The offense should improve despite the trade of temperamental-but-talented Wide Receiver Roy Jefferson to the Colts. Willie Richardson, equally talented and temperamental, came in return, joining Running Backs Preston Pearson (also acquired from Baltimore) and John Fuqua (from the Giants) to give the offense an almost total face-lifting. There are also a couple of nifty rookies: Ron Shanklin, a wide receiver out of North Texas State, and Hubie Bryant, from Minnesota, who is being used mainly to return kicks. The defense, young and strong, is at its best in the line, which is centered around Greene. Last season was a learning year and one of trial. With the offense weak, the defense had to play far too long. This year, being more knowledgeable and with an attack that will afford them a rest once in a while, it should be greatly improved.
A Cook Too Few
Cincinnati, which looked as though it might finish behind the Browns in its third year of existence, received a heavy blow when Quarterback Greg Cook's troublesome right shoulder was operated on five weeks ago, putting him out for the season. He was an emotional, as well as a technical, catalyst, and without him Cincinnati is a different team—but not as bad a one as it first seemed. Sam Wyche, who took over for Cook, led the Bengals to a 31-24 exhibition win over the Browns, and he will be backed up by Virgil Carter. Paul Robinson and Jess Phillips are two good running backs. Bob Trumpy may be the best tight end in football and the line, though young, is talented. So the Bengals will still be able to put up a fight.
Coach Paul Brown's first two draft choices last year were Defensive Tackles Mike Reid and Ron Carpenter, which is indication enough of where the team was weakest. The nucleus of the defense is Bill Bergey, only in his second year, yet already a fine middle linebacker. But it is still learning through experience, which will be even rougher with the added pressure it will have due to Cook's absence. "There's no quick way to build a winner," Paul Brown says. "You have to put it together slowly." Without Cook make that very slowly.