Good Monday morning, everyone.
I suppose this is a bit of a welcome back for yours truly. Even though we had a few items here on the Bengals blog the last couple of days, I was officially away since Thursday, taking a few days off before things start getting busier with players reporting back to Cincinnati next week.
Now that we're rested and recharged, we've got a new daily blog post that I'm going to be trotting out this week called "Bengal Quick Takes." A nod to ESPN.com colleague John Keim for inspiring the idea. These blogs are designed to help catch you up on the latest news revolving around the Bengals, and to analyze it in five brief bullet points each morning.
Since the Bengals signed defensive end Sam Montgomery on Friday and we didn't get a chance to address it at the time, we'll use this first "Quick Take" with some thoughts on what his signing means:
1. Adding Montgomery. Before arriving in the NFL three years ago, Montgomery was a key piece in LSU's intimidating defense as a defensive end and outside linebacker. He had relatively high upside and was drafted by Houston in the third round. Criticism followed, though, after he admitted to taking plays off and giving less effort in certain games than he did for others. Fast-forwarding to last October, Montgomery was one of three players released by Houston after they were allegedly caught smoking marijuana in a hotel before a road game. The players initially denounced the releases and talked about filing grievances. While those off-field events and admissions are prominent parts of Montgomery's background, the Bengals believe he has the potential to rise above it all and contribute on the field. They are positive that he can give them an additional defender with stand-up linebacker ability, and a defensive end foundation.
2. What Montgomery brings. Specifically, Montgomery brings a measure of versatility to the defensive end position that can help dictate what the Bengals decide to do from a personnel standpoint while in various front-line packages. New defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has indicated a desire for having multiple fronts and revolving fronts that might include linebackers dropping down to the line and rushing the quarterback. Guenther's plans for the defense will be based on situations. While the Bengals will have a base scheme, they will be moving bodies around so often that the lineups should change regularly, keeping players fresher and mixing the looks to offensive lines constantly. Montgomery's ability to drop down and stand up should help those plans.
3. More on a versatile defensive front. Montgomery isn't the only player the Bengals have signed this offseason with that type of positional versatility. They also added off waivers Dontay Moch, a former Bengals draft selection who has played both defensive end and outside linebacker. He's listed as a linebacker on Cincinnati's current roster (so is Montgomery). Both players were added in the wake of the departures of defensive end Michael Johnson (signed with Tampa Bay) and linebacker James Harrison (cut) earlier this offseason. With the possibility the Bengals might add an outside linebacker through the draft, it wouldn't be surprising to see Montgomery and Moch competing for a roster spot in training camp.
4. Quickly, on receiver. We'll get more on this later this week, but as Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson acutely pointed out over the weekend, Cobi Hamilton may have the most to prove among Cincinnati's receivers when training camp opens later this year. On paper, he's the last man in the rotation and doesn't have as much special-teams value as Brandon Tate or the game experience of Dane Sanzenbacher, who was re-signed as a restricted free agent last week.
5. Finally, on Andy Dalton. There will be more to come on this, too, but it sounds as if Dalton was encouraged by his weeklong session in California with throwing coach Tom House. A few tweaks were made to his throwing motion that ought to help him get more zip on certain shorter passes and possibly be more accurate on longer throws. Closed, squared up shoulders and hips ought to help tighten his delivery. That's the Bengals' hope, at least. We'll see this fall how much the tweaks pay off.