Bengals Banter: OTAs Open. Michael Johnson Ready for Encore


Jul 27, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer coaches during training camp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

With OTAs set to open today, the Cincinnati Bengals will be hitting the practice field for 10 workouts over the next three weeks. This will be the first time this year’s draft class has an oppurtunity to workwith their veteran teammates, while the vets are finally able to work off some of the rust as they practice on a football field for the first time in 5 months.

Former NFL safety Solomon Wilcots helped get the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII as the team’s starting free safety, and he’s happy to see them he finally have a good offseason in which they re-sign all of their key free agents:

"I love the offseason they had. We can see the Bengals as an organization doing as good a job developing their roster as any team in the league.I think the money was used wisely. They brought back significant players they could have lost. Michael Johnson.Andre Smith was very critical in getting him back at the right price and right value. In the draft, I thought they went really deep in getting some really good players. They got some players that can play now and some players they can develop for the future that can be really great players in this league."

Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson is looking to go “one-and-done” and cash in on his big 2012 season in which he amassed a career-high 11.5 sacks, which ultimately earned him a $11.175 million contract in 2013. Instead, he’s focused on working to improve and help his team win ballgames:

"“I’m going to do the same thing I did last year,” he said of his career 11.5-sack season. “Just go out and work hard and that stuff will take care of itself. Work hard week in and week out and if this team wins, everything will be straight.”“I was ready to come back last month,” he said of the start of offseason workouts. “It was really a challenge for me to stay focused. It was real hard to study. I wanted to be back with them.”"

Linebackers coach Paul Guenther knows it will take a lot of work to incorporate newly-acquired James Harrison into a 4-3 defense after he spent his entire career in Pittsburgh’s vaunted 3-4 system under Dick Lebeau. But Guenther has seen enough of Harrison’s abilities to know he will find a way to fit the former NFL Defensive MVP into the Bengals defense:

"“We all feel good about how he rushes the passer, obviously,” . “He’s done the same coverage stuff that he did in Pittsburgh that he’ll do here. Just a little difference in terminology and sight lines.”Harrison didn’t put on a show in Tuesday’s news conference. He is that serious about it all. Since he arrived Monday, Guenther says Harrison has been one of the first guys in the building in the morning because he gets his workout and treatment out of the way before heading upstairs to spend at least an hour with him one-on-one going over the defense as they prep for field work in the afternoon.“He just has to get used to how we want it done, not how he did it before; that’s the main difference,” Guenther said. “You try to assimilate the system with his terminology until he fully gets ours. ‘This equals that,’ until he can really grasp it.”"

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