any unnecessary pressure on McAlister, but statistically he is on pace for 12 interceptions. But what has impressed us most with McAlister this season is how often he's been around the football. In addition to the three picks, he also had his hands on eight pass break-ups.
Perry

Who's not

1. Chris Perry, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

Perry has been a mainstay in the "not" category because he's not getting many yards and fumbling at the worst possible times. The Bengals tailback rushed for 31 yards and fumbled for the fifth time (third lost) this season during Cincinnati's 31-22 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Bengals had the momentum after 16 unanswered points and recovering an onside kick, but Perry coughed up the ball in the fourth quarter. Of course, Cowboys' receiver Terrell Owens scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Cincinnati's coaching staff needs to figure out if Perry's fumbling problem is correctable or if it's time to begin giving carries to someone else.

Utecht

2. Ben Utecht, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

Utecht is expected to be a viable weapon in Cincinnati's passing game, but he's off to a slow start for the Bengals. The former Indianapolis Colts tight end had just one catch for three yards against Dallas. He had a chance to make a big two-point conversion that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter, but the pass attempt was knocked out of his hands. Utecht has just five receptions so far this season.

3. Matt Stover, K, Baltimore Ravens

Stover

The usually consistent Stover, one of the most accurate kickers in the league, has sputtered through three games. Stover has missed a field-goal attempt in three games this year, including Sunday's 45-yard attempt that was wide right in the second quarter. Because of the style Baltimore plays, the Ravens are going to be in a lot of close, low-scoring games this year. They need to be able to rely on Stover and the kicking game to maximize the opportunities and take some of the pressure off Baltimore's defense.

Morning take: Big Ben's shoulder debate

September, 16, 2008
9/16/08
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Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories in the AFC North:  

The shoulder of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger continues to be a hot topic of debate.

Morning take: Depending on whom you listen to, the shoulder has been described as everything from "sore" to "separated." We're just going to wait and see before we also jump to quick conclusions with everyone else.

Morning take: The Bengals' already slim chances of beating the defending Super Bowl champions on the road this week got even slimmer.

Morning take: A lot has changed for Smith in a short period of time. First, he's lost 20 pounds according to the report, and that will take some time to recover from. Second, rookie Joe Flacco is close to sealing the deal as the team's starting quarterback with a few more victories.

  • Cleveland Browns head coach Romeo Crennel is not going to second-guess decisions he made in Sunday night's 10-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Morning take: Yet it seems everyone in Cleveland is. We have a gut feeling that Crennel would do some things different if he had a second chance. But it wouldn't help for him to admit that publicly.

Seven-step drop

August, 25, 2008
8/25/08
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Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are seven notes and observations from this weekend's preseason games in the AFC North:

  • Although it's never good to put too much value on the preseason, based on Saturday's performance the Cincinnati Bengals are in trouble. The team doesn't look in synch in any phase of the game right now, as evident in Saturday's 13-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The offense is banged up and playing below expectations thus far and the defense, which is implementing a new system, is not showing much improvement week to week after giving up 458 yards to the Saints.

"It wasn't a good feeling [Saturday]. We know that," Bengals defensive tackle John Thornton said. "We have some time before the first game, so we have some time to fix it. It hasn't been a good last two weeks, so we have to find out why we're not performing."

  • The offense keeps springing leaks, with the latest being the line. Quarterback Carson Palmer was sacked three times, hit a few more times, and suffered a broken nose and cut lip in the first half. But what people didn't see was that the communication from everyone was poor, including the backs and tight ends. In addition to the offensive line, tight end Ben Utecht and running back Chris Perry also missed several assignments.

"It's a team sport and we weren't all on the same page," Cincinnati offensive tackle Levi Jones described the game.

