Sunday, May 11, 2014

UConn's Bennett heads to training camp with Bengals

Former UConn offensive tackle Jimmy Bennett was feeling pretty good about things as he saw ex teammates Shamar Stephen and Yawin Smallwood taken in the seventh round in the NFL Draft. However, there was more good news coming his way before the draft came to an end.

Right before the name of the final player taken in the three-day draft Bennett received a call from the Cincinnati Bengals telling him that they were signing him as a free agent. UPDATE 5/12 at 6 p.m.: Bennett was not on the list of 10 players signed as undrafted rookie free agents. The Bengals would not confirm whether  Bennett came in and did not pass a physical saying that they signed the 10 college free agents who came in and passed physicals and that the team does not have any players in camp on solely a tryout basis.

"I never talked to them before the draft so it was really surprising but it was cool nonetheless, I am happy," said Bennett, who is flying out to Cincinnati this afternoon. "They called me right before Mr. Irrelevant was announced they called me to let me know.

"It was just the Bengals, they said ‘you are signed, you are good.’ I obviously haven’t played football in a while and it is exciting to get back into football. There are a lot of things that I don’t know what to expect, it is a lot of anticipation and what is going to happen."

Bennett had an injury-plagued career as he was one of the rare players to be granted a sixth season of eligibility. He started every game over the last two seasons at left tackle and also got some positive reviews for his performance in the Medal of Honor Bowl.

"For me it is exciting, it was one of those goals because everybody wants to play in the NFL," Bennett said. "I’ve taken a few hits and had some setbacks at times but you have to get that out of your mind, get to work and focus on staying there. There are a lot of different things running through my head. It is exciting but it is also kind of nerve wracking at the same time."

Yesterday Bennett was with former teammate Steve Greene, an offensive guard who started alongside Bennett for the last two years and Bennett said that Greene is receiving an tryout with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also, I have seen a report that DE Jesse Joseph will receive a tryout with the Chicago Bears. The Bears should have a pretty good idea what Joseph is capable of as former UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni is the team's defensive line coach.

Duane Forde @DuaneFordeTSN
DE Jesse Joseph, a 2013 Alouettes draft pick out of UConn has been invited to mini camp with the Bears, no contract.

 I haven't heard anything about the other UConn players getting free agent contracts or invitations to try out at rookie mini camp.

Bennett was thrilled to see Stephen get taken by Minnesota and Smallwood go to Atlanta,

"I was very nervous there for a while," Bennett said. "I didn’t think they were going to. It is nice to see their names come across the TV. It’s great seeing guys you went school with making it, especially Yawin because he came out early. He didn’t go as high as he thought but it happens."

Former UConn quarterback Mike Box, who transferred to Division II Indiana (Pa,) University, will be heading to the Washington Redskins rookie mini-camp

IUP Crimson Hawks @IUPCrimsonHawk
Former #IUPFB QB Mike Box (@AutoBox_5) has been invited by the Washington Redskins to their rookie mini camp beginning on May 16.

Former UConn DB Tevrin Brandon, who transferred to Monmouth, will be at the Kansas City Chiefs training camp

Chris Shanafelt @ChrisShanafelt
The Kansas City Chiefs will be signing former UConn/Monmouth CB, Tevrin Brandon.

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