Saturday 8/30/08, 4:53 p.m.
Just got off the phone with RT Willie Anderson, who confirmed the Bengals have released him. The Bengals asked Willie to take a pay cut and he refused. Anderson was paid a $2 million bonus in January and was due to make $3.15 million in base pay this season. The team is already paying Stacy Andrews $7.455 million this season after tagging Andrews as its franchise player in free agency.
"I'm not mad or bitter about this but I am disappointed in the timing," said Anderson. "I thought I was competing for the job and I thought I showed that even after the injuries of last year that I can play and I can practice… I want to make it clear this was not about my ability to play at a high level."
Combined with the release of Rudi Johnson, which wasn't a surprise move, the first thing I thought of was how the team could do away with two of its best players in franchise history less than two weeks after bringing back Chris Henry. If that doesn't emphasize how much of a business this is, nothing does.
So Chad Johnson now wants to be known as "Chad Ocho Cinco", having gone so far as to legally change his last name.
And this is news for what reason?
If Chad is still bucking for a trade out of town, this should help. I can only imagine the lumps that will be on Marvin Lewis' forehead after he finishes banging his head against the wall on this one. Remember when Bugs Bunny would ask his foil "One lump or two?" presumably for the number of sugar cubes the poor soul wanted in his coffee only to get pounded on the head with a mallet?
The Bengals had no official response to the reports. They are aware of the reports but have no comment, as of now.
Why would you want to respond to another headache?
To me, this is a strange way of showing your teammates that you're only there to win games. It will be great for his personal marketing. Unfortunately we'll have to talk too much about Mr. Ocho Cinco.
Thursday 8/28/08, 11:50 p.m.
Some quick final stats to wrap up the Bengals 27-7 win at Indy Thursday:
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: 5 of 8 passing, 35 yards, 1 td; 4 carries, 35 yards
RB DeDe Dorsey: 9 carries, 38 yards, 1 td
RB James Johnson: 8 carries, 54 yards
WR Glenn Holt: 4 catches, 20 yards, 1 td
PR Antonio Chatman: 2 returns, 20-yard avg.
S Kyries Hebert: 5 tackles, 1 Int.
CB Simeon Castille: 5 tackles, 1 TFL
The Bengals outgained the Colts overall, 301-154. They converted 8 of 17 third downs, while holding Indy to just 2 of 11 conversions.
The Bengals did not turn the ball over and got two takeaways. Both takeaways led to touchdowns for Cincinnati.
Colts KR Courtney Roby, who spent one week with the Bengals last season, had two returns for a total of 170 yards. That included a 103-yard return for Indy's lone touchdown of the game. That couldn't have made special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons pleased at all. The Bengals did do a good job covering kicks otherwise, limiting the Colts to 19-yard averages on three other returns.
Jordan Palmer is in the game at quarterback. He led the offense to a 30-yard field goal by Shayne Graham to push the Bengals lead to 20-7. The drive was nine plays, 38 yards in 4:45.
Who the Bengals end up keeping as their No. 3 signal caller is a mystery. Jeff Rowe finished the night completing 7 of 11 passes for 67 yards but from this untrained eye he just looks shaky when he's in there, as if he's not really sure of what he's doing. But I don't know if that's enough for Carson's younger brother to win a spot. Jordan hasn't gotten as many opportunities in the preseason and when he has been in there he hasn't done anything that distinguished him. It's not likely to happen much tonight, either. DeDe Dorsey is going to get a lot of action the rest of this game running the ball.
Shayne Graham's 46-yard field goal upped the Bengals lead to 17-0 with 3:50 left before halftime but Indy answered with a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Courtney Roby to cut it to 17-7. Chris Henry has entered the game – he and Keiwan Ratliff gave each other a hug and handshake. He's caught two passes. He was tackled for a 1-yard loss on the first reception but picked up 10 yards and first down on his next catch, against Ratliff. Jeff Rowe replaced Fitzpatrick after two series. He's completed 3 of 4 passes for 36 yards, 30 of which came on a completion to TE Nate Lawrie. Lawrie is a native of Indianapolis and fighting for a roster spot.
There has been no sign of Rudi Johnson playing. DeDe Dorsey replaced Perry in the second quarter.
Glenn Holt was slow to leave the field after receiving a blow to the head following a 4-yard reception. Holt left on his own power but likely will not return to the game.
The Bengals have reversed last week's offensive woes with touchdowns on their first two drives to grab a 14-0 lead.
Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Bengals on a 21-play, 80-yard drive for a 7-0 lead after the defense forced a three-and-out on Indy's first possession. Chris Perry scored the touchdown on a 5-yard run up the middle. Fitzpatrick completed 4 of 7 passes for 26 yards and gained another 35 yards on four rushes, including converting three third downs with scrambles.
The Bengals were 5 of 6 on third downs for the drive and converted a fourth-down attempt as well when Fitzpatrick threw for a 5-yard gain to Glenn Holt.
DT Domata Peko got a sack of Indy's Quinn Gray, forced and recovered a fumble all in one swoop at the Colts 10-yard line to set up the second score. Fitzpatrick and Holt connected for a 9-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal.