  • The learning curve for Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall has been impressive. Mendenhall struggled during his first week of training camp. By the second week he was running harder and beginning to show flashes. But in the third and fourth weeks, Mendenhall was looking like a capable NFL tailback, which is what he showed in rushing for 79 yards on 15 carries against the Minnesota Vikings. Mendenhall is getting coached well in Pittsburgh and proving that he's an attentive student. If he continues to improve at this rate, Mendenhall will be a force in the regular season. He did fumble twice this weekend, showing he's still prone to rookie mistakes.
  • The Steelers' first-team defense showed a little more against Minnesota. It's not the Pittsburgh way to do much defensively in the preseason, but after two mediocre preseason performances defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau turned up the dial against Minnesota. The unit held Vikings Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson to 21 yards on 12 carries, and also created two turnovers and four sacks Saturday. That should quiet the grumblings from Steelers fans that last year's top-ranked unit cannot return to form.
  • We noticed something with the Cleveland Browns last week. The interesting thing about training camp and the preseason is that the media gets to watch a team practice in its entirety, and there was strikingly little intensity in the two practices we attended last week. And guess what the Browns showed in their 26-6 loss to the Detroit Lions? That's right, little intensity. Cleveland played how it practiced Saturday, and there is a sense around the team that it just wants to get to the regular season without any more significant injuries. Whether that's a good or bad approach remains to be seen.
  • Although quarterback Brady Quinn was disappointed with his first NFL start, the performance was average -- not too good but not awful. Quinn completed 14 of 24 passes for 106 yards. He went short on a lot of throws because it's always been his mentality to take what the defense gives him. But Quinn didn't do anything overly impressive to make the coaching staff second-guess their decision to make Derek Anderson the starter, which is likely what disappointed Quinn the most.
  • With Troy Smith coming down with a viral infection and Kyle Boller nursing a shoulder injury, rookie quarterback Joe Flacco got the start against the St. Louis Rams and played well. Flacco finished 18 for 37 with 152 yards and a touchdown. Flacco has improved with each start and now has entered the quarterback derby once again. It should be an interesting final week of the preseason in Baltimore.

Seven-step drop

August, 11, 2008
8/11/08
11:39
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Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

The Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers concluded a busy opening week of preseason football on Monday night.

Now, it's a time to reflect.

In our first installment of The Seven-Step Drop, here are seven things that caught my eye during week one of the preseason in the AFC North.

  • Browns starting quarterback Derek Anderson got a small monkey off his back with a solid performance last week against the New York Jets. Although it was unspoken leading into the game, it was important for Anderson to put his struggles at the end of the season behind him. He went 4 for 5 for 20 yards and a touchdown in his only series of the game. Anderson's connection with receiver Braylon Edwards was as pretty a touchdown pass as you're going to see in the preseason.
  • The depth of the Cleveland Browns' secondary looks as bad as advertised early on. Sure, it was just one game, but giving up two passing touchdowns of 70 yards or more against the Jets were inexcusable. Both big plays involved poor coverage and bad angles taken to the football. Starting corners Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright did fine in limited action with the first team. But as soon as they left the field, the floodgates opened in the passing game.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Rashard Mendenhall had a solid debut at tailback. He had a slow first week of training camp, then gradually improved during the second week. Mendenhall carried that momentum into his first NFL game with 34 yards on seven carries. He also returned a kickoff and will get a look there. Mendenhall still runs a little too upright for our liking. But with additional coaching and several more hits like the one he took on his first carry Friday, Mendenhall will learn to keep his pads lower.
  • Charlie Batch's broken collarbone will be a significant loss for Pittsburgh. More than anything, Batch was the calming influence behind the scenes for starter Ben Roethlisberger and rookie Dennis Dixon. The Steelers signed Byron Leftwich on Sunday, but he will not be able to provide the type of leadership, or know the offense as well as Batch, who tutored the other two quarterbacks behind the scenes.
  • Baltimore Ravens return specialist Yamon Figurs already looks in mid-season form. He had a punt return of 52 yards and a kickoff return of 48 yards against the New England Patriots last week. With the additions of head coach John Harbaugh, who was once a long-time special teams coach, and assistant Jerry Rosburg, Baltimore expects to be extremely good in the third phase of the game this season.
  • After a two-turnover performance by Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller against New England, this is a golden opportunity for Troy Smith to take the lead. Smith will get the start Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings. If Smith proves he can move the offense and, most importantly, take care of the football, it should give Smith some separation in this three-way race with two preseason games remaining.
  • The Bengals were a mixed bag. I liked what I saw from tight end Ben Utecht (four catches, 34 yards, one touchdown) and active rookie linebacker Keith Rivers (seven tackles) in their first game as Bengals. But I didn't like what I saw from the first-team defense, which really needs to work on its tackling. Cincinnati's starters had very poor technique, particularly safety Marvin White, and paid the price often by getting trucked several times by the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter. The good news is the Bengals have time to re-teach the fundamentals.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

