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Bengals' Urban molding receivers in own image

By Carlos "Big C" Holmes
Dayton Daily News/Cox News Service

CINCINNATI — Wide receivers coach James Urban is molding the Bengals' young receivers in his own image. Urban brings the same attitude and leadership that he displayed as a football captain while playing wide receiver for Washington and Lee in 1996.

The receivers are responding well to his energetic and gritty style.

"Coach is a player’s coach and one you love to perform for because he is such a great guy," A.J. Green said. "He doesn't do a lot of yelling or things like that, but he's tough. If you want to work, he'll let you work and develop you to your full potential. It's great to have a coach like that."

Last season, his first year with Cincinnati, Urban wasted little time proving his worth.  He was instrumental in developing Green, who was elected to the Pro Bowl his rookie season. Yet there is still work to be done.

"We’ve studied coverage recognition quite a bit, A.J. and me," Urban said. "I'm talking particular coverages that are used against the elite receivers in the league. We work on how to attack it and not be intimidated by it. At the end of the day, all the great receivers get their catches and yards to help their team win, so that’s the mentality we're creating."

When asked if he had been around any receiver as polished as Green early in a career, his answer was an emphatic "no."

"He’s got a rare set of physical skills, works very hard at it and it's important to him," Urban said. "A.J. is in great physical shape and tries to win on every rep, which is a great mentality. If he misses on a rep he's very disappointed and wants to correct it immediately. So from that end, no, I haven't been around anyone like that."

Urban began his NFL career as assistant to Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid in 2004. After three years he was promoted to offensive quality control coach ('07-'08). When Eagles former quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmer was hired as offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams prior to the 2009 season, Urban was promoted yet again, this time to quarterbacks coach ('09-'10). He's returning for his second season with the Bengals.

The work of a position coach often goes unnoticed. It's important to Urban to practice what he's teaching.

"I learned a long time ago to just be yourself," he said. "I have a lot of energy and I get excited every time I step on the field. I just try to let it go and hopefully they feed off of that. I try to be myself. When you're not yourself, guys can read right through it."