Saturday, May 3, 2003

Dillon's presence brings positive vibes

Bengals' new atmosphere has him enthused

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The spotlight shines brightest on Corey Dillon of all Bengals players.


Photos of Friday's practice
His all-star status is why Dillon's absence from last month's minicamp - he was the only player under contract to miss the voluntary practices - was a national story.

Dillon was in camp Friday for the start of the year's second voluntary minicamp.

On the field, the seventh-year pro looked to be in midseason form, moving deftly through traffic as a ball carrier and putting a drop-dead move on middle linebacker Kevin Hardy as a pass receiver, leading to a touchdown.

Off the field, Dillon proved to be just as graceful.

Speaking to newspaper reporters for the first time since October, Dillon explained his absence and expressed support for coach Marvin Lewis.

"It was just miscommunication that me and Marvin discussed," Dillon said as Lewis watched and listened from the back of the interview room.

"On my part, I should have communicated a little bit better, but I was just spending time with my family. I told him kind of late and kind of left him hanging ... I take full responsibility for doing that. But in the future, we will handle it in the proper way.

"It was a mishap on my part. I didn't mean for it to turn into a big situation. It was small. It was minor. But it turned into something major."

Asked for his thoughts on playing for Lewis, Dillon said, "Great coach, my man."

Lewis, leaning against a wall, said, "I should leave."

"He's right there," Dillon said. "That's my guy."

Dillon, a three-time Pro Bowl player, never has been entirely comfortable with the glare of stardom.

"I'm not really concerned about it," he said of his high profile. "I'm going to continue to just to be me and try to do things the right way. I take the good with the bad, so that's how I approach it."

Dillon, who rushed for 7,520 yards in six seasons, said he is more enthused about the team's prospects for success than at any time in his career. The Bengals have won just 26 of 96 games since Dillon was drafted in the second round in 1997.

"Everything from head to toe," he said of what impresses him about Lewis' regime. "He's just doing a great job. From draft picks, to the (remodeled) weight room, just the way the atmosphere around here is very different. I've been here for six years, going on seven. It's a big difference."

Dillon said his presence at camp was important.

Lewis agreed.

"Obviously, Corey is one of our best players, so him being here and his presence here is a good thing for our football team," Lewis said.

"He's got to begin to kind of put himself in the offense again and get around his teammates and get moving forward. He's a good player and a good positive influence, he can help some of the younger players."

Dillon has spent most of the offseason in Los Angeles with his family. The team's first draft pick this year, quarterback Carson Palmer, is an Orange County resident.

Dillon and Palmer had spoken prior to minicamp.

"He can help Carson. He's had a good conversation with Carson prior to getting here," Lewis said of Dillon.

Starting quarterback Jon Kitna said no player questioned Dillon or his reasons for missing the first minicamp.

"He has been ready every year at the start of the year. He never gets hurt," Kitna said. "You know what you're going to get out him.

""Did we say, 'Corey's not here?' Yeah. Does it mean we feel like he's turning his back on the team? Not at all."

Dillon repeated his ultimate goal.

"The number one objective on my list is just winning the Super Bowl," he said. "That's what I'm shooting for. There's nothing I wouldn't do to get there. That's why I'm here. I'm here working hard just trying to reach my dreams."



Dillon's presence brings positive vibes
Arrest made in Weathersby shooting
Palmer's first day: 'I'm thinking we're awesome'

Swarm put out Fire
Manning-Vanderjagt: 'Dead issue'
Alabama's Price awaits decision on job status

Reds 5, Giants 1
Larkin to return some other day
Demotion raises Larson's offense
Reds notebook: Reitsma to miss next start
Buffalo 5, Louisville 3

NL: Smoltz stumbles, Braves bounce back
AL: Cameron comes up big again in Chicago
Notes from Friday's Games
In minors, promotion is name of the game
World Series home-field plan won't affect Baker
Radke, Bierbrodt draw suspensions

Derby packed with drama
Frankel has inside track on Hollywood ending
Horse boasts history of a different tune
Kentucky Oaks: Tears fall freely for Zito
Empire Maker is the complete package
Racing finds niche in least likely place

Familiar faces are missing from Pig

8th-grade phenom packs 'em in at NCH
St. Dominic girls show all the rest how to take it to the hoop
Friday's Results
Today's Games

Eustachy violated NCAA's extra-benefits rule
Eustachy saga becoming PR chess match
Coaches split on possible Eustachy firing
Detroit survives to force Game 7
Duncan wins second straight MVP
Stockton says he'll retire

Upstart Mighty Ducks looking to clinch series
ECHL: Cyclones even series

Crash leaves Nadeau in critical condition
NASCAR fans, drivers love Richmond 400

Verplank vaults to lead after 63
Nicklaus' family around for weekend

As the sports world turns...

This weekend's sports on TV, radio

Return to Bengals front page...