Notes: Of Vick, nicks, sacks
By GEOFF HOBSON
October 23, 2006
Updated: 10-24-06, 6:45 a.m.
Defensive ends Robert Geathers and Justin Smith each have six sacks and are one off the AFC sack lead of Miami’s Jason Taylor. Geathers and Smith are tied with San Diego linebacker Shaun Phillips, and are tied for fifth behind Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers’ eight in the overall NFL standings.
Geathers and Smith are trying to become the first pair of Bengals double-digit sackers since linebacker Reggie Williams (11) and left end Eddie Edwards (10) for the 1981 AFC champions. The duo are on pace for 16 each, which would tie them with the 32 of right end Coy Bacon (a team-record 22) and left end Gary Burley (10) in 1976.
It would be the most since Edwards’ 13 in 1983. The Bengals haven’t had a double-digit sacker since Alfred Williams had 10 in 1992.
Ever since the Bengals moved him back to a rush end during the offseason, Geathers has said he feels better on the edge and that’s why he dropped about 15 pounds to to get back down to his rookie weight of about 265 pounds.
Marvin Lewis Press Conference
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Dexter Jackson Interview
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Robert Geathers Interview
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He had three sacks last season pass rushing mainly from the inside after he had 3.5 sacks off the edge in virtually the last nine games as a rookie in 2004.
Smith, just two sacks off his career-best 8.5 sacks as a rookie in 2001, credits the decision to just let the line play straight ahead as opposed to the frequent stunting and looping of years past.
“(The coaches) know what we can do now," Smith said. "They’re letting us rush more free now instead of gaming all the time. It’s a straight go now and I think that’s really helped us. And I think everybody is getting comfortable with everyone else.”
Although tackle Sam Adams doesn’t play on passing downs (John Thornton and Bryan Robinson have helped by pushing the pocket on third down), Smith thinks his presence as a straight-ahead player has helped simplify things.
“Sam’s not a looper,” Smith said.
Smith said the joke last season while the Bengals were picking off a club-record 31 passes was, “Make the quarterbacks hold on to the ball so we can get some sacks,” and that looks to be no joke now. The Bengals have just nine interceptions after six games. But they already have 15 sacks and are on pace for 42, 14 more than last season.
“You’ve got to be careful throwing it out there; we’ve got receivers playing as DBs,” Smith said. “We’ll take whatever they want to give us.”
Smith, who lines up over the left tackle, looks over at Geathers on the other side on passing downs and the glance tells them the game is on. They like competing against each other and their biggest assignment of the season comes this Sunday in the person of Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, the elusive and speedy Pro Bowler.
“I’ve never played against anybody like that,” Geathers said. “You can’t let him get too far upfield.”
Smith played against Vick once and that was in the 30-3 Sunday night loss in Atlanta four years ago when the Atlanta QB rushed five times for 56 yards and had a long run of 21.
“You’ve got to keep him contained or he’ll burn you throwing and running,” Smith said. “You have to be more careful the way you rush. You can’t do the sweeping rushes you see the pass rush guys that try to run behind the quarterback when he steps up and throws.
“You can do that with the pocket passer but Vick, you run past him and he’s gone. And he’s hard to tackle upfield. You’ve got to mirror your (blocker) and stay in front of him and be ready to come off the block and chase him. If he gets in the open field, it’s going to be a long day.”
Strong safety Dexter Jackson isn’t sure if he’ll start against the Falcons, but he knows Vick well from those NFC South battles in Tampa. Jackson has two interceptions off him.
“Make him beat you with his arm,” Jackson said. “He’s something like 10th in rushing. We know he’s great. Stay in your gap, do your job, eventually he’ll come to somebody. He’s going to run around and make plays, but if you stay where you’re supposed to, he’ll run right to you.”
P.DUB GETS LOOK: The Bengals are apparently concerned enough with their banged-up wide receiver corps that they are bringing in former first-rounder Peter Warrick for a tryout.
Reached late Monday night via phone, Warrick said this will be his second workout since being released from Seattle after the final preseason game.
“I feel good," said Warrick, who has also worked out for Detroit. "I’ve been working out; I still think I can help. It’s tough sitting and watching. You hope no one gets hurt, but that’s what I’ve had to look for.”
Warrick, 29, the fourth player selected in the 2000 draft, visited the Bengals at their hotel when they were in Tampa last week and went to the game. He said he has been working out with trainer Tom Shaw in his native Florida, but he wasn’t too sure about the Bengals injury situation behind Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
On Monday, head coach Marvin Lewis already ruled out Kelley Washington (hamstring) for Sunday’s game with the Falcons and he revealed Antonio Chatman is nursing an abdominal strain. Chatman is listed as probable, but he’s expected to be limited in practice. Tab Perry (hip) was placed on season-ending injured reserve last week.
Plus, while Chris Henry is eligible to return this week, Lewis said he has yet to decide if he’ll activate him for the game following his two-game suspension for violating various NFL policies.
The Bengals have a roster exemption for Henry this week, which means he can practice without the team making a roster move. But if they want him to play against the Falcons they have to make room for him on the roster.
Henry hasn’t played since catching two touchdowns against the Steelers Sept. 24. In his three games he caught 11 balls for 177 yards and his 16.1 yards per catch leads all Bengals with at last six catches.
“He could be (inactive) and on our team,” Lewis said. “What’s best for our team.”
Even before Chatman got hurt Sunday returning a kick in the 17-14 victory over Carolina, the Bengals suited up rookie free agent Glenn Holt off the practice squad and he performed well in his first NFL game on special teams.
In response on Sunday, Lewis said the Bengals had to adjust and that’s why the tight ends combined for five catches.
“We kept tight ends on the field more than we have in the past, particularly on third down and early downs,” Lewis said. “Normally, it could have been a receiver in that position."
It was his own injury that cut short Warrick’s career in Cincinnati after the best season of his pro career. Opting to play in the 2003 regular-season finale nine days after arthroscopic knee surgery, he finished with career-highs of 79 catches for 819 yards and seven touchdowns.
But complications from the surgery and his rehab limited him to just four games in 2004 and an abbreviated training camp in 2005. Also, the emergence of Houshmandzadeh and the drafting of Henry and Perry spelled the end in Cincinnati.
The landscape has changed dramatically changed since Warrick left. Feeling he was a starting receiver, Warrick had lobbied for the Bengals to release him before the final cutdown and they did.
But despite returning punts for Seattle in the Super Bowl, he could never secure a regular situation with the Seahawks. He indicated Monday he knows his role would be different than the first time around here, and said he knows he’ll have to show the Bengals that he hasn’t lost any speed.
“Whatever they need me to do, and I can return punts,” said Warrick, who returned 54 during his career here that included two for touchdowns.
Chatman has struggled himself with injuries since coming over from Green Bay as a free agent and didn’t appear until the fourth game of the season as he recovered from a groin problem that plagued him in camp. On Sunday he returned four punts for 24 yards and two kicks for 43 yards.
Warrick is 12th on the club's all-time receiving list with 264 catches, one more than Dan Ross. But not for long. Houshmandzadeh, the man who replaced Warrick in the starting lineup, has 243.
INJURY UPDATE: Center Rich Braham (knee) and left tackle Levi Jones (knee) are also out again, and linebacker Rashad Jeanty (foot) is questionable. Jackson (probable) returned for the first time Sunday since spraining his ankle Sept. 17 and got about 20 to 25 snaps in a reserve role on a day he was struggling and clearly a gamer.
“I want to show them I’m still a part of the team,” he said. “That’s important.”