When the line of questioning turns to injuries, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is usually vague or outright dismissive.
But Tuesday during his minicamp press conference at Paul Brown Stadium, Lewis spoke openly, and glowingly, about cornerback Leon Hall’s recovery from the right Achilles injury that ended his season Oct. 20 in Detroit.
“Leon has had again an amazing recovery thus far and hopefully continues with that pace,” Lewis said.
Hall has proved he can handle the rigors of rehab and that he’s a quick healer. When he tore his left Achilles in December 2011, Hall was back in time for the start of training camp and went on to have one of the better seasons of his career.
Lewis said there’s no reason to believe the timetable for his return won’t be the same this summer.
“I would tell you that if we were lining up to start training camp tomorrow, Leon would be probably lining up to start training camp as he did two years ago,” Lewis said. “So he’s done incredibly again.”
The prognosis is cloudier for All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who tore his ACL on Oct. 31.
“Geno’s injury was a little bit beyond that time-wise, and it’s a different injury,” Lewis said. “So it’s a little harder to tell that right now.”
But while a return for the start of training camp seems to be a long shot, Lewis said he wasn’t worried about Atkins being ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 7 at Baltimore.
“I don’t have any concern, no,” he said. “Geno’s intent is, “whenever he can get back.” But, again, you have to go through the process.”
Big bill: Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson, the fourth overall pick in 2013, earlier this week Tweeted a photo of his dinner receipt after treating the team’s other offensive linemen to dinner and drinks at an upscale steakhouse.
Because the bill was more than $17,000 and the whole Miami Dolphins/Jonathan Martin scandal is still fresh in the minds of many, there were immediate charges of hazing. But Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, the team’s NFL Players Association representative, said it’s a time-honored tradition and that most players do it because they want to, not because they are forced to.
“You always want the kid to feel like, ‘OK, I’m just taking these guys out to eat as a way to say thank you and that’s it,’” Whitworth said. “You don’t ever want somebody to feel disrespected in a situation or pushed into a situation they don’t feel comfortable in. The veteran leadership of the team is supposed to make it that way.”
Asked if he remembered what his bill was, Whitworth said he did and it was worth every penny.
“It’s a big number, but it was one I was proud to pay because I played under a guy like Willie Anderson and Levi Jones and Bobbie (Williams) and Richie Braham and Eric Steinbach,” Whitworth said. “Those guys all have had successful careers in the league, and I got to learn a whole lot about this game and other things that were going to help me be successful. That’s probably why I’m here today.
So at the end of the day, if it was $5,000 or $10,000 or $15,000, I won’t say what I’ve made in my career, buy I promise you it was worth it.”
Smith signs: The Bengals re-signed tight end Alex Smith.
A 10th-year player with 163 catches and 1,473 yards, Smith had three catches for 12 yards and one touchdown last season, which was his first in Cincinnati. He suffered a wrist injury in the season-finale against Baltimore and did not play in the Wild Card game against San Diego.
Despite being an unrestricted free agent, Smith stayed in Cincinnati and rehabbed with the Bengals staff this offseason.
“Alex played significant snaps for us last year, and it’s good to get him back in the fold,” Lewis said. “He’s ready to go physically, and it’s mini-camp week, so he jumps right back in there for us.”