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Monday, May 12, 2014
Bengals have run focus in UDFA signings

By Coley Harvey

CINCINNATI -- At the same time they announced backup quarterback Josh Johnson's release Monday afternoon, the Cincinnati Bengals named the 10 undrafted free agents they signed to post-draft contracts. Six were running backs or offensive linemen.

The heavy emphasis on the backs and linemen followed true to the team's run-inspired offensive philosophy. Newly promoted offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has made it quite plain since January he intends to have the Bengals run the ball more often and more effectively this season.

Two of their draft picks from the weekend, second-round running back selection Jeremy Hill and fourth-round center Russell Bodine, were good examples of that. Hill is a physical runner who can also make defenders miss, and Bodine is a physical lineman praised for his strength. His 40-plus bench reps at the combine had draft analysts pegging him as one of the strongest players in the entire draft.

Hill and Bodine will be joined by the likes of offensive tackle Curtis Feigt (West Virginia), offensive guard Dan France (Michigan State), tight end/fullback Ryan Hewitt (Stanford), offensive guard Trey Hopkins (Texas), defensive tackle-turned-fullback Nikita Whitlock (Wake Forest) and running back James Wilder Jr. (Florida State). Of that group, Wilder might have the most recognizable name. The back was used in tandem at FSU with Devonta Freeman and Karlos Williams as part of a multi-back system.

With BenJarvus Green-Ellis still on the roster, for now at least, it appears the Bengals are going to implement a similar multi-back scheme this season headed by Giovani Bernard. If Green-Ellis sticks, he and Hill likely would split the bulk of the remaining carries.

Along with those additions, the Bengals also added through post-draft free agency receivers Colin Lockett (San Diego State) and Alex Neutz (Buffalo). Defenders James Davidson, a linebacker from Texas-El Paso, and safety Isaiah Lewis of Michigan State, rounded out the group of undrafted free agents.

The rookies were each scheduled to report Monday for physicals.

Here's a list of the players with their heights and weights, colleges and hometowns:

" James Davidson, LB, 6-3, 242; Texas-El Paso; Huntsville, Texas

" Curtis Feigt, OT, 6-6, 307; West Virginia; Berlin (Germany)

" Dan France, G, 6-5, 300; Michigan State; North Royalton, Ohio

" Ryan Hewitt, TE-FB, 6-4, 246; Stanford; Denver, Colo.

" Trey Hopkins, G, 6-3, 307; Texas; Galena Park, Texas

" Isaiah Lewis, S, 5-10, 211; Michigan State; Indianapolis, Ind.

" Colin Lockett, WR, 5-11, 188; San Diego State; Diamond  Bar, Calif.

" Alex Neutz, WR, 6-3, 214; Buffalo; Grand Island, N.Y.

" Nikita Whitlock, FB, 5-10, 251; Wake Forest; Wylie, Texas

" James Wilder Jr., HB, 6-3, 232; Florida State; Tampa, Fla.