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Saturday, July 12, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 5/7/2013

Offseason puts Bengals in discussion

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

Idle thoughts, while wondering if the grass will need another mowing in 24, 48, or 72 hours.

■ We get so caught up, by necessity, in the Lions and Browns here in our little corner of the world that sometimes the Cincinnati Bengals get the short straw. So let us point out that oft-maligned president Mike Brown may have had as good an offseason as any NFL executive.

First, he re-signed 10 of his team’s 19 unrestricted free agents, including a late deal with Andre Smith, who ranks among the best offensive tackles in the game.

Then, with their first-round draft pick, the Bengals took Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert to pair with Jermaine Gresham and set up one of the top tight-end tandems in the league. What this will do to open A.J. Green downfield and ex-UT Rocket Andrew Hawkins out of the slot should be scary for defenders. Second pick Giovani Bernard provides depth and speed at running back.

With these weapons in place, the pressure is now on quarterback Andy Dalton to prove he can approach elite status.

The Bengals also helped the defense with 6-foot-8, 277-pound end Margus Hunt, who may be a steal at pick No. 53.

The way you win in the NFL is to retain top talent and draft well. Brown has certainly done that in recent years, and the Bengals should be a trendy pick to win a division title and advance in the playoffs this season.

■ Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe has done his best to justify being the only voter standing between LeBron James and a unanimous NBA Most Valuable Player award.

He voted for Carmelo Anthony, who led the injury-plagued Knicks to their first division title in nearly two decades. The Boston writer pointed out it’s an MVP award, not a best-player award.

“LeBron James is unquestionably the best player in the league,” Washburn wrote, “but I felt this season Anthony had more value to his team. It obviously was not a popular vote, but it was my right to vote that way.”

Sure it was. But I also wonder if he voted for LeBron when the latter led the Cavaliers to two division titles and one NBA Finals surrounded by talent inferior to that Anthony played with this season in New York.

Just sayin’…

■ On the surface, the Preakness is looking like a 1 3/16-mile walk in the park for Kentucky Derby winner Orb.

Trainers hate the thought of running valuable thoroughbreds three times in five weeks and, sure enough, horses that finished second, third, and fourth in the Derby have been scratched from the May 18 Preakness to concentrate on the June 8 Belmont Stakes.

Oddly enough, some experts like Goldencents to give Orb a chase at Pimlico; odd because Goldencents finished 49½ lengths behind at Churchill Downs. He got sucked into an absurd early pace set by speed horses and faded, while Orb was held back early until much of the field burned itself out. Goldencents will need a much better trip to be competitive in the Preakness.

■ Reader Bob emailed that he enjoyed last Sunday’s column on TV viewers citing golf rules violations, but added, “You kind of left Bubba Watson’s question unanswered. Where do viewers get those phone numbers?”

Well, I would guess long-distance information. Even Augusta National is listed.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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