The Cincinnati Bengals wrapped up three weeks of on-field training activities with a couple of team-bonding field trips that took them next door to Great American Ball Park for batting practice Wednesday followed by a visit to the Super Bowl – an Erlanger, Ky., bowling house – on Thursday.
“It’s a nice little release from being serious and getting at football all the time,” said Bengals linebacker J.K. Schaffer, the de facto OTA MVP after launching a home run into the left field seats and helping linebacker James Harrison’s bowling team win the championship.
Harrison, who knows a little something about walking away a winner from a Super Bowl, won the “best bowler” trophy with a high game of 190. And he wasted little time sending a photo of himself with the prize to his 285,000 Twitter followers.
“He’s a really good bowler,” quarterback Andy Dalton said of Harrison. “He had nice form and a nice spin on the ball. He looked good out there. Looked like he’d done it before.”
The team getaways are something head coach Marvin Lewis likes to do as a reward for the work put in during the voluntary workouts. Last year the team played volleyball.
“Just an opportunity for guys to have a good time,” Lewis said. “It was good for them to do things like that. They were competitive and had a draft. There were stipulations as far as what guys they could put on their team, guys that were the team captains.”
Dalton was one of the captains, but he said his first-round pick, Tyler Eifert, was unable to bowl because he was sick.
The illness isn’t expected to keep Eifert out of next week’s minicamp, which runs Tuesday through Thursday, and Lewis said offensive tackle Andre Smith, who missed the entire three weeks of OTAs, is expected to be there as well.
In addition to Schaffer, Harrison’s winning bowling team consisted of Giovani Bernard, Cobi Hamilton, Kevin Huber, Josh Johnson, Aaron Maybin, Jayson DiManche, Dennis Roland and linebackers coach Paul Guenther.
Each member of the winning team brought back a neon green bowling pin as a prize, and all of them made sure to display them prominently in their lockers.
“It was good,” Bengals center Kyle Cook said. “It gives guys an opportunity to hang out. There’s not a lot of times … for instance we had guys on our team from the defense and you’re sitting around bowling and have a chance to talk. You don’t get a lot of chances to do that because we’re in meetings or position drills and you’re not around those guys.”
As for the actual football work during OTAs, Lewis said he was pleased.
“Nine opportunities to be on the field,” he said. “I think we’ve been able to get through revisions on offense and defense and special teams and be able to put the new players in position — the guys who are veteran new players and obviously the rookies. I think it’s been a good three weeks.”