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Chris Henry Focused, Ready for Season

CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 14:  Chris Henry #15 of the Cincinnati Bengals gets ready on the field during the NFL game against the Washington Redskins on December 14, 2008 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 20-13. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Martin SmithContributor IMay 12, 2009

Oft-troubled WR sounds relaxed, enthused about Bengals chances in 2009

This season is supposed to be the season for redemption for the Cincinnati Bengals. After a 4-11-1 finish in 2009, the Bengals were due for a major overhaul.

After a solid draft class along with the signings of such free agents such as Tank Johnson, Roy Williams, and Laveranues Coles and a trade sending fringe roster DT Orien Harris to St. Louis for hard nosed RB Brian Leonard, many of the Bengals I have communicated with are excited. 

One of those players happens to be Chris Henry, whom I sat down with for a brief chat.

If there’s anyone who should be optimistic, it’s Henry. Known more for his exploits off the field as opposed to those on it, Henry has truly enjoyed a quiet offseason. 

Henry has also watched intently as Mike Brown and the Bengals war room signed, drafted, and traded the franchise into a team that, on paper, looks vastly improved over last year’s 4-11-1 squad.

Add in the re appearance of a healthy Chad Ocho Cinco, along with the return of quarterback Carson Palmer, and Henry has a lot to be excited about as the third receiver in a Bengals offense that has become known for lighting up the scoreboard, when healthy.

In speaking with Henry, I was given the sense that he is relaxed and quietly preparing for what could be his last chance to earn a big payday on sport’s biggest stage. Signed to a two year contract last year, it stands reason to think that his loyalty would lie with Mike Brown and the Bengals, who have given Henry several chances to right the ship.

However, this is the NFL, and players come and go between teams at lightning speed. At the same time, I was also given a sense of the overabundance of confidence that it takes to play the wide receiver position in the NFL.

When asked if one of the team’s roster spots was a lock for him, Henry replied “Oh, one of those spots is definitely mine…I plan on doing some big things this season.” 

When asked about quarterback Carson Palmer, Henry replied: “Yea, he’s 100 percent. You know, he’s smiling everyday and he’s just excited to get back out there, you know.” 

Of course, if anyone should be excited about the return of Palmer, it’s Henry. Dating back to 2005, when he was drafted, all but two of Henry’s 19 career touchdown catches have come from Palmer.

Adding Carson Palmer to any offense makes it better. However, adding Palmer back to a Bengals offense with the likes of Coles, Ocho Cinco, and Henry, and its lethal.

The most refreshing thing about the time I spoke with Henry was a sense of modesty and a knowing that great things are expected of him. When asked about the prospects of a ten touchdown season, he replied “Aw, man, I’m working towards that, you know? Hopefully I can get the chance to make that happen.”

When asked about prospects for his first 1,000 yard season, Henry replied “Oh, yea, well with Carson back and with (Laveranues) Coles and Chad (Ocho Cinco) and myself and with all the younger receivers, man, it could be that type of year.”

At the end of the conversation, I could sense that Henry is much more relaxed heading into the 2009 campaign. He answered all of questions, taking time to give a measured and sensible response.

He seemed to be enjoying himself through our entire conversation, and you could hear his children talking in the background throughout. It seems that Henry has his focus firmly on football and doing what he can to help the Bengals have a successful 2009 season.

Extra Points:

·    Bengals K Shayne Graham signed his franchise tender this week. It is a one year, $2.483 million dollar deal.

·    Practice squad member Maurice Purify seems ready to do anything he can to make the team this year. Except for returning kickoffs and punts “Aw, man, that’s not my spot” said Purify to me this week, “I’m too big for that. I’m 6’4; I’m too big for that. I’ll leave that to the little fast people. I’ll block for ‘em though.” Isn’t that a refreshing thought? A Bengals receiver that will block.

·    Counting draft picks, the Bengals currently have 86 players on the roster. That number has to be down to 80 by the time the team heads to training camp on July 30th. Look for names such as Kenny Watson, Daniel Coats, and Brad St Louis to hit the waiver wire before then.

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