AFC North: Devon Still

NEW ORLEANS -- Just like the Cincinnati Bengals did last Thursday, the New Orleans Saints used the break between the first and second quarters Sunday to recognize Leah Still and her battle with pediatric cancer.

Leah is the 4-year-old daughter of Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still, whose fight with neuroblastoma has become an international story that extends beyond the field of play. At the end of August, about three months after Leah was diagnosed, her father was released by the Bengals as they made end-of-preseason roster cuts to get to the current 53-man active roster. Two days later, he was re-signed onto the Bengals' practice squad, helping him retain the NFL's insurance so that he can pay the full amount of Leah's medical treatments.

Still was added onto the active roster a week after that, and appeared in every game since, except for Sunday's. He was inactive.

Although he didn't suit up, Still was on the Bengals' sideline for the game. During the game's first between-quarter break, the Superdome's video board displayed a photo of Leah and Devon Still, along with a message about their efforts to raise funds and awareness about pediatric cancer. For a little over a month, the Bengals sold Still's No. 75 jersey through their pro shop as part of their attempt to help Still get his message out.

While Still's jersey was for sale, the Bengals sold nearly 15,000 of them, raising almost $1.3 million. Between the first and second quarters of last Thursday's nationally televised game against the Cleveland Browns, the Bengals gave a check to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center on behalf of Leah.

Earlier this season, Patriots owner Robert Kraft donated $25,000 in her name for pediatric cancer research efforts. The same night that Kraft's donation was announced, New England Patriots cheerleaders brought Still to tears when they took off their team jackets, revealing the orange-and-black No. 75 Still jerseys they had purchased earlier in the week.

The Patriots' gestures came three weeks after Saints coach Sean Payton purchased 100 of Still's $100 jerseys, and donated them to Cincinnati-area Boys and Girls Clubs.

On Sunday, Still waved from the sideline as the stadium's cameras caught him during the public address announcement.

Still has 17 tackles in eight games this season.

Rapid Reaction: Cincinnati Bengals

November, 6, 2014
Nov 6

CINCINNATI -- A few thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 24-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium:

What it means: The Bengals haven't shown any consistently good play this year. Just when they won two straight games, they succumbed to one of their ugliest losses inside Paul Brown Stadium in recent seasons. As the Bengals snapped a 14-game regular-season undefeated home streak, their prime-time bugaboo reared its ugly head once again. In eight regular-season night games since Andy Dalton and A.J. Green were drafted, the Bengals are now 2-6. The Browns' 21-point win marked the largest margin of victory the Browns have had in a game in Cincinnati since a 34-0 win in 1987. This loss also drops the Bengals to second place in the AFC North.

Stock watch: Two weeks ago, Dalton was the hero, leading a game-winning drive in the final four minutes of the Bengals' win over the Ravens. He capped that drive with a 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down. It was a potentially season-changing, career-defining moment for the quarterback. Against the Browns, he threw all that promise away en route to the worst outing of his professional career. He had career lows in single-game completion percentage (30.3) and passer rating (2.0). That completion percentage was the lowest in a game by a Bengals quarterback since 2000. His 86 yards were the lowest total he's had this season, and the second lowest of his career in a full game. He also threw two interceptions in a game for the third time this season. If the Dalton who showed up Thursday is supposed to be the Bengals' $115 million savior from here on, Cincinnati could be in trouble.

Game ball: Since no Bengals were worthy of receiving this week's game ball, an executive decision was made to give it to someone much more deserving. Leah Still, the 4-year-old daughter of Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still, was the Bengals' guest of honor Thursday as doctors cleared her to fly from Philadelphia, where she has been receiving treatment for Stage 4 pediatric cancer, to Cincinnati. During the game, the organization recognized her and her fight against the disease. It also presented a check for $1.25 million to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center for pediatric cancer research efforts. The funds came from the sale of her father's No. 75 jersey during September and October.

Poor rushing defense: One of the keys entering the game revolved around both teams' atrocious rushing defense, and determining which team would take better advantage. With the Browns averaging just 52.7 yards per game rushing in their previous three outings, it seemed like they would be the ones struggling to move the football. But that wasn't the case. Cleveland's running backs picked up 170 yards, making them the seventh straight team to run for more than 100 yards against the Bengals.

What's next? With 10 days off until their next game, the Bengals have a while to stew over this latest defeat. They aren't in action again until Nov. 16, when they go on the road to face the New Orleans Saints. If Cincinnati is going to get back on the right side of the ledger and re-establish a measure of respect in the AFC North, it will have to win that game. It's the first of three straight on the road, with Houston and Tampa Bay to follow.