As expected none of the Colts starters are playing tonight. That means the Bengals will see a lot of former teammate Keiwan Ratliff, who is listed as the backup at LCB behind Kelvin Hayden. The list of Bengals not playing: QB Carson Palmer, S Dexter Jackson, S Chinedum Ndukwe, LB Dan Howell, RT Willie Anderson, WR Chad Johnson, WR Andre Caldwell, TE Matt Sherry and DT Pat Sims.
DE Antwan Odom is dressed but it is unclear if he will play any. Marvin Lewis said this week that Odom should be ready to practice on Monday and play in the opener at Baltimore. Frostee Rucker will start in his place tonight. With both Jackson and Ndukwe out of the lineup rookie Corey Lynch gets his first start. Jackson sprained an ankle in practice this week but is expected to return next week. Ndukwe probably won't be available for the Ravens game but Lewis indicated he is making good progress with a lower leg injury.
Darryl Blackstock is starting at SLB but Rashad Jeanty is dressed tonight. Keith Rivers is starting at WLB but as I mentioned in an earlier post Brandon Johnson has earned a lot of playing time this preseason with his overall performance. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is dressed but is not listed as the starter. Antonio Chatman and Glenn Holt are with the first unit. And FB Jeremi Johnson is back in the starting lineup ahead of Daniel Coats.
OK, we've arrived in Indianapolis at the new place. First impressions are very impressive. For any of you who have been to Ford Field in Detroit this place has a similar feel.
A couple of differences: the press box is enclosed here. Don't know why? The roof is closed right now but word is it will be opened for the game. A large window to the north side of the stadium is already opened. Media parking is right next to the stadium. I know that matters nothing to the rest of you but trust me it's a big deal to us writers. We're mostly a bunch of lazy bums who want things handed to them and this is one of the best perks.
Chris Henry has been spotted warming up. Given the Bengals plight at receiver he'll probably play a lot in the second half just because they can use the body. Who knows? Maybe he gets in the game in the first half as well. He did practice this week.
The Bengals close out the preseason tonight in Indianapolis at the Colts' new home, Lucas Oil Stadium. It will be interesting to see the new place, which sits across the street from the RCA Dome. I've been watching the construction of the facility for the past couple of years at intermittent intervals – I make a couple of trips to Indy each year for various reasons, namely the NFL Combine and to cover games.
Besides Bengals games I've covered NCAA hoops there (saw a great 2nd round game there between UC and UK a couple of years back in what was the best atmosphere I've ever seen for a sporting event) and three Colts playoff games while I worked for the Cincinnati Post. Indy blew out Denver in back-to-back years in the wild card game and then I saw the Steelers beat them in the '05 playoffs one week after knocking out Carson Palmer and the Bengals.
Can't say I'm going to miss the old Dome but Indy is always a good place to visit. The Slippery Noodle is a must. It's a blues bar for all of you thinking otherwise.
OK, enough of my memories. Let's get down to what to expect out of tonight's game: a lot of backups, especially for Indy.
The Bengals won't play Palmer and his broken nose, while the Colts aren't likely to use many of their starters and key players. That's normal for Tony Dungy for a final preseason game. Peyton Manning returned to practice this week after undergoing surgery on July 14 to remove a bursa sac in his left knee but there is no way the Colts are risking him tonight.
Jim Sorgi, Manning's backup, also won't play because of swelling in his right knee. The Colts will use Jared Lorenzen and Quinn Gray in the game. Lorenzen is from Fort Thomas, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, and starred at Highlands High School and UK. He got a Super Bowl ring last year as a backup with the NY Giants.
As for the Bengals:
*Backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the start tonight. No one knew much about Fitzpatrick three weeks ago but he has shown well in the preseason, having completed 70.4 percent of his passes with one touchdown and no interceptions. Fitzpatrick has done the exact things he has needed to do this preseason – he's moved the team when he's been in there, he's shown command of the offense and he plays with a lot of poise. The Bengals have to have a lot of confidence in him should he need to go into any games this season.
*We'll get a further indication of what's going to happen with Rudi Johnson. I don't believe the Bengals will find a trade partner for Johnson but they'll get a chance to showcase him tonight just in case. You never know. Hell, I never thought the Reds would find any teams to send Ken Griffey Jr. or Adam Dunn to but they did. I could see Johnson being among the players cut this weekend when rosters have to get down to the 53-man limit. With a base salary of $3.2 million due this season it wouldn't shock me.
*Does T.J. Houshmandzadeh get on the field? It would be good for him to get out there for at least a series or two. It would also be good for rookie Jerome Simpson to play alongside him. The Bengals are going to be counting a lot on Simpson this season and it may be sooner than later.
*The defense has been riddled by a couple of old bad habits this preseason. Opponents are converting 45.7 percent on third down and they are finding gaps in the pass defense for big gains. Even if they are sitting their starters the Colts still have enough weapons to test the Bengals defense.
*First-round pick Keith Rivers continues to improve but Brandon Johnson isn't going to give up his playing time easily. Johnson got his shot at the start of training camp while Rivers was a contract holdout and the third-year player has been impressive.