Chad Ochocinco's absence at Bengal training camp is noticeable… and that's not a bad thing according to head coach Marvin Lewis and safety Chris Crocker. Lewis spoke to the media after Monday's practice at Georgetown about a variety of observations, but standing out were his impressions of rookie wide receiver AJ Green.
In a not-so-veiled shot at the departed Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, Lewis said about Green, "He's an upgrade. We're improved athletically." Safety Chris Crocker echoed his coach's impressions of the acrobatic Green. "He's in the upper echelon right now."
It's not just the play of Green drawing comparisons to the old guard at camp. Veteran wideout Andre Caldwell says things are different this year. "There's not much clowning around like there used to be." Caldwell would know as Marvin Lewis sent him back to his room to change into the same color shorts as everyone else. Fellow receiver Jerome Simpson was called out for being the last one on the field as well.
Lewis was also happy to see kicker Mike Nugent back in action. Nugent boomed kicks from 36, 39, and 44 yards, displaying no ill effects from his surgically-repaired knee.
Lewis also had high praise for second year players Jermaine Gresham and Carlos Dunlap. The head coach specifically mentioned his pleasure in their improved play and work ethic during practice. Gresham seems to be developing some chemistry with new quarterback Andy Dalton while Dunlap is challenging to start at defensive end.
The team will practice again tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. before taking the day off on Wednesday. An intra squad scrimmage is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. Lewis said that unlike other years, no score will be kept as some players will only be in their second day of camp. The team will also hold a "mock" game on Saturday. Both exercises, according to Lewis, are designed to get the team "into the flow" with the first preseason contest at Detroit looming on August 12.
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