<
>

Still ready to give Bengals his all

CINCINNATI -- Bengals coach Marvin Lewis had trouble pinpointing the exact moment, but there was an instant last week when he sensed Devon Still was beginning to come back around.

The defensive tackle's mind, racked the past three months with stresses over his 4-year-old daughter's fight with Stage 4 pediatric cancer, appeared to be getting put at ease. Football, Lewis believed, was returning ever so slightly to the fore of Still's mental being.

"I rolled right out of bed. I made it here about five minutes later before they could change their mind."

Devon Still, on being signed to the Bengals' active roster

So the coach set up a meeting with the third-year Bengals lineman to see if he was feeling the same way. Still had opened the season on the practice squad in part because of his daughter, Leah, and also because of a hamstring injury he suffered in the third preseason game. At 8 a.m. Tuesday, the Bengals' weekly off day, Lewis had defensive line coach Jay Hayes call Still to ask "are you ready to play some football again?"

"I rolled right out of bed," Still, who lives across the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky, told reporters Wednesday. "I made it here about five minutes later before they could change their mind."

By nightfall Tuesday the roster move was complete. The Bengals signed Still off the practice squad and added him to the 53-man roster, where they had a spot available. The move was announced Wednesday morning along with moves that sent cornerback Onterio McCalebb off the 53-man roster and back to the practice squad. McCalebb was joined there by Ryan Otten, a tight end who had just been signed after getting cut last month by San Diego. Otten, who will help shore up tight end depth with the loss of Tyler Eifert to the short-term injured reserve, spent all of last season on the Chargers' practice squad.

When Still arrived at the Bengals' facility to talk with Lewis, the coach began the conversation by showing him tape of other defensive tackles.

"What do you think?" Lewis said to him. "Who's better? Is it these guys or Devon Still?"

Still replied, "Devon Still."

That's when Lewis "saw the brightness in his face" again. It was time to bring him back onto the team.

Still said Wednesday that his hamstring is back at 100 percent. It must have been, because later in the day he participated fully in the team's first workout of the week ahead of Sunday's home opener against the Falcons.

It's unclear if Still will dress for the game. He said coaches didn't discuss his new role with him. The option does exist for him to be kept off the 46-man game-day roster in favor of the other three tackles, Geno Atkins, Domata Peko and Brandon Thompson. With Atkins nursing a foot injury he received Sunday, Still's presence may be a necessity.

"The Bengals have been behind me 110 percent since the news broke, and I'm willing to give them 110 percent when I step out on that field," Still said.

Lewis added that Still will be allowed to visit his daughter, who is currently in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, as often as he needs to.

Among the other ways the Bengals have helped Still raise awareness about pediatric cancer include a jersey-sale donation and another donation that correlates to how many sacks the Bengals defense has this season. All proceeds from the sale of Still's jersey via the Bengals pro shop are going toward the Cincinnati Children's Hospital and other pediatric cancer research efforts. According to Bengals director of sales and public affairs Jeff Berding, Still's jersey sold more in the first 24 hours of the donation drive than any other Bengals player's jersey ever has in a single day.

Fox 19 in Cincinnati reported Wednesday that the New Orleans Saints purchased 100 Still jerseys. The purchase was Saints coach Sean Payton's idea, and a source told ESPN.com that Payton heard the story on the radio on his drive home Tuesday night and was so moved by it he decided to buy the jerseys out of his own pocket.

Still tweeted his thanks Wednesday.

Berding said a large percentage of the more than 1,000 Still jerseys sold Wednesday have been bought by people in other states.

The sacks-based donation asks those who want to donate to log onto its website and pledge money to correlate with the number of sacks the Bengals finish with this season.

At Baltimore on Sunday, the Bengals sacked Joe Flacco three times. Defensive end Wallace Gilberry had two sacks on the final defensive stand, including the stop that sealed the Bengals' 23-16 win. After the game, Still thanked Gilberry.

"It meant more for him saying that than if I was just putting [the sacks] in the books," Gilberry said. "It kind of puts stuff in perspective that this game is really bigger than us. No matter what we do or how we do it, it's really bigger than us.

"I want to finish with 30 now this season. The more the better."

Still wants to get a few sacks of his own. When he does, watch for him to do a wiggle dance. It's a sort of inside joke he and Leah have. His goal? To wiggle-dance often the next several Sundays.

"Oh yeah," Still said, smiling. "She's going to love that."

ESPN.com Saints reporter Mike Triplett contributed to this report.