AFC North: Freddie Brown

All this week, the AFC North blog will take a look back at the 2009 draft for each team in the division. For Monday, we'll review the draft for the Cincinnati Bengals:

First round: Andre Smith, OT

Second round: Rey Maualuga, LB

Third round: Michael Johnson, DE, and Chase Coffman, TE

Fourth round: Jonathan Luigs, C

Fifth round: Kevin Huber, P

Sixth round: Morgan Trent, CB, and Bernard Scott, RB

Seventh round: Fui Vakapuna, FB, Clinton McDonald, DT and Freddie Brown, WR

Thumbs up: Smith is making this class look better after being one of the most improved players in the league last season. He needs another strong season in 2012 to prove he's a quality starter. Some were disappointed by Maualuga's first season as an NFL middle linebacker, but I think he has a future there with his athleticism. The best value has been Scott, who has exceeded expectations and has become a very productive backup.

Thumbs down: Johnson has been a minor disappointment, although he ranked third on the team last season with 5.5 sacks. He'll remain a role player if Carlos Dunlap becomes an every-down lineman. Huber hasn't lived up to being a fifth-round prospect. His rankings as a punter have been: 19th in 2009, 25th in 2010 and 20th in 2011. The biggest bust was Coffman, who was waived after three catches in two seasons.

Hensley's grade: B-minus. The Bengals currently have two starters (Smith and Maualuga), two role players (Johnson and Scott) and an adequate punter out of this draft. Solid, not spectacular.

Bengals: Cutdown analysis

September, 5, 2009

Posted by’s James Walker

Biggest surprise: Although I suggested this strategy as a possible solution earlier this week, I was still surprised to see the Bengals take my advice and cut two fullbacks in order to keep both DeDe Dorsey and Brian Leonard. Cincinnati now has four active tailbacks with Dorsey and Leonard to go along with starter Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott. All four have been solid in the preseason. Jeremi Johnson is the only fullback on the roster as the team cut both Chris Pressley and draft pick Fui Vakapuna. But Leonard is versatile and has the ability to be the backup at both fullback and tailback, which factored into the final decision.

No-brainers: Safety Marvin White had some potential, but coming off a major knee injury he got off to a slow start this year and fell behind a deep group of safeties in Cincinnati. Former 2008 draft pick Corey Lynch certainly wasn’t a no-brainer, but it was pretty clear that rookie free-agent safety Tom Nelson beat him out for one of the last roster spots. Receivers such as Freddie Brown and Maurice Purify never had a chance in Cincinnati, because the Bengals are just too deep at that position.

What’s next: With first-round pick Andre Smith recovering from a broken bone in his foot, the Bengals may scan the wires to see if an intriguing prospect or two surfaces on the offensive line, particularly at tackle. Cincinnati also wouldn't mind retaining some of its younger players on the practice squad, such as Vakapuna and Pressley. Otherwise, the Bengals are set at most positions and shouldn’t have a lot of turnover before the start of the regular season.

Bengals training camp notes

August, 1, 2009

Posted by'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.

Bengals minicamp notes

June, 18, 2009

Posted by's James Walker

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals concluded their first day of mandatory minicamp, which will run until Saturday.

Here are some Day 1 observations:

  • It was good to see quarterback Carson Palmer throwing again effortlessly and without pain. The Bengals kept their star quarterback on a pitch count Thursday, which is in line with the entire offseason plan. Palmer participated fully in the morning practice but was limited to only one dump-off pass in the afternoon session.
  • Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco looks impressive. It appears he's added some definition to his upper body and is cat-quick out of his breaks. He also caught a pair of beautiful deep balls and was hard to cover throughout the two practices. If Ochocinco maintains this level of dedication and work ethic this offseason, he's going to be a headache again for opposing defenses. He also predicted the Bengals would make the playoffs this year.
  • The funniest sequence of the day involved Cincinnati middle linebacker Dhani Jones in the morning practice. First, Jones was engaged in a block from center Kyle Cook when the two got a little too excited for non-contact drills. The violation of space resulted in Jones and Cook fighting for a short time before teammates broke up the scrum. Two plays later, Jones got sweet revenge with a pick-six off of Palmer.
  • Veteran safety Roy Williams worked with the first team at safety Thursday along with Chris Crocker, while Chinedum Ndukwe played on the second team. Williams is a big hitter but his biggest question mark will be pass coverage if he remains in the starting lineup.
  • Thursday was the first practices for fullback Jeremi Johnson, who is a former starter but has been battling weight issues. It still appears he has some work to do to get to his ideal playing weight.
  • Bengals starting defensive end Robert Geathers (knee) and Marvin White (knee) both sat out the first day and most likely will not be available for the entire minicamp. Geathers, who had micro-fracture surgery this offseason, said he's confident that he will be ready for training camp.
  • The Bengals signed seventh-round draft pick Freddie Brown to a four-year, $1.787 million contract on Thursday.