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I know it's a Hobson fluff piece but still has me looking forward to see if cook can amount to anything...Didn't realize he had that much strength putting up 225 39 times.

Cook goes by (play) book

GEOFF HOBSON

Posted Jun 18, 2009

* a

* a

Kyle Cook

Posted: 9:35 p.m.

Kyle Cook may have won the strongest man competition during the Bengals mini Olympiad earlier this week with 39 heaves of 225 pounds. But it is his strength with the intangibles that has him doing things at center not seen in these parts since, dare we say it, Richie Braham.

At this early stage, no one is saying that Cook is the answer or that he's a Braham clone or that the Bengals will suddenly lead the league in rushing while giving up just five sacks. After all, he's delivered as many NFL snaps as the people that interviewed him Thursday.

What people are merely saying is that things like communication and cohesion along the battered Bengals front are better than they have been lately with scenes like this:

A long time observer of this offensive line walked into the Bengals locker room last week and saw something he hadn't seen since the days of, well…

A group of players were gathered around Cook and he was telling them what they had to do if the defense did this or if it did that.

Asked about such a scene, right guard Bobbie Williams didn't deny it Thursday after the Bengals' first minicamp practice of the weekend.

"Not since 74," said Williams of Braham's number as one of three linemen left who played with Braham during his last season in '06. "The thing about Richie was that he knew the offense inside and out and he was a tough player. I can honestly say (Cook) knows and he's steadily learning. There's no comparison. You don't want to do that to anybody. But he's tough, we like him and he plays hard."

Cook flashed that for everyone to see during that first practice when he got into it with middle linebacker Dhani Jones. Jones has played in 125 NFL games and is stepping off the Travel Channel into his 10th season while Cook is looking to take his first NFL snap in trying to channel Braham. But that didn't stop him from forcing Jones to rip off Cook's helmet as they flailed away briefly following a downfield engagement.

Everything the offensive line does this year is going to be under the microscope after a woeful 2008 claimed four starters and moved one. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander went into the 1996 opener in St. Louis with three linemen making their first NFL start (it was Braham's first and it was at center), but he says "this is our biggest challenge."

But don't mind Cook's tiff. Williams and guard-tackle Scott Kooistra waved it off after practice as just another day at the office. They've seen it ever since Cook showed up as a rookie off waivers just before the 2007 regular season.

"That's Cook's M.O.," said left tackle Andrew Whitworth. "He's a little bit of a nasty player. I think your center has to be a little bit that way. It's a hard position, it's a tough position. He's got the toughness to play it."

Cook got a smile out of Jones as he stared at him walking by in the locker room.

"I'm here all day," he said, laughing.

"But so am I," Jones said.

Cook shrugged it off as no big deal.

"We've had 11, 12 practices and we've been going at each other every day," he said. "I would never do anything to hurt my middle linebacker."

Then Jones gave him the middle linebacker's ultimate compliment in discussing Cook's ability to get to the second level.

"If he's getting on you," Jones said, "he's doing a good job. Yeah, he's getting on me."

Cook has never met Braham, but he's watched him on tape so much that it must feel like he has. Because he is a smart guy, Cook is naturally curious about the man who anchored the Bengals line from 1999 until the second game of 2006 after playing mostly guard for the first five seasons of his career.

And, try this stat on. In the 43 games Braham played under Marvin Lewis, the Bengals averaged 4.2 yards per rush. In the last 46 games without him, the number is 3.7. A lot of reasons. But he's a big one.

"It's funny, just last week I was asking Bobbie and Kooter (Kooistra) about him," Cook said. "I wanted to know his build and how he played. He did well in the system. I see great things on film. They said he was similar to me. Big, strong burly guy that knew his stuff."

Cook studies the centers he wants to be like. The guys who have been around a long time. And they all have one thing in common.

"They're smart," said Cook, pointing to his favorite, Titans Pro Bowler Kevin Mawae, as well as Matt Birk, a guy he understudied during the spring and summer the Vikings signed him as a free agent out of Michigan State.

