Expectations High in Cincy

dave TempleContributor IMay 7, 2009

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 1:  Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Ray Maualuga #58 runs a drill during rookie minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium on May 1, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)

The 2009 NFL season hasn't even began to heat up and hopes are beginning to rise in Cincinnati. The Bengals have some big names returning from injuries, New highly rated faces, and some returning heroes from last years under achieving roster.

First, lets start with the big keys for Cincinnati. Carson Palmer is back and says he is ready to get back to Pro bowl form, Ocho Cinco is well..Ocho Cinco. Chad is coming off a less than stellar year with a chip on his Shoulder. He should be ready to dazzle with the best of them. T.J. is gone but  Laveranues  Coles is an ample replacement. Chris Henry is a talent who could shine if he doesn't get in his own way.

Next lets look at the Draft class of 2009...Rey Maualuga is another proven USC player who should translate to the pro game fairly quickly. Andre Smith might be the tackle to help put them back in to a title hunt in the AFC north.

Free Agency has been extremely interesting for the first time in Bengals history. Tank Johnson and Roy Williams should do nothing but help the 27th ranked Defense improve. The resigning of Chris Crocker and Cedric Benson shows that the Upper Management might actually have learned something over the last twenty years of futility.

On paper then Bengals resemble a team with playoff potential. Unfortunately the game isn't played on paper so it will all be decided when the teams suit up for real come September. Untill then let me know what you think by leaving a comment.