W2W4: Browns vs. Bengals

November, 6, 2014
Nov 6
CINCINNATI -- A few storylines to watch Thursday night when the Cincinnati Bengals host the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium:

Green v. Haden VI: Along with the 82nd installment of the "Battle of Ohio," we also will see the sixth NFL edition of Green v. Haden, the receiver-cornerback matchup featuring Pro Bowlers A.J. Green and Joe Haden. Both players have had their share of wins in the rivalry, with Haden appearing to get the best of Green in Bengals wins. In Bengals losses, it has mostly been the other way around. Green has 14 catches for 186 yards, two touchdowns and nine first downs in meetings against Haden the Bengals have lost. In wins, he has just six catches for 158 yards, one touchdown and four first downs. Overall, Haden plays Green better than other cornerbacks do. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Green's receptions per target, targets per route, receptions per route, air yards per target and yards after catch are all lower when he faces Haden, compared to when he's matched up against any other cornerback. With Green playing for the second straight week through a toe injury that has bugged him all year, this matchup could help dictate the outcome of the game.

A repeat for Hill? After filling in admirably for starting running back Giovani Bernard last week, rookie Jeremy Hill has a chance for a repeat performance this week. The big question is: will he? Hill rushed for a career-high 154 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. He banged up his left knee during the Bengals' 33-23 win over the Jaguars, one that was powered in large part by his 60-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run. Hill said all week that his knee feels fine and he is hopeful for another breakout performance when he faces the Browns' hole-filled rush defense. Cleveland, like Cincinnati, ranks 30th in the league in rush defense, allowing 139.6 yards per game. With the Browns' offense playing well the last four weeks, particularly in the second half, it may be incumbent on the Bengals' offense to employ a heavy dose of the run in an effort of eating clock and playing keep-away from them. If that's the case, Hill won't be the only ball carrier Thursday. He'll get a little relief from Cedric Peerman and Rex Burkhead.

Battle for field position: In addition to the time of possession battle, the Bengals and Browns also will be fighting for field position. The most direct way to affect field position is to play well on special teams, something Cincinnati has done all season. Punter Kevin Huber leads the league in percentage of punts inside the 10- and 5-yard lines, and he also has the highest net punting average. On the return side of things, cornerback Adam Jones has put the Bengals in good field position both following kickoffs and punts. While fellow corner Leon Hall's (concussion) absence may force the Bengals to finesse a few of Jones' return opportunities -- Brandon Tate may have to take a couple over the course of the game to keep Jones fresh -- he'll still have several chances.

Leah Still could give jolt: There will be no shortage of emotion Thursday night as 4-year-old Leah Still, daughter of defensive tackle Devon Still, will be in attendance. Doctors in Philadelphia cleared her to fly to Cincinnati to watch her father play, all while she continues her fight with Stage 4 pediatric cancer. The sight of her on the video board between the first and second quarters when the Bengals present a $1.25 million check to advance pediatric cancer research efforts at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center should give the home crowd even more life.
CINCINNATI -- The curious case of rookie linebacker Khairi Fortt's brief stay with the New Orleans Saints took a pair of bizarre turns Thursday.

Fortt, who was acquired by the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday after having been waived by the Saints the day before, told that the preseason "leg" injury that had placed him on New Orleans' short-term injured reserve has actually been healthy for five weeks now.

"Everything's been good since the first game of the season," Fortt said from his Bengals locker.

The Saints never disclosed how Fortt was injured. Fortt said Thursday that it was to his right hamstring.

[+] EnlargeKhairi Fortt
AP Photo/TUSP, Jay BiggerstaffKhairi Fortt was drafted and played with the New Orleans Saints in the preseason.
"They put me on IR. I don't know why, and obviously I'm not going to [challenge] authority, but yeah, my hamstring has been good since the first game," Fortt said.

A fourth-round pick by the Saints in May, Fortt went on short-term IR on Sept. 3. Players who go on short-term IR typically are placed under that designation when they have serious injuries that should fully heal before the end of the season. It's a way of getting players injured in the preseason or near the start of the regular season an opportunity to bounce back later in the year. Teams are allowed to place one player on short-term IR per season. That player must be on IR for nine weeks.

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert went on that injury list after dislocating his right elbow in the season opener. He's expected back Nov. 6, when the Bengals host the Browns.

Even though the Saints let go of Fortt before his tenure on the IR ended, they aren't allowed to put another player under that designation this season.

Fortt, who arrived in Cincinnati during the middle of Wednesday's practice, has participated fully in the Bengals' workouts the last two days.

