Bengals News, Notes, and Quotes

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Four practices down and the Bengals will play their first preseason game a week from Thursday. First, the stories from Sunday.

+ Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham, with a chip on his shoulder, asked for a match-up against Geno Atkins. With the help of a false start, Gresham won. And before that, he battled James Harrison to a draw.

"He's a big man, a big physical guy. It was fun. Those guys are good friends. It was cool," Lewis said. "The Houston game had a huge impact on him. The positive of it is you keep working to get better at those situations and those opportunities but don't take it."

Gresham hasn't actually sat with local reporters for an interview session in nearly a year, so he didn't comment on it. But Lewis is happy how Gresham has been developing.

"Jermaine has grown so much over the last two seasons. This offseason he continued to take another step. This camp he's taken another step," Lewis said. "I don't want him to keep the pressure on himself all the time … he's done a great job stepping up his leadership on this team, doing everything that's asked of him and trying to get better physically. He's got such a big heart, such a good kid and it's fun to watch him come out of it the more comfortable he's gotten."

+ Nice posting by Paul Dehner Jr., describing the camaraderie between Dre Kirkpatrick and Andre Smith -- two players that have taken similar paths.

"He's my big brother," Kirkpatrick said of Smith, who left for the NFL as Kirkpatrick arrived at the University of Alabama. "He's the one guy I'm probably closer to than anybody on the team. He's always encouraging me. He's always giving me words of wisdom. It's just a great honor to have a guy like him on the team that comes from the same background, comes from the same coaching, to just keep me motivated."

+ We know that Tyler Eifert can catch the foot ball. But can he block?

"If they don't respect him as a blocker, they'll treat him as another wide receiver," Gruden said. "Then, I might as well put another wide receiver on the field."

+ The battle to start at strong safety continues without any front-runners. Second-year safety George Iloka believes he's moving up the depth chart, Taylor Mays is feeling more comfortable in his fourth year, and rookie Shawn Williams, who is receiving tips and advice from Reggie Nelson and Terence Newman, showed his physical play on Sunday.

+ Similarly the battle for the backup quarterback position is fairly even. Bengals quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese reflects:

"Josh had a leg up on the terminology and all but I think John has played more football so there is some give and take on whatever that advantage is," Zampese said. "They both have unique strengths to them. They're completely different guys but there's not a specific type that has to be whoever our backup is. It's just whoever we think can handle it the best."

+ Free agent signing James Harrison is "leaning" on Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict to get up to speed.

"They're helping me out with things that I need to know on the field. It's a switch of positions for me so to speak where I'm learning from a younger guy," Harrison said.

+ Bengals defensive tackle Brandon Thompson had his knee wrapped and possibly an MRI after practice on Sunday.

+ Andre Smith sent out a Tweet Sunday night that he's been cleared to practice.

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