PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12: Andrew Whitworth #77 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 12 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Andrew Whitworth, known as one of the veteran leaders on the Bengals, had dinner with first round picks Dre Kirkpatrick and Kevin Zeitler on Friday. The next day Whitworth had dinner with second and third round picks Devon Still, Mohamed Sanu, and Brandon Thompson, respectively. Whitworth says that he encouraged the players to seize this rare opportunity:
""It’s a chance for them to reach their dreams and make a huge difference for themselves and their families," Whitworth said. "There’s nothing here but an opportunity for them. You want to just encourage them to take advantage of that."
"On paper, and that’s all it is, on paper, we have a good locker room with a good, skilled group of guys. So now we’ve just got to work hard like we did last year and do what we need to do on the field."
Quarterback Andy Dalton is excited to have the new rookies in the fold, especially Zeitler:
"I think (Zeitler) is going to be a big pick up for us," Dalton said. "And then we got a couple more weapons. I’m excited. I’m ready for those guys to get in here and get working with them."
Dalton also said he has recently traded text messages with Sanu and fourth round tight end Orson Charles. He is also excited to have more weapons to get the ball to:
"I think that’s one thing that we knew we were going to do," Dalton said. "We had to bring a couple more guys in here, and I think the competition is going to be good. I think we’ve got two solid guys and I think it’s going to be great going into these OTA’s and into training camp."
Geno Atkins is also excited to get the new rookies in. He is especially excited to show Still and Thompson the ropes. Atkins remembers other veterans helping him when he was a rookie:
"I look forward to helping them, showing them the way like (Domata) Peko, Pat (Sims) and Tank Johnson did for me," Atkins said. "You can never have too many run stuffers or too many pass rushers. So the more the merrier."
The excitement from the veterans seems even more genuine than normal. They seem to be interested in showing the rookies how things are done in the NFL. With this type of leadership and the apparent early success of the draft, the Bengals may have something going.