"Now I'll be watching him twice a year in Baltimore," Cook said.

Cook has watched those guys in person and on tape, but he's also been picking the brains of the defensive linemen he has gone against in practice, particularly his old college teammate in East Lansing, Domata Peko.

"I ask them how I compare and they say I compare to a lot of guys they face," Cook said. "They've said it's like playing against Baltimore or Tennessee. That's good to know."

But it all comes back to the old John F. Kennedy line:

"You can't beat brains."

The old touch footballer could have added, "especially at center."

Alexander, who oversaw Braham's move from guard to center, said after Thursday's practice that he thinks Cook might be as smart as anyone that's come through in his 16 seasons.

"I like him," Alexander said. "It's not because he's smart and tough. He's smart, tough, and a good player.

"He's a natural leader. Whatever it is, he's got it. They trust him. They know he's right. They follow his direction. He's what we're looking for. He's the center. He's got to take charge, make all the calls, synthesize complex things in a hurry and be right."

The Bengals had enough faith in Cook that they didn't go after a veteran in free agency when they chose not to pursue their own free agent center in Eric Ghiaciuc, now of Kansas City. They did draft Arkansas' Jonathan Luigs in the fourth round, but Cook is the guy they have groomed for at least this year.

"(Cook) has done a good job taking control of the offensive line. He makes the calls, he makes them very assertively," said offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. "He gets us organized because that's what the center does. He organizes the four other guys so they can work in tandem and get certain blocks done and certain pass protections taken care of and he does a great job doing that. I've been very pleased with him."

Asked if that has been lacking the past few seasons, Bratkowski said, "That hasn't been our strength. We've had some issues."

Whitworth, who along with Williams and Kooistra did his time with Braham, was a rookie in '06 and didn't get to experience much of it. But on Thursday he said Cook has brought similar stability to the line.

"The communication and cohesion of the unit is probably further along than I can remember the last couple of years, even at this time of year," Whitworth said. "He's doing a good job just going out and doing his job. And that is getting out the calls and putting people in the right direction and letting the rest take care of itself. He's being assertive and sending guys where they need to go."

Cook might be looking for that first NFL snap, but it hasn't stopped him from helping guys wade through the playbook. Rookie right tackle Andre Smith simply says, "Cook knows everything."

"Whether it's new things going in or old things, we've got a lot of young guys coming in that are rookies or first-year guys who might have questions what we do on this play or who do we go to on that play," Cook said. "As a guy who's been around for three years I feel comfortable in the system, so we can sit down and talk about it. The biggest thing is that everyone is on the same page and we talk about it together, then we get that much better."

Cook was one of the stars of Wednesday's Olympics. In the past Lewis has usually reserved a team-building day during OTAs for off campus, such as Kentucky Speedway or a water park.

This year he came up with intramurals gone wild. He split the team into two squads, one captained by Carson Palmer and Chris Crocker and the other by Whitworth and Jones. There were events like lifting (won by Cook) three-point shooting, an obstacle course, tug-of-war, a football accuracy toss, and punt catching.

Most of the events had a heavyweight, a middleweight and lightweight class, and Palmer and Crocker's team won it by winning the last event, the tug-of-war.

By most accounts the players had a good time and Palmer referred to how competitive it was. It seems to be contagious and has swept the offensive line.

"He's a beast, an animal," Williams said after working next to Cook again. "I like it. It’s the NFL. Take it back to the old school."

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Well it seems that he certainly is strong enough, That can help with the NT's in our division, even though they weigh alot more than 225 and it can't hurt that he learned a thing or 2 from MBirk...

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I don't care who the hell they put in there as long as they can find a way for this o-line to get things together, improve the running game, and keep Carson bloody free !!!

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Now that Hobs mentions it......didn't the coaches used to describe Ghiacuic as a smart guy? And now those same coaches are gushing about how Cook, in just a few practices, has already surpassed Bluto in regards to reading the defense...making the right line calls...and even as a leader?

