The Cincinnati Bengals are a virtual lock to win the AFC North with a commanding three-game lead and the tiebreaker advantage over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens with only four games to play. The reasons for the Bengals' success have been covered -- the resurgence of castaway
What isn't as apparent is the Bengals' secret weapon: their practice squad. You probably know the Bengals offensive line has been outstanding this season, a surprise given that right guard
Cook has emerged as one of the more physical centers in the league in only his first season as a starter. He spent the 2007 season on the practice squad and much of the 2008 season on injured reserve after hurting his foot. He's been as big a factor as any in the Bengals success up front in 2009.
Livings, who has split starts with
The Bengals success up front is due in large part to their use of a part of NFL teams that many organizations squander. Below are some of the dos and don'ts as it relates to the use of practice squads in the NFL:
As an example, I once played in Buffalo with a practice squad offensive lineman named
It is a mistake that the soon-to-be AFC North division champs would never make. For a team with a reputation of doing things the wrong way, the Bengals sure know what they are doing when it comes to their practice squad. They are being rewarded for their patience and development in a major way this season.