Running back Cedric Benson was still learning the playbook when he got his first hand-off. And he wasn't alone.
The Cincinnati Bengals were back to full strength on Thursday night, but had a lot of catching up to do. Benson and quarterbacks Bruce Gradkowski and Jordan Palmer were among the group of players able to practice for the first time with a new collective bargaining agreement in place.
Benson, a free agent who signed a one-year deal to stay, says coordinator Jay Gruden's new offense is a lot different than the old one, and he's still learning the terminology.
Gradkowski and Palmer are competing for playing time along with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.
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NFL players ratified a new, 10-year collective bargaining agreement hours after it was finalized. The deal included testing for human growth hormone, thus making the NFL the first professional sports league to have HGH testing of all players.
Most of the deal to end the NFL's 4½ -month lockout was agreed to last month, but certain elements still needed to be ironed out after the NFL Players Association re-established itself as a union. After players voted to approve the final agreement, it allowed players who signed contracts July 26 or after — and had been forced to sit out practices by NFL rules — to finally join teammates in drills Thursday.
Jets release Cotchery
New York released popular wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery on Thursday, apparently clearing the way for veteran Derrick Mason to sign with the team.
Cotchery had said earlier Thursday that he thought he would be cut if Mason — brought in by the Jets for a visit — passed his physical.
Cotchery, 29, was drafted by New York in the fourth round in 2004 and worked his way into the Jets' starting lineup after a few seasons. Sure-handed and consistent, he has 353 catches for 4,474 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Mason, a free agent who knows Jets Coach Rex Ryan from their days in Baltimore together, was scheduled to meet with the Jets on Thursday. He's 37 and would bring a wealth of experience to the position, which includes Santonio Holmes and the newly signed Plaxico Burress, who will be sidelined for a day or two after he tweaked his left ankle running routes with Holmes on Wednesday without anyone throwing to him or defending him.
Judge rejects appeal
The civil sexual assault case against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be held in Reno, the Nevada Supreme Court said Thursday in an order rejecting an appeal by the NFL star.
A former VIP casino hostess at Harrah's accused Roethlisberger of raping her in his penthouse suite in July 2008, when Roethlisberger was at Lake Tahoe for a celebrity golf tournament. Roethlisberger has denied the allegations. The woman never filed a formal criminal complaint with police.
Lawyers for the two-time Super Bowl champion had wanted to move the case to Minden in Douglas County, where Harrah's is located.
Former Browns and Jets coach Eric Mangini is joining ESPN as a studio analyst.
Cowboys: Cornerback Terence Newman will miss the entire pre-season for the second time in four seasons because of a groin injury.
49ers: Wide receiver Braylon Edwards has agreed to a $3.5 million, one-year contract.