While reading what seemingly was an irrelevant article about the NFC North, I found this little gem:
Even though the Bengals finished last in total offense in 2008, the Cincinnati tight end shared his insights and excitement with me during a phone call this week.
"Things are looking good in Cincinnati," he said. "Everybody's healthy, and I think that one of our biggest downfalls last year was that we had 21 guys on injured reserve, and a lot of those guys were starters and big contributors."
Utecht, who was a Bengal for the first time in 2008 after four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, was bitten by the injury bug as well.
"It was the toughest year so far for me as a player," he said. "I had three pretty serious injuries throughout the course of the season that took me out of half of the games. But I'm 100 percent healthy, practices have gone great and I'm really solid with the offense."
Utecht noted that the return of quarterback Carson Palmer will make the offense much more efficient. And although the team lost star receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh to the Seahawks via free agency, he thinks the wide receiver corps will be tough to cover.
"The team made a great choice when they brought in (Laveranues) Coles, an extremely hard-working player who's got great hands. He's a tough player, so he's going to bring a lot to this team," Utecht said. "Chris Henry is an amazing talent. A few years ago he had some off-the-field instances, but those have ceased and he's really gotten his act together. And man, I've got to tell you, he's been fun to watch."
Of course, the wildcard of the group — in more ways than one — is Chad Ochocinco, a player who seems to be the polar opposite of the polite and humble tight end.
"I get along great with Chad," Utecht said. "I came into the weight room early one morning and we started listening to music together and it turns out he's got a bunch of classical music on his iPod. So before everyone got there, we listened to some Pavarotti on the team stereo system."
Say what? Ochocinco working out to Pavarotti? Maybe this is one Bengal who is sporting some different stripes in 2009 after all.
"One of the things I've seen different in him already this season is that he came in a week before minicamp with a different attitude, more about the team," Utecht said. "I think some of that has to do with him talking with Carson and really refocusing his mind and his goals for this year."
In Utecht, Reggie Kelly and rookie Chase Coffman, the team also has plenty of talent at the tight end position. But I told the former Colt that I thought the Bengals rushing attack was going to be the team's Achilles Heel this season with Cedric Benson leading the attack and not a lot of depth behind him.
That didn't dampen Utecht's enthusiasm one bit.
"I'm really excited about seeing what we can do on this team as far as the running game goes," he said. "We've made a lot of moves with personnel to put together a very strong offensive line.
"They brought Cedric in late in the game, but I've to tell you, he is really pouring it on. He was a huge talent coming out of college, and now that he's gotten his act straightened out, he's working real hard for the Bengals right now. Other people might be worried about it, but I'm not. I really think that Cedric is the guy we need to keep and put our trust in because he's a talented runner."
There was also something from Housh being big trouble for the seahawks opponents. Whatever, TJ.