Hey I M In Cincinnati And The Bengals Have Some Troubled Players

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Just stepped off a small plane in Ohio as I begin my college football scouting trip and the Bengals are certainly raising the eyebrows of the locals in Cincinnati.

Why else would owner Mike Brown issue a public statement after the Bengals drafted former Virginia linebacker Ahmad Brooks? Second-year receiver Chris Henry and 2006 draft picks Frostee Rucker and A.J. Nicholson have been charged with criminal offenses in recent months. When they drafted them the Bengals were aware that all three got into trouble during their college careers.

Now Brooks is the talk of the town as he was booted off his college team by former Jets coach Al Groh and the chemistry of the team is coming into question. Coach Marvin Lewis has done an exceptional job but is coming under scrutiny for turning what seems like a blind eye to the situation.

The Miami Herald, citing two sources reported last month that Groh kicked Brooks (6-4, 259 pounds) out of the program for repeated drug test failures.

Linebackers coach Ricky Hunley attended Brooks’ pre-draft workout and was selected to conduct the session. Hunley was an assistant coach at the University of Florida in 2001 and is familiar with Brooks from those days as a potential recruit.

Wide receiver Chris Henry has been arrested four times since December on charges ranging from marijuana possession in Covington to felony gun charges in Florida. Defensive end Frostee Rucker, the team’s third-round pick in April’s regular draft, is facing spousal abuse and vandalism charges in Los Angeles. Fifth-round pick A.J. Nicholson was arrested in May in Tallahassee, Fla., on theft charges. The linebacker had been previously sent home by Florida State before getting to play in January’s Orange Bowl game for violating team rules.

Brooks, whose father, Perry, was a defensive tackle in the NFL with Washington from 1978-84, recorded 117 tackles as a freshman in 2003 to lead Virginia and he earned All-America honors as a sophomore with a season that included 90 tackles, eight sacks, 10 tackles for loss, two interceptions and 11 quarterback pressures.

His draft stock took a hit last season when he missed five games due to knee, ankle and back injuries. Brooks’ issues off of the field also hurt his draft status. He was arrested on marijuana possession charges in 2003 (he has completed a diversion program) to go along with the allegations of his failed drug tests last year. Greg Williams, Brooks’ agent, presented information to those in attendance at the player’s June workout that Brooks had passed drug tests the past two months.

Brian Simmons, David Pollack and Odell Thurman (last year’s top two draft picks) head up the Bengals pre-training camp depth chart as linebacker. Thurman missed last month’s mini-camp due to undisclosed personal reasons. Among the potential backups, only Hannibal Navies and Marcus Wilkins have more than three seasons of experience. Landon Johnson, a third-year player, has started 21 games and has shown the versatility to play all three positions

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