- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here's hoping you and yours had a Happy Easter, or at least a very enjoyable Sunday if you don't celebrate the holiday. Now that the holiday is behind the Cincinnati Bengals, it's time for them to get back to work. The start of the voluntary strength and conditioning program begins Monday. And that's where we begin with this edition of the Bengal Quick Takes:
1. Back at it in Cincy. Players across the league haven't just been sitting on their hands these last four months since their season ended in a home playoff loss to San Diego. In between weddings and vacations, they've been working out and training on their own in the cities they consider their offseason homes. Since the NFL limits the amount of time they can spend working out at the team's facility, many work with personal trainers who can work them out in ways that allow them to retain the same strength, stamina and build they had during the regular season. It's so that when they arrive to days like Monday, they'll be able to keep up with their peers when Paul Brown Stadium's doors reopen to them for the start of a team-sanctioned workout program. The Bengals are hoping to see as many of the 71 players currently under contract as possible when their offseason training session officially begins later in the day.
2. What to expect. There's not much to expect in the way of learning about the training regimens the players are undergoing. While access is granted to the players, and there ought to be more updates from them than you've seen all offseason, the locker room doors aren't open to reporters every day. So don't look for an explosion of updates these next couple of days. There might be a number of them Monday, but after that they'll trickle out until the next time reporters meet with players and coaches. Still, don't be surprised if some of the offseason storylines we've been watching so far get significantly more attention and maybe even a comment or two from the players themselves. That could include updates to where things stand with Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Vontaze Burfict's contract situations; further injury updates on players like Leon Hall, Kevin Huber and Clint Boling; and updates from some of the newest Bengals like defensive back Danieal Manning. Emphasis, though, on could. It all depends upon who shows up and how much they want to talk.
3. Taking defensive linemen mid-draft. Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer has this solid analysis of the Bengals' past draft plans involving defensive linemen and how it has paid off handsomely. Under coach Marvin Lewis, they have not selected a single defensive lineman in the first round. Instead, they have built the line primarily through third-, fourth- and fifth-round selections. Last year's big defensive line pick, defensive end Margus Hunt, was the second of two second-round Bengals picks. Other linemen like Geno Atkins (fourth round), Domata Peko (fourth), Michael Johnson (third) and Frostee Rucker (third) went later. So even with defensive ends like Auburn's Dee Ford and Missouri's Kony Ealy possibly available at No. 24, history shows the Bengals are more apt to take a lineman in the middle rounds. It's also possible at least one of those players, likely Ealy, will be available when the Bengals pick in the second round. If so and he gets picked by Cincinnati, he'll join Hunt and Carlos Dunlap in the pantheon of Bengals second-round defensive end selections. Should the Bengals wait that late on a lineman this year? It's tough to say definitively that they should, but at least they know their track record with drafting linemen suggests that patience can be quite virtuous (see: Atkins, Dunlap and Johnson).
4. W2W4. As we start getting closer to the NFL draft, let's give you a quick look at a few items you'll want to watch for in the next few weeks:
Monday: Start of the Bengals' offseason strength and conditioning session. Lasts through the start of voluntary OTAs in late May.
May 2: Deadline for the Bengals to exercise their fifth-year option on Green. Team president and owner Mike Brown indicated at the owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., last month that the option likely would be exercised in an effort to give the Bengals more time to hammer out a long-term deal for the soon-to-be free-agent wideout. The option has not officially been exercised as of now.
May 8-10: NFL draft.
May 19-21: League spring meetings in Atlanta.
May 27-29: The first weekend of voluntary Bengals OTAs at Paul Brown Stadium.
5. Mailbag time. Finally, we close out this group of Quick Takes by looking back at this weekend's mailbags. Draft questions and concerns about scheme headlined the two mailbags that ran here on the Bengals blog on Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully those who had questions had them answered. Each Friday, we make a call for mailbag questions, and I try to answer them as fully as I can in Saturday and Sunday installments. Start getting yours ready for next week.