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Bengals Bites (2/1): News and links

Taking a look at the stories around the interwebz regarding the Bengals, the NFL and the Super Bowl.

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Cincinnati Bengals mailbag: Is Michael Johnson replaceable?
Many of the questions I received for this week's mailbag had to do with defensive end Michael Johnson and what the future might look like for Cincinnati if he indeed won't be re-signed at the end of free agency. After commanding more than $11 million of cap space with his franchise tag this year, Johnson could be looking at more than $13 million if he's slapped with the tag once again next year. Since that likely won't be happening, the odds are strong he will soon be moving on elsewhere.

Where everyone knows your game
Since he owns a bar in the East Village (think a flat Mount Adams when it comes to Cincinnati's eclectic equivalent), Ryan Birkenhead is prepared for just about anything the human race can muster.

Andy Dalton is Bengals' answer for 2014, but beyond that?
If you listen to what Bengals coaches and players have said about the third-year quarterback and his role in their soon-to-be-tweaked offense, you know that there are no plans for him to drop down or fade from the depth chart. The plan for now is to take Dalton as he is, mold his ability and better enhance the play around him in a way that slowly kills off "Bad Andy" while propping up the "Good" one. On Thursday, we asked our readers the following: Should the Bengals draft a quarterback?

Bernard gets bite of The Apple
Giovani Bernard has a pretty good idea who should be the NFL Rookie of the Year. "It might as well be me," he said. "They're all great players. I think we all had pretty good years. It's just nice to see guys coming out of college and having such an impact right away."

Drafts have made Cincy part of SEC country
The scene inside the Cincinnati Bengals' locker room on fall Friday mornings often resembles those that are played out in front of countless watercoolers in office buildings across the country, particularly those in the South. Players place friendly wagers as they brace for Saturday college football showdowns that pit their alma maters against one another.

Simpsons predicted Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl in 2005
Las Vegas currently has the Broncos as 2.5-point favorites, which certainly seems reasonable when you have Peyton Manning leading the league's best offense against the Legion of Boom and the league's top-ranked defense. Turns out, the betting line should be 5 because, well, the Simpsons predicted the final score back in 2005.

The iconic ‘NFL on Fox’ theme was inspired by a Batman roller coaster
[George] Greenberg had just accepted a job at Fox Sports, and now his new boss was calling from an amusement park with an assignment: Go find the theme song for Fox’s NFL coverage. “Look,” Hill said. “I’m on this long line for the Batman ride. I can’t get this theme out of my head. Batman. Give me a superhero. Give me Batman plays football.”

Percy Harvin poised to have big impact against Denver Broncos in 2014 Super Bowl?
It’s unusual for a player to take 39 snaps total in the regular and postseason and still have a potentially monumental impact in a Super Bowl, but Seattle Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin is no ordinary player. The first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2009, Harvin was traded to the Seahawks for a trio of picks, including a first-rounder, before the 2013 season. Due to a nagging hip injury, Harvin was unable to provide much value — he played a bit against the Vikings in a 41-20 win on Nov. 17, catching one pass for 17 yards and returning one kick for 58. And in the Seahawks’ 23-15 divisional round win over the New Orleans Saints, he added three catches for 21 yards, one end-around run for nine yards and a concussion that kept him out of Seattle’s NFC championship win over the San Francisco 49ers. Head coach Pete Carroll has said that Harvin will finally be full-go when the Seahawks meet the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Marshawn Lynch is at a ‘Skittles all-time high’ leading up to the Super Bowl
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch spoke to For The Win about something very important to him: Skittles — and how he’s using his favorite power food to raise money with an auction and through his new partnership with Skittles for his Fam First Foundation.

Roger Goodell should not mess with NFL's playoff structure
Roger Goodell made it snow at his annual State of the National Football League press conference on Friday. Clearly, he can do anything. But just because the commissioner of the most powerful and profitable professional sports league in this country can do something doesn't necessarily mean that he should.

'Retread' coaches make their way to Super Bowl
John Fox and Pete Carroll spent their adult lives finding a way to the Super Bowl, a pair of defensive-minded head coaches in an era of offensive fireworks who have reached Sunday's ultimate game. Fox's heart ailment nearly felled the Denver Broncos coach Nov. 2. And the twice-fired Carroll's NFL head-coaching dream appeared to fade in the late 1990s after the high-revving Seattle Seahawks coach was bounced by the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

Jason Worilds open to re-signing with Pittsburgh Steelers if he's named a starter
Jason Worilds is open to re-signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in March, with one caveat: The outside linebacker has to be confident he has secured a starting job. Worilds led the Steelers with eight sacks in 2013, starting 11 games -- one more than he had started in his first three years combined -- during a breakout season. He also finished second on the team with 29 quarterback pressures and recorded 63 tackles with two forced fumbles.

Injured Broncos disappointed to be left behind
Five players who combined for 2,545 defensive snaps this season have been conspicuously absent from most of the Denver Broncos' activities leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl.

DA seeks recordings of Aaron Hernandez's jailhouse calls
Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez used "coded messages" to communicate about his murder case in jailhouse phone calls, Massachusetts prosecutors said in a request for access to recordings of his calls. In the calls, Hernandez discussed the murder of Odin Lloyd, including his "belief about his criminal liability" and the "extent of his control over persons charged as accessories," according to the request filed Thursday in Fall River Superior Court.

Renaldo Wynn: Gregg Williams Had Opposing Playbooks Before Facing Teams « CBS Houston
“You know why we fell short in that AFC Championship game?  After that I ended up getting coached by Gregg Williams.  And Greg Williams was, at the time, defensive coordinator by the Tennessee Titans,” Wynn told Payne & Meltser “First thing he said when he came in the door was ‘Hey, you know why you lost?’ With a lot of other explicit words with that.  He said he had our play book.  Greg Williams had our play book.  Our game-plan on offense. [He] had our playbook.”

Canton finalists await Hall of Fame call Saturday
Bill Parcells has some advice for the 17 anxious Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists who await their fate Saturday. Parcells, who led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles and is the only coach to lead four franchises to the playoffs, was almost overcome by emotion when he was elected last year on his fourth try.

Report: Teammates said Suh was a problem in the Lions’ locker room
Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was reportedly a problem within Detroit’s locker room last season, and getting Suh under control may be among the biggest tasks for new head coach Jim Caldwell. Heath Evans, the former NFL fullback turned FOX analyst, says three players on the Lions told him when he was working Lions games last season that Suh was a major headache.