GEORGETOWN — There was something different about the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday as they opened camp at Georgetown College for the 13th year in a row.
Make that some things, plural.
For one, there was the crew from NFL Films, meandering through warmup drills and getting as close as possible for footage to be aired on the HBO show Hard Knocks.
For another, all 78 players on the Toyota Stadium field were in good health, a first in Marvin Lewis' seven-season tenure as coach.
Plus, even by training camp standards — when positive thoughts abound — these Bengals seem to actually believe that they're good.
"We have a long way to go and a lot to do to get to where we need to be, where we want to be," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "But I think the optimism that we can get there is there. We feel that we have the right guys. It just comes down to getting the work done and executing what we do."
Before the Bengals even took the field in shorts and helmets, there had been three sets of meetings, conditioning tests and a weight-training session.
One player was waived before making it to the field. Colin Dow, a rookie free-agent guard out of Montana, failed his physical. Also, unsigned first-round draft pick Andre Smith was a no-show.
Injury prevention is a hot topic for the Bengals, who led the league in players on the injured reserve list during last season's 4-11-1 debacle.
If not exactly a gentler and kinder training camp, Lewis aims to keep things focused and sensible.
Unlike a year ago, no injuries were reported Friday.
"Today was a good start to camp," Lewis said. "I think some of the things that you have at times with the snaps, procedures and those kind of things, none of those showed up today, which is a good start to it. ... I liked that the ball stayed off the ground today. We took care of the little things."
Palmer missed 12 games last season because of an elbow injury. Three years ago, he was making a comeback from a severe knee injury.
Friday, he reaffirmed what he's been saying for some time. Both his elbow and knee are 100 percent. His game's not quite there, though.
"Just rust," he said. "My timing was off on a number of things. ... I'm happy just to get those nerves out. I was nervous and excited, pretty fired up just to get that first one out of the way."
Wide receiver Chris Henry, seemingly reformed as advertised from a checkered behavioral past, said catching balls from Palmer "felt good, man. You know, we had a good OTA (organized team activities) at mini-camp and it just feels good to get back out here."
Along with staying out of trouble, Henry said his goal is "getting to the Super Bowl, nothing less; maybe a long way in the playoffs. This is my fifth year and I've been sitting at home for the playoffs every year."
Such thoughts extend throughout the team, right down to the rookies.
Take defensive end Michael Johnson, a 6-foot-7, 260-pound third-round pick out of Georgia Tech. His goal?
"Get to the playoffs and go as far as we can in the playoffs," he said. "I don't really make a lot of personal goals. I just want to try to get better every day, work on the little things and just be the best I can be to help the team be the best they can be."
The Bengals get their first two-a-day drills Saturday, 9-11 a.m. and 7-9 p.m.
"We feel that we have a good team, so we expect to come out and work every day," Palmer said. "And if we work the right way and practice well, stay healthy and get better each day, each week, each pre-season game going up to Denver (the Sept. 13 regular-season opener), we'll become a better team.
"We know that the sky's the limit for this team if we take all the necessary steps to get to that first game, which is just improving every day and putting in hard work."
Bengals' practice schedule
At Georgetown College
Date Practice time/event
Saturday 9-11 a.m. 7-9 p.m.
Sunday 3-5 p.m.
Monday 9-11 a.m. 7-9 p.m.
Tuesday 3-5 p.m.
Wed., Aug. 5 9-11 a.m. 7-9 p.m.
Thu., Aug. 6 3-5 p.m.
Fri., Aug. 7 9-11 a.m. 6:30-8:30 p.m. (intrasquad scrimmage)
Sat., Aug. 8 1-2:30 p.m.
Black-Orange mock game
Mon., Aug. 10 9-11 a.m. 7-9 p.m.
Tue., Aug. 11 3-5 p.m.
Wed., Aug. 12 3-5 p.m.
Fri., Aug. 14 (pre-season game at New Orleans)
Mon., Aug. 17 3-5 p.m.