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Cincinnati Bengals open training camp Monday

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By Paul Gable

The distance between Cincinnati and Georgetown College, home of the Cincinnati Bengals training camp, is 76 miles.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis hopes that is enough distance to place between his team and the off-the-field issues which featured both Chris Henry and Odell Thurman being released. In addition, Lewis and the Bengals hope to find the answers—when they open camp on Monday, July 28—that will send the Bengals into the playoffs for the first time since the 2005 season.

After opening last season with a 1-4 record, the Bengals regrouped to finish 7-9, winning five of their final eight games, including back-to-back wins against Cleveland and Miami. However, the strong finish was not enough to propel Cincinnati into the postseason.

Much of the success had to do with the play of wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, quarterback Carson Palmer and kicker Shayne Graham. Houshmandzadeh hauled in 112 receptions and scored 12 touchdowns on his way to being named to the Pro Bowl team. Palmer threw for 4,131 yards and Graham kicked 31 field goals, helping an offense that could not convert once it got inside the red zone.

Since the conclusion of last season, the Bengals have undergone a face lift with their coaching staff, as Mike Zimmer was hired as defensive coordinator, replacing Chuck Bresnahan, who was fired. Zimmer becomes the third defensive coordinator to work under Lewis.

And the Bengals enter training camp having survived their ordeal with wide receiver Chad Johnson, who participated in the teams mandatory mini camp and expects to be 100 percent following ankle surgery.

The Bengals will conduct two practices on Monday, July 28. The complex will open at 8 a.m. and the first practice will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The complex will reopen at 5:30 p.m. and the second session will last from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission to the practices are free, but there is a fee for parking. The fee is $15 per car.