All is quiet on the Cincinnati Bengals front these days. Players are diligently going about their business in OTAs. Aside from a toe ding to starting TE Reggie Kelly, voluntaries have (so far) been injury-free (knock on wood). QB Carson Palmer continues to field questions about his elbow and absent wideout Chad Ochocinco and continues to repeat himself: the elbow’s fine, and Chad isn’t here and he’s focused on the players who are.
Sure, Bengals fans could always hope for more, say a motivated Chad in Cincy or less drama on the Andre Smith’s agent front, but as Bengals offseasons go, this one has been a walk on the beach. Aside from T.J.’s Bogus Journey to Seattle and the Leon Hall deewee, the off-field stuff has been nonexistent. In fact, all reports have “character questions” like Chris Henry, Cedric Benson and Tank Johnson acting the part of fine, upstanding citizens.
The value of an uneventful offseason — or, more accurately, an offseason that’s eventful in the right ways, such as good free agent signings and a good draft — can’t be understated in Bengaldom. This is a team that specializes in self-destruction before August even gets here. But this year, the focus is on the field, and their are fewer distractions (well, really, only one) than ever before.
Could it all blow up before September? Absolutely. But I don’t get that vibe from this year’s team. Instead, I get the feeling that everyone is out to prove something, even the short-term guys like Benson and Johnson and Roy Williams. They don’t strike me as players who are just parking it in Cincy for a year until they can score in free agency, though that just might end up happening.
Every year, I find myself looking at the Bengals and thinking “if.” If this, and if that, and if the other thing, plus ifs A and B and C, all happen, this team could go far. And every year, too many ifs crap out. This year, there are still lots of ifs. But this collection of players doesn’t seem as “iffy” as some that have come before.
Here’s to a continued, uneventful summer.