Obviously somebody lied to us, then or now.

Happily, we now know with absolute certainty they were lying about Bluto.

And sadly, we can now guess with some confidence they're probably lying about Cook as well.

But I digress.

Pass the Kool-aid, please.

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Given that I have heard from a number if different\seperate sources about Cook's considerable physical strength, I think it highly improbable that we are being lied to about that.

Decision making and intelligence are not nearly as easily measured.

Assuming he is roughly as smart as Girlchek (in other words, meh) but much stronger and physical, I'll take it. Happily.

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Assuming he is roughly as smart as Girlchek (in other words, meh) but much stronger and physical, I'll take it. Happily.

Hell... he could be a big dumb ogre for all I care. If he's half as smart as Ghiaciuc he'll be an upgrade, because I'm assuming that it takes more than a slight breeze to knock him on his ass.

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Now that Hobs mentions it......didn't the coaches used to describe Ghiacuic as a smart guy? And now those same coaches are gushing about how Cook, in just a few practices, has already surpassed Bluto in regards to reading the defense...making the right line calls...and even as a leader?

Obviously somebody lied to us, then or now.

Happily, we now know with absolute certainty they were lying about Bluto.

And sadly, we can now guess with some confidence they're probably lying about Cook as well.

But I digress.

Pass the Kool-aid, please.

I don't remember the coaches ever saying that about Ghiaciuc. And the players certainly never came out and raved about him like players are doing about cook. Obviously there is a notable difference.

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I don't remember the coaches ever saying that about Ghiaciuc. And the players certainly never came out and raved about him like players are doing about cook. Obviously there is a notable difference.

I remember when Ghiaciuc had to start his rookie year against the Jags, Willie and the o-line praised his play and he did do a good job for a game, but it was all downhill after that.

But as for Cook, they were singing his praises last year too before he went down with an injury.

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Now that Hobs mentions it......didn't the coaches used to describe Ghiacuic as a smart guy? And now those same coaches are gushing about how Cook, in just a few practices, has already surpassed Bluto in regards to reading the defense...making the right line calls...and even as a leader?

Obviously somebody lied to us, then or now.

Happily, we now know with absolute certainty they were lying about Bluto.

And sadly, we can now guess with some confidence they're probably lying about Cook as well.

But I digress.

Pass the Kool-aid, please.

I don't remember the coaches talking about bluto organizing the line well and I don't remember reading about the entire o-line listening to him talk around his locker after practice. I also don't remember ghiacuic getting into fights two days in a row during practice -- let alone with a linebacker. Cook seems like he's mean and other guys respect him -- just because he also happens to be smart doesn't mean he's going to be just like ghiacuic -- but being smart doesn't help much if you're getting pancaked by a 325lb NT . . . we'll see.

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The only time I can recall there being praises about Ghiaciuc is after that Jags game, as mentioned already. After that, it was all downhill. I can't recall another time after that where anyone (coaches, players, or fans) having anything positive to say about the guy. He was simply overmatched. Not to defend the guy in any shape, form, or fashion, but I think going up against the likes of Rogers, Ngata, and Hampton would present a problem for d*mn near any center would could put on the field.

While you can't help but love hearing the positive things "written" about Cook, I will remain very cautiously optimistic until I see him make it happen on the field against the guys I mentioned earlier. That is part of the reason I wanted them to go after Brown from the Ravens. I'm well aware that it's not my money, but that would have been the place I would have loved to see the money spent. I would have FAR less concerns with him at center than anything we have on the roster now.

Oh well, such is life. Let's go Cook and Luigs !!!

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Kyle Cook is the real deal.......bluto was overmatched by the stronger NT's in the division plus he was banged up in his neck and ankle which prohibited him from

optomal results... he never had the strength or fortitude of Cook...

Cook is a nasty SOB on the field.....he'll hold his own ..

