Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bengals wideout Simpson out to prove he’s no fluke

By Carlos "Big C" Holmes | DAYTON DAILY NEWS | Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 05:14 PM

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson finished the 2010 season on a high note. This year, the fourth-year pro is preparing for a breakout season. Simpson looked to Clif Marshall, Performance Director at Ignition Performance Athletic Group in Mason, Ohio, during the NFL lockout not only to get stronger, but to perfect his craft.

“I’ve gone through some intense training trying to get my body right,” Simpson said by phone. “I think I’m where I need to be and feel like this is going to be a breakout year for me. I want to go out there during the season and show the world what Rome can do.”

Marshall, who is recognized by his peers as being one of the county’s top performance trainers for pro and college athletes, worked with a number of Bengal players during the lockout. However, Simpson may have made the most strives.

“I can’t wait to watch Jerome reap the fruit of his labor this season,” Marshall said. “It’s not just about the increase in strength, but more so the level of confidence he’s gained. Jerome has been the most consistent guy of all the veterans in practice. That’s not coming from me. That’s coming from his teammates.”

The Bengals open training camp on Thursday and will hold their first practice over the weekend at Georgetown College in Kentucky. Here is where preparation for the season will start to unfold. Simpson said he is looking to make a statement in camp and understands the importance of building off the success of last season.

Busting out

Because he was listed inactive for most of the season, injuries to other wideouts forced coaches to play Simpson the last three games. Against Cleveland, he had only two catches for 30 yards. But he bust loose in games against San Diego (6 catches for 124 yards and 2TDs) and Baltimore (12 catches for 123 yards and 1TD). Against the Ravens, Simpson tied Chad Ochocinco for the team’s single-game season high in receptions.

“I have been sitting back watching everyone else perform for three years,” SImpson said. “Now it’s my time to show what I can do. It felt great to go out there and make plays for my team in those games last year. It showed that I can play this game and reason why I’m here. The Bengals kept me around for a reason and time for them to see a return on their investment.”

Cincinnati has been ridiculed since selecting Simpson from Costa Carolina with the 46th overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft. Many draft experts and enthusiasts viewed the pick as a bust even before Simpson stepped on the playing field. But former Bengals receivers coach Mike Sheppard (now the quarterbacks coach for Jacksonville) saw something many did not. He was instrumental in the team drafting him.

“Coach Sheppard was one of my biggest believers,” Simpson said. “He came to my school to work me out and saw something in me. He got me to where I am today. I really appreciate that guy. He was the one who always kept me up when I was down. Shep never gave up on me. I’m going to miss him and thank him a lot for what he’s done for me.”

Welcomes West-Coast offense

The Bengals offense sputtered under offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, who was fired after the season. Selfish play, lack of discipline and complete dysfunction on both sides of the ball contributed to a losing season. The acquisition of new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and his West Coast-style offense is expected to bring life to the running and passing game.

“I’ve kept my nose in the playbook during the lockout and it suits me perfectly,” Simpson said. “It has the routes that I love to run. Jay brings a lot to the offense and has an open mind as well as easy to talk to. I’m excited because this offense is wide open and will best utilize the players’ talent.

“This year we’re going to have a team. It’s not going about individuals but about the team working together and getting along. The last three games of the season there was so much excitement. Everybody wanted to play and compete.”

The Bengals head into training camp with a lot of uncertainties, especially at quarterback. Nine-year veteran Carson Palmer informed the organization in January he wanted to be traded, or he would retire. Owner Mike Brown has refused to back down on Palmer’s demand saying he needs to honor his contract. Still, Brown is prepared to move on without the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback.

It was once thought that the team would go only as far as Carson Palmer’s arm would take them. Head coach Marvin Lewis and Brown have not talked publicly about who will replace Palmer. But they will be looking to Palmer’s younger and inexperienced brother, Jordan, and second-round pick Andy Dalton who ran TCU’s high-octane offense.

‘He quit on us.’

Without the possibility of Carson Palmer at the helm, Simpson insists that the show must go on.

“I’m pretty sure Jordan or Andy is going to step up at quarterback,” he said. “I told Jordan that it was time to stop living in his brother’s shadow and make a name for himself. I’m going to back whatever quarterback that’s under center regardless.

“It shouldn’t be all about Carson, but about the team. There were a lot of people counting on him. I guess he’s got his reasons for what he wants to do. I don’t know what the inside scoop is on why he wants to leave but he’s letting us down.

“I love Carson to death. The only way I can describe it is he quit on us. I know he made his money, and we’re trying to make ours. It’s sad that he’s doing this and wants to quit on us. We need him. It’s a messed up situation, but we’re going to move on with or without him.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


A total of 39 players visited Ignition for at least one workout during the NFL Off Season in 2011. A total of 11 NFL Teams were represented at Ignition throughout this time of training. A total of 22 Cincinnati Bengals Players and the entire Defense (which is not included in the list below) spent two weeks at Ignition in June for a mini camp.

