NFL Wire News

Minicamp report: Happy Still with Bengals with daughter recovering


The Sports Xchange

CINCINNATI — As the Cincinnati Bengals opened their minicamp on Tuesday, they were pleased to see defensive tackle Devon Still. He had missed the team’s OTAs to be with five-year-old daughter Leah, who was dealing with complications in her liver from chemotherapy treatments for neuroblastoma, a rare form of pediatric cancer.

Leah has spent seven weeks in the hospital, but Still said the latest treatments are working and she might be able to leave the hospital in a few days.

Still told, “I didn’t know from last week whether I was going to come out here or not because of her complication, but she started showing a good turnaround.

“I have a lot of family and friend support that is there with my daughter now. It feels good to get away for a couple of days and just get back to being here with the team and going out there and practicing. I’ve been gone for long enough.”

As it relates to football, although Still was in Philadelphia to be with his daughter, he wasn’t idle. Last week, he bench-pressed a personal-record 405 pounds, and his offseason work has resulted in a loss of 18 pounds to be down to 296.

“Quicker. Move better. I didn’t need all that weight to play inside,” Still said. “As long as I still have the same strength to control those blocks and stuff, I don’t need to be 317.”

Asked if the weight was a negative, he said, “I know for a fact it was. Just off of last year, I wasn’t working out properly. I was missing my workouts to fly back and be with my daughter. I wasn’t eating right, whether it was from depression or whatever. But I was able to start eating right and getting my weight back down.

“If anything, it’s improved (my strength). So I’m looking forward to what I can do on that football field and making sure I’m not just weight-room strong, that it translates to the field.”

Still worked Tuesday only in individual and no team portions of practice.

“He’s got that twinkle in his eye,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We can’t get him back fully in football right away because he’s not been with us. We’ll check his level and get him going back physically, but he hasn’t been out there with us every day, so we’re not going to subject him to possible injury over these three days.”

Still knows he isn’t guaranteed a job and that he will need a strong training camp. The Bengals brought back Pat Sims and selected Marcus Hardison in the fourth round of the draft.

“There’s nothing wrong with competition. It brings the best out of people,” Still said. “Our defensive line room is loaded right now, so everybody’s going to have to bring their best to training camp and I’m looking forward to the competition.”

As for the inspiration he gets from his daughter, Still concluded, “She’s beat cancer, and it’s allowed me to focus a lot on football and getting back in shape. It’s just trying to repay the Bengals for everything they did for me last season.

“You watch these kids fight for their life: they keep a smile on their face. They never give up. They’re resilient. And if you ever watch that — like I’ve watched that for a year — it changes everything about you.

“It lets you know you have to make the most of every opportunity that you have. I have an opportunity right now to make this Bengals team and I’m going to try to do it.”

–Defensive end Carlos Dunlap said his goal is 23 sacks, which would break the NFL record of 22.5 set by Michael Strahan in 2001. Dunlap spent time in the offseason working on getting off at the snap and using a stance that is more “functional than comfortable.”

–Onterio McCalebb was a running back in college but was switched to cornerback when he signed with the Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He played in one game last season while spending the rest of the season on the practice squad. Now he is working at wide receiver.

About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business