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Bengals D picks off three passes in practice

Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 5:52 PM

            Bengals’ George Iloka catches a pass during organized team activities Tuesday, May 22 at the practice facility near Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Bengals’ George Iloka catches a pass during organized team activities Tuesday, May 22 at the practice facility near Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

It’s just practice — and one in shorts sans pads at that — but a Cincinnati Bengals defense that has struggled forcing turnovers the last two years will take them when they can get them.

And Wednesday they got a lot of them with three interceptions, which had to please new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

“It’s plus and minus for me,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis joked.

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All three interceptions came in the final 20 minutes of the practice.The first was a leaping snag by George Iloka on an overthrow by Andy Dalton intended for Brandon LaFell.

“I thought the play Iloka made was a nice football play,” Lewis said. “That was good to see, for (Austin), for George. A good confidence play for him. It’s probably the best catch I’ve seen him make here on an NFL field. That was an impressive play for him today.”

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Backup quarterback Matt Barkley threw the other two picks, the first of which came when he threw to the sideline off his back foot and cornerback Sojourn Shelton jumped in front of Ka’Raun White.

Barkley’s second pick came during a red-zone drill when his pass intended for rookie receiver Auden Tate went right to cornerback Darqueze Dennard for what would have been a pick 6. Defensive end Carl Lawson had what would have been a sack of Barkley on the next play.

Other notable plays came from rookie defensive end Sam Hubbard, who jumped and batted down a Barkley screen pass. Hubbard also ran stride for stride with running back Joe Mixon on a wheel route, although he probably should have been called for pass interference when he ran over him as the ball arrived.

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Linebacker Vontaze Burfict ran with receiver John Ross across the middle got a pass breakup, while Lawson and defensive tackle Andrew Billings each blew up running plays with what would have been tackles for loss if it were a contact drill.

Offensively, Tate was one of the standouts with a couple of highlight reel touchdown catches. The first was a leaping snag of a ball that seemed beyond him, with Tate contorting his body get both feet down. The second was a corner route in which get the second foot down with a toe tap according to one of the officials working the practice.

“He did a lot of that at Florida State,” Lewis said of the 6-foot-5 Tate. “We did a little red-zone drill today, so that’s good. Now it’s 2 on 2, so one of them is going to get the ball. But yeah, he has made some nice, physical plays.”

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A.J. Green made his requisite “wow” catch on a ball thrown behind him by Dalton, and tight end C.J. Uzomah made an athletic snag along the sideline in a two-minute drill.

Tight end Cethan Carter caught a contested pass from Barkley deep down the seam, and LaFell did the same on a pass from Dalton against Dennard.

Among the oddest plays was when an official flagged the second-team offense for illegal substitution.

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Cincinnati Bengals: Rookie Billy Price gets news he’s been waiting for

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 11:40 AM

Billy Price is eager to see what the rest of the Bengals rookie class is all about on the field this summer

Minutes after the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Billy Price in the first round with the 21st overall pick, the former Ohio center said he expected to be fully cleared by the start of training camp.

Today, Price announced on Twitter he got the news he had been waiting for, writing “Fully cleared for football again” with the emjoi of two hands raised in the air.

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Price injured his pectoral while bench pressing at the Combine.

›› 5 takeaways from Bengals minicamp

He was on the field for rookie camp, OTAs and minicamp, although his participation was limited to position drills and install. Price said last week at the start of minicamp he had been fully cleared for weight room activity. He said he benched 305 pounds — 80 more than the weight that was on the bar when he suffered the injury — and looking forward to today’s appointment because he expected to receive full clearance.

Price will go into training camp, which begins July 26, as the projected starter at center after Russell Bodine, who started all 64 games the last four seasons, signed as a free agent with Buffalo in March.

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Is Joey Votto a Hall of Famer? What the stats say through 1,500 games

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 9:19 AM

Who is Joey Votto: Ten facts about Reds first baseman

Joey Votto played in his 1,500th career game for the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. He went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in an 8-6 victory at PNC Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Before the game, the Reds shared the numbers on how Votto compares to Hall of Fame first basemen from the last 50 years, including Jim Thome, who will be inducted this summer.

» DRAGONS: Dayton ends first half with loss

Here’s how Votto, at age 34, in his 12th season, stacks up against 12 of the greats through the first 1,500 games of their careers. In short, he compares well — especially in on-base percentage and walks, as you might expect.

Batting average: Rod Carew (.335); Frank Thomas (.321); Johnny Mize (.320); Joey Votto (.313); Jeff Bagwell (.305); Orlando Cepeda (.305); Eddie Murray (.299); George Kelly (.297); Jim Thome (.285); Tony Perez (.284); Ernie Banks (.283); Willie McCovey (.282); Harmon Killebrew (.262);

On-base percentage: Thomas (.441); Votto (.428); Bagwell (.418); Thome (.411); Mize (.406); Carew (.392); McCovey (.385); Killebrew (.375); Murray (.375); Cepeda (.355); Perez (.347); Banks (.344); Kelly (.343); 

Slugging percentage: Mize (.580); Thomas (.580); Thome (.566); McCovey (.555); Bagwell (.553); Banks (.536); Votto (.536); Killebrew (.532); Cepeda (.517); Murray (.505); Perez (.484); Kelly (.455); Carew (.450);

Home runs: Killebrew (392); Thome (368); Ernie Banks (353); McCovey (347); Thomas (339); Bagwell (316); Mize (315); Cepeda (279); Murray (275); Votto (263); Perez (246); Kelly (137); Rod Carew (71).

