During this week's Organized Team Activities, injuries have made it hard to analyze the position battle at cornerback. While incumbent starters Leon Hall and Nate Clements are working to return to the field as soon as possible, and this year's first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick is being rested as a precaution, the first team reps have been taken by Adam Jones, Terence Newman, and Jason Allen -- all three veterans free agent signings, and all three former first round picks.
Newman, who probably had the worst season of the three in 2011 (with a coverage rating of -11.2 by Pro Football Focus), doesn't blame old age for his recent falloff. In fact, he blames bad habits, according to CBSSports.com's Paul Dehner Jr.
Terence Newman, 33, refutes that he's lost a step, rather pointing to bad habits for his struggles and eventual departure from Dallas. "I feel really good," he said. "I feel like I'm 26-and-a-half. I feel like I can still run. I feel like I'm still quick. I just have to refine some things. I got in a couple of bad habits over the last couple of years."
This revelation can probably be traced back to his reunion with Mike Zimmer, who was Dallas' Defensive Coordinator from 2000 to 2006.
In an interview with Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson, Newman revealed that Zimmer has been his old self, leaving no one, even Newman, safe from diatribe:
"He's going to get on everybody," Newman said. "That's just Zim. You know that's what he's going to do. That's part of it when you come here."
Changes? Newman laughed.
"The only thing is he's getting uglier. That's about it."
The relationship between Zimmer and the former fifth overall pick is what brought Newman here in the first place. Newman refers to Zimmer as a "father figure", and cited Zimmer's personal phone call to him as the biggest catalyst in bringing him to Cincinnati, which he revealed after OTA's yesterday.
Hopefully, Zimmer coach Newman back to where he once was a few years ago. After averaging 16 passes defended in his first 4 years in the league (all with Zimmer), Newman totaled only 17 passes defended in his last two seasons.
Newman's sudden dropoff in coverage and tackling in the last few seasons has been a big source of frustration for Cowboys fans. It all culminated in the final game of the 2011 season, when the Cowboys and Giants faced off for the rights to the final NFC playoff spot. According to Pro Football Focus, Newman allowed 8 receptions for 174 yards and a touchdown in that game, and Newman was also hurdled by tight end Bear Pascoe and fullback Henry Hynoski. Certainly a game Newman wants to forget.
Newman calls this season a fresh start, and is eager to contribute in any way he can. He also said after yesterday's OTA that he had expected the Bengals to draft a young corner, and now he wants to help as much as possible and pass along knowledge to the younger guys. Newman is definitely a team player and class act. If Zimmer can straighten out those bad habits, maybe Newman can finally get the Super Bowl ring that he wants so badly.