'New start' for Bengals coach

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:35 AM ET

Just when most people believed Marvin Lewis was history in Cincinnati, he simply turned the page and started a new chapter. Lewis signed a contract extension to make him the longest tenured head coach in Bengals' history. But this will be a vastly different team.

"This was a chance for a new start," Lewis said of returning after a season with a 4-12 record, which included a 10-game losing streak. The meltdown came one season after winning the AFC North and it came amid much dissension. But instead of walking away

Lewis got concessions from owner Mike Brown who agreed to changes in the coaching staff and the roster. Cedric Benson is done as Bengal. "There is a time for