Lewis giving Bengals an extra ‘push’ in OTA practices

There was a curious scene at Cincinnati Bengals practice Tuesday when quarterback Andy Dalton hit a wide-open Alex Erickson along the sideline in what was clearly a blown defensive assignment.

But after the play, every offensive player — not just the 11 who took part in the play — dropped to the ground and did 10 push-ups.

Turns out the big gainer to Erickson wasn’t enough to overcome the overall deficit coach Marvin Lewis had tallied throughout the first 11-on-11 session of the practice.

“It’s a heck of a deal,” offensive coordinator Ken Zampese said. “Coach started counting wins and losses through a period, so it brings a focus and a heightened awareness to it because everybody’s competitive.”

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Lewis began scoring the sessions last week, and it’s something the players have responded to.

“I love that idea,” linebacker Vinny Rey said. “Whether it’s push-ups or whatever it is, we hate to lose. When the offense is doing push-ups, it reminds them that they lost and that we’re better.”

It was a sloppy start to the practice for the offense with a lot of dropped passes, errant throws, a false start and a bad shotgun snap.

“There were a lot of different things that happened,” Zampese said. “Drops are disappointing. Balls thrown off marks are disappointing. Not blocking whoever is disappointing.

“There’s certain things that don’t go right every time we walk on the field,” he added. “You just hope they’re not the ones that cause turnovers. We’ll watch the film, we’ll learn from them, we’ll get better, we’ll have a chance to practice it before we get out here tomorrow. And we’ll be better at those because we’ll put a focus on it.”

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The offense actually got better before the practice ended, shoring up many of the miscues and turning in a solid final round of 11s that left the defensive group diving to the turf for its penance.

“We lost the second one, which sucks,” Rey said. “You want to finish with a win. When I’m doing push-ups, I hate it because I know that I lost. So I try to do whatever I can to help my team win on the practice field. I don’t want to be the reason we lost.”

While the Bengals ran multiple sessions of 11s, Lewis only scored two of them.

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“We need to get Marvin on that, because I think the offense did better than the defense on a couple of these other ones today,” Dalton said. “They would’ve been doing a couple more push-ups.

“I usually try to find the person closest to me and make sure they’re doing them,” Dalton said. “I’ll count for them and make sure they’re getting all 10 push-ups.”

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This is the stage of the offseason where focus can wane, which is why Lewis added the incentive of push-ups. And it certainly got the attention of the offense after the slow start.

“There might have been a couple of things out there that weren’t on the same page,” Dalton said. “There was some new stuff that we’re kind of getting used to. I thought we competed and I thought we made some plays. Some of that stuff is going to happen. Now’s the time that you want to correct it and understand exactly where guys need to be and different things. But I thought today went well though.”

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