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Published: Monday, February 05, 2018 @ 4:34 PM
— Here are four words no football fan wants to hear (or read): “Welcome to the offseason.”
On the one hand, it’s nice for every every team that didn’t win the Super Bowl to get a chance to hit the rest button.
Then again… there won’t be another NFL game for about six months.
To navigate that period of time, here’s a rundown of the key points on the league calendar with some notes about how the Bengals can use them to beat the early odds and become competitors again.
Teams can designate “franchise” and “transition” players.
The best of the Bengals’ free-agents-to-be is probably punter Kevin Huber. He could get tagged or sign a long-term contract.
None of the Bengals’ other pending unrestricted free agents look like high-priority players, though some could have some value if retained — especially at the right price. That group includes Tyler Eifert, Andre Smith, Chris Smith and maybe Russell Bodine.
Feb. 27-March 5
The NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
This is a chance for all of the teams in the league to get a closer look at some of the best prospects coming out of college.
The Bengals will no doubt be looking for linemen, preferably a couple who can help sooner than later on the offense. They could also use a play-making safety, another linebacker and probably a pass-catching tight end. Plus, can any team ever have enough pass rushers? (Nope)
Deadline to tag players (see above).
The backup quarterback is set to be a restricted free agent, but he could be declared an unrestricted free agent if an arbitrator declares he accrued enough service time during his first year out of college.
Teams can negotiate with free agents but not sign them yet.
Marvin Lewis said in his first press conference after it was announced he will be back as head coach the team could try to figure out where the draft class is lacking and be more aggressive in finding free agents who can fill needs. (That was something they failed to do in regards to the offensive line last year.)
Among the free agents who could fit needs for the Bengals are offensive linemen Andrew Norwell, a Cincinnati native who played at Ohio State, and Nate Solder.
There’s also an intriguing group of defensive backs including Lamarcus Joyner, Morgan Burnett, Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid.
Perhaps Ezekiel Ansah, a pass rusher who is familiar with new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin?
League year begins, meaning trades are allowed and free agents can sign.
Teams that did not hire new head coaches may begin offseason workouts.
Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
Deadline for teams to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.
NFL draft in Arlington, Texas
The Bengals have the 12th pick in the first round. They should have a great opportunity to pick a talented offensive lineman or a playmaker on defense, and the glut of quarterbacks potentially going in the top 10 might help them get just the guy they want.Follow @marcushartman
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 7:21 PM
URBANA — Calvin Dibert didn't have to think long when he was asked if this was the most important start of his Kenton Ridge baseball career. Of course, it was. He's only a sophomore. This was a sectional final.
"It was a little nerve-wracking," Dibert said, "but once I got through the first inning, I was fine after that."
» PHOTOS: Kenton Ridge vs. Ben Logan
Dibert gave up a run in the first inning and one in the seventh inning. In between, the top-seeded Cougars scored three runs in the second inning and then nine in the third to beat No. 2 seed Benjamin Logan 9-2, advancing to a Division II district championship.
Dibert struck out eight batters. He improved to 8-0, and the Cougars improved to 19-5. The key to his performance, Dibert said, "was just letting my defense work. Just throwing strikes the whole game."
» SOFTBALL: Cougars beat Northwestern in sectional final
Kenton Ridge coach Aaron Shaffer praised Dibert's maturity.
"He doesn't show his age up there," Shaffer said. "He looks like a seasoned veteran. He doesn't get rattled in any situation."
Kenton Ridge has scored six runs in the third and is still batting with a 9-1 lead against Benjamin Logan. pic.twitter.com/f0RSkrWxPb— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) May 17, 2018
Kenton Ridge, which won its second sectional title in a row after a five-year drought, will play Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy or Bishop Fenwick in the next round at 11 a.m. Saturday at Miamisburg High School. Those teams play at 5 p.m. Friday in Lebanon after their game was rained out Thursday.
» TRACK: Photos from D-I meet at Wayne
Senior Drew Wichael (3-1, 3.54 ERA) will get the start for Kenton Ridge in the district final. The Cougars seek their first regional semifinal berth since they reached the state semifinals in 2008, Shaffer's first season. They lost in the district final in 2009 (8-2 to Franklin), 2010 (13-4 to Franklin), 2011 (9-4 to Cincinnati McNicholas) and 2017 (10-8 to Waynesville).
"We're due to get over the hump," Shaffer said.
A victory would give Dibert a chance to start an even bigger game next week. He looked ready for the opportunity against Benjamin Logan.
