ESPN.com's Bill Williamson (think of the horror if I were Micky McKirkendall) named Keith Rivers as one of ten rookies this season that could have the greatest impact.
The USC product will be given every opportunity to become an instant contributor in Cincinnati. Rivers' stock rose as the draft approached, and the Bengals jumped on him with the No. 9 pick. Cincinnati is hungry for impact defensive players, and the smart, athletic Rivers might be the answer. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is a defense specialist; he is licking his chops to work with Rivers.
On the total opposite side of the galaxy, Dennis Dillon lists Dhani Jones as one of the ten players that impressed their coaches during minicamp and OTAs.
Dhani Jones, MLB, Cincinnati Bengals. Jones, 30, revived his career after Cincinnati picked him up off the street last September. He started the final eight games on the weak side, finished second on the team in tackles and was the special teams captain. It looks like Jones now will move into the middle and give new coordinator Mike Zimmer’s defense a veteran presence inside. That also should help accelerate the development of third-year ‘backer Ahmad Brooks, who will move outside.
Sports Illustrated's Michael Lombardi, gives Marvin Lewis some free advice:
• Were Marvin Lewis, I would spend extra time this summer in camp preparing for the special teams units of the Browns and Ravens. The Bengals ranked 29th in the NFL last year in opponents' average starting field position after a kick off. They also ranked 17th in the NFL in allowing 9.1 yards per punt return. The AFC North will feature two of the best kicking teams in the NFL this year, and the Bengals will need extra time and more talent to be able to win this phase of the game.
"Fooch", blogger at Niners Nation (five points if you can figure out the team without clicking on the link), pointed out to me this afternoon that there were actually eligibility requirements for practice squad players -- they have freaking eligibility requirements for Practice Squad players?!
Section 1. Practice Squads:
(a) The League may elect in any League Year in accordance with this Article to establish practice squads not to exceed eight (8) players per Club. The League’s election in any one season shall not determine or affect its election in any subsequent season.
(b) The League may elect to allow some or all Clubs to add to their practice squads one additional player, who shall not count against the limit above, whose citizenship and principal place of residence are outside the United States and its Territories (“International Player”). The League’s election in any one season shall not determine or affect its election in any subsequent season. Such International Players shall be subject to the same terms and conditions of employment that apply to other practice players except that they (1) may not, during the term of their practice player contract, negotiate or sign an NFL Player Contract with any Club; and (2) may not practice with any Club following the last Conference Championship Game unless both Conference Championship teams have such a player. In addition, notwithstanding the provisions of Section 4 below, such International Player shall be eligible to serve on a Practice Squad for three additional seasons after the completion of the player's year(s) as an International Player. As set forth in Article XXXIV, Section 3, the weekly salary for such international players shall not be included in the employing Club's Team Salary and shall be deducted from the calculation of the Salary Cap in the same manner as any Player Benefit.
Section 2. Signing With Other Clubs:
(a) Any player under contract to a Club as a practice squad player shall be completely free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with any Club at any time during the League Year, to serve as a player on any Club’s Active or Inactive List, and any Club is completely free to negotiate and sign such a Player Contract with such player, without penalty or restriction, including, but not limited to, Draft Choice Compensation between Clubs or First Refusal Rights of any kind, or any signing period, except that such player shall not be permitted to sign a Player Contract with another Club to serve as a practice squad player while under contract as a practice squad player.
(b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a) above, a practice squad player may not sign an NFL Player Contract with his Club’s next opponent later than 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the sixth day preceding the game (except in bye weeks, when the prohibition commences on the tenth day preceding the game).
Section 3. Salary: Minimum salary for a practice squad player shall be $4,700 per week for the 2006-07 League Years, $5,200 per week for the 2008-10 League Years and the 2011 League Year if it is an Uncapped Year, and $5,700 per week for the 2011 League Year if it is a Capped Year and the 2012 League Year, including postseason weeks in which his Club is in the playoffs.
Section 4. Eligibility:
(a) The practice squad shall consist of the following players, provided that they have not served more than two previous seasons on a Practice Squad: (i) players who do not have an Accrued Season of NFL experience; and (ii) free agent players who were on the Active List for fewer than nine regular season games during their only Accrued Season(s). An otherwise eligible player may be a practice squad player for a third season only if the Club by which he is employed that season has at least 53 players on its Active/Inactive List during the entire period of his employment.
(b) A player shall be deemed to have served on a Practice Squad in a season if he has passed the club’s physical and been a member of the club’s Practice Squad for at least three regular season or postseason games during his first two Practice Squad seasons, and for at least one regular season or postseason game during his third Practice Squad season. (A bye week counts as a game provided that the player is not terminated until after the regular season or postseason weekend in question.)
Section 5. Active List: If a player on the Practice Squad of one club (Club A) signs an NFL Player Contract with another club (Club B), (1) the player shall receive three weeks salary of his NFL Player Contract at the 53- player Active/Inactive List minimum even if he is terminated by Club B prior to earning that amount, and (2) Club B is required to count the player on its 53-player Active/Inactive List for three games (a bye week counts as a game) even if he is terminated or assigned via waivers to another club or is signed as a free agent to another club’s 53-player roster or another club’s Practice Squad prior to that time. If the player is terminated from Club B’s 53-player roster and signed to Club B’s Practice Squad, he shall continue to count on the club’s 53-player Active/Inactive List but shall not count against the eight-player Practice Squad limit until the three-game requirement has been fulfilled. If a player is terminated prior to the completion of the three-game period and is signed to Club B’s Practice Squad or is signed or assigned to another club’s 53-player roster or Practice Squad, any salary (as that term is defined in Article XXIV, Section 1(c)) that he receives from any NFL club applicable to the three-game period shall be an offset against the three weeks salary that he is entitled to receive from Club B.