Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bobbie Williams a Bright Spot In O-Line

Bobbie Williams A Bright Spot In O-Line

The veteran guard dropped 13 pounds and 'looks good' practicing with the firs-team offense.by Garrett Downing

Bobbie Williams grabbed the attention of the coaches when he showed up for the start of training camp last week.
The free-agent acquisition has dropped about 13 pounds since minicamp in June, and he was plugged in right away during practice as the starting left guard.
Williams, 6-foot-4, 345 pounds, passed the team's conditioning test "with flying colors" when he reported for camp, Head Coach John Harbaugh said. (And that's not easy to do, just ask Ryan Mink).
"Bobbie has done a great job," Harbaugh said. "He looks to be in very good shape. He looks good."
The 13-year veteran gives the Ravens a proven commodity at a position that was once considered the greatest area of concern on the line with the departure of Pro Bowler Ben Grubbs. Instead, his presence has been a breath of fresh air at a time when the team has some lingering questions surrounding the absence of left tackle Bryant McKinnie.
"He is a great asset, and he's going to be great for us at left guard," Offensive Line Coach Andy Moeller said Friday.
Williams' new teammates are equally impressed by the veteran.
Michael Oher, who was recently named the left tackle until further notice, has been playing next to Williams and likes what he sees.
"Bobbie is a great guy," Oher said. "I like being on the side of him. He's physical and things like that, so I think he's a great addition to the team. I'm looking forward to playing with him this year."
Williams is the favorite to take over the left guard spot vacated by Grubbs (6-foot-3, 310 pounds), who was one of the Ravens' top offensive linemen last season.
Grubbs and Williams bring slightly different styles, but the most striking difference is the size of the linemen.
"Bobbie is a little bit bigger than Ben, a little bit taller, longer-armed and has a little bit more range," Moeller said. "I think Ben was a little bit smaller and quicker initially, but Bobbie gives us the ability to be physical on that side, and he's done well on cutting off and reaching and getting his hand outside, and he's done well. So, he gives us just a little bit more of a size presence in there at left guard."
Williams spent the last eight seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, starting every game that he played. An ankle injury ended his 2011 season after nine games, but he had surgery to repair the damage and has not been limited during any practices since coming to Baltimore.
The veteran primarily played right guard for the Bengals, but has said he has no problem switching sides and the coaching staff is confident he will be able to pick up the offense.
"We don't have to develop Bobbie Williams," Moeller said. "He just has to learn our system and play like he's been playing."

Garrett DowningStaff Writer

Ignition athlete Jason Kelce won't let success go to his head

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Legendary offensive line coach Howard Mudd has said Jason Kelce is already one of the best centers in the NFL. ESPN listed him as the No. 3 “breakout candidate” in the entire NFL for 2012. NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger said Kelce deserved to make last year’s Pro Bowl. 

Jason Kelce was one of just six Eagles to start all 16 games in 2011. (AP)
Everywhere you look, some expert or another is raving about Kelce. One of the best young centers in the league. A sure-fire Pro Bowl pick in 2012. The heir apparent to Jeff Saturday.

Kelce hears it.

And ignores it.

Recognition is nice, but Kelce still sees himself as a walk-on at Cincinnati, a sixth-round draft pick with the Eagles, a young kid who’s had to fight for everything he’s gotten as a football player.

All the praise that’s been lavished on him? He’s not buying into any of it. 

“I don’t think I’m ever going to get that big head about myself where, like, people are going to keep praising me and then I back off and think I’ve arrived all of a sudden,” Kelce said. “I think with just the college career I had and how I made it on the team last year, my personality is that I already have a work ethic established and that’s not going to change. I’m not going to ever let it change.

“That’s not me. Because I think at the end of the day, I want to not just myself improve every single day, I want the unit and the offense to improve every single day. I want to get better every day so we can compete for a Super Bowl. That’s the only goal for this season.”