"He was efficient today," Shaffer said. "I think he only pitched to more than four batters one time, and that was in the last inning. It was four or less every inning. He was around the plate. We played good defense. That's what we've done all year. When we've been good, our guys pound the zone, and we play good defense."
Kenton Ridge's offense did its part as well. Jordan Ward, Jaxon Wright and Quinton Roach drove in runs in the second inning.
» FOOTBALL: Area coaches talk about concussions
An inning later, a single by Bailey Armentrout started a six-run rally. A single by Zach Schneider brought in the first run. Matt Tateman walked with the bases loaded to bring in the second run. A single by Ward scored two runs. A single by Roach scored the final two runs.
Kenton Ridge did all that without recording an out.
Kenton Ridge vs. Ben Logan in D-II sectional final at Urbana. pic.twitter.com/FPGVLuBoOM— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) May 17, 2018
Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 3:09 PM
DAYTON — Former Dayton Flyers forward Kostas Antetokounmpo, seeking to become the first UD player drafted since Negele Knight in 1990, worked out for NBA scouts Thursday on the first day of the NBA Combine in Chicago.
» RELATED: Antetokounmpo works out for Raptors
Antetokounmpo, one of 69 players invited to the combine and the only one from the Atlantic 10 Conference, measured 6-foot-9 without shoes. He was the fifth-tallest player of the forwards. He was 6-10½ with shoes. His standing reach of 9-2 was the best of the forwards.
Here at the NBA Draft Combine, Kostas Antetokounmpo says he “had it in my mind” at the beginning of the 2017-18 season to enter the draft.— Robbie Weinstein (@robsw4) May 17, 2018
The NBA released numerous other data points on each of the players. Antetokounmpo weighed 194.8 points. His wingspan was 7-2¼, which ranked 13th among the 69 players.
Antetokounmpo played 20 minutes in a game with other prospects Thursday. He had two points on 1-of-3 shooting, four rebounds and two blocks.
In an interview posted to NBA.com, Antetokounmpo said the NBA coaches “showed me film on myself and helped me see my mistakes and stuff I do good on the court.”
Asked what part of his game will translate to the NBA right now, Antetokounmpo said, “I feel my shot-blocking ability and the way I run the floor.”
In an interview on ESPN, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks star who’s the older brother of Kostas, said he worked with Kostas in Phoenix this spring. Giannis is also at the combine.
» FORMER FLYERS: Three UD basketball alums teaming up again
One mock draft by ESPN had Kostas being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round with the 56th overall pick.
“He’s just got to work hard every day,” Giannis said. “When I was his age, I paid attention to detail. You can never be satisfied. You always have chapters in your life. This is a big chapter in his life. No matter what happens today, no matter what happens tomorrow or no matter what happens in the draft, he’s got to come out the better player. That’s the most important thing: be a better player every day. Kostas can be really good. He’s got to work on a lot of things. He’s got to work on his game. He can get a lot better. But with the right fit, the right team, he can do great things in the NBA.”
Here's one minute of Kostas Antetokounmpo answering questions in Greek pic.twitter.com/vadnIQyqHL— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) May 17, 2018
Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 4:12 PM
— The Sinclair Community College baseball team is one win away from the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II World Series.
The Tartan Pride (beat Cuyahoga Community College 10-3 on Friday to reach the finals of the Region 12 tournament in Sandusky.
»ARCHDEACON: Sinclair baseball one of nation’s best
Sinclair, which won its 31st straight game, will face the winner of this afternoon’s Cuyahoga-Kellogg winner at 9 a.m. Saturday in the championship game. Kellogg or Cuyahoga would have to beat Sinclair twice in the double-elimination tournament.
Sinclair takes Cuyahoga in a 10-3 win!! The boys are in the finals! You guys are awesome! Catch the recap with @CoachDintz41 giving us the insight on the game today and what’s next for our boys! Roll Pride!! pic.twitter.com/9hhKll8nxa— Sinclair College (@SinclairCC) May 18, 2018
On Friday, Colin Shepherd went 4-for-6 with three RBIs and scored two runs to pace Sinclair (43-8). Brandon Henson added a double, triple and three RBIs. Luke Williamson was the winning pitcher.
Published: Saturday, May 19, 2018 @ 7:15 PM
DAYTON — The Dayton Flyers offered a scholarship to Franck Kepnang, a 6-foot-10 center in the class of 2021, according to a report by Andrew Slater.
Kepnang plays for The MacDuffie School in Granby, Mass. He also has offers from La Salle, Virginia Commonwealth and Fordham, according to VerbalCommits.com. Kepnang is a native of Cameroon, according to the New England Recruiting Report.
» RELATED: Antetokounmpo competes at NBA Draft Combine