In addition to Fortt's revelation, two outlets in New Orleans reported that he was waived because he missed multiple team meetings. Multiple sources told ESPN Saints reporter Mike Triplett that he was let go because of a "football decision." The sources stressed to Triplett that Fortt wasn't let go for any violation of league rules or legal issues.

When asked, Fortt wouldn't say why the Saints released him.

"They just went a different route and [Bengals] coach [Marvin] Lewis, he gave me another opportunity, and I’m grateful for it," Fortt said. "I know coaches know that I have the ability, it’s just all about getting the playbook down now. And then from there, I’ll just move forward in trying to be a great linebacker."

Fortt's Bengals tenure will begin on special teams, where he's been told that he will play on return and coverage teams. He said he's still getting oriented with his new team and that he doesn't yet have a good enough grasp on the defense to contribute.

Special teams were primarily the impetus behind Fortt's signing, which came the same day linebacker Sean Porter was placed on Cincinnati's season-ending IR after suffering an ACL injury on the opening kickoff of last Sunday's game at New England. Porter has had other injury issues throughout his two-year career, including a balky shoulder and hamstring problems.

Fortt said during the weeks when he wasn't playing, he was lifting weights, going through CrossFit routines and honing his conditioning. He also spent time watching opposing quarterbacks.

"I took it upon me to still look at film," Fortt said. "I did the quarterback tendencies for the defense for the game, just to keep myself in the loop and to make sure I'm not all the way out of the loop. Now I'm here and looking forward to getting back out on the field again."
CINCINNATI -- Leah Still was just waking up after seven hours under anesthesia when her father and other family members tried to help her sit up in her bed at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The 4-year-old who had spent much of last Thursday under doctors' supervision following a near six-hour surgery to remove a tumor from inside her body, was defiant.

She didn't want any help sitting up in her bed. She wanted to do it on her own. She did. Not just once, but twice.

[+] EnlargeDevon Still
Aaron Doster/USA TODAY SportsDevon Still said his daughter, Leah, is in good spirits after she had a cancerous tumor removed from her body last week.
That's when the long-held suspicions of her dad, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still, began ringing true. It was at that moment that he realized she was going to beat the stage 4 cancer that had been ravaging her body since June.

"She's going to bounce back from this fast because she's a trooper," Devon Still said in front of his Bengals locker Monday as he reflected upon what he saw from his daughter up close last week. "She's going to fight her way through this."

Still was back in the Bengals' locker room after spending the bulk of last week's bye in and around Philadelphia in order to watch his daughter as she underwent this latest round of treatments to eliminate the cancer that's called neuroblastoma.

A trip to a movie theater was the highlight of the week for Leah, who spent time the night before her surgery with friends and family in a packed viewing area while the movie "Dolphin Tale 2" played on the big screen. The same night as the movie viewing, Still began psyching Leah up for what she was about to endure.

He said he spoke to her about what surgery was. He tried to ease her uncertainty and answer any questions she had. To help illustrate his responses, Still asked her to look at his ankle, knee and back. In each of those places, the 25-year-old lineman has scars from his own series of surgeries.

The ploy helped, but she still was scared of what loomed the next morning.

So, in an effort to make his little girl smile, Still recorded a video that went viral the instant he uploaded it to Instagram.

"On the way to the hospital she was looking sad," Still said Monday. "You see in the beginning of the video that I said, 'I'm going to say it again.' The first time I asked her she was really down. She didn't really say anything. That's when I asked her again and that's when she started getting happy. So it was just to try to put a smile on her face and not to make her so nervous."

Still and the Bengals -- who originally cut him at the end of the preseason before adding him to their practice squad in part to help him retain health insurance to pay for Leah's treatments -- have put smiles on countless faces across the globe the past few weeks. On Sunday, the team announced it had sold close to 10,000 of the reserve lineman's jerseys, and that it was picking up the cost ($500,000 total) of making each one. That meant that full proceeds from the sales of Still's $100 jersey were going to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center for pediatric cancer research efforts.

By Sunday, the Bengals reported they had raised more than $1 million in nearly three weeks.

Jerseys have been purchased by people in every state, as well as Canada, Australia, England and Finland. Rapper Nelly is among those who have reached out to Still since his story was made public.

"We thought it was vital to get out the [story of] everyday life of a family who is going through life with a child that has cancer," Still said, "just to let everybody know how much support families need financially and just emotionally."

Still was hopeful Leah would be leaving the hospital and going home Monday to Wilmington, Delaware, where her mother and other members of Still's family take care of her while he's in Cincinnati. After some weeks, she'll get back to chemotherapy and radiation therapy and will undergo stem-cell treatments to regenerate her bone marrow.

