Team Report: Cincinnati Bengals

Team Report: Cincinnati Bengals

With no trade options on the horizon, the Bengals continue to move toward draft day believing they will keep the first overall pick.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has said the club will identify the player in time to negotiate a contract before April 26. But Lewis won't get any more specific, although signs still point to Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Carson Palmer.

Like most teams, the Bengals will attend the pro day of Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich on April 7.

"Nothing is going to play out until Byron has his public showing," Lewis said. "The guy warrants an opportunity to be considered as a first-round draft pick. (April 7) will be defining for him."

In the meantime, the Bengals are busy scheduling the allowed 20 pre-draft visits by draft-eligible players.

"It's another opportunity to spend more time with each player, for the medical staff to look at them," Lewis said.

Leftwich is one of four players Lewis said the Bengals would consider drafting first overall. The others are Palmer (USC), cornerback Terence Newman (Kansas State) and wide receiver Charles Rogers (Michigan State).

Newman is expected to visit the week of April 7, probably more toward the 10th or 11th.

Lewis is not looking for a quick fix with the first pick. He sees it as a long-term investment, a six- or seven-year window of benefit.

The sense around the Bengals is that the team helped itself in free agency by signing as many as four defensive starters and two offensive starters. They now have the luxury of grooming a quarterback such as Palmer behind a productive Jon Kitna as the starter. The Bengals finished 28th in scoring last season, but projecting the 21.3 points the team averaged in Kitna's 12 starts, they would have finished 20th.

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