Kelce, who began training camp last year as a long-shot Day 3 draft pick, wound up beating out Jamaal Jackson for the starting center job and was one of just six Eagles to start all 16 games in 2011, along with Jason Babin, Jamar Chaney, Todd Herremans and Cullen Jenkins.

Kelce became the third center in NFL history drafted in the sixth round or later (or undrafted) to start 16 games as a rookie, joining Kent Hull of the Bills in 1986 and Frank Cornish of the Chargers in 1990. 

Kelce was one of only 16 rookies to start all 16 games last year. Only 15 of the 190 players taken before him started 16 games. 

After a wobbly start, Kelce wound up as one of the biggest surprises in the NFL, going from unknown late-round draft pick to one of the more consistent centers in the league. With his intelligence, athleticism, footwork and leverage, he anchored an offensive line that began the season as a huge question mark and finished it as a strength of the team.

Along with the terrific performance came high praise. And that’s how the notorious sophomore slump always starts. A guy has a great rookie year, buys into all the nice things people say about him and forgets to keep doing everything that got him there.

Not Kelce.

“Sophomore slump, yeah, you see it,” Kelce said. “That’s definitely something that happens, and all I can tell you is that I’m trying to do my best to avoid that.

“I did well last year, but I don’t think I necessarily had as good a season as some people said. I definitely could have done a lot better. My goal is to do my job the best I can and unless I improve, I’m not doing it the best I can.”

It’s one thing to say it. It’s another thing to do it.

But those around Kelce are confident he won’t let all the nice things people are saying and writing about him affect his preparation and his mindset.

“He’s not wired that way,” Reid said. “He’s a different breed that way. He enjoys it. He’s a unique kid.”

Left guard Evan Mathis, who also enjoyed a breakout 2011 season, is one of Kelce’s closest friends, in addition to playing next to him on the offensive line. No doubt in his mind we won’t see any change in Kelce.

“Jason will never start thinking he’s arrived,” Mathis said. “That’s not him. He always focuses on what he needs to get better at, and I think as long as he plays, that will be his focus. ‘What can I get better at? How can I become a better football player?’”

So the Jason Kelce we’ve seen so far at Lehigh isn’t out of shape, isn’t resting on his laurels, isn’t looking for any shortcuts.

He’s the same guy as last year, just smarter, fitter and hungrier. And with a huge beard.

“A lot of guys will take a step or two back when they first get back to camp from where they left off at the end of the previous year, but he came back and it looked like he got better than he was last year,” Reid said. “He’s in phenomenal shape, and he’s all-in every play, every day, and you love that from that position.

“He’s not wired that way. He’s a different breed that way. He enjoys it. He enjoys everything about it. He’s a unique kid.”

Kelce said his route to a starting job in the NFL – no scholarship offers out of high school, the 191st player taken in last year’s draft – shaped the person he is now to the point where nobody has to worry about him changing.

“I think those situations in my life pushed me to be where I am today.” he said. “I had to work hard. If I didn’t work hard, I wasn’t going to make the team. 

“I feel bad for the guys sometimes who have every single physical attribute but have never been pushed before because they’ve been handed everything. I’d much rather go up against guys like that than guys who’ve had to come in here every single day and work hard just to freaking stay on the team, because those are usually the guys who want it more.

“Honestly? It would have been nice to be a first-round draft pick and have a bunch of money. But I’m grateful that I even got a chance to do this.

“The things that have happened in my life and things I’ve had to overcome and stuff like that have helped formed me into the person I am today, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Monday, July 30, 2012

Enquirer's Joe Reedy calls Brandon Ghee most improved

Brandon Ghee making best impression early for Bengals

Cornerback Brandon Ghee talks with head coach Marvin Lewis during Sunday's training camp practice.
Cornerback Brandon Ghee talks with head coach Marvin Lewis during Sunday's training camp practice. / The Enquirer/Amanda Davidson
When it comes to players on the Bengals roster who have made the most improvement from last year to this season, Armon Binns name has been frequently brought up. But if you were going to pick out a player on defense, it would be cornerback Brandon Ghee.

