Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Bengals' impact players

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Bengals opened the season with 24 new players on their roster. These, at least literally, are not the same old Bengals.

Here are players, both newcomers and holdovers, who've emerged early in the season:

Rich Braham, center: Re-signed to be a backup interior lineman, he has started the past four games and helped to stabilize the offense. Coach Marvin Lewis might have heard about Braham's toughness, but is now witnessing it.

Tory James, cornerback: The former Raider has come in and added confidence to the secondary. He has thrived in coordinator Leslie Frazier's defense and helped to elevate the play of all defensive backs.

Jeremi Johnson, fullback: He beat out two players to earn the starting job as a rookie. He has handled a demanding position both physically and mentally. Before a fullback can block for the run, he has to know whom to block.

Reggie Myles, special teams: True to his word, Lewis shaped his roster with special teams specialists. The second-year cornerback has been the most aggressive cover man on kick coverage.

Adrian Ross, linebacker: He's smart and a player with a history of overcoming long odds. He was a walk-on at Colorado State and a rookie free agent. He earned the starting job in camp. He dropped weight and added speed and was hoping just to stick on special teams.

Peter Warrick, wide receiver: He, too, worked hard in the offseason, dropping weight and body fat. He has rediscovered the confidence he had at Florida State, and the fun is now just beginning when he catches the ball on passes and punts.

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