"For them to be able to remove all the tumor," Still said, "just puts a smile on her face and it gives us something to hope for."
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The entire Baltimore Ravens organization celebrated O.J. Brigance's 45th birthday after Friday's practice.

Brigance, the Ravens' senior adviser to player development, was told he had five years to live when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. That was seven years ago.

[+] EnlargeO.J. Brigance
AP Photo/Steve RuarkO.J. Brigance, the Ravens' senior adviser of player development, in February 2013. Brigance celebrated his 45th birthday with the team Friday.
Each passing birthday for Brigance has been more than celebrating a day. It's celebrating his fight against the debilitating disease.

Before bringing Brigance into the cafeteria, coach John Harbaugh told the players about how Brigance kicked his team's butt on special teams and called him "the strongest man in the building."

The players and coaches gave Brigance a standing ovation when he arrived in a wheelchair and sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

"Even though he doesn't stand on his two legs, he stands above all of us," Harbaugh told reporters. "We think he's a great leader and we look to him everyday for strength and encouragement. I think he's the heart and soul of what we're about with the Ravens."

Brigance has become an ambassador for the battle against ALS, a progressive and fatal disease that shuts down nerve cells responsible for movement but doesn't impair the brain or any of the senses.

No long-term prognosis on Pitta: Harbaugh was told that tight end Dennis Pitta 's hip surgery was successful but he didn't have many details. When asked about Pitta's long-term future, Harbaugh said. "I have no information on that." Pitta was placed on injured reserve this week after injuring his hip Sunday in Cleveland. It's the same right hip he had surgery on last year.

Guy fits Ravens defense: The Ravens believed defensive end Lawrence Guy would work well in their defense after seeing the physicality he played for the San Diego Chargers on tape. "We got final confirmation from Double J [former linebacker Jarret Johnson, who now plays for the Chargers]," Harbaugh said. "We texted him and he gave us his stamp of approval. He said, 'He's got Ravens-like qualities.' So, that was all we needed to hear at the end." Guy was signed by the Ravens to provide depth at defensive end because Chris Canty has missed practice all week with a knee injury.

No change in Steve Smith: There has been no difference in wide receiver Steve Smith in practice this week compared to his previous ones, according to Harbaugh. Smith is playing the Carolina Panthers on Sunday after spending 13 seasons with that organization. "He's been the same. He's worked hard. He's been in great spirits," Harbaugh said. "Obviously, the game means something to him. It means a lot to him. It would anybody. But he's in a positive state and he's got good feelings about those guys over there. He wants to do well."

Ravens thinking of Bengals' Still: Harbaugh acknowledged the 4-year-old daughter of Bengals defensive lineman Devon Still at the start of his news conference. Still's daughter had a cancerous tumor removed Thursday. "We wanted to wish her all of our prayers and all of our thoughts," Harbaugh said. "We pray for healing from this disease. She's going to make it."
CINCINNATI -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Cincinnati Bengals' 24-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons:

Posters for Still: Sitting just inside Devon Still's locker late Sunday afternoon after the win was an orange poster that read: "Be Leah Strong." A fan had requested the poster be brought into the locker room for the defensive tackle who began the season on the practice squad due to a hamstring injury and because of his anxiety over 4-year-old daughter Leah's cancer prognosis. To his surprise, Still had been kept earlier in the day on the active game-day roster. In relief of an injured Brandon Thompson, he had three tackles.

'A good night': When reporters streamed into the Bengals' locker room, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was among the most jovial players they encountered. The backup defender was shouting at the top of his lungs: "Tonight's gonna be a good night." Those are lyrics from the Black Eyed Peas song "I Gotta Feeling." On special teams, Kirkpatrick played a key role in securing two fourth-quarter punts that were downed inside the Falcons' 4.

Shouting 'Gio!' On one second-quarter play, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was stuck behind some intense Falcons pressure and needed to get rid of the ball. So he shouted out "Gio!" to running back Giovani Bernard, who had just pulled away from a linebacker he was blocking in pass protection. Bernard said when he heard his name, he instinctively caught Dalton's improvisational screen pass. Bernard ended the broken play with a 46-yard reception.

Football trophy: Bengals rookie Jeremy Hill scored his first career touchdown in the third quarter when he plowed right behind defensive tackle Domata Peko (who was playing fullback) for a 1-yard score. Hill said he has the perfect place for the ball which he held on to -- his mom's mantel in New Orleans. She was in attendance Sunday. "I'll probably lose it or my dog will probably chew it up," Hill said, laughing.
METAIRIE, La. -- The feel-good story of the day from New Orleans Saints camp comes courtesy of an awesome gesture by coach Sean Payton.