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Not trying to be argumentative with this at all, but where does that opinion of Cook come from ?? I mean he hasn't had a start for the Bengals that I'm aware of. Is that based on his play in college or the articles being written on the official site ?? Once again, not trying to be funny and I'm hoping to all hell that your assessment is spot on. I'm just wanting to know where it's coming from.

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Despite the lack of hard evidence i do like the way coaches and teamates are describing him: strong, tough, nasty and intelligent.

those are the things you want out of your center. as others have mentioned, already being respected and assertive is good to hear. maybe luigs ends up at guard b/c of cook. but we'll only really know when they strap it on in aug. count me in the cautiously optimistic camp.

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Don't get me wrong, I more than enjoy hearing players and coaches sing praises, especially when it comes to such an important position that is a major concern for our team. Who doesn't want to hear all things at the Center position looks to be handled ?? I'm only saying I would like to hear more and was wondering where Walsh's opinion was coming from...

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Some more Kyle Cook love and I'm glad to see their really high on the guy...

By Chick Ludwig, Staff Writer Updated 11:10 PM Sunday, June 28, 2009

What the Bengals want and need, Kyle Cook has.

The second-year center from Michigan State has taken advantage of his opportunity and seized the starting job, replacing Eric Ghiaciuc, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an unrestricted free agent on April 30.

“Kyle’s got the ‘it’ factor,” offensive line coach Paul Alexander said. “The guys follow his direction and that’s what we’re looking for. You have to take charge. That’s one of the requirements of the job.

“You have to make the right calls. You have to synthesize complex things in a hurry and be right. He’s got the brains. He just understands it. He may be one of the smartest guys we’ve had.”

Cook signed as an undrafted college free agent with the Minnesota Vikings, who released him on Sept. 1, 2007. Four days later, the Bengals signed him to their practice squad.

He made the 53-man roster in 2008 and played in five games on special teams. But he landed on injured reserve when he dislocated a toe during a freak collision during pregame warm-ups at Dallas on Oct. 5.

Cook used his time wisely — waiting, watching, studying and learning while rehabilitating.

“That was tough,” he said. “But you’ve got to use it as a learning experience. If you sit back and put it on cruise control for the rest of the year, you’re going to be a step behind.

“Even when I was hurt, I was still sitting in the back of the room paying attention, watching film, seeing what works against these guys and what doesn’t work against these guys. You get to see everything that goes on. You learn the right things and you also learn the wrong things.”

The Bengals yielded 51 sacks in 2008. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started 12 games in place of injured Carson Palmer, went down 38 times. Ghiaciuc, who started all 16 games at center, was partially responsible. Both are gone — Fitzpatrick to Buffalo, Ghiaciuc to K.C.

Alexander hasn’t tweaked the line. He blew it up and started over with Cook in the middle, flanked by guards Nate Livings and Bobbie Williams, and tackles Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith.

“I see a lot of great communication, starting with the center, which is key,” Williams said. “Not taking anything away from the last guy (Ghiaciuc), but Kyle Cook is doing an awesome job out there. He’s a good clean-up guy. Guys are out there talking. That’s the main thing, communicating. We’ll just let our ability do the rest.”

Cook has come a long way in three seasons. From practice squad to injured reserve to opening-day starter on Sept. 13 against the visiting Denver Broncos if he stays healthy.

“Since the beginning, it’s taken a lot of hard work to get where I’m at,” Cook said. “It feels good right now. The guys are communicating. We’re talking well. We’re getting the calls across the line, which is basic fundamentals — where it all starts.

“But it’s not set in stone. I’ve got to understand what my goal is, what our team goal is, and know that every day I’ve got to come to work.”

The Kyle Cook File

Position: Center.

Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 306.

Age: 25.

Birthday: July 25, 1983

Hometown: Macomb, Mich.

College: Michigan State.

NFL games/starts: 5/0.