After having a great offseason program, Ghee has continued to make a case to keep his spot on the 53-man roster during the first three days of training camp. With six corners sitting out Sunday’s practice, Ghee started with the first team and had an interception.
Said Ghee of the impression he has made so far: “I think I made a good one but I can make a better one by getting more interceptions and compete for a spot on this team and get playing time. I just have to keep pushing.”
Ghee is going into his third season. A third-round pick in 2010, he has battled injuries the last two years in training camp. He played in only six games in his rooie season before a hamstring injury put him on injured reserve.

Last season, he played in only two preseason games and was among the final cuts. After clearing waivers, the Bengals signed him to the practice squad for the first nine games before being moved up to the 53-man roster after Leon Hall’s Achilles injury. Ghee was in eight games last year, including the playoffs, but was mostly on special teams.

“I think the day I got cut was the day that changed my life to be honest with you,” Ghee said. “I have learned how to compete (at the pro level). Over the past two years I was inconsistent. I would compete one day and not compete the next. I have to go hard every play. A lot of rookies especially DBs go through that maturity process and now I’m doing well.”

Ghee will need to remain healthy throughout this camp if he is going to stay on the roster. Before camp, he worked out at Ignition APG in Mason with Domata Peko, Rey Maualuga, Terence Newman, Adam Jones, Taylor Mays and other Bengals players.

When asked to evaluate the Bengals secondary, Hall said Ghee was the best cornerback during the offseason program.

With six former first-round corners on the roster, Ghee needs to continue showing in practice and the preseason games why he should remain. So far he has done that but we are only through three of 16 training camp practices.

Said Ghee when asked if he tries to figure out how many corners the Bengals might keep: “I don’t think about it at all. I just take it day by day. There are some days when you have good plays and some with bad plays. I just come out and improve on technique and it has been going well.”

Cincy Jungle Article feat. Ignition Athlete Taylor Mays

Destination Cincinnati: Taylor Mays

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 1: Taylor Mays #47 of the Cincinnati Bengals draws a pass interference call while defending a pass for David Gilreath #12 of the Indianapolis Colts in the first half of an NFL preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins - Getty Images
11 months ago: CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 1: Taylor Mays #47 of the Cincinnati Bengals draws a pass interference call while defending a pass for David Gilreath #12 of the Indianapolis Colts in the first half of an NFL preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

With the resources of NFL players these days, it is safe to say they can travel about anywhere in the world. Rio de Janeiro, Dubai, the London Olympics. If we played Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego Taylor Mays, the answer would be Cincinnati. It is always nice to see the players working in the off season, even more so when it is in ear shot of the coaches and staff. The Mother Ship's Goeff Hobson caught up with Taylor about the off season this week after a workout at the Ignition Gym.

I know physically I'll be OK,
This the first time in his career he has had the same defensive coordinator in training camp. With the extra season to learn his role, it is widely projected that this is the year to prove himself and he knows it.
I'm just looking forward to the chance to make some plays. Yeah, I'm trying to mesh the physical and the mental.
I'm taking the things I learned from Mark, Hue and Zim and put them all together mentally and physically," Mays said. "That's a lot of technique. The consistency of the technique is the biggest thing for me. The technique hasn't changed, but Coach Zimmer is very detailed in what he wants. Having that consistency and being able to repeat it all the time, that's really what I'm trying to do going into training camp.
What's nice in all this is, he hasn't been alone. His workouts are commonly accompanied by other Bengalsplayers. Most notably our starting middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, who has been his proverbial Robin of workout partners (or is that the other way around). The most surprising aspect of Mays were his conversations with Troy Polamalu.
Troy's very quiet and humble, but he's got a lot of fire at the same time. His way is not to vocalize it but show you, He's one of the best examples to watch just because of the way he prepares. It's kind of hard to watch (tape of him) because you never know what he's really thinking in his head before he makes the play or what defense they're playing.
I'd say the coaches like the fact Taylor has been studying his craft and that he can put what he has learned in perspective. However we are a long way from naming starters at this point in the year as evidenced by Marvin Lewis in a Cincinnati Enquirer interview with Joe Reedy.
The competition will be one that we will be excited to watch throughout. I don't think there is a clear cut leader right now.
All that can be said at this point is that whoever ends up taking the starting strong safety position will have to outwork Taylor Mays. I know I will be pulling for Taylor to prove himself for the job.