Payton purchased 100 jerseys of Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still on Wednesday after the team announced that proceeds of his jersey sales would go toward pediatric cancer research. Still’s 4-year-old daughter is battling Stage 4 pediatric cancer.

Payton was moved by the story after he heard about it on the radio during his drive home on Tuesday night, according to a source, and he decided to purchase the jerseys out of his own pocket.

According to Bengals director of sales and public affairs Jeff Berding, Still's jersey sold more in the first 24 hours of the donation drive than any other Bengals player's jersey ever has in a single day.

Earlier this year, the Saints also reached out to support another member of their NFL fraternity. The entire team signed a giant get-well card for former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, who also was battling cancer (and since has been declared cancer-free).
Most significant move: The most significant move of the cut-down period for the Cincinnati Bengals was the decision to terminate veteran running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis' contract Friday. It wasn't too surprising considering the Bengals drafted rookie Jeremy Hill in the second round in May. Still, the fact that a veteran as respected as Green-Ellis -- he played in one Super Bowl and didn't have a fumble before arriving in Cincinnati -- got cut was attention-grabbing. The most stunning move of the weekend came Saturday, when defensive tackle Devon Still was waived. A former second-round pick, Still's release was a clear sign the Bengals have established the type of depth that now makes parting with such high picks the norm. Still's release also was stunning because earlier this year his 4-year-old daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer. She just moved to Cincinnati for treatment last weekend. It was, in part, because of Still's personal situation that made coach Marvin Lewis mention multiple times Saturday how cutting him was among the most difficult decisions his staff had to make this year.

Same safety group: After signing veteran Danieal Manning in the offseason, the Bengals are going to end up entering the regular season in the exact same spot they were when the offseason began: with Taylor Mays and Shawn Williams backing up Reggie Nelson and George Iloka. Manning may have had versatility as a returner, and he may also have had some veteran savvy, but Williams still has promise and upside. He also has special-teams coverage ability -- a trait more valued on a team that already was chock full of possible return specialists. Mays also has potential and brings the added dimension of being able to play linebacker in certain nickel situations.

Hamilton the odd WR out: One of the more intriguing storylines to track this preseason had to do with the battle for the final wide receiver spot. Former practice-squad player Cobi Hamilton was slugging it out with rookie James Wright and veteran Brandon Tate. With bouts of inconsistency this summer, Hamilton appeared to be the odd man out, and on Saturday, he was released. Although he still could be added back to the practice squad, Hamilton was cut while the other two stuck. Wright's penalties on special teams in games this preseason concern coaches, but his upside outweighs them, Lewis said.

What's next? For 10 of the 13 players who were waived, potentially the practice squad. Lewis didn't rule out that many of them may make it on that list, which will be announced Sunday. For rookie quarterback AJ McCarron, the next six weeks will be filled with rehab and position meetings as he participates as part of the non-football injury list. He's unable to practice with the team until Week 7. Similarly, the Bengals are going to be monitoring rookie offensive guard Trey Hopkins, who was placed on injured reserve Saturday. They have until Tuesday to announce whether he will be on IR all year or if he can be IR'd with a designation to return after Week 9.

Bengals' moves: Terminated -- RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, S Danieal Manning, OT Will Svitek. Waived -- LB Brandon Joiner, QB Tyler Wilson, DT LaKendrick Ross, DT Devon Still, OG Trevor Robinson, WR Colin Lockett, H-back Orson Charles, FB Nikita Whitlock, RB James Wilder Jr., CB Victor Hampton, CB Onterio McCalebb, WR Cobi Hamilton, OT Dan France, DT David King, DE Sam Montgomery, DE Dontay Moch. Suspended -- CB Chris Lewis-Harris. Non-Football Injury List -- QB AJ McCarron. Injured Reserve -- OG Trey Hopkins. Waived/Injury Settlement -- CB Lavelle Westbrooks.
CINCINNATI -- Along with earlier reported cuts, the Cincinnati Bengals made a series of additional moves Saturday afternoon to reach their 53-man roster limit entering next week's regular season.

Among the biggest cuts were contract terminations of veteran safety Danieal Manning and offensive tackle Will Svitek. Those cuts were announced by the team not long after reports indicated defensive tackle Devon Still, H-back Orson Charles, offensive lineman Trevor Robinson and receiver Colin Lockett had been waived.

Those reports were all accurate.

