Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Wednesday that he and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan nearly had an agreement for the two teams to hold a couple of joint practices this week leading up to Saturday night’s preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium.
“Rex and I were pretty close,” Lewis said. “It just kind of fell apart at the last second. Obviously, Rex and I have worked together, and are good friends and a lot of our coaches have worked with their coaches. Mark (Carrier, Bengals defensive backs coach) was a part of their staff, and (Jets offensive coordinator) Marty Mornhinweg and I have been friends for a long time.
“I thought it would be a good relationship where our coaches will know their coaches enough, and we could get it done,” Lewis continued. “But it kind of fell apart at the end.”
Last year the Bengals held two joint practices with the Falcons ahead of their preseason-opening game in Atlanta, and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said he thought it was a valuable experience.
“I think a lot of guys came back from that and thought it gave them a chance to see themselves against other teams, see where they are and really see ‘all right, this is where I’m at,’ ” Whitworth said. “The coaches get to see more, too. It’s not worrying about are ‘these two guys just helping each other out?’ This is competition and how does this guy stand in when it’s heated and there’s a lot of competition and a lot of pressure.”
The idea of shrinking the preseason from four games to two has been talked about the last few years, and if that ever happens, it’s likely joint practices and/or scrimmages will become commonplace.
Hailing Hewitt: Bengals coaches continue to pour praise on undrafted rookie H-back/tight end/fullback Ryan Hewitt, with Lewis being the latest to offer a positive assessment of the Stanford grad.
“I think Ryan has really done a nice job for us,” Lewis said. “He’s handled things well. He’s playing tight end/H-back/fullback, whatever you want to call those positions we have, and he’s handled it well both physically and mentally. I think as a receiver he’s done a nice job. As an interior blocker he’s done a good job. I really think he’s got a bright future.”
Hewitt is battling Orson Charles for that hybrid spot on the roster. The Bengals drafted Charles as a tight end in the fourth round in 2012 and converted him to fullback last year. He appeared in 13 games last year but played sparingly, finishing with one rush for 8 yards and no receptions.
Lewis said Charles is in a “dogfight” for that position.
Injury update: Tackle Marshall Newhouse, who left practice early Tuesday, and quarterback Matt Scott, who left early Wednesday, have minor shoulder injuries. Newhouse did not practice Wednesday, which means he may not play Saturday against the Jets, but Lewis said Scott is fine and will be ready for the preseason home opener.
With backup quarterback Jason Campbell missing his fourth consecutive practice and unlikely to play against the Jets, the Bengals will be counting on Scott and newly signed Tyler Wilson to finish off the game after starter Andy Dalton plays the first few series.
Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (hip) and tight end Tyler Eifert (shoulder) missed practice for the second consecutive day, while guard Clint Boling and guard/center Mike Pollak, both of whom are recovering from knee injuries, also sat out.
Linebacker Sean Porter (knee) has not practiced in a couple of weeks, while defensive end Dontay Moch (undisclosed) missed his first practice of camp. Rookie wide receiver James Wright left practice early with what appeared to be a left leg injury.
Cornerback Leon Hall and defensive end Robert Geathers took veteran rest days.