ESPN Mag & Enquirer feat. Ignition Athlete Armon Binns

Ex- Bearcat Armon Binns gets chance
as Bengals' receiver

Latest ESPN Magazine features Armon Binns as 1 of 5 sleeper WR's this season

When discussing who will start opposite A.J. Green at receiver for the Bengals, Armon Binns has been in the conversation since last season ended.
During the first two days of practices, Binns has gotten a chance to show some of the things that had coaches ready late last season to put him in games.

Binns took most of the snaps with the first unit on Saturday as receivers coach James Urban is mixing and matching different combinations in what will be a fight for who will start and make the final roster.

In the early days of camp, Binns and Brandon Tate are still the favorites at the position. When asked who has the edge, Urban said: “At this point until it settles out a little bit, I’m preparing for both of them to be the starter.”

Binns says he considers Tate a close friend on the team and that Tate helped him along last year when Binns was on the practice squad. When asked, though, if he thought it would create a weird dynamic because they were vying for the same spot, Binns didn’t look at it that way.

“I think of it as we are both just out there trying to play. We know we both are going to get opportunities so whoever is in there we just have to make plays,” he said.

The former UC standout, who led the Big East in receptions (75) and yards (1,101) as a senior in 2010, had some former teammates in the stands on Friday. They know what type of player Binns is, but he is an unknown quantity to most everyone else.

Binns was signed by Jacksonville after the lockout ended last year and played in three preseason games with a touchdown. He was released, though, in the final round of cuts and was signed to the Bengals practice squad a couple weeks later after Jordan Shipley was placed on injured reserve and Andrew Hawkins was elevated to the 53-man roster.

After Andre Caldwell was placed on injured reserve, Binns was signed to the active roster for the final two games – the regular-season finale against Baltimore and playoff game in Houston. Binns though was a gameday inactive for both.

To show the changes at receiver, Shipley is the only one on the roster who was here at the end of the 2010 season. Of the 12 on the roster, Shipley and Tate are the only ones with three seasons or more of NFL experience (Hawkins is in his fourth year of pro football after two years in Canada).

During the offseason workouts and early camp practices, Binns has displayed improved route running and athleticism. Urban said that Binns’ best quality is being an instinctive player but has made big strides since last year due to the gains in running routes.

Binns got plenty of work after practices last year with Zac Robinson but got even better with the offense because he could participate in last May’s rookie minicamp. Binns is still classified as a first-year player because he was not on the 53-man roster for the required minimum of six games.

“He could feel the hole and get open. Now he knows how to run the route and take advantage of his instincts,” Urban said. “It’s hard to teach those great instincts. Now the key is just keep fine tuning the route running.”

With 10 practices before the Aug. 10 preseason opener against the Jets, Binns knows he will get plenty of opportunities. He has confidence in knowing that he has earned the trust of the coaching staff, but consistency remains the next goal.

Said Binns: “The thing I try to focus on the most is being the same me every day and making improvements when I get a coaching point and when I don't do something right avoid making the same mistakes.”

There will also be the preseason games. For as much as Binns has showed in practice – including a leaping catch on Friday (albeit a good 5 yards out of bounds) – he realizes he hasn’t played in a game in nearly a year.

Binns said he will be excited to get in the games, but there is still work to do until then.

"As a athlete and competitor I always want to get out there and make something happen," he said. "But all I can do is control what I can control and when my play and my number is called just go out there and make the play and let the rest take care of itself."