Bengals Thursday Thoughts: Reasons To Be Glad

The 4-0 Bengals can count any number of reasons why they are one of six remaining unbeaten NFL teams.

The Bengals have many reasons to be cheerful about being one of five 4-0 NFL teams and one of six remaining unbeatens during a wild and woolly injury-plagued start to the season that seems to claim a quarterback or star player every Sunday.

Unlike their own injury-marred thud at the end of last season, especially in the AFC Wild Card game against the Colts, luck has been on the Bengals' side.

Only reserve defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry was out among players in regular rotations at Thursday's Bengals practice. Normal starting linebacker Vontaze Burfict is on an injured list.

Other than that, the Bengals have been full-go at full power at every starting spot the first four games, with very little time lost to injury. There have been some players a little banged up, with a few aches and pains, but not for long stretches.

The Bengals can thank themselves for putting together a talent-laden homegrown group that just so happens to be a healthy one through the first month.

Of the 58 players on the roster, including reserve lists, 47 were either drafted or originally signed as undrafted free agents by the Bengals. The Packers, at 91.4 percent, are the only team with a higher percentage.

Of the 47 homegrown Bengals, a total of 42 -- 20 on offense, 22 on defense -- were draft picks, tying the Packers for the most originally drafted players on an NFL roster.

With specific regard to early picks, the Bengals have been successful in the NFL Draft, with seven of the 11 offensive starters selected by the team in the first two rounds, notably four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, the fourth overall pick in 2011.

What's more, the Bengals have found later-round gems in the draft. Eight starters were selected in the fourth round or later, including Geno Atkins, the Bengals' two-time All-Pro defensive tackle, a fourth-round pick in 2010.

Speaking of health, it hasn't hurt that Atkins is back to a steady diet of quarterback pressures and sacks two years after a severe knee injury, allowing the tall athletic ends to roam free and cause havoc. It's also not news that the Bengals do a nice job grooming into starters undrafted players such as linebacker and tackle leader Vincent Rey.

The Bengals are strong in the trenches, including on the other side with tackle Andrew Whitworth, as just one starting lineman on each side of the ball does not rate as above average, according to Pro Football Focus.

Stability under 13-year head coach Marvin Lewis, the second-longest tenured NFL head man behind the Patriots' Bill Belichick, has helped tremendously while contributing to four consecutive playoff berths, albeit with four straight first-round exits.

It helped that team owner and president Mike Brown ceded more control in the draft room to similarly conservative Lewis and let similarly conservative super scout Duke Tobin act as more or less the general manager.

It seems better player personnel decisions have been made since Brown humbled himself and took a step back in the organization and made Lewis the face of the franchise. The Bengals don't even put an image of a player on the cover of their media guide, one of the few teams to eschew the star treatment.

Those are just a few reasons why the Bengals are unbeaten entering Sunday's play at home against NFC champion Seattle. There are plenty more. They also have played quite well against one of the softest parts of the schedule with a red-hot quarterback in Andy Dalton, a two-stud backfield in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard and emerging tight end Tyler Eifert.

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