NFL Combine: Cincinnati Bengals Notes from Indianapolis


The NFL Combine in Indianapolis is billed as the sport’s ultimate meat market, where teams come to check out the physical and mental abilities of the young men who will be available in April’s NFL Draft, but the league-wide get-together has also become an opportunity for football-hungry fans to get an off-season update on their favorite teams.  On Thursday, several members of the Cincinnati Bengals spoke to the media, and we’re left to read the tea leaves

Quarterback Controversy?

Head coach Marvin Lewis had good things to say about second-year quarterback AJ McCarron:

"I think he has a great mind for football. We think he’s got the ability to be a good NFL quarterback, a good passer and, obviously, he’s got the competitive nature, the makeup of guys that have been very productive in the NFL. So I’m excited about AJ and his future."

Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson defended incumbent quarterback Andy Dalton, and took the blame for any perceived short-comings in the QB’s 2014 season:

"I don’t think I did a good enough job of getting him to where I think he needs to be.  That’s one of my biggest responsibilities in my mind this upcoming year."

So do we have the makings of a quarterback controversy here?  Not likely, considering that McCarron was basically a no-show in his rookie season during his rookie season and that backup Jason Campbell is a decent bet to be back on the Riverfront in 2015.

That said, a healthy McCarron could at least push Campbell in training camp and might eventually develop into a good second-string option in the NFL.

Terence Newman

After the Bengals bowed out of the playoffs in January, cornerback Terence Newman hinted that he might retire, but Lewis reported on Thursday that the veteran has decided to keep playing, according to Coley Harvey at  As for how he figures into the Bengals plans?  Lewis take:

"Terence has done a great job for us. He’s been a great player, he’s been a great mentor. He’s a good young man and he’ll continue to be successful with whatever he chooses to do. We’ll see what happens with us down the road."

Jermaine Gresham

Lewis’ non-committal tone in regards to Newman sounds like a ringing endorsement when compared to the coach’s take on free agent tight end Jermaine Gresham:

"Jermaine, he’s got a lot of things ahead of him. He’s got to figure out what Jermaine Gresham wants to do. That’s the most important thing. I think that’s… We were very fortunate to draft Jermaine when we did five years ago and he’s had five seasons where he’s contributed to this football team, and I think he’s at a crossroads. What’s Jermaine want next? I think when he commits to whatever he wants next then things will work out."

Expect a slightly different look to the Bengals’ TE rotation next season, in other words.

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is scheduled to speak to the media on Friday.

Next: Death of an NFL Institution: Andy Dalton Named to Pro Bowl Roster