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Bengals wrap offseason program, break until camp

By Jay Morrison - Staff Writer

The Cincinnati Bengals wrapped their offseason program Thursday with their final minicamp practice at Paul Brown Stadium, and head coach Marvin Lewis said he was pleased — and relieved — by what the team was able to accomplish … and avoid.

“I really feel good about what we’ve been able to get done,” Lewis said. “I think we got through the revisions we’ve made with personnel and philosophies and schemes and concepts of the things.

“Hopefully we’ve got the young guys in position where … they can go out there and really show their abilities and play football,” he continued. “They deserve an opportunity to stay here in the NFL and they’re going to make us better and they’re going to help us as a football team.”

Asked what pleased him most about the 10-week program that began in mid-April and concluded with this week’s three-day mandatory minicamp, Lewis laughed and said, “No broken bones.”

“We’ve improved with personnel, and we’ve been fortunate not to have a longer-term injury,” Lewis added. “We’ve had some soft-tissue injuries and so forth, but not to have a longer-term injury so far is real fortunate. We just have to keep trying to aim to get through the practices we have coming up in July and August the same way.”

A handful of players, including starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth, running back Bernard Scott and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, the team’s 2012 first-round pick, spent the last 10 weeks rehabbing injuries. And starting right tackle Andre Smith was a no-show for what Lewis described as “personal reasons.”

But all 89 players currently on the roster should be present and full go for practice when training camp opens near the end of July.

“The players have to continue on somewhat of a regimen,” Lewis said. “We’ve given them what we feel are recommendations that will be good between now and when they come back together with us.

“They’re at a great level of conditioning and work,” he continued. “They’re used to the work load right now. We have camp in a very hot, humid area, like it was (Wednesday), and so our guys have to keep that in their mind so that when they come back here they’re able to withstand the heat and the humidity that we deal with day-in and day-out.”

With the players wasting no time gathering their personal effects and scattering to parts across the country for a six-week break, Lewis said he hopes they enjoy their break but heed his advice.

“Stay away from the knuckleheads,” Lewis warned. “Know your surroundings and stay away from people you don’t quite know and don’t have your best interests at heart. That goes every day. It’s just the way it is. Guys have targets on them. Unfortunately wherever they go people know who they are, and you’re not going to win a confrontation. However wrong the other side of the confrontation is, you’re going to have a hard time coming out of it looking good.”

The team has yet to announce an official start date for training camp, which will be held down at the stadium and the practice field across the street for the second year in a row. Based on the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011, the earliest the Bengals can hold their first camp practice will be July 25.

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