NESN.com caught up with Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer Joe Reedy, who has been covering the Bengals since 2009. We asked Reedy about Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, young cornerbacks and the symphonic melodies of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.
NESN.com: Carson Palmer had a down year in 2009 and really finished poorly against the Jets. What do you expect from him this season?
Joe Reedy: I expect Palmer to have a bounce-back year. He has really worked on his footwork, which should help improve his accuracy. This is also a very telling year for Palmer. Last year, after Chris Henry went down in the Week 9 win over Baltimore, the Bengals had only two receivers who were threats — Chad Ochocinco and Andre Caldwell, whom opposing defenses took away, making them one-dimensional. Now, he has a lot of passing weapons — Chad, T.O., Jordan Shipley, Jermaine Gresham. This is when we find out if it was the personnel or the player.
NESN.com: Cedric Benson really exploded last year. Can he be one of the league's top backs for another few years?
J.R.: I think for at least this year and next year. A concern right now, though, would have to be the number of carries he got last year. There were six games in which he got 25 or more, and there were three games when he didn't play.
NESN.com: The Bengals' defense looks good again, but there's a bit of a liability at safety. How much can that hurt them?
J.R.: Maybe on some deep routes, but Chris Crocker and Roy Williams are two of the more physical safeties in the AFC. Chinedum Ndukwe has made big strides this offseason, and they shored up their experience level at the No. 4 spot with the acquisition of Reggie Nelson from Jacksonville.
NESN.com: The Patriots have two young, talented starting cornerbacks in Darius Butler and Devin McCourty, but they'll be forced to grow up quickly after Leigh Bodden's injury. Cincinnati has already gone through something similar with Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall. Based off your experience covering the Bengals, do you expect consistency (or anything else) to be a problem with the Pats' young corners?
J.R.: Consistency and watching out for injuries. Hall has not missed a game, but last year marked the first time that Joseph started all 16 games.
NESN.com: What's life like in a locker room with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens?
J.R.: For the most part, business as usual. Owens has been very accessible, and Ochocinco went into a media blackout, which he also did last preseason. Now that the regular season is upon us, we'll see if that remains the case. Chad did do the conference call with New England media but didn't talk to Cincinnati reporters, which was surprising.
Thanks again to the Cincinnati Enquirer's beat writer Joe Reedy for crossing enemy lines and offering Pats fans some Bengal insight.