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Bengals Bytes (6/14): Under the radar

Everyone is talking about the Bengals’ offensive upgrades, but don’t forget their defense has a big improvement coming as well. What would it take to get Le’Veon Bell signed long term? We could be very close to seeing our first female player in the NFL.

Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Defense remains 'cool' under the radar
Don’t look now, but over there is the Bengals defense on one of their final tune-ups for training camp. And not a soul is talking about it. The narrative begins and ends with the offense, whether it is the trials and tribulations of quarterback Andy Dalton, or the pressure to protect him on new tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, or the stunning array of talent it has on that side of the ball with the addition of first-rounder John Ross at wider receiver and second-rounder Joe Mixon at running back.

Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis news conference transcripts
Going into year seven now, I’m really comfortable with everything we’ve got going here. And so now we have some of the new guys, and guys who will be playing for us this year, so we’re just making sure we are up to speed on what we’re doing. Constant communication is big, making sure they’re knowing exactly how we want it to be and exactly how we are asking them to do it. I’m in a good position now. We’ve got guys who are willing to learn. I feel like we’ve gotten better this offseason.

Notes: emotional Ross graduates; Mixon down to 229; Dielman set to be cleared
No. 1 pick John Ross is back in the house for the Bengals’ three-day mandatory minicamp after spending the past month preparing for last Saturday’s graduation from the University of Washington. He can still feel the emotion of it as the first member of his family to get a college degree.

Bengals' John Ross becomes first in his family to graduate college
Cincinnati Bengals first rounder John Ross is now free to be a full time football player. Ross was back at the Bengals facility this week for the first time since rookie minicamp in May. Ross graduated from Washington on June 10, and due to an NFL rule, he was not allowed to be around the team until final exams were over.

Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Mixon down 10 pounds since being drafted
Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said rookie running back Joe Mixon needed to get back into shape after the first day of rookie minicamp on May 5. Mixon responded quickly by dropping 10 pounds from his frame over the course of the month.

Bengals' offense has new look with top 2 rookies
John Ross got his diploma. Joe Mixon lost 10 pounds. The Bengals’ top rookies spent the last few weeks finishing their college careers and getting ready to try to make an immediate impact in the next one. The receiver and running back will be front and center between now and the season opener. An offense that slipped considerably last year is hoping the infusion of its top two draft picks will make a big difference right from the start against the Ravens on Sept. 10 at Paul Brown Stadium.

AFC North Bytes

What would it take to get Le’Veon Bell signed to a long-term deal?
At a time when there isn’t as much NFL news to go around, many in the media are hoping to speak intelligently on the travel habits of Pittsburgh Steeler Le’Veon Bell. And even though he hasn’t signed his franchise tender, which makes him no more of an employee of the Steelers than me, many are still wondering whether he’ll attend the team’s mandatory minicamp.

Browns rookie Kizer shares 1st-team reps at 1st day of minicamp
Don't look now, but rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer is taking first-team reps with the Cleveland Browns. On the first day of minicamp on Tuesday, the Browns' second-round pick in this year's draft split time leading the first-team offense at practice with sophomore Cody Kessler. It's a noteworthy development that the rookie was afforded an opportunity to play with the starters on the first day of his first-ever minicamp, but head coach Hue Jackson tried his best to downplay the decision.

Benjamin Watson restructured his contract last week
Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson is back on the practice field in part because his torn Achilles tendon has healed. He’s also back because the Ravens opted not to release him. Watson, who also has played for the Saints, Browns, and Patriots, accepted a restructured contract last week, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Previously due to make $3 million in 2017, Watson has reduced his base salary to $1.25 million. Of that amount, $750,000 is fully guaranteed.

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Is This the NFL's First Female Player?
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