In addition, the Bengals waived offensive tackle Dan France, cornerbacks Onterio McCalebb and Victor Hampton, receiver Cobi Hamilton, defensive tackle David King, defensive ends Dontay Moch and Sam Montgomery, fullback Nikita Whitlock and running back James Wilder Jr. All the players who were waived are eligible to join the team's practice squad, which will be named Sunday.

The Bengals expect to use all 10 practice squad spots.

Along with those moves, the Bengals also had a series of others to get down to the 53-man active roster. Offensive guard Trey Hopkins, an undrafted rookie free agent from Texas, was placed on the injured reserve with a leg injury. Hopkins was carted off the field in the fourth quarter of the Bengals' Week 3 preseason game at Arizona. Hopkins joins linebacker J.K. Schaffer on the IR.

In a corresponding move, seventh-round cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks, who cleared waivers this week after getting a thumb injury, was released with an injury settlement Saturday.

Cincinnati made one other injury-list designation when it put quarterback AJ McCarron on the non-football injury list with a shoulder issue that has plagued him since arriving in May. It means the Bengals will keep two quarterbacks, the same as they typically do. As part of the NFI list, McCarron can remain with the team for rehab and meetings but can't practice until Week 7. At that time, he will begin a window of eligibility to return to practice under a roster exemption, if medically cleared.

Additionally, cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris went on the suspension reserve list after violating the league's substance abuse policy in July. He will miss the first two games.

Here is the complete list of moves made Saturday:

Contracts terminated
S Danieal Manning
OT Will Svitek

Waived (but eligible for practice squad)
OT Dan France
OL Trevor Robinson
RB James Wilder Jr.
FB Nikita Whitlock
H-back Orson Charles
WR Cobi Hamilton
WR Colin Lockett
DT David King
DT Devon Still
DE Dontay Moch
DE Sam Montgomery
CB Onterio McCalebb
CB Victor Hampton

Moved to Injured Reserve
OG Trey Hopkins (leg)

Given Injury Settlement
CB Lavelle Westbrooks (thumb)

Suspended (for 2 games)
CB Chris Lewis-Harris

Moved to Non-Football Injury List
QB AJ McCarron (shoulder)
CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals have parted ways with defensive tackle Devon Still and H-back Orson Charles, according to Pro Football Talk.

A former second-round pick out of Penn State, Still was part of the same 2012 rookie class that brought linebacker Vontaze Burfict to Cincinnati as an undrafted free agent. Charles was a fourth-round Bengals selection in that same draft. He came to Cincinnati as a tight end but was moved to H-back last season.

In his two seasons with the Bengals, Still appeared in 18 games and recorded just 21 tackles. He also had one half sack, which came his rookie year.

Injuries overshadowed much of Still's career with the Bengals, including two major injuries he fought through in 2013. After bouncing back from a dislocated elbow, he suffered a back injury that held him out of the last two games of the regular season, as well as the Bengals' opening-round playoff loss to the Chargers. This offseason, Still underwent back surgery to repair a ruptured disc. He returned in time for training camp.

Still was hopeful that he'd contribute this season, going as far as telling me last week that he felt in the best health he had been in for quite some time.

Bengals coaches apparently didn't quite see Still's playing prospects as well as he did. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther intimated ahead of last week's third preseason game at Arizona that he wanted to see more from Still.

"I still think the fourth tackle spot's kind of open right now," Guenther said. "So hopefully somebody can take the lead on that one."

That "somebody" should have been Still, the backup to Domata Peko who played at times alongside fellow 2012 draft pick Brandon Thompson. With Geno Atkins sidelined with an ACL injury last season, Thompson stepped up and filled in admirably. He continued that strong play this preseason.

Still presumably will be replaced by Christo Bilukidi. Rookie Ryan Hewitt has been Charles' challenger all preseason, and is his expected replacement.

The news on Still getting cut has some poor timing for the lineman who is going through personal hardship right now. His 4-year-old daughter, Leah, was diagnosed earlier this offseason with a serious pediatric cancer. Just last weekend she moved from Delaware to Cincinnati, where she will be almost exclusively treated at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Charles had his own off-field situation this offseason. In March, he was arrested for waving a gun at a motorist in Kentucky while he traveled along Interstate 75. His legal proceedings are still pending.

Along with Still and Charles, the Bengals have also reportedly cut ties with offensive lineman Trevor Robinson and receiver Colin Lockett. With cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris set to begin serving a two-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, the Bengals -- as of this posting -- are now in need of cutting another 13 players to get to the magical number of 53 by Saturday's 4 p.m. ET deadline.
CINCINNATI -- The Bengals begin the mandatory phase of their offseason practices Tuesday morning when they host the first of three consecutive minicamp practices at Paul Brown Stadium.

