While most of the Cincinnati Bengals players have known for months Monday would be the day they return to town for the start of voluntary offseason workouts, running back Bernard Scott wasn’t sure he would be a part of it until a few days ago.
An unrestricted free agent, Scott agreed to terms on a one-year contract, a deal the team made official Monday as players began weight and strength training.
“I feel good,” said Scott, whose 2012 season was derailed by a series of injuries, the last of which came to his left knee in the Oct. 7 game against Miami. That resulted in him in being placed on season-ending injured reserve.
“I’m not where I want to be, but I’m getting better and better each and every week,” he added. “I’ll be ready by July. That’s what really matters. I just have to stay positive and keep working.”
Two other players whose seasons were stopped short by injuries, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and kicker Mike Nugent, declared themselves to be 100 percent ready Monday.
“I have no nagging pain or anything holding me back,” said Sanu, who suffered a stress fracture in his left foot during practice Nov. 30. “I’ve been working out hard on it, and it’s getting better slowly but surely. I’m just excited to get back to it.”
Nugent, a Centerville High School and Ohio State University graduate who was injured during a practice one week after Sanu went down, said his calf has been 100 percent since early January. He signed a two-year contract in March.
The mood in the locker room was much different than it was four months ago when the players were cleaning out their lockers following another first-round playoff loss.
The commitment to bring back to many free agents — Scott was the 23rd to re-sign, and later in the day safety Jeromy Miles (restricted free agent) and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (exclusive rights free agent) signed their tenders — was seen a vote of confidence from the front office.
“We’re a young team, so why not build within?” defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. “I felt pretty confident that if we got everybody that we could back that we’ll be building from there, building on what we did last year and get past that first round.
“That shows what kind of people we have upstairs, that they want to keep this team together and that we’ve got something special going here,” defensive tackle Domata Peko added. “There’s been a lot of moves from other teams in our division, they lost a lot of players. But it seems like we’re continuing to build here and we’re headed in the right direction.
“This is like the first day of school. Everybody’s smiling and talking, and it’s really good to be back together.”