Saturday afternoon links and notes -- going over a lot of stuff

While "Pragmatic Bengals Fan" broke down the upcoming game against the Packers, he wondered about the hamstrings of T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Rudi Johnson -- players likely out Monday night. I haven't referenced Rudi Johnson's hammy much, but I admit, when I heard he tweaked his hamstring, I cringed. Is this truly a "minor injury" as the team is making us believe, or is this just a product of Rudi Johnson's degradation we saw the past two seasons -- incurring injury after losing weight to gain quickness, acceleration and speed. The one positive is that his "minor" hamstring injury is to his right leg, rather than his left which kept him out (and back) much of last season.

Whether Jonathan Fanene practiced on the first-team defense over Frostee Rucker because Rucker isn't getting it done, or the team just wants to see more of Fanene, who can say. Luckily, Antwan Odom aims to be ready by kickoff weekend.

Chad Johnson might miss the pre-season opener against the Green Bay Packers. If that's the case, and honestly it might not be a bad idea, then you have to figure that Marcus Maxwell and Antonio Chatman would get the start with Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell likely rotating in for some first-team snaps before taking a majority of the snaps with the second team and some with the third. (is that the longest run-on sentence you've ever seen, or what?)

Chatman is "trying to prove something to the Bengals because" he's been hurt. Bratkowski is still concerned about the receivers as a whole.

"I can't ever remember this many balls being dropped at a training camp down here," said Bratkowski, the Bengals offensive coordinator, after watching Friday's practice fittingly end on rookie receiver Jerome Simpson's drop. "Right now we're searching for those guys. Nobody has stepped up. Too many mental errors. Too many technique errors."

Former Bengal Matthias Askew will receive $500,000 from the city of Cincinnati after a settlement was reached after Askew claimed unlawful arrest and excessive force in 2006. If you remember, Askew was almost immediately released from the team during a period in which several Bengals embarrassed the hell out of the franchise.

Mike Zimmer on Carson Palmer and the Bengals receivers compared to Atlanta last year: "It was an eye-opener for me, especially coming from Atlanta. Watching those guys trying to throw and catch the ball compared to watching these guys throw and catch the ball is like night and day. It's not even close."

Did James Walker take a page out of CincyJungle.com?

Special Teams coach Darren Simmons is working with James Johnson on returning punts -- the leading candidate for returning punts is Deltha O'Neal, for now. O'Neal has two career punt returns for touchdown and a career 10.0 yards-per-return average. In his Bengals career, O'Neal has returned eight punts (eight more called for fair catch), for 43 yards.

MVN says the Bengals will finish 6-10 because of their defense.

Reggie Kelly on the off-season acquisition of Ben Utecht:

"It hasn't changed anything to me, it's just opened up the opportunity for the tight ends to get more passes down the field," Kelly said. "He's going to do a tremendous job of catching balls, he and Carson (Palmer) have an amazing chemistry. You're going to see big things out of the tight end position, especially out of Ben Utecht."

Chinedum Ndukwe returns to camp on crutches.

Rashad Jeanty's mysterious injury could force him out until the final pre-season game. Jeanty hasn't always been a healthy cat, missing the first five games of 2007 with a leg injury, then missing another due to a knee bruise late in the season. He also missed the CFL playoffs and the Grey Cup game because of a hand injury in 2005.

Ahmad Brooks knows now that he could be fighting for a roster spot.

Chris breaks down the 24-20 loss the Browns suffered to the Jets, claiming the Browns actually had the advantage when the starters were in. He points out that the Browns defense is short on depth and he worries about the Steelers which reminds me (and all of you) that no one outside of the Bengals fan base is taking this 2008 Bengals team seriously. Oh, how everyone will be surprised.

One of the biggest question marks going into this season is the Steelers offensive line. BTSC points out that they looked solid in their 16-10 win Friday night over in-state rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Finally, I had to admit that the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics were impressive. I can't really explain it, but the choreography for those boxes that moved up and down with, what appears to be, over a hundred people, was both trippy and neat.

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