Cincinnati Bengals: chad johnson

Get your Friday started off with these five thoughts on the world as it pertains to the Cincinnati Bengals:

1. International "home" games? Speaking of the world, with the team's new deal reached Thursday with Hamilton County (Ohio) officials, the Bengals could soon be taking part in the NFL's international series.

Last season, the league sent four teams to London, including division rival Pittsburgh. Six are going in 2014 (Dolphins-Raiders, Lions-Falcons and Cowboys-Jaguars). Since 2007, eight regular-season NFL games have been played overseas. It stands to reason that more games per season could be played in Europe and elsewhere as the NFL tries to expand its global brand. It's a detail from Thursday's deal that could be easy to overlook because it's the one part of the deal that doesn't immediately impact the Bengals at home, but the county commission agreed to allow the team to play two international "home" games within a five-year stretch. That's intriguing news for a franchise that could stand to grow its global brand. This month we learned the Bengals ranked 24th among the most-searched NFL teams on Google. Now, the Bengals just have to see if the NFL will select them for any overseas games in the near future.

2. Good thing for the players? How much do the players benefit from playing games outside the country? Jet lag can be a concern as they take a longer trip than they're used to, even if they are playing a game that begins at the normal 1 p.m. ET kickoff time. Is the team at a disadvantage in games both before the international matchup and after it? While the league likes to build bye weeks around the London games -- last year the byes for the Steelers and Vikings fell the week after they played at London's Wembley Stadium -- is it enough? Don't be surprised if you see a few Bengals players question that if Cincinnati is scheduled for an international game. Though it's great for the Bengals to be able to market themselves in London and abroad, some players may be bothered by playing a regular-season game so far from Paul Brown Stadium, where they were 8-0 last season.

3. Canada's calling. On the same day the Bengals learned they'd have a chance to take their talents out of the country, one of their former players, Chad Johnson, signed withthe CFL's Montreal Alouettes. It's the same CFL team now-former Bengal Andrew Hawkins played for before he arrived in the NFL in 2011. It's the same team current Bears coach Marc Trestman used to coach for. While the two-year deal might seem like a publicity stunt simply because of the 36-year-old's flashy personality, it is also about football. Johnson hasn't played a game since 2011 and recently mentioned how much he missed playing the game. Following his fall from grace over a 2012 arrest for allegedly headbutting his wife, this could be just the career rival he's been looking for.

4. Draft days. Mock drafts have overtaken the lives of the NFL beat reporter. They change constantly and are debated almost ad nausea, but we still devour them. ESPN draft insider Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest mock Thursday, providing a look at the players he believes each team will take in the first and second round. That's two picks for the Bengals; one is a new name to the Bengals mock board and the other is a familiar one. Since this is an insider article, I'm going to keep their names out of this post, but I will point out that one is a cornerback and the other is an offensive tackle. Both are real positions of need for the Bengals.

5. Thoughts with the Lewis family. Finally, we close these Quick Takes by sending along thoughts to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and his family. Lewis' father, Marvin Lewis Sr., died Thursday afternoon in a Pittsburgh-area hospital after a long battle with an illness. Lewis Sr. was 78. Unfortunately, all too often it's moments like these that remind us how much coaches and players are like the rest of us. They have families too, and they experience loss the very same way the rest of us do. Again, all the best to Coach Lewis and his family at this time.
For players on 30 of the NFL's 32 teams, this week can be the hardest to get through.

With their teams done for the season and unable to compete for the Super Bowl, they all have to make a decision that, for some, can be one of the more difficult they will make in their careers. They have to decide whether to attend events leading up to the championship game (if invited), to watch at home, or to tune out the festivities of the week altogether.

Some players are so disappointed when their teams come up short of the Super Bowl that they can't watch the pageantry that goes along with the game. Many more will watch it, whether up close at the event or from the comforts of their own homes.

For the Cincinnati Bengals who will be tuning into Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday night, there may be some mixed emotions as far as which team they'll support. That's because a pair of their former teammates will be pitted against one another when the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos meet at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Broncos receiver Andre Caldwell spent four seasons with the Bengals after being picked by the team in the third round of the 2008 draft. Before his departure following the 2011 season, Caldwell had been one of Cincinnati's third- and fourth-receiving options behind the likes of Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens and A.J. Green.

Selected by the Bengals in the last round of the 2009 draft, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald spent two seasons in Cincinnati's locker room before getting dealt to Seattle in 2011 for cornerback Kelly Jennings. At the time, cornerback depth was more important, and Jennings stood a better chance of contributing more -- which he did -- than McDonald. Besides, there were some other guys named Geno Atkins and Domata Peko hogging all the action at defensive tackle.

This season, McDonald proved to be a big part of the Seahawks' defensive success, coming away with 5.5 sacks in the regular season.

Both were respected by their peers when they played for the Bengals. Many of their former teammates still call Paul Brown Stadium home. As Caldwell and McDonald prepare to square off on the biggest stage of their careers, we take a look at them in this installment of the Morning Stripes:
  • We'll start with McDonald, the 290-pound interior lineman who weighed more than that while trying to crack the Bengals' starting rotation. In this story from Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson, filed from the Super Bowl, McDonald points out how getting his start with the Bengals helped him reach this week's big stage. By the way, check out the team site's nifty web page redesign.
  • Staying with Bengals.com, here's a shorter item on McDonald and Caldwell. According to his current Denver teammate, Wes Welker, Caldwell is the "best fourth receiver in the NFL."
The city of "Cin-cin-nati" is a place former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Johnson still feels fondly about, and one that he wishes he could have left on better terms, according to a story published in Sunday's Cincinnati Enquirer.

In the lengthy read by the Enquirer's Joe Reedy, Johnson outlines his desires to continue to play football, and expresses his unwavering faith in and love for the franchise that made him one of the most controversial playmakers of his time.

At 35, Johnson, long past his playing prime, still trains as if his phone will ring at any time. He still eats, breathes and religiously follows the game, serving as an analyst for CBS Sports. And he's also the same Chad, although maybe a little less Ochocinco these days, and a little more Johnson.

Reedy caught up with the once-lauded wideout earlier this season when the Bengals were in South Florida to play the Miami Dolphins. That weekend, the former Cincinnati star visited with players and coaches at the team hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before hanging out on the sidelines at the Thursday night game sporting a Bengals T-shirt. A South Florida native, Johnson continues to live in Miami.

It's a solid read on the at times enigmatic, but always genuine Bengals receiver. The story gave good insight into how he remains motivated and unfazed by the R-word -- "retirement" -- even though its clear his best playing days are probably long behind him. That's considering the fact that he hasn't played on a team since last preseason, when the Dolphins released him after a shaky performance, as well as the now infamous head-butting situation with his newly wedded bride, Evelyn Lozada. Distraction? Yes, he knows he can be one, and he addresses that in the story.

As the Bengals, fresh off their bye, get back to work this week, we begin this Monday's Morning Stripes with Reedy's chat with Chad. Here also are a few more links worth checking out:
  • Sticking with the Enquirer, here's a piece from columnist Paul Daugherty, explaining his desire for quarterback Andy Dalton to start having more "What the heck?" moments. Specifically, Daugherty compares Dalton to a scene from the movie "Top Gun" in explaining that Dalton needs to send a message to anyone who questions his play any further by essentially saying: "I'm the quarterback, and you're not." Boomer Esiason had some of that in him, as Daugherty points out. Others do, too. Dalton does, but he's quicker to try to dismiss criticisms about his play rather than snap back at those who hurl them his way. That's not necessarily a bad thing, either. That's just who he is. But that's not who he should be, says Daugherty and many others.
  • Moving over to Bengals.com, Geoff Hobson has a story on the way current NFL offenses and defenses are mimicking the schemes the Bengals perfected in 1988 when they last made it to the Super Bowl. The same hurry-up, no-huddle type of offense that had influences that dated as far back as Paul Brown's coaching days, emerged. Hobson rightfully contends that today, we're seeing a league-wide, sport-wide renaissance of that same offense, and even the blitz-first defenses the Bengals employed that year. With coaches like former defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau still in the league, the modern-day NFL has adopted some of what that team did well, Hobson writes.

That's all we have from the Morning Stripes on a post-bye week Monday. Hopefully this gets your day and Thanksgiving week started off well. Good morning.

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