The total revenue was $16,020.00 for training which 70% of that has been collected. Our 2011 NFL Draft Class who visited trained for free as part of an agreement with agents this season.

Media coverage was great for Ignition which included spots on,, Bengals,com, Cincinnati Enquirer, Dayton Daily News, Channel 9, Channel 12, Channel and Fox 19.

We give honor, praise and glory to God for such an awesome opportunity. As a staff, we did an incredible job hosting and training these athletes at our facility. Thanks for making it a great Off Season at Ignition.

Players Name | Team Name

Pat Simms | Bengals

Jermaine Gresham | Bengals

Rashad Jeanty | Eagles

Alex Albright | Cowboys

Mike Johnson | Bengals

Marvin White | Bengals

Cobrani Mixon | Lions

Brian Lainhart | Bengals

Geno Atkins | Bengals

Robert Geathers | Bengals

Rey Maualuga | Bengals

Damato Peko | Bengals

Akwasi Owusu - Ansah | Cowboys

Fui Vakapuna | Bengals

Bobbie Williams | Bengals

John Conner | Jets

Tyjuan Hagler | Colts

Otis Hudson | Bengals

Rico Murray | Bengals

Adam Jones | Bengals

Quan Cosby | Bengals

Corey Peters | Falcons

Tank Johnson | Bengals

Frostee Rucker | Bengals

Mike Mitchell | Raiders

Connor Barwin | Texans

Jeremy Jarmon | Redskins

Sam Acho | Cardinals

Brandon McKinney | Ravens

Vinny Rey | Bengals

Adam Froman | Falcons

Joe Horn | Colts

John Bowie | Browns

Jason Kelce | Eagles

James Develin | Bengals

Nate Livings | Bengals

Clint McDonald | Bengals

Stanford Keglar | Texans

Ben Guidugli | Rams

Jerome Simpson | Bengals

Lockout Leaders Emerge in Off Season Training at Ignition

The Bengals return to their locker room Tuesday with a dramatically different DNA at the top of their roster. No franchise quarterback and no experienced middle linebacker, two positions that usually define leadership and reflect the change going on in the room. And depending on the fate of career receiving leader Chad Ochocinco, no dominant personality.

Reality TV's team is suddenly in Extreme Makeover and a core of young veterans haven't been shy about stepping into the leadership vacuum during the lockout. Maybe a jerry-rigged offseason without coaching is the best way to find leadership for a locker room that has grappled with the issue ever since Boomer Esiason left the first time.

On some teams, one guy seemed to have too much burden, such as Carson Palmer. But leadership by committee seems to be emerging from the 136 days out on their own.

The players showed their appreciation to left tackle Andrew Whitworth and defensive tackle Domata Peko when they gave them a bag of gifts at the end of last month's voluntary workouts, thank yous for organizing the effort that got between 40 to 50 players to town.

"It wasn't so much to get together because it was going to make us better as a team," Whitworth said Monday, an hour after he was one of the 32 team reps that voted to end the lockout and for a new collective bargaining agreement.

"But it was to show guys that this is it. This is what we've got. We're the guys. And it's time to get it going."

Whitworth broke in on that 2006 team that was supposed to make a second straight run to the playoffs, but didn't do it until 2009 with a virtually reconstituted roster. Now it looks like it's about to get a similar facelift when discussions in free agency start at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

"We've got a young core that's hungry," Whitworth said. "A lot of times it's not the team with the most talent that wins but the team that's the hungriest. We were hungry after that bad season (in 2008) and I think we've got a lot of young hungry guys now."

Whitworth jokes that he played the parts of three Bengals officials during the workouts: strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton, business manager Bill Connelly, and public relations manager Jack Brennan. Peko, running the defense with a script hanging from a clipboard, is too mild-mannered to compare himself to fiery defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. But he found time to show plenty of passion.

"I'll tell you, we're going to be walking around there with chips on our shoulders after what happened last year," Peko said Monday. "We were all pumped up going into last year. We were coming off winning the division; we got those weapons in the draft, (Jermaine) Gresham and (Jordan) Shipley. And we got (Terrell Owens) and we thought we were going to the Super Bowl. But we had a bad year and now we have to win and I think we've got guys that realize that.

"The expectations aren't as high, so it's different. I think guys are trying to make up for last year."

Whitworth and Peko sense they have company. On offense, Whitworth has watched two younger guys buried the last three years blossom this offseason in wide receiver Jerome Simpson and quarterback Jordan Palmer while Peko has been followed by third-year player Rey Maualuga, looking for a breakout year by breaking into his old college position at middle backer with Dhani Jones unsigned.

