...Because without it, I don't know that I could handle the end of summertime. Not that you would ever imagine it would be cooling down anytime soon, considering the heat wave here in the Midwest. This is not good news for the Bengals, with training out in the heat every day, but I keep reading quotes from players saying how it's "not that bad." How that is possible, I have know idea. I have condensation dripping off my dude-parts after the 30 second walk to my car after work every day. Of course I'm not a finely tuned athlete (just close). The good news though, is that tonight's first pre-season game is taking place in the climate-controlled confines of Ford Field in Detroit.
Personally, I'm excited for the game tonight, just because it's football and at least these players I've never heard of will be wearing Bengals uniforms. Of course, it's hard not to be excited (or at least optimistic) with the journalism at this stage in the season. Every veteran had a renewed motivation. Every rookie is mature beyond his years. Every injury will be totally healed. These things all set my heart atwitter, but after I snapped out of my daydream, I got to thinking: what didn't go so well this off season? Surely there are some things to worry about. And, as a matter of fact I came up with a few.
The Perpetual Lack of Tight Ends. How can you have one position that is so woefully thin, and not address it, ever? Not that it's easy to find a serviceable TE, but one would think the management would at least go looking. I mean, doesn't a TE have to start the game and play at least three quarters of the offensive snaps? At this point I'm beginning to believe that the Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown are in denial that the position even exists. By the way, since you didn't ask, here's the last few tight ends drafted by the Bengals: Tony McGee (1993, Michigan. Always supposed to be a Tony Gonzalez type player, until everybody realized he was, well, not.), Marco Battaglia (1996, Rutgers. I can't believe they wasted a second round pick on this stiff. Mel Kipers' hair must have been incensed.), Sean Brewer (San Jose State, 2001. I can honestly say I have no recollection of this dude.), and Matt Schobel (TCU, 2002. A pretty good left tackle, for a tight end.)
The Depleted Offensive Line. At this point, I don't expect Willie Anderson to do much before week one, I really don't. But, he's getting old and has been hampered by injuries in the past. Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion this Levi Jones ankle injury is going to cause him to miss at least some time this season. Plus, with the exit of Eric Steinbach to Cleveland (I knew it was you, Fredo.) the O-Line seems tenuously balanced between "strength" and "abomination." I might just start crossing my fingers.
A Buttload of Linebacker Questions. I don't really know where I come down on the whole 'backer situation. Landon Johnson is a dependable veteran now and has snagged the WLB spot. He's not physically imposing, but he's smart (Purdue educated, obviously) and everybody seems to have confidence in his having a big season. The other recurring story is that of Ahmad Brooks who the Bengals nabbed in the supplemental draft last season. They're saying he's staked himself to the MLB position, which is great, but he has yet to prove his mettle or show any consistency during an actual NFL season. Then, there's the SLB position where it appears to be (CFL veteran) Rashad Jeanty's job to lose. Jeanty had a fine season last year, but something tells me I'd be much more confident if David Pollack (possible career ending neck injury) and Odell Thurman (severe case of being a fucking idiot) were in the lineup.
So, there's what I'm worried about. What did I leave out? Now, don't start railing on me for being a pessimist and all that, because I'm pumped, fucking pumped, to see the season get started. I'm just tired of happy fun rainbow journalism.
(By the way: Woohoo! Football is back!)