The Cincinnati Bengals will open their 2008 preseason against the Green Bay Packers Monday night on ESPN at 8 p.m.

While most eyes will be on Packers staring quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Bengals also have several major questions.

Here are some things to look for:

  • First and foremost, take a close look at Cincinnati's new-look defense under assistant coach Mike Zimmer. The unit is very young and in the process of trying to learn a new scheme. The good news is Rodgers, considering the circumstances, likely will play more than one series. So the Bengals should get a decent look from Green Bay's first-team offense.
  • Speaking of Cincinnati's defense, rookie linebacker Keith Rivers will make his debut tonight. The No. 9 overall pick was a late arrival to training camp and is trying to catch up to speed. He has a reputation as one of this year's most NFL-ready rookies, and he will get a chance to show that before a national audience.
  • Ben Utecht is expected to add another dimension to Cincinnati's offense as a pass-catching tight end. Utecht spent three years as a backup with the Indianapolis Colts but will be a full-time starter with the Bengals. It will be interesting to watch how his role begins to develop.
  • Starting receiver Chad Johnson would be higher on this list of what to watch, but reports out of Cincinnati indicate that he will be a game-time decision. Johnson recently returned to practice following June ankle surgery. Johnson would face a good test with Green Bay cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson if he decides to play.
  • Also watch the race for the No. 3 receiver spot. A plethora of players, which include Marcus Maxwell, Antonio Chatman and rookies Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson, will get an extended look to see who will step up. This will be one reason to watch closely in the second half while all of the starters are on the sidelines.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

 
 Frank Victores/US Presswire
 Former Colt Ben Utecht should give Carson Palmer a good option at tight end.

The AFC North version of the Blog Network caught up with Cincinnati Bengals tight end Ben Utecht to discuss, among other things, expectations for the coming year and what he does with his Super Bowl ring.

1. Ben, your career high is 37 receptions with the Indianapolis Colts, but this is your first year as a starter. Do you sense a big year coming in 2008?

Ben Utecht: I don't know. I'm not going to go out and say that's the case. I can say that I have a lot of goals. This is a big goal year for me. I want to come out and solidify myself as a solid tight end in this league. So I have some high goals, but I think every year can be a career year. That's just the way it is as an athlete.

2. Is quarterback Carson Palmer as good as advertised?

BU: Absolutely. I got along with Carson from the minute I came here. I know he's excited about having a receiving tight end. I have truly been spoiled going from Peyton Manning to Carson Palmer -- two just excellent quarterbacks. It's been an easy transition for me.

3. Where is the Super Bowl ring you won in 2006?

BU: I do have my ring; you can count on that! But it's at home. It's a beautiful ring and it's locked away. Usually you don't take it out until special occasions. But it's a constant reminder of what we're striving for and how hard you have to work to get there.

4. Any thoughts of bringing it around your Bengal teammates for motivation?

BU: If the time comes, then that will happen. But I just think this team has such great focus and a great attitude. The way we started off this training camp has been very good. So I'm really excited to see what this team will bring to the NFL this year.

5. This is very good division for tight ends. How do you feel you will match up week-to-week with Kellen Winslow Jr. of the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers' Heath Miller and Todd Heap of the Baltimore Ravens?

BU: You're absolutely right. This is one of the greatest divisions right now in the league for tight ends. For me, it just gives me that much more of a goal to reach. I look at myself and say, "You know, I know I can do what they do." I really believe that. They've all been on great teams that utilize that position, and I'm excited that the Bengals want to try to utilize the [tight end] position here.

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