Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis looks on from the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Heinz Field. The Cincinnati Bengals won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Reedy, USA TODAY Sports
For the second time in five seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals will be the featured team on HBO's Hard Knocks: Training Camp series.
A person with knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY Sports the Bengals have agreed to appear on this year's series. The person requested anonymity because the official announcement by HBO and the NFL should come next week.
The Bengals' appearance was first reported by the Philadelphia Daily News.
While the series has been popular with football fans because of the inside access it gives them, it often is a headache for head coaches. Only one other NFL team had expressed serious interest in appearing.
The Bengals appeared on the show in 2009 and won the AFC North with a 10-6 record. When asked about possibly doing the series again, coach Marvin Lewis has been leery of making a return.
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But not anymore.
"The feedback we got from our experience with Hard Knocks in 2009 was outstanding," Lewis said. "Our fans enjoyed it tremendously and we're happy to try and provide that same experience again. Our fans love the NFL and they enjoy seeing things they don't normally get to see. We have some outstanding men, both as players and as people. They've got great charisma to go along with their football skills, and the Hard Knocks treatment allows for both to shine through."
He added: "Some people say, 'Well, you won the division the last time you did this; is that a reason for doing it again?' I really don't think that matters or figures much into the decision. Every day, every time is a new experience. ... Hard Knocks is another element you have to be prepared to deal with. The NFL Films people are totally professional, so that's not a worry, but it's not like a normal day. One thing I did see as a positive last time was exposing our players to another group of people who are working hard every day the way we need to work. The diligence and the effort of the people on-site is very impressive."
The reasons why Lewis did the series four years ago could ring true again - he has a young but mature roster and he feels players can handle the exposure and scrutiny. The show also will give quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green more national recognition.
This would be the third time Lewis has been involved in Hard Knocks. He was the defensive coordinator in Baltimore in 2001, which was the first year of the series. The Bengals will join Dallas as the only teams who have done the series twice. The two teams will play each other in the third preseason game.
Only 13 current players were with the Bengals in 2009. Most of the series will be based at Paul Brown Stadium, with training camp held there for the second straight year.
In 2009, the central location was Georgetown College. Among the highlights from the series were Lewis' "Be a pro" speech after a loss to the Rams, and Chad Ochocinco's extra point at New England. In one clip, Lewis explained the nuances of the banking system to Ochocinco. Reggie Kelly's season-ending Achilles injury was one of the most emotional scenes.
Last year, Chad Johnson (formerly known as Ochocinco) was part of the Hard Knocks series with the Dolphins, but his release after being arrested for domestic violence was the must-see TV moment.
Reedy reports for the Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett property.