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Kyle Cook won the bench press competition -- 39 reps at 225 pounds

The Bengals elected to try something new. Marvin Lewis conducted Olympic-like competitions to bring the team some fun, as well as another way to get some work in.

"Great offseason, great plan," said quarterback Carson Palmer, after sharpening his elbow with a couple of touchdown lasers in the morning practice at Paul Brown Stadium. "This is as good as shape as we've been in since I've been here."

Before the start of mandatory camp, Geoff Hobson writes, the team's strength coach, Chip Morton and associate Ray Oliver put together a series of competition events to help in their strength and conditioning.

The Olympics included events like the bench press (won by center Kyle Cook for the gray with 39 reps of 225 pounds) three-point shooting, an obstacle course, tug-of-war, a football accuracy toss, and punt catching. Most of the events had a heavyweight, a middleweight and a lightweight class, and the edge seemed to carry over.

Our center, pumping 225 pounds 39 times. Strength. Nastiness. To put that in perspective, only one player at the NFL Combine matched Cook -- not that we're comparing incoming rookies with a second-year player. Close enough. In further perspective, Andre Smith benched 225 pounds only 19 times (not even half) during his Alabama Pro Day in early March. No word on Shayne Graham's total.

That's Kyle Cook. That's our center. While it's not accurate to grade anyone at this stage, that's a hell of a way to prove he just might belong.