Hits: Rod Carew (1,924); Mize (1,776); Thomas (1,721); Cepeda (1,714); Murray (1,680); Votto (1,662); Bagwell (1,657); Kelly (1,650); Banks (1,618); Perez (1,550); Thome (1,451); McCovey (1,375); Killebrew (1,354); 

Walks: Thomas (1,172); Bagwell (1,012); Votto (1,046); Killebrew (919); McCovey (788); Mize (757); Murray (709); Carew (542); Perez (532); Banks (521); Cepeda (388); Kelly (358); Thome (108).

2018 Cincinnati Reds: 10 things to know(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

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Year-by-year look at Bengals ranked in NFL Network’s Top 100

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 12:06 PM

            Bengals’ wide receiver A.J. Green catches a pass during organized team activities Tuesday, May 22 at the practice facility near Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Bengals’ wide receiver A.J. Green catches a pass during organized team activities Tuesday, May 22 at the practice facility near Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The NFL Network will continue its countdown of the Top 100 players at 8 p.m. tonight, but the Cincinnati Bengals are not expected to have anyone else ranked.

Defensive tackle Geno Atkins came in at No. 63, and wide receiver A.J. Green was No. 22.

›› Bengals rookie gets news he’s been waiting for

This marks the third year in a row and fifth in the last six the Bengals have had at least two players ranked in the Top 100.

They had seven players ranked in 2016 after winning the AFC North in 2015. That was the most since the NFL Network began the countdown in 2011.

›› 5 takeaways from Bengals offseason program

Green has been ranked seven years in a row, while Atkins has been included three consecutive years and five of six.

Here’s a year-by-year look at Bengals appearing in the Top 100.


17. Green

68. Atkins

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16. Green

29. Atkins

35. Andy Dalton

44. Tyler Eifert

60. Reggie Nelson (signed with Oakland that offseason)

67. Andrew Whitworth

7o. Vontaze Burfict

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37. Green


9. Green

48. Atkins

›› Bengals want Mixon to be complete back; he says he already is


16. Green

36. Atkins


77. Green

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91. Terrell Owens

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Alter’s Connor Bazelak, top QB in Ohio, announces his college decision

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 9:27 AM


Ohio’s top quarterback for 2019 is off the board. 

Alter quarterback Connor Bazelak announced Sunday he has decided to continue his football career at Missouri. 

“I want to thank all the coaches that recruited me and gave me an opportunity to play at the next level,” he tweeted. “Also to everyone in my life that has made me a better person and quarterback. 

“With that being said, I am excited to announce my commitment to the University of Missouri!” 


The No. 22 player in Ohio in the 247Sports Composite rankings, he has a last name that should be familiar to area sports fans. 

While his father, Lenny, is a member of the Xenia High School Athletics Hall of Fame after starring in three sports for the Buccaneers and playing college basketball at Dartmouth, older sisters Maddie and Libby were Alter basketball stars. Libby plays basketball at Duquesne, where Maddie is a member of the volleyball team. 

Now Connor is the No. 1 pro-style quarterback prospect in Ohio and No. 20 in the nation. 

The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder threw for 1,097 yards and ran for 146 last season for the Knights, who went 9-2 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. 

Bazelak threw only 134 passes in 11 games as a junior, but that did not prevent him from putting together an impressive offer list. 

“I think obviously some coaches see it as a negative, but most of the coaches that recruited me kind of see it as a positive because I have so much potential that hasn’t really come out. I’ve got a lot of arm left in me,” Bazelak said. “The offense we run at Alter makes me think a lot, reading defenses. Also coaches didn’t really care about the stats. They just saw my talent, saw my arm motion, everything I do as a quarterback, and kind of just fell in love with it.”

Bazelak told Cox Media Group Ohio he had narrowed his primary list to the Tigers, Duke and North Carolina after visiting those schools in June. 

He was also still considering Georgia, Purdue, North Carolina State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. 

“I went down to Missouri for an official visit last weekend, and coming out of it it just felt like home,” Bazelak said. “It felt right. I felt comfortable there, so I just kind of went with my gut feeling, went with my heart.” 

RELATED: The top 10 college prospects in the Dayton area this year

Bazelak had interest from Ohio State, but an offer from Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes never came. 

He threw for OSU offensive coordinators Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day on two occasions and maintained regular contact with Day, who is the team’s quarterbacks coach. 

“I think after the second time (Day) saw me throw we kind of talked and he said they were waiting on some other guys that might be higher than me on their list,” Bazelak said. “He kind of told me don’t wait around for them. 

“Obviously Ohio State would have been a big offer, but I don’t think it would have changed anything because I still think I’m committed to the right place with Missouri. I think that’s best for me.” 

Missouri has long been a pass-happy spread offense, but Bazelak said he expects new offensive coordinator Derek Dooley to introduce more pro-style elements to the scheme in his first year in Columbia, where star quarterback Drew Lock is returning for his senior season. 

“I would say they’re pro style definitely but they’ll still throw the ball around a lot,” Bazelak said. “Obviously their quarterback is one of the best in the country so they should have a good year next year, too.” 

Of course, Bazelak has his own business to attend to between now and then. 

After his junior season began with a loss to rival Fairmont and ended with a loss to rival Chaminade Julienne, the Knights have some payback in mind for this fall. 

Highlights of the Eagles 49-28 win over the Knights

“We’ve got a bunch of seniors coming back and we’ve been working hard this season on the weight room and on the field, and I know we’re getting ready for some redemption,” Bazelak said. “We want to make a run to the playoffs and hopefully win the state.” 

Bazelak is not the only major-college prospect on the Alter roster. 

Running back John Bivens is the No. 10 prospect in the state and remains uncommitted heading into summer. 

The three-star prospect’s offers include Nebraska, Louisville, Kentucky, Cincinnati and Indiana. 

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