Each player on the team is required to be in attendance for the minicamp sessions that last until Thursday morning. The arrival of minicamp in Cincinnati signals the start of the second half of the practice portion of their offseason calendar. After this week, the Bengals revert back to the voluntary organized team activity (OTA) model of practice for three days. After that, they'll break for the summer.

Training camp starts July 24.

As the mandatory minicamp -- all of which will be open to media -- gets going this week, here are five things to watch for:

1. Will Gresham be there? Through the first two weeks of OTAs, tight end Jermaine Gresham has been a noticeable absence. He didn't participate in either of the two practices that were open to media, and he wasn't even seen around the stadium in any other capacity those two days, either. Coach Marvin Lewis said last week that Gresham was in Cincinnati, though, and that he was rehabbing from an injury the coach said wouldn't keep him out of training camp. At this point, Gresham's absence is a mystery. We'll perhaps get a few more definitive answers during the minicamp. If any do come, don't expect them to come from the often media shy Gresham. It bears noting that he has been around the locker room during other voluntary workouts this offseason. He just has yet to be seen by reporters since OTAs began. Will Tuesday by that day? We shall see.

2. Will Still be there? Presumably, defensive tackle Devon Still will be in attendance for the minicamp after missing OTAs to deal with a personal issue last week. Along with Gresham, Still was a noticeable absence when media viewed an open OTA session last Tuesday. He revealed in a post to social media later in the week that he and his family learned his young daughter has cancer. Earlier this week, he tweeted a photo showing he's shaved his head to support his daughter who will go through chemotherapy. Although injured for much of the latter half of last season, Still was and continues to be a key piece to the Bengals' defensive line depth chart. Assuming Geno Atkins returns during training camp from his ACL injury, Still and Brandon Thompson are right now the first two defensive tackles off the bench behind Atkins and Domata Peko.

3. RB rotation getting set? We are still about three months from the start of the regular season, but it appears we may be getting a general idea of what the Bengals' backfield may look like this fall. Giovani Bernard has been moved into a more prominent role, although the Bengals are expected to continue with the committee approach to delegating carries and receptions. Alongside him often during the two open OTAs was rookie Jeremy Hill, the team's prized second-round pick who promises to be a key piece in the backfield as veteran BenJarvus Green-Ellis enters the final year on his current deal. Speaking of Green-Ellis, the Bengals have been adamant in their belief a roster spot remains for the 28-year-old, but Hill's arrival hasn't made it easy to justify Green-Ellis' future in Cincinnati. As the Bengals go through this week, it still will be interesting to see how the running back rotations shake out. Will Green-Ellis stay in the mix? Or is Hill starting to push past him?

4. Making tempo a priority. Offensively, the Bengals' charge this offseason has been to adopt coordinator Hue Jackson's tweaked scheme that includes a quicker tempo and a faster pace. His goal has been to get his players to come out of the huddle quickly so they can get to the line of scrimmage much earlier in the play clock, effectively allowing them to run more plays in a drive and game. It's been an offensive priority, but we haven't been able to gauge how much of a priority it's been for the defense, too. Overall, practices seem to be conducted at a faster speed than they were last season, particularly during 11-on-11 drills when the defense is shifting fronts, moving around constantly, and the offense is making pre-play calls to counter. Jackson isn't the only coordinator trying to spice up his unit. It appears Paul Guenther has done the same with the defense. The minicamp should show a little more of that.

5. Grooming the rookies. The Bengals have eight draft picks and 11 undrafted free agents they still are trying to both groom and assess before the season begins. Many of the evaluations will be done in training camp, but coaches are looking right now to see how well the first-year players can adapt to the coaching and new playbooks. A foundation for late July is being at this time, and these three practices can go a long way toward giving the Bengals a better idea of who the young players they just brought on are. Among the rookies who will be scrutinized the next few months, cornerback Darqueze Dennard may top the list. While Hill's place in the backfield is beginning to take shape, the first-round pick Dennard has a more difficult obstacle to overcome to play; he has several veterans ahead of him. Already, though, Dennard has gotten his share of early instruction and played with both the first- and second-team defenses in open OTAs.

Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert inactive

December, 29, 2013
CINCINNATI -- Injuries to Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert will keep the Cincinnati Bengals down their top two tight ends Sunday afternoon when they host the Baltimore Ravens in the regular-season finale.

Both tight ends were shelved all week as they tried to recover from injuries sustained in last week's 42-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Gresham hurt a hamstring and Eifert picked up a neck stinger.

