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‘Oklahoma drill’ brings competitiveness, cheating out of Bengals

For the first day in full pads, the Cincinnati Bengals staged the popular Oklahoma drill, which ended with a marquee matchup and a little bit of controversy.

All-Pro tight end Jermaine Gresham squared off against All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins, and Gresham appeared to win the battle — thanks to what Atkins claimed was a false start, something head coach Marvin Lewis confirmed afterward.

“He cheated,” a laughing Lewis said of Gresham. “He tried to cheat, I should say. He got caught.”

Asked for his take on what happened, Gresham said, “No comment. I plead the fifth. Well, I will say this: How can you cheat in the Oklahoma drill?”

The drill, which features an offensive blocker matched against a defensive player while a running back tries to get through a narrow alley, combined with another gorgeous weather day, brought a capacity crowd to the Paul Brown Stadium practice field.

“It was a great atmosphere,” Lewis said. “(The Oklahoma drill) is a hard thing to evaluate. It’s the essence of football, but not played as much that way. It is good. Some guys really show that they will put their face in that way.”

One of those guys was second-year tight end Orson Charles, who came out on top of all three of his matchups against linebackers Rey Maualuga, Vincent Rey and J.K. Schaffer to help give the offense a 22 to 13 edge with 11 draws.

“It was definitely a statement day today for all of us,” Charles said. “A couple of plays yesterday (Saturday), guys were coming in and hitting (rookie running back Giovani) Bernard late, and (running backs coach Hue Jackson) was like, ‘Look, better bring your pads, bring your A-game, get some Tylenol, pump your helmet, do whatever you got to do, but we got to make a statement tomorrow.’ ”

Also impressive in his first action after starting training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list with a fractured finger was undrafted rookie wide receiver Tyrone Goard, who won both of his matchups — one of which came on a pancake block of cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

“I’m a physical receiver and I love contact,” Goard said. “It was good to catch the coaches’ eye and prove I’m not scared of contact.”

The only other players with multiple wins were rookie offensive tackle Reid Fragel and Gresham, tainted as his last one was.

The most impressive stops belonged to rookie defensive end Margus Hunt, against offensive tackle Dennis Roland, and rookie safety Shawn Williams, against rookie wide receiver Roy Roundtree.

Williams also claimed victory against wide receiver Marvin Jones, although that one looked more like a draw.

“They put me up against receivers,” Williams said. “I’m used to at Georgia going up against tight ends and fullbacks. So it was kind of easy.”

Practice resumes today from 3-5 p.m. before the first off day of camp Tuesday. Another 3-5 p.m. practice will be held Wednesday, and the team will stage its first Family Night practice from 6-8 Thursday inside Paul Brown Stadium.

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