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Bengals Bytes (1/4): Chad Johnson comes to Marvin Lewis’ defense

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Chad Johnson didn’t take kindly to Stephen A. Smith’s comments about Marvin Lewis.

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Chad 'Ochocinco' Johnson: Stephen A. Smith's Marvin Lewis remarks 'vile'
Former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Johnson - aka Ochocinco - is among those criticizing ESPN's Stephen A. Smith for remarks he made Wednesday morning about head coach Marvin Lewis on First Take.

Fact-checking that Marvin Lewis press conference
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, whom owner Mike Brown snatched back from the brink of termination with a two-year contract renewal on Tuesday, promised changes and a better team in a Wednesday news conference. Fans -- many of them in a less forgiving mood than Brown -- were less interested in his promises than in his verbal stumbles.

Cincinnati Bengals: 10 highlights from Marvin Lewis' press conference
In a 40-minute press conference on Wednesday, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis reintroduced himself to a city and fan base with a message that he was back to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history in 2018. Here are 10 key highlights of Lewis’ question-and-answer session.

Continuation of Bengals, Marvin Lewis marriage makes lots of sense
Although it seemed abundantly clear that history may repeat itself, with the Bengals and Marvin Lewis opting to renew their vows at a time when either side could have walked away with no strings attached, many expected Lewis to leave. (A flurry of “Sunday splash” reports from December 17 regarding the coach’s “plan” to leave surely influenced that perception.)

TDBH: Banged-up Bengals Luck out in Wild Card loss despite Nugent’s 57-yarder
Just getting to their fourth straight postseason in the Green-Dalton Era is one of their more underrated moments in franchise history, but today’s 26-10 loss to the torrid Andrew Luck and his Colts still makes it hurt for a Bengals team bitter with its fourth straight loss in an AFC Wild Card Game. The 10-5-1 Bengals secure a Wild Card and win at least 10 games for the third straight season despite losing starting wide receiver Marvin Jones (foot) in the preseason, tight end Tyler Eifert (forearm) on the ninth snap of the season, Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict in midseason (knee) and flagship franchise player A.J. Green (toe, shoulder) for five games he doesn’t have a catch.

Offense braces for biggest changes under Lewis
Andy Dalton left Wednesday’s power lunch with Marvin Lewis and Vontaze Burfict looking forward to what promises to be the biggest changes to the offense in the eight seasons he’s been the Bengals franchise quarterback and the 16 seasons Lewis has been head coach. But he’s glad Lewis is still around to break bread.

Marvin Lewis and Bill Lazor news conference transcript
Good afternoon. Obviously I’m excited to be here in front of you today. I thank Mike (Bengals owner Mike Brown), his family, and the organization for the opportunity to come back here and, frankly, to get back to work at what I came here and set out here to do back in 2003 — it seems like it was a while back. I am obviously a much better football coach now than I was back then, and we have to get the team back, better and improved, and back to the brand of football and the way I’ve perceived football and how we needed to play year after year. We have to be back, be more physical, be more attentive to the details of our job, and, frankly, get after it when the time comes. I’m excited

Bengals 2018 Opponents Set
As the NFL regular season concluded, opponents for the Cincinnati Bengals 2018 campaign became known. The schedule will feature foes from the AFC North, AFC West, NFC South, and fellow third place finishers within the AFC East and AFC South Divisions. Dates and times of the games are to be released later.

Alexander's departure signals change in run game
Paul Alexander, who had a left guard last Sunday born the year he took over the Bengals offensive line in 1995, won’t return to the club as Bill Lazor settled into the offensive coordinator’s job in his own right Wednesday. Alexander was in charge of the run game so it’s a major move that indicates a significant change in how the Bengals approach line play and the ground attack. They had their worst rushing season ever in the history of the club when it came to net yards, but they are attempting to build on Lazor’s approach that helped them average 4.6 yards per carry and 114 yards per game in the last six games.

Marvin Lewis says Cincinnati Bengals will 'start from scratch'
The assistant head coach is gone, but head coach Marvin Lewis is coming back for a 16th try at a playoff victory. And so it goes in Cincinnati. In a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, the Bengals remain the outlier. Lewis met with the media on Wednesday, a day after getting a two-year extension through 2019, and talked in general terms about how his team needs to change.

AFC North Bytes

Ravens should prepare now for Alex Collins’ future contract
Collins is an exclusive-rights restricted free agent in 2018. What that means is that once tendered by Baltimore, he can only negotiate with Baltimore. Typically, these guys are handed cheap one-year deals and then maybe given long-term deals later. But the Ravens shouldn’t expect Collins to remain that cheap forever and betting against it isn’t that wise.

Everything is in place for the Browns to finally fix their quarterback problem
The Browns, over the last two years, have watched both the Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Texans solve their quarterback positions at the Browns' expense. They've watched the San Francisco 49ers swoop in and steal away Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots.They have sat on the sidelines while team after team has solved their quarterback problem, punting on the most important position in the sport -- maybe in all of sports. This offseason, though, is right there for them to solve it -- and they can't afford to miss on this decision.

Steelers Injury Report: Antonio Brown back catching passes at practice
The Pittsburgh Steelers were back to practice Wednesday, and while it was a welcome sight to see Ben Roethlisberger and company back on the practice field, the team got a truly pleasant surprise when Antonio Brown was on the field catching passes from a jugs machine.

Random Bytes

NFL Time Machine: Imagining the Best Do-Over for Every Team This Year
Twelve NFL teams survived the 2017 regular season, while 20 did not. Four more will fall this weekend, and by the first Monday of February, all but one will be left wondering what could have been had they done things differently over last 12 months. So rather than let bygones be bygones in the new year, let's reflect on those missteps.

Chris Simms' NFL Wild-Card Playoff Picks
As we gear up for the NFL's Wild Card Weekend, I can't help but think back to what it was like as a player and as a coach preparing for the playoffs. This week, you might hear some players and coaches make cliched statements about how they're treating it like any other week, any other game. Let me tell you, preparation for a playoff game isn't like your normal game prep.

Sam Darnold Declares for 2018 NFL Draft Minutes After Josh Rosen
Darnold rose to prominence with a terrific redshirt freshman campaign in 2016. He completed 67.2 percent of his throws for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He added 250 yards and two scores on the ground. The 20-year-old California native followed that up by posting 4,143 passing yards, 26 TD tosses and 13 picks across 14 games in 2017. He also had 11 fumbles, however, which raised questions about his ability to protect the ball despite his obvious upside as a passer.