The Cincinnati Bengals seem to go from fairly competitive to downright poor in terms of season performance. The 38th season of the Bengals saw the team score a 7-9 win loss record; not a record low, but nothing to be proud of. In 2008 the Bengals hope that their “Now” theme for the new season brings more success. How will they fare? It all depends on how you interpret the team’s involvement in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Right from the start, the Bengals gained an additional four picks for compensation over losing certain players. The final team lineup included linebacker Keith Rivers from Southern California University, wide receiver Jerome Simpson from Coastal Carolina, defensive tackle Pat Sims from Auburn, wide receiver Andre Caldwell from Florida, offensive tackle Anthony Collins from Kansas and defensive tackle Jason Shirley from Fresno State. Another problem facing the Bengals is Chad Johnson, who has recently changed agents and is now refusing to participate in training camps and possibly the entire season if he is not traded. Will the draft picks be enough to save the Bengals?
Media reaction to the draft picks remains divided. Some have criticized the team for drafting so many when the team’s defense remains undeveloped. Linebacker Keith Rivers’ pick was well praised, while Jerome Simpson was said to have the largest hands of anyone at the 2008 Senior Bowl. Pat Sims shows promise in his size and youth, while Anthony Collins and Jason Shirley have their following. This draft comes a couple of years following the 2005-2006 period, a draft that many consider to be the worst in the team’s history, judging from the players who quickly became injured or arrested or suspended.
The 2007-2008 period is being seen as a throwback to that fateful season, since more than a few players are already dropping out of important games. Chris Henry was suspended for eight games (roughly half the season) after a few incidents involving police while Odell Thurman, was suspended, then cleared to work out with the Bengals on January 28th 2008 then reinstated on April 21, 2008. The Bengals added him back but then waived him shortly after. After being cut by the Bengals Odell failed his second drug test and now faces a possible indefinite suspension by the league. Levi Jones and AJ Nicholson were also involved in off-field controversies related to personal altercations.
While four other players have been inactive due to more honorable reasons, their absence still hurts the team. This includes David Pollack who won’t return until 2009, Kenny Irons, who is on Injured Reserve for his rookie year and Chris Perry, who is currently on the PUP list (Physically Unable to Perform).
How do the Bengals look for 2008? The team faces a tough schedule and a loyal following with lowered expectations. After all, few other teams have faced as much drama as the Bengals in the last two years and the storm may have to pass before rebuilding can begin. However, 7-9 is not that disastrous a score considering that nothing has changed for the better in five years.
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