Quote: “Kyle’s done a good job of taking control of the offensive line. He makes the calls, makes ’em very assertively and gets us organized. That’s what the center does. We’ve been very pleased with him.” — offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski

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Does anyone remember why, exactly, cook sat behind El Matador last year? I know there was the preseason toe dislocation, but leading into the season was there talk of him winning the starting spot? I don't remember hearing anything about him last year.

I guess what I'm getting at is I love all the hype, I even love him starting fights during practices, but I just get uncomfortable booting out a guy that no one from the organisation ever had a bad thing to say about and replacing him with a guy that they're saying has everything we could want out of a center who was cut in training camp and who sat behind the most atrocious center I can remember watching. I think the o-line, like last year, will largely live or die based on our center's performance and i'm curious why we didn't hear more about cook last year if he's so incredible . . . like armybengal I'm excitedly and nervously optimistic.

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Less than 50 days until the Bengals first preseason game and we will see how much all of this "love" translates to the field.

This.

I hope he is the complete opposite of what he has been, and what I think he is.

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Does anyone remember why, exactly, cook sat behind El Matador last year? I know there was the preseason toe dislocation, but leading into the season was there talk of him winning the starting spot? I don't remember hearing anything about him last year.

I guess what I'm getting at is I love all the hype, I even love him starting fights during practices, but I just get uncomfortable booting out a guy that no one from the organisation ever had a bad thing to say about and replacing him with a guy that they're saying has everything we could want out of a center who was cut in training camp and who sat behind the most atrocious center I can remember watching. I think the o-line, like last year, will largely live or die based on our center's performance and i'm curious why we didn't hear more about cook last year if he's so incredible . . . like armybengal I'm excitedly and nervously optimistic.

I think it was because he was a rookie last year. If I remember correctly, when Braham went down for some games they put Steinbach at center instead of the rookie Ghiaciuc. It was probably a similar situation last year. Cook probably didn't know the finer points of the system and Ghiaciuc did, so Ghiaciuc got the nod.

There may have been moments in the past where Ghiaciuc was described as a smart player, but I never read any quotes describing Ghiaciuc as mean and overpowering like we have read about Cook. I'm optimistic, but being a lifelong Bengals fan, I know better than to get my hopes completely up.

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I think it was because he was a rookie last year. If I remember correctly, when Braham went down for some games they put Steinbach at center instead of the rookie Ghiaciuc. It was probably a similar situation last year. Cook probably didn't know the finer points of the system and Ghiaciuc did, so Ghiaciuc got the nod.

Not only that but they were gonna bench buckethead for cook but he was injured in warmups of that game.

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Not only that but they were gonna bench buckethead for cook but he was injured in warmups of that game.

Buckethead = Braham, not Girlcheck

Girlchek is sometimes referred to as Bluto, El Matador, Gaychek, or "The Turnstile"

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Does anyone remember why, exactly, cook sat behind El Matador last year? I know there was the preseason toe dislocation, but leading into the season was there talk of him winning the starting spot? I don't remember hearing anything about him last year.

I guess what I'm getting at is I love all the hype, I even love him starting fights during practices, but I just get uncomfortable booting out a guy that no one from the organisation ever had a bad thing to say about and replacing him with a guy that they're saying has everything we could want out of a center who was cut in training camp and who sat behind the most atrocious center I can remember watching. I think the o-line, like last year, will largely live or die based on our center's performance and i'm curious why we didn't hear more about cook last year if he's so incredible . . . like armybengal I'm excitedly and nervously optimistic.

Injuries are why he never got the chance to get in the game. I really wish we would have gotten the chance to see him last year.

Sort of like seeing Roland out there getting some snaps last season and knowing what you have on the roster.

As for anyone having nothing bad to say about Ghiaciuc, maybe they were just trying to be nice, because that dude f*cking sucked !!!

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Not only that but they were gonna bench buckethead for cook but he was injured in warmups of that game.

Buckethead = Braham, not Girlcheck

Girlchek is sometimes referred to as Bluto, El Matador, Gaychek, or "The Turnstile"

You forgot Ole, Screen Door, and 'Dances on Heels'.

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