Pasquarelli reports from Bengals training camp

ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli published his five observations about the Cincinnati Bengals. If you follow the Bengals with any regularity, this is pretty much status quo information -- and stuff we've already covered.

His first observation was that the Bengals defense needs more bite.

There is certainly sufficient talent on hand, especially on offense, for Cincinnati to contend for the division crown. But for the Bengals to play to their potential, and to earn the second playoff spot of coach Marvin Lewis' tenure, the defense must be more persistent and more consistent.

Pasquarelli specifically pointed at a thin group of linebackers. The expectations of Ahmad Brooks are unwarranted right now -- especially being shutout of tackles against Detroit. He says of Brooks, "Middle linebacker Ahmad Brooks, a third-round choice in the 2006 supplemental draft, has first-round skills. But for all his physical impressiveness, he doesn't seem to make a lot of plays, and had zero tackles in the preseason opener."

In his second observation, he talks about the youth in the secondary. Pasquarelli expects good things from Nedu Ndukwe. For a time this offseason, ESPN's senior football writer, repeatedly said that the Bengals coaching staff are disappointed in Madieu Williams. This time around, he says that the coaching staff feels that Williams is "back on track".

The third observation is the loss of Chris Henry.

No matter what he is off the field, third-year wide receiver Chris Henry is a big-time playmaker on it, and he is going to be difficult to replace during the eight-game suspension imposed by commissioner Roger Goodell.

...

But the presence of Henry in the three-wide receiver package that coordinator Bob Bratkowski features so much provides all kinds of matchup headaches for opponents. And it benefits the other receivers as well. It allows Houshmandzadeh, for instance, to move into the slot, where he is so crafty at working the inside areas between the hashes.

The fourth observation is the offensive line. Having lost Rich Braham and Eric Steinbach, the Bengals will employee Eric Ghiaciuc and either Andrew Whitworth (no mention) or Stacy Andrews. Add that to realistic chance that Willie Anderson and Levi Jones could miss some time at the start of the regular season. Bobbie Williams could be the only player that starts on the line that started in last year's opener.

Pasquarelli finishes up with his fifth observation -- defensive tackles.

Cincinnati had its best defensive ranking against the run under Lewis in 2006, a No. 15 rating, but the club shook up the tackle position in the offseason in an effort to get younger and stouter. The Bengals released longtime veteran Sam Adams, once a Lewis favorite, and is counting on second-year pro Domata Peko to replace him. Watching the former fourth-rounder in practice, it's obvious he brings new energy to the position and he isn't on the ground as much as Adams was in 2006. The 319-pound Peko seems like he can anchor and uses his hands really well. Cincinnati also will rotate free agent acquisition Michael Myers, a nine-year veteran who has always performed beyond expectations, into the tackle mix. Myers almost certainly will play on passing downs, with end Bryan Robinson also moving inside to tackle in those situations, in an attempt to provide the Bengals more inside push on the pocket.
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