"Rey's been as vocal as I've ever heard him. He really wants to be the leader out there on defense," Peko said. "He was made to be a middle linebacker. He knows this is his chance. I feel really confident with him calling the plays and him being right behind me. There have been other guys on defense that have stepped up, too. Leon Hall, Robert Geathers. There are guys that have been around."

If anyone has his pulse on the new locker room, it's a guy that has been in a lot of old ones. Clif Marshall, director of Ignition Sports in suburban Cincinnati in Mason, Ohio, is a Morton disciple, a guy that cut his teeth as a full-time assistant in the Bengals weight room from 2005-2007. Since then he's volunteered without pay to help during various junctures in each of the last three seasons while he made a name for himself at Ignition with one of the top programs preparing prospects for the NFL scouting combine.

"It was mid-March and I was coming back from Florida after the combine training and Domata and Rey called looking to start right away," Marshall said. "It was Domata that got those guys up there and Rey was one of those guys always helping, reaching out to guys and being there all the time."

Marshall ended up with about 24 Bengals from mostly the defense and seven other NFL players during the lockout with three workouts per week before the two weeks of workouts in early June and four per week after that. Simpson ended up with nearly perfect attendance during an exhaustive offseason he did camps for kids at his high school and college in the Carolinas and made countless appearances in Cincinnati at various events.

"Jerome is a guy who's confidence has really grown on and off the field. I think those last three games last year (20 catches, three TDs) really helped him," Marshall said. "I noticed that during the workouts and then when the offense got together at (the University of Cincinnati). Jordan Palmer told me the same thing. He's just playing with more and more confidence."

Simpson says the lockout has helped him in the sense it's allowed him to concentrate on the little but necessary things.

"I wish I was in there learning the new offense," Simpson said. "But (the lockout) has let me work on getting more explosive, getting off the line quicker. I think I'm in the best shape I've been in here coming into a training camp. Yeah, I would say I'm more confident. I want to help my community. I'm thankful for the fans and want to reach out. I'm just excited to play football again."

For instance, Marshall is extremely excited how Simpson has toned down his penchant for going 100 miles per hour on all routes all the time and has his ample athleticism more under control.

Simpson had a front-row seat for the work Palmer did during those days at UC. Palmer installed maybe 100 plays on an overhead projector during those two weeks and got Simpson and players at each position involved in the discussions.

"It looked like anytime they brought it up into a huddle after practice, Jordan was one of the main guys talking," Marshall said. "He's showed a tremendous amount of leadership. And you take a guy like Whit and he's assumed the leadership role Willie Anderson had when I was there."

Marshall has seen some big things in the weight room. Unlike during OTAs the previous springs in camp, the major lifting period was extended to around nine weeks instead of five or six, so players have been able to follow through on some huge numbers.

Maualuga and defensive tackle Tank Johnson have been able to match personal bests in the bench press while Simpson set a personal record dead-lifting 500 pounds six times. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins has also been impressive with getting close to pushing around 500 pounds on the bench. All under the sign Marshall copied from Morton's room: "Iron Sharpens Iron."

"I knew they were going to get in shape; they're pros," Marshall said. "But I wanted them to try and get faster, stronger and more skilled at their positions. If this doesn't translate to the field, it doesn't matter."

Even with PBS open Tuesday, a bunch of guys are headed to Ignition to finish it off because they have yet to take their team physicals. Simpson has plans to closet himself with new Bengals receivers coach James Urban after he gets his workout in. Peko is also looking at checking in, as is Whitworth.

This time, Whitworth can be himself instead of couple of other guys.

"It will be nice to be back," he said of a locker room changed by a lockout.

(by Geoff Hobson of

Ignition Combine athletes sign with NFL teams

As the lockout came to an end, NFL teams had to move quickly to sign UDFAs. Ignition was blessed to see over 20 of our combine athletes sign with NFL teams yesterday. Most of the guys found out where they were going in the morning, and by the afternoon were on flights to their new cities.

NFL Draft Picks:

Johnny Patrick - Louisville - New Orleans Saints
Sam Acho - Texas - Arizona Cardinals
Edmond Gates - Abilene Christian - Miami Dolphins
Charles Clay - Tulsa - Miami Dolphins
Aldrick Robinson - Southern Methodist - Washington Redskins
Jason Kelce - Cincinnati - Philadelphia Eagles
Anthony Gaitor - Florida International - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nate Bussey - Illinois - New Orleans Saints

UDFA signed yesterday:

