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Bengals Bytes (6/23): Finally time

Do the Bengals have a realistic shot at their first Super Bowl victory this season? Johnny Manziel is on the right side of a police call. Patrick Peterson talks about the psychological toll it takes going back to 0-0.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

From Flag Football To The NFL
Rookie wide receiver Alex Erickson has followed an unlikely path to the NFL. At this point in the offseason, there are nearly 3,000 players on NFL rosters. I’m guessing that only one of them played intramural flag football in college.

Is Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict dirty or ultra-competitive?
Vontaze Burfict isn't a player who inspires ambivalence. The love-him-or-hate-him reaction to the Cincinnati Bengals linebacker is based on his style of play, which at best is All-Pro caliber and at worst is considered over the line. He will serve a three-game suspension to start 2016 after a hit to Antonio Brown caused a season-ending concussion for the Pittsburgh Steelers receiver in last season's wild-card playoff game. The question is: Does the rest of the division view Burfict as dirty or just ultra-competitive?

Dansby would like to see old friend Donte Whitner join him in Cincinnati
New Bengals linebacker Karlos Dansby told SiriusXM NFL Radio Wednesday that he’d like to see his former Browns teammate, safety Donte Whitner, join him in Cincinnati and said he’s tried to recruit Whitner to the Bengals.

Around The NFL podcast: Could the Bengals or Vikings win their first Super Bowl?
A room full of heroes -- Dan Hanzus, Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling – break down the latest NFL news including Marshawn Lynch’s comments on what made him a great running back and if Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff is really on the hot seat as he suggests. Then the Heroes are joined by fellow Around the NFL writer Kevin Patra to discuss which team could win their first Super Bowl in 2016.

AFC North Bytes

AFC North Q&A: Is Steve Smith a Hall of Fame receiver?
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. will play his 16th and final NFL season. He will be remembered as one of the toughest and fiery receivers in NFL history. But is Smith a Hall of Fame player?

Dallas police: Troubled QB Manziel reports hit-and-run crash
DALLAS (AP) — Police in Dallas say troubled quarterback Johnny Manziel reported a hit-and-run accident earlier this week. The publicist for the former Texas A&M star says he wasn't seriously injured. Senior Cpl. DeMarquis Black told The Associated Press the accident happened Monday night, and Manziel had a witness from his vehicle and an impartial witness. Manziel attorney Bob Hinton said police told him the vehicle was damaged on the driver's side.

Pittsburgh Steelers' Artie Burns buys 'big boy toy' with new NFL deal
As the 25th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns gets a four-year deal worth about $9.6 million with a $5.2 million signing bonus. The new dad used some of that money to purchase a family-functional vehicle that also satisfies the car lover in him.

Random Bytes

A Young Athlete’s World of Pain, and Where It Led
Kosta Karageorge, an Ohio State wrestler and football player who hid concussion symptoms because he felt it was the manly thing to do, killed himself in 2014.

Ramona Shelburne Is Beating Male Sportswriters at Their Own Game
"I didn’t grow up saying I wanted to be a sportswriter," admits Shelburne, who is married and lives in Los Angeles. "This is never where I thought I’d end up. But I was an athlete and liked sports and figured it was a good place to start."

Bill Barnwell ranks NFL defensive triplets all 32 teams
Last week, spurred by the quietest weeks of the NFL schedule, I ran through the NFL's offensive triplets and ranked them, 1-32. The Steelers finished first and the Browns last. Most people agreed on those two, but just about every team and every spot in between were up for serious debate. It will be even harder to sort through the league's defensive triplets. Great quarterback play is more obvious and plainer to see than the work of a dominant nose tackle or a sideline-to-sideline linebacker.

For the Cardinals, going back to 0-0 won’t be easy
It’s one thing to forget about a devastating loss in a conference championship game. It’s another to reset the record to 0-0 and start the climb back to the latter stages of the postseason all over.

Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Don't Compare Steph Curry and Cam Newton
It was after Carolina's brutal loss to Denver in the Super Bowl, and after Cam Newton's brutal press conference that was a total of literally 80 words, that noted Carolina fan and NBA star Steph Curry came to Newton's defense.