Jerry, a ninth-year veteran who was not with an NFL team last year, signed Monday following a workout at Paul Brown Stadium and was a full participant Tuesday during the first day of mandatory minicamp, which runs through Thursday. In a coinciding move Tuesday, the Bengals waived second-year guard Rod Taylor, a seventh-round draft pick in 2018 who spent all of last season on injured/reserve).
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“We’re just continuously looking at finding the best 90 right now that we can,” Taylor said in a press conference Tuesday before practice, during which he also announced Williams would be out after getting dinged up last week. “We released a player up front and added a player up front. It was really just a one-for-one there.”
Taylor said he doesn’t know much about Williams’ injury right now and doesn’t want to speculate whether or not it could be serious. The line shuffled around Tuesday to replace him at left tackle, and Jerry was working out at left guard, though not with the first unit.
In addition to Williams being sidelined, tight end Tyler Eifert remained out of practice Tuesday, but wide receiver A.J. Green participated in individual drills after sitting out most of OTAs. Taylor said Green has been cleared but there wasn’t a need to test the veteran player during the three-day camp, which serves as the final portion of the offseason workout program.
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“I know what to expect from A.J. so it will just be good seeing him catch balls from the quarterbacks but we’re not going to get him too much work,” Taylor said.
Taylor was looking forward to getting Jerry into the group. He had familiarity with Jerry from overlapping stints with the Miami Dolphins, where offensive line coach Jim Turner also spent time. The Dolphins selected Jerry in the third round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Mississippi, and he remained in Miami through 2013 before moving on to a four-year stay with the New York Giants.
The Giants released Jerry three days after final cuts last September and he had one tryout with the Washington Redskins a few weeks later but remained unsigned through all of 2018.
“Being out last year just made me more hungry and I’m just eager to prove myself on a day-to-day basis,” Jerry said.
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Jerry has appeared in 121 games with 101 starts, and the Bengals liked the ability to add another veteran leader to the mix. He’s known as a big note-taker and someone who spends a lot of time studying the game.
“I expect nothing less from John,” Taylor said. “He’s a pro. He’s been in this league a long time, played a lot of football and that’s what I appreciated about him from my time in Miami was how he approached things … with the right mindset. He’s got a good football IQ. He’s got good football character, and those are things we continue to incorporate into this organization.”
Jerry comes in at an odd time with the team about to break for six weeks before the start of training camp July 27, but he isn’t worried about being behind. His familiarity with some of the coaches helps, so he feels he can catch up quickly.
“It’s all about being a pro,” Jerry said. “Luckily, I get a chance to come in this week and hear everything and take notes and write stuff down, and then when we get this break, I’ll just be studying. That way, I will come out to camp ready to roll.”
The 6-foot-5, 340-pound lineman missed playing last year and said he was itching to return, but also worried maybe his NFL career was coming to an end. Jerry continued working out despite not being with a team, training with offensive line expert LeCharles Bentley in Arizona, where he met Bengals linemen Christian Westerman and Billy Price.
When he wasn’t training, he was playing “Mr. Mom” with his 4-year-old son and 9-month-old daughter, he said, joking that his wife put him to work. He enjoyed that time but jumped at the opportunity to work out with the Bengals when asked to come out Sunday.
“It happens fast,” Jerry added. “You’re sitting at home on the couch and the next thing you know, you are here. That’s how quick it was for me. … I kind of thought it was over (in the NFL). My wife kept telling me, ‘No, it’s not over. You’ll see.’ Here I am today.”