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Bengals Bytes (5/20): Which players are going to make the next step this offseason?

The Bengals have several young players who are on the doorstep of being big name players in the NFL.

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

Former Bengals OL coach Paul Alexander has some unique ideas about linemen
Alexander now holds the same position for the Dallas Cowboys and reporters surrounding the team are just now finding out about his…strange ideas when it comes to linemen

Lives of two Bengals rookies marked by numbing family tragedy
When Mark Walton’s 45-year-old mother died suddenly from a stroke 14 months ago, Quinton Flowers sent him a text. “I told him I’d been through it too,” Flowers said. “I said ‘It’s gonna be hard, but if you need anything or need someone to talk to, I’m always here.’ “Just like him, I’ve gone through situations of having my dad killed and my brother, too, and also losing my mom. I know the feeling of losing the people closest to you.”

BX mailbag: What Bengals will ascend to next level in 2018?
With organized team activities (OTAs) beginning this week the Bengals begin their series of 10 practices and mandatory minicamp that will round out this offseason. After will come in a six-week hiatus before everyone returns for training camp at the end of July. Meanwhile, with the roster coming into shape we can start to answer more specific questions about the 2018 season. So, Bengals Xtra took this opportunity to answer the question on your mind as we get set to kick off the next phase.

PFF 2018 NFL Draft Recap – Cincinnati Bengals
After five consecutive playoff berths – and five consecutive playoff losses – the Cincinnati Bengals have experienced a two-year postseason drought, finishing under .500 in each of the past two seasons. As such, quarterback Andy Dalton & Co. have gone from “close, but no cigar” to a bit of a longshot in term of postseason success. Fortunately for Bengals’ faithful, Cincinnati’s brass took a step in the right direction with their selections in the 2018 NFL Draft, addressing key positions of need and adding to a promising roster.

Hobson's Choice: something old, a lot new
I just think the big things with Ross are that he’s healthy and he now knows what the NFL is like. As he said the other day, he had no idea what he was in for. That will happen at a position that next to quarterback is the toughest for rookies in the NFL. At least for the Bengals looking at this chart of the rookie seasons of each wide receiver they’ve drafted in this century. Not being able to practice at that spot until the week of the pre-season opener is bad karma for a rookie wide out. Throw in a knee injury in the pre-season finale that wiped out another ten days, and you can see why Ross struggled.

AFC North Bytes

Hard Knocks: How do teams fare the following season?
The Browns were one of six teams that met the show's three criteria for selection. Head coach Hue Jackson is not in his first year with the team (it's his third). They haven't made the playoffs in the last two years (last playoff berth: 2002). Finally, they haven't been on the show in the last ten years (never been on the show). The 49ers, Broncos, Chargers, Ravens and Redskins were the other five eligible teams, but the Browns were ultimately selected, a decision that both team and network appear excited about.

Terrell Suggs on Don Martindale’s new defense: ‘He’s taking the handcuffs off the guys’
The Baltimore Ravens got themselves a new defensive coordinator this season: Don Martindale. A players’ favorite, he’s already gotten plenty of love around the locker room. Linebacker Terrell Suggs heaped a little more on, saying Martindale’s looser structure allows everyone to go make plays.

Random Bytes

Every NFL Team's Biggest Reason to Look Forward to 2018 Season
Now that everybody has been drafted and almost everybody has been signed (sorry, Dez), we can start to look forward to the 2018 NFL season with a good feel for how each team will look. And it's May, so none of those draft picks or free-agent signings have had the chance to become busts. That makes this a great time to take a look at 32 half-full glasses.

NFL OTA Roundup: Where's Dez Bryant, and Can David Johnson Reach His Goal?
With OTAs ramping up around the NFL, there's plenty of news about the 2018 rookie class. In Cleveland, No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield will begin his career under an even bigger spotlight than originally expected. The player drafted just after him (New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley) has made it clear he's not really interested in breaking records in 2018.

Johnny Manziel Signs Hamilton Tiger-Cats Contract as He Pursues NFL Comeback
Johnny Manziel has found a team willing to take a chance on him, as the troubled quarterback signed a deal with the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday. "Made the decision today to sign my contract with the CFL and further my football career after a long break," Manziel wrote on Twitter. "Very grateful for everyone that's been supporting me along the way. I believe this is the best opportunity for me moving forward and I'm eager for what the future holds."