In an effort to replace Gresham and Eifert, the Bengals will turn to backups Alex Smith and Orson Charles. Smith also got hurt last week, picking up a concussion. After sitting Tuesday, though, Smith came off concussion protocol in time to get a few workouts in ahead of Sunday's game. After playing nearly all special teams this season, Charles will be making his first start on offense of the season. It'll be the seventh start of his career, after he had six last season as a rookie.

Smith enters the game with two catches for 5 yards and a touchdown. Charles hasn't played tight end all season, after moving in the preseason to H-back as an extra backfield blocker.

Gresham and Eifert had a chance to go beyond the 500-yard receiving mark had they played. Gresham has 461 yards with four touchdowns, and Eifert has 445 yards with two scores. Eifert was the Bengals' first-round pick in April's draft.

Much of the year, the Bengals have used Gresham and Eifert in two-tight end sets as both blockers and pass-catchers. While Cincinnati may continue to use the scheme against the Ravens, they likely will get into more three- and four-wide receiver sets in passing situations.

Along with Gresham and Eifert, the Bengals announced that cornerback Terence Newman was going to be inactive for the third straight game. The veteran is trying to get over a left knee injury suffered in the Bengals' win over Indianapolis four weeks ago. Newman is expected to return in time for the Bengals' first playoff game, whether that's next week or the week after. Newman will be replaced again by second-year cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

Cincinnati could be playing in next week's wild-card round, or could earn a first-round bye, depending on what happens with the Patriots' game against Buffalo. A Patriots loss and a Bengals win would lead to a No. 2 seeding and the first-round bye.

Here is the complete list of inactives for the Bengals and Ravens:

Ravens: CB Asa Jackson, S Omar Brown, C Ryan Jensen, WR Deonte Thompson, TE Dallas Clark, LB John Simon, DT Arthur Jones.

Bengals: CB Terence Newman, RB Rex Burkhead, OG Tanner Hawkinson, DT Devon Still, TE Jermaine Gresham, TE Tyler Eifert, WR Ryan Whalen.

Bengals still down TEs Gresham, Eifert

December, 27, 2013
CINCINNATI -- Get familiar with Alex Smith and Orson Charles, Cincinnati Bengals fans. They could be your tight ends later this weekend.

Tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert missed their third consecutive practice Friday as the rest of the team went through its final workout ahead of Sunday's regular-season finale against Baltimore.


Officially, Eifert was listed as doubtful and Gresham was questionable on the pregame injury report the Bengals provided.

So, will they play?

"We'll see," coach Marvin Lewis said, smiling. He added that it was a "cautious we'll see."

Eifert, Cincinnati's first-round pick in this year's draft, left last Sunday's blowout win over Minnesota with what originally appeared to be an arm injury. Later, it was revealed to be a stinger. Gresham played on all but eight of the Bengals' snaps last week. On Wednesday's injury report, he was listed as having a hamstring injury.

Although Gresham wasn't in uniform and didn't participate in any drills during the open portion of Tuesday's practice -- the Bengals took Wednesday off for the Christmas holiday, but issued an injury report that day anyway based on Tuesday's session -- he was listed as having practiced in a limited capacity on the week's first injury report. By Thursday and Friday, though, he had been downgraded to no practice participation.

While those two missed time Friday, linebacker Vontaze Burfict made a limited return after going through the concussion protocol all week. The second-year linebacker suffered a head injury when he made helmet-to-helmet contact with Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel in last week's game.

"He's got to be smarter with his body," Lewis said. "He just really tried to unload and he got the wrong end of the stick."

Burfict also was listed as questionable.

Along with Eifert and Gresham, cornerback Terence Newman and defensive tackle Devon Still missed another day of practice. Both are out for the game. Still is trying to recover from a back injury picked up after last week's game, and Newman is in the third week of rehabbing a knee injury.

While Newman will be replaced by cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick for a third straight game, the Bengals might have to get creative with how they replace Gresham and Eifert. If neither of them can go, Smith -- who returned earlier this week from his own concussion -- would be the No. 1 tight end in the offense. Charles, who has been playing H-back all season, likely would shift back to tight end as the secondary option. He spent his rookie year at tight end last season and played the position in college at Georgia.

Here's the Bengals' full injury report entering Sunday's game:

CB Terence Newman (knee)
DT Devon Still (back)

TE Tyler Eifert (neck - stinger)

TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring)
LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion)

LB James Harrison (concussion)
TE Alex Smith (concussion)
OT Andre Smith (ankle)
LB Vincent Rey (ankle)
DE Carlos Dunlap (illness)
CB Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle)