NFL Nation: Cincinnati Bearcats

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals will fine offensive tackle Andre Smith for skipping this week's mandatory minicamp. They're just not going to worry about him.

That's the stance of head coach Marvin Lewis when asked if there was any concern about Smith's conditioning. In the past, there were some issues with Smith's weight. Now, the Bengals haven't seen Smith at Paul Brown Stadium since he signed his three-year, $18 million contract.

[+] EnlargeAndre Smith
Raj Mehta/USA TODAY SportsAndre Smith missed this week's mandatory minicamp due to personal reasons.
"I don't worry about that anymore," Lewis said of Smith's conditioning. "That's the one thing that Andre has taken good steps and made huge strides in personally from his own part for wanting to be a good player. He knows that part of it. From what I can see distance-wise, we're in pretty good shape."

When Smith signed his contract on the second day of the draft, he said he weighed 335 pounds and reporters noted that the former first-round pick didn't appear to be out of shape. During the offseason, he has been training at Warehouse Performance Institute in Birmingham, Ala.

The Bengals, though, wanted and expected Smith to be at this week's three-day camp. Lewis explained that Smith is absent because of personal reasons, which will cost him up to $66,150 in fines and his $100,000 workout bonus.

Lewis called it a "minor distraction" and said it's not related to his January arrest for possessing a gun at the Atlanta airport.

"He's really dealing with something that he has to get through," Lewis said. "We'd hope he'd be here to pick up on some of the things that we felt like were good to work on this point of the year. But he's got some personal things he's dealing with. Obviously, there are certain things that come with not being here for three days. It's unfortunate for him but that's just the way it is. Once we get through a week of training camp, everything will be good."

Backup Anthony Collins will fill in for Smith at right tackle.

"He'll be prepared and he's hopefully doing the things he needs to do. When it's time to be with us, he'll be ready," offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "We don't need to worry about that. We need to worry about what we have here and how we can go forward and get prepared and use these three days as an opportunity to take another step in the right direction."

The other issue the Bengals are dealing with is the arrest of cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones. He pleaded not guilty to an assault charge after police say he tried to hurt a woman.

"The situation Adam Jones is in is not something you want to get involved in," Lewis said. "It's unfortunate that he's in this situation. That's really all I can add to it. Obviously, this has to work its way out, whichever way it does."
The Cincinnati Bengals went to their fallback option at returner and signed their first free agent from another team Saturday.

The Bengals re-signed receiver-returner Brandon Tate to a one-year contract, according to the NFL Network. Cincinnati decided to bring back Tate after Ted Ginn Jr., who received a contract offer from the Bengals, signed with the Panthers.

Tate is the franchise’s leader in punt return average (10.1 yards), but he averaged 8.9 yards last season, which ranked 18th in the NFL last season. He also averaged 24.8 yards on kickoff returns, which was 13th in the league.

The Bengals announced the signing of backup quarterback Josh Johnson, their first agreement this offseason with a player who didn't suit up for Cincinnati last season. Bruce Gradkowski, the backup for the Bengals for the past two seasons, signed with the Steelers. The addition of Johnson doesn't preclude the Bengals from drafting a quarterback in the middle to late rounds.

Johnson, who hasn't thrown a pass in a regular-season game since December 2011, was in Tampa Bay along with Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

“We’ll be in a competitive situation for our backup quarterbacks,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We like Josh’s ability and experience added to our mix.”

The Bengals also added two backups, offensive tackle Dennis Roland and tight end Richard Quinn.

Cincinnati has now re-signed 11 of its own unrestricted free agents (which includes Tate, Roland and Quinn): linebacker Rey Maualuga; defensive ends Michael Johnson (franchise tag), Robert Geathers and Wallace Gilberry; cornerback Adam Jones; kicker Mike Nugent, punter Kevin Huber; long snapper Clark Harris.

My thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 19-13 loss at the Houston Texans:

What it means: The drought continues. The Bengals extended their streak to 22 seasons without a playoff win, the longest streak in the NFL. In order for the Bengals to get the respect that they want, they're going to have to win in the postseason. Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis is now 0-4 in the playoffs, which is the second-worst record in league history. This is the second straight season that Cincinnati's season has ended with a playoff loss at Houston. This didn't look like the Bengals team that had won seven of their final eight regular-season games.

Coming up short: The Bengals had a chance to win the game on their final drive, driving as far as the Texans' 36-yard line. But Dalton couldn't hit wide receiver A.J. Green in the end zone on third down. (He was open but it was a tight window.) And, on fourth-and-11, Dalton's pass to Marvin Jones was caught but he ended up 3 yards short.

Dalton was awful: Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton delivered one of his worst performances of the season. There were some drops (tight end Jermaine Gresham was terrible), but Dalton was severely off his game. He never got comfortable in the pocket because of the pass rush and finished 14-of-30 for 127 yards and one interception. Dalton also failed to lead a touchdown drive. It was a disappointing effort because the Bengals defense played well enough to win.

Bad play calling: Not sure what offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was thinking with this game plan. The Bengals didn't get the ball to Green until 10 minutes remained in the third quarter. Green finished with 80 yards on five catches. The most effective part of the Bengals' offense was running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. But he finished with 11 carries despite averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Gruden won't be taking this tape to any interviews for a head-coaching job.

Couldn't stop the run: Just like last year's playoff game, the Bengals failed to slow down running back Arian Foster, who gained over 100 yards rushing again. Cincinnati was the 12th-ranked run defense in 2012 but didn't look like that in Houston. Foster finished with 140 yards on 32 carries.

Nose for the end zone: The only touchdown in the first half was scored by the Bengals defense, which isn't surprising. Leon Hall's 21-yard interception return for a touchdown was the fourth straight game that the Bengals' defense has reached the end zone. Hall, who had one touchdown in his first four seasons, has now scored twice in the past three weeks. This was only the second interception brought back for a touchdown in Bengals playoff history.

Ugly first half: The Bengals' offense struggled mightily in the first half. Cincinnati was outgained 250 yards to 53. The Bengals managed four first downs and crossed midfield just once in the first two quarters. With minus-6 passing yards in the first half, the Bengals became the first team since 2007 (the Chiefs) to have negative passing yards in the first half of a playoff game.

Disappearing act: The Bengals didn't throw one pass in the direction of Green in the first half. This marked the first time that Green has gone an entire first half without a target.

What's next: The season is over but the future is bright for the Bengals. This is a young team that went to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Still, with this awful playoff performance, there are going to be questions about whether Dalton is really a franchise quarterback.
The Cincinnati Bengals got some good news when they took the practice field Wednesday. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis returned to practice after missing Sunday's regular-season finale and sitting out Tuesday's workout, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden expressed optimism Tuesday that Green-Ellis would be fine. Green-Ellis injured his hamstring in pregame warmups Sunday and didn't play.

Without Green-Ellis, Cincinnati managed 47 yards on 21 carries, a 2.2-yard average against the Ravens on Sunday. Green-Ellis has been key to the Bengals' offense in the second half of the season, gaining 100 yards in four of his past six games.

Durability was a concern when the Bengals signed Green-Ellis in the offseason. He never carried the ball more than 229 times in a season in four years with the Patriots. But Green-Ellis ran the ball 278 times and played in every game before sitting out Sunday.

The Bengals play at the Texans on Saturday in a wild-card game. My guess is Green-Ellis will have limited participation today, but we'll find out when the injury report is released later this afternoon.

Countdown Live: Bengals-Eagles

December, 13, 2012
Join our NFL experts for Thursday night football between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET. See you there.

Prediction for Bengals-Eagles

December, 13, 2012
PHILADELPHIA -- Good afternoon from the City of Brotherly Love, or the Land of Cheesesteaks. I get confused which one is the official nickname for this place.

I will look to redeem myself after taking a shot to the chin in Week 14, when I missed on three of my four picks. I will reveal my picks for the rest of the AFC North in the Friday Forecast, but here's my prediction for the Thursday night game ...

Cincinnati Bengals 31, Philadelphia Eagles 20: This comes down to which team needs this win the most. After losing to the Dallas Cowboys in the final seconds, the Bengals know they can't afford to let another one slip away from them if they want to get that final playoff spot in the AFC. The Eagles are in shambles defensively. Philadelphia has given up 30 pass plays of 20 yards or more since Week 5. This screams out that A.J. Green will have a big game. After his worst game in the NFL, Green will be determined to redeem himself. Unlike last Sunday, this game against an NFC East team won't be close.

Week 14 record: 1-3. Season record: 25-15 (.625).

Chargers 34, Steelers 24 (my prediction: Steelers 30, Chargers 13)

Redskins 31, Ravens 28, OT (my prediction: Ravens 20, Redskins 16)

Browns 30, Chiefs 7 (my prediction: Browns 21, Chiefs 17)

Cowboys 20, Bengals 19 (my prediction: Bengals 34, Cowboys 28)


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