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Bengals Bytes (7/21): Polarizing Pro Bowler

A look at the very strange case of Vontaze Burfict, and how his reputation could be hurting recognition of his play. The Browns could have a stadium that is made of flammable metal. O.J. Simpson was released on parole after serving nine years of a 33 year sentence.

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Should the Dallas Cowboys target Jeremy Hill as an insurance policy?
The Dallas Cowboys could be looking to trade for depth at the running back position. Here is why they should look at the Cincinnati Bengals' Jeremy Hill.

Bengals First 50 Countdown: 10-1
The Bengals First 50 recognizes the top 50 retired Bengals players as voted on by fans and media. More than 160,000 fan votes were cast, which accounted for 50 percent of the results. The other 50 percent was determined by 24 members of the media who have covered or currently cover the team. The final list features the top 50 retired players who received the most votes, rather than a predetermined number of players at each position.

Bengals 50: Geno Atkins, changing the modern game
Geno Atkins is entering his eighth season for the Bengals after being selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft and is widely considered one of the premier interior linemen in the NFL. Atkins has already made five Pro Bowls, already the most by any Bengals defensive linemen and trails only Lemar Parrish for most Pro Bowl selections all-time by a defender. Atkins also has two All-Pro selections while recording double-digit sacks in two seasons for a career total of 52.0, which has him fifth in franchise history.

Bengals 50: Vontaze Burfict, a polarizing Pro Bowler
Few players have polarized NFL fans and media across the country than the Bengals linebacker, an undrafted free agent out of Arizona State in 2012 – especially because Burfict has never been involved in any off-field controversy. The problems aren’t even with his play. When on the field (Burfict has missed 22 of a possible 80 games due to suspension or injury) he, by all metrics and the eye test, is one of the better all-around linebackers in football. His Pro Bowl selection in 2013 made him the first Bengal linebacker to receive that honor since the 1970s.

Who Dey notes: Bengals' James Brooks in Top 10, building a contender
If you’re a diehard, no-holds-barred Bengals fan, then this year’s festivities are for you. Celebrating the franchise’s 50 years in the NFL, the Bengals have been honoring its legendary players. Names like Max Montoya, David Fulcher, Ross Browner and Greg Cook have been rekindling memories. I was six-years-old when Cook was drafted and there aren’t many memories of him. But, my brother told me stories of watching him at Nippert Stadium. My fond recollections are of James Brooks and watching him run through would-be defenders.

AFC North Bytes

Baltimore Ravens training camp: Three questions facing the team
Steve Smith is retired. Kamar Aiken is in Indianapolis. Dennis Pitta is a free agent after a third (and potentially career-ending) hip dislocation. Combined, that’s 185 receptions for 1,856 yards — over 42 percent in both categories — of last year’s production gone. Pitta and Smith were the team’s most reliable pass-catchers in short- and medium-depth routes. That allowed speedster Mike Wallace to have his best season since 2011. So who steps up now? Jeremy Maclin was an important addition, and he’s expected to play in the slot. When he’s healthy — he wasn’t last year — Maclin can fit this offense well as a reliable target who provides some verticality as well. His health is very important. But the player who absolutely has to step up is Breshad Perriman.

US buildings, NFL stadium check panels amid fears of fire
In promotional brochures, a U.S. company boasted of the “stunning visual effect” its shimmering aluminum panels created in an NFL stadium, an Alaskan high school and a luxury hotel along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor that “soars 33 stories into the air.” Those same panels — Reynobond composite material with a polyethylene core — also were used in the Grenfell Tower apartment building in London. British authorities say they’re investigating whether the panels helped spread the blaze that ripped across the building’s outer walls, killing at least 80 people.

3 Key Training Camp Battles To Watch For Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are just a week away from the sweltering heat and stifling humidity of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. While Latrobe is famous for being the hometown of Arnold Palmer and Mister Rogers, it has played host to Steelers’ training camp since the 1960s and many of the franchise’s greats have lost a lot of sweat there over the last five decades.

Random Bytes

Every NFL Team's Biggest Reason for Optimism Heading into Training Camp
It's July, which is Optimism Month in the National Football League. Every free-agent signing has a chance to pan out, every draft pick has an opportunity to succeed and every roster is healthier now than ever...

O.J. Simpson Granted Parole from Prison, Could Be Released as Soon as October 1

After serving nearly nine years of a 33-year prison sentence, O.J. Simpson was granted parole Thursday and will be released from Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada, as early as October 1. The 70-year-old Pro Football Hall of Famer has been incarcerated since 2008 after being found guilty of 12 charges, including armed robbery and kidnapping.

Players Need to Do More Than Think About a Strike; They Need a Plan to Win One
History shows if NFL players go on strike, they get their ever-loving asses kicked. The union has fought hard during previous labor actions, but ultimately owners have "won" just about every times. It happened in 1968. It happened in 1982, when a strike led to better salaries and postseason pay, but the hit to players' pocketbooks during the strike led them to rise against union leadership. It happened in 1987, when owners employed replacement players for a few weeks. And it happened in the 2011 lockout, when the owners forced the players to reduce their share of revenues from 53 percent to 48 percent.