Chick Ludwig
Chick Ludwig

For the past 30 years, Chick Ludwig has been one of the Miami Valley’s most popular sports columnists, the past twelve as the Bengals beat writer for the Dayton Daily News. He retired from the DDN in October of 2009, and currently writes a weekly Bengals blog for the Cincinnati Enquirer and is the Bengals correspondent for the The Sporting News. A former voting member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, Ludwig is a journalism graduate of Ohio State University.

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The Bengals open camp with a bang and a party atmosphere this week, and hope it lasts all year long.

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals fans can chirp all they want, but Mike Brown is not cheap.

The club’s owner, president and general manager may be Mr. Frugal, but he is not cheap. There is a huge difference.

Frugal is thrifty, careful and prudent — not wasteful.

Cheap is, well, just plain cheap.

And if Brown were cheap, there’s no way he’d do what he just did — sign rookie tight end and first-round draft pick Tyler Eifert to a four-year, $8.256 million contract (with a club option for a fifth year); sign   franchise-tagged defensive end Michael Johnson to a one-year, $11.175 million tender; and then lock in defensive end Carlos Dunlap to a six-year, $40 million contract. Dunlap will make $20 million total in 2013 and 2014, including $18.7 million before 2014 training camp.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. And it’s a positive sign that Brown is hip with the times, staying ahead of the curve and rewarding homegrown talent with competitive salaries.

Now that everyone is signed and sealed, the Bengals can deliver on what promises to be an exciting summer training camp as the NFL’s featured team — for the second time — on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” NFL Films unmasked the Bengals in 2009 when the team had quarterback Carson Palmer, tailback Cedric Benson and wide receiver Chad Johnson. Now the cameras will focus on quarterback Andy Dalton, tailback BenJarvus Green-Ellis and wide receiver A.J. Green.

There’s good news and bad news for the Bengals. The thrill of being one of just seven teams to have reached the playoffs in three of the past four seasons is tempered by the fact the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since Jan. 6, 1991. That’s 22 straight seasons without a postseason win — the longest active playoff-game victory drought in the NFL.

The next longest drought belongs to Detroit (21 seasons) followed by Kansas City (19), Buffalo (17), Cleveland (15), Miami (12) and the combo of Oakland and Tampa Bay (10 each).

The “Road to Redemption” for the Bengals begins Thursday, July 25, when the club’s 2013 training camp — presented by Fifth Third Bank — kicks off at Paul Brown Stadium with a 7 p.m. pep rally that’s free and open to all fans.

Featuring local band “The Rusty Griswolds,” the pep rally will provide fans an opportunity to meet the team, hear from head coach Marvin Lewis and obtain autographs from Bengals alumni players.

After 29 summers at Wilmington College (1968-1996) and 15 more at Georgetown (Ky.) College (1997-2011), the Bengals host training camp at PBS for the second straight year with open practices running from July 26 through Aug. 15.

The practices are free and open to the public, and like last year, they offer access to the team not available during the regular season.

“Training camp offers the unique experience of watching the team up close as it prepares for the upcoming season,” Bengals Executive Vice President Katie Blackburn said. “The Bengals are very pleased to be holding camp here in Cincinnati again this year and look forward to being part of the downtown area’s many fun activities.”

Camp continues with practices open to the public starting Friday, July 26. Most practices will be held on the fields next to the stadium. Added to the schedule this year will be two 6 p.m. “Family Night” practices inside the stadium on Aug. 1 and Aug. 11. The final practice open to fans will be Thursday, Aug. 15.

“Holding training camp at PBS last year worked out great for our players, staff, coaches and especially our fans,” head coach Marvin Lewis said. “This year, with the addition of HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks,’ I think fans will have a great opportunity to see up close just what our guys go through as they prepare for another NFL season.”

Total capacity for the practice fields this year is 1,500 bleacher seats, plus additional room for fans to stand along the sidelines. No passes will be required to enter.

Fans are allowed to bring small soft-sided coolers, unopened bottles of water and food into all practices. Concessions and Bengals merchandise will be available to purchase. No chairs or other temporary seating will be permitted.

Groups of players will be available for autographs for 15 minutes after practice ends. For the safety of pedestrians, no autographs will be permitted as players enter or leave the practice fields. At the conclusion of “Family Night” practices inside PBS, the entire roster will sign autographs.

Parking for all practices is available in the public parking lots located adjacent to PBS at established prices.

TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE

All practices will take place on the practice fields just west of Paul Brown Stadium unless otherwise noted. Times are subject to change without notice, so check www.bengals.com, Facebook (www.facebook.com/bengals) or Twitter (@bengals) on the days of practices for the latest times. All times listed are Eastern.

THURSDAY, JULY 25 (BENGALS PEP RALLY INSIDE PBS)
— PBS gates open at 7 p.m.
— “The Rusty Griswolds” perform, 7:45 p.m.
— Bengals Pep Rally, 8:45 p.m.

FRIDAY, JULY 26
— Gates open at 2 p.m.
— Practice from 3-5 p.m.

SATURDAY, JULY 27
— Gates open at 2 p.m.
— Practice from 3-5 p.m.

SUNDAY, JULY 28
— Gates open at 2 p.m.
— Practice from 3-5 p.m.

MONDAY, JULY 29
— Gates open at 2 p.m.
— Practice from 3-5 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 31
— Gates open at 2 p.m.
— Practice from 3-5 p.m.

THURSDAY, AUG. 1 (“FAMILY NIGHT” INSIDE PBS)
— Gates open at 5 p.m.
— Practice from 6-8 p.m.

FRIDAY, AUG. 2
— Gates open at 2 p.m.
— Practice from 3-5 p.m.

SUNDAY, AUG. 4
— Gates open at 1 p.m.
— Practice from 2-3 p.m.

SATURDAY, AUG. 10
— Gates open at 2 p.m.
— Practice from 3-5 p.m.

SUNDAY, AUG. 11 (“FAMILY NIGHT” INSIDE PBS)
— Gates open at 5 p.m.
— Practice from 6-8 p.m.

MONDAY, AUG. 12
— Gates open at 2 p.m.
— Practice from 3-5 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 14
— Gates open at 2 p.m.
— Practice from 3-5 p.m.

THURSDAY, AUG. 15
— Gates open at 10 a.m.
— Practice from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

(Chick Ludwig hosts “The Chick Ludwig Show” weekdays 3-6 p.m. on Dayton’s WONE-AM (980) and “Monday Morning Quarterback” on Mondays from 6-9 a.m. on Cincinnati’s Fox Sports 1360 (WSAI-AM). Follow Ludwig on Twitter @ChickLudwig)

Note:  Get expanded coverage of the Bengals this season with weekly reports and columns from Chick Ludwig and Greg Hoard.  Press Pros is the place to be for the best stories…the best writers!

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