Cobrani Mixon - Kent State - Detroit Lions
Brian Duncan - Texas Tech - Buffalo Bills
David Mims - Virginia Union - Kansas City Chiefs
Ben Lamaak - Iowa State - Oakland Raiders
Ramon Broadway - Arkansas - San Diego Chargers
Byron Bell - New Mexico - Carolina Panthers
Jabari Fletcher - App State - Cleveland Browns
Brian Lainhart - Kent State - Cincinnati Bengals
Greg Ellingson - FIU - Jacksonville Jaguars
Chris Matthews - Kentucky - Cleveland Browns
Joe Horn - Ashland - Indianapolis Colts
Armand Robinson - Miami - Pittsburgh Steelers
Ryan Jones - NW Missouri - Chicago Bears
Alex Albright - Boston College - Dallas Cowboys
Ben Guidugli - Cincinnati - St. Louis Rams
Adam Froman - Louisville - Atlanta Falcons
DJ Young - Michigan State - Arizona Cardinals
Kevin Rutland - Missouri - Jacksonville Jaguars
Lester Jean - Florida Atlantic - Houston Texans
Mark Dell - Michigan State - Denver Broncos

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ignition at Colt McCoy Pro Camp

Coach Clif with some campers

Ignition Performance Director Clif Marshall was in Cleveland Ohio to work the Colt McCoy Pro Camp. “There was a great turnout for the camp held at Strongsville High School and athletes enjoyed a 'Pro Workout' experience” said Marshall. The campers heard from Colt after the workout on topics such as: how to handles success, how to carry yourself on and off the field and how he transitioned from the college to the NFL.

Ignition has trained a couple of Colt’s Texas Longhorns Teammates including Sam Acho of the Cardinals and Quan Cosby of the Bengals. We are thankful for the opportunity through Pro Camps and Colt McCoy to serve the fine athletes of Northern Ohio.

Ignition’s next ProCamp stop will be in Lexington Kentucky for the John Calapari Camp and then on to Ontario, California for the Anthony Munoz Camp. Log on to for more info.

Jerome Simpson Mic'd Up Boxing Workout

Last week we mic'd up Jerome Simpson during a boxing workout with Coach Ben here at Ignition. Rome has been doing a great job getting in some extra work boxing with Ben outside of the other NFL workouts he is participating in here. Check out the video below:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Team Ignition NFL & Basketball athletes workout together

Team Ignition NFL athletes have been training on Tuesdays and Thursdays outside on a football field in Kentucky. This Tuesday, Team Ignition basketball athletes joined them for the workout. WVU's Da'Sean Butler, Joe Mazzulla and John Flowers got the chance to go through an NFL workout with members of the Bengals, Colts, and Raiders. 

The group included Rey Maualuga, Tyjuan Hagler, Fui Vakapuna, Frostee Rucker, Tank Johnson, Rico Murray, among others. Check out a video of the day's workout:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Making it to the League: Chris Paul

Last week, the guys got a chance to play open gym at Xavier University with some Xavier players, and Chris Paul. John Flowers, Da'Sean Butler, Paul Sturgess and Joe Mazzulla all played, while Joe got the chance to match up against Chris Paul.

Joe Mazzulla guarding Chris Paul

Joe really enjoyed the experience, "I took full advantage of gauging where I am in my career. Guarding him for about six or seven games, I was able to learn a lot from him as a point guard. Not only is he a great player, but he seemed like a great person as well. During games he was giving me pointers and advice on how to be a better point guard." 

Joe Mazzulla with Chris Paul

BJ Raymond with Chris Paul

Chris Paul

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Making it to the League: Woodway Friday

We're 2 days away from Woodway Friday Week 3. The guys showed a lot of improvement from Week 1 to 2, check out how they did: 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Making it to the League: June 30

Paul Sturgess: 

"We are coming to the end of the second week working out at Ignition. I have really been enjoying my time here, the work outs have been pretty tough but I've enjoyed working hard and getting better each day. Coach Ted has been pushing us all hard, and I have enjoyed working out alongside Joe and John. Has been really good to get back on the court more too, playing in a game against a pro team, was great playing against good competition and also playing on the same team as players coming from bigtime schools! Getting ready to close out the week with our last workout, and the infamous 'Woodway Fridays'!!"

Joe Mazzulla:

"Tomorrow is our second chance at "Woodway Friday" and I'm sitting in my hotel getting mentally prepared for it. It beat me last time and I'm not letting it happen again. It has been a great week of workouts and I want to end it on a good note. This has been great because we have been in a rhythm of lifting in the mornings then going to workout on the court and eating lunch. Me, Paul, John and Coach Ted have been working really hard. Ignition has been great because it is a family environment and easy for us to grow and mature in many aspects."

John Flowers:
"Working out at ignition has been the end of the second week in Cincy I can feel my body getting back in shape. My body is hurting especially my legs. Coach Ted is really pushing us.  It has really been a lot of fun. It's fun watching big Paul (7'8) do work! Woodway Friday almost killed me my first week I hope I can do better 2marrow! Peace! God bless!"