Bengals end OTA camp with BP, bowling
CINCINNATI (AP) — Ten of the Bengals piled off the bus with their green bowling pins in hand, trophies from their first-place finish.
A boys’ night out? Nope. End of their organized offseason workouts.
The Bengals finished three weeks of workouts by trying their hand at some other things. They went to Great American Ball Park and took batting practice on Tuesday night before the Reds’ 12-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies. Linebacker J.K. Schaffer and a few other players reached the stands.
On the final day of OTAs on Wednesday, they loaded onto buses and headed to a bowling alley called “Super Bowl” for a different kind of team competition.
The 10-member team led by a guy from the Steelers won this Super Bowl trophy. Linebacker James Harrison was so excited that he tweeted updates and photos from the alley.
“It’s a nice little release from being serious and getting at football all the time,” said Schaffer, who was on Harrison’s bowling team. “Definitely a nice getaway. It was a lot of fun, too. You get us out there in another competitive situation, but where we can also have fun.”
Schaffer put his green bowling pin — a trophy from the win — on the top shelf of his locker, along with the scuffed baseball he hit into the seats in left field the previous night at Great American.
“It does look nice,” he said. “It’s a nice little start to a collection up there.”
The ballpark and bowling ventures were the idea of coach Marvin Lewis, who returns his team virtually intact from two straight disappointing playoff appearances. Lewis decided to end the final day of organized team activities by hitting the lanes instead of going on the football field in the rain — Cincinnati is the most northern NFL team without a covered field.
“Just an opportunity for guys to have a good time,” Lewis said. “I knew it was going to rain today and it was good not to get out on the field.”
The last three weeks of workouts were a chance for the rookies and the few new veterans to learn the system in Cincinnati. The Bengals spent a lot of money in the offseason keeping the starting units virtually intact.
The measure of this team will be whether it can get deep into the playoffs. The Bengals are 0-4 in the postseason under Lewis and haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, the longest current streak of futility in the NFL. It’s tied for seventh-longest such streak in league history.
“That’s the thing,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “It’s not that we went out there saying, ‘Oh, we have to be better at this, we have to be better at that.’ It’s more about we return the same guys, we need certain guys in certain places to be a little better at this or that.
“But they are also a year wiser and it’s a really young football team. It’s not like a bunch of veterans that fell short or something. This is a young team that every year, every game we play we seem to make some strides at places.”
The Bengals hold their mandatory minicamp next week, which will provide a better read on how some of the newcomers are catching up on things. Lewis said that right tackle Andre Smith, who missed the OTAs for a personal matter, is expected at minicamp.
It’ll also be a better chance to see Harrison in action with his new team. He left Pittsburgh, where he won two Super Bowls and Defensive Player of the Year honors, when they couldn’t agree on a restructured contract.
Harrison made quite an impression Wednesday at Super Bowl.
“He had the high score for the day,” quarterback Andy Dalton said. “I wasn’t expecting that going in. He’s a really good bowler. He had nice form and a nice spin on the ball. He looked good out there. Looked like he’d done it before.”
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