Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton said he is excited about the possibilities presented by using a two-tight end system with Pro Bowler Jermaine Gresham and first-round pick Tyler Eifert, and he’s not alone.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who saw firsthand how effective the system can be during his days in New England, said the addition of Eifert should open things for the running game as well as the passing attack.
“In the first quarter, we had to see how teams were playing us; like, would they play us in nickel personnel to put a DB on (Aaron) Hernandez, or would they leave a linebacker in there,” Green-Ellis said. “It gives you options from an offensive coordinator standpoint. You could either go back and say, ‘Well, if they are going to play us in nickel personnel with both tight ends, we will run the ball.’
“They play us with big people personnel, we’ll just put one of the receiving tight ends out and have them run routes. It gives you a lot of different options from that standpoint.”
The Bengals used plenty of two-tight sets last year, but Orson Charles was not the pass receiving threat Eifert is expected to be, catching just eight passes all season.
In 2011, the Patriots saw Rob Gronkowski catch 90 passes for 1,327 yards while Aaron Hernandez had 79 receptions for 910 yards.
“You look at that year and a lot of people don’t realize that Tom (Brady) had his best statistical season in history,” Green-Ellis said. “We threw the ball numerous times. We ran the ball three to five times a game. Of course, that’s not what you want to do when you’re a running back. But we were winning games. We killed people.
“It was a shock to the league that year,” he continued. “It can actually be a great thing when you have two guys who can catch the ball. It takes a lot of pressure off what you can do because you had to prepare for all those guys.”
Rey’s say: Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga said he is encouraged by the votes of confidence he received when the Bengals re-signed him to a two-year contract last month, and again last weekend when the team did not draft a middle linebacker.
“I’m relieved, but at the same time I’ve got to make sure that I can still do it,” he said. “Although they signed me back, it’s still early on. I’ve still got to go out in OTAs and show our coaches that I’m better than I was last year, better than my previous four years here.
“I had a lot to think about this offseason. I understand what I need to work on. I understand what my role is coming in. I just want to make sure, that since I’ve been given this second chance, to work on the things that need work and try to make sure I’m a better person than I was last year.”
Peko praise: The Bengals have been lauded for their drafts the last few years, and their ability to find later-round gems is a big reason.
Among the major contributors drafted in the fourth round or later are defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Domata Peko, wide receiver Marvin Jones, defensive end Robert Geathers and guard Clint Boling.
“It must be our scouting department,” Peko said. “There are some quality players there. It seems like the Bengals have been doing their homework upstairs and finding guys in the late rounds.
“But once you get to this league, when you line up on Sundays, we don’t say, ‘Were you a first-rounder or a third-rounder?’ ” he continued. “No one really cares about that once you put your hand in the dirt. It’s all about what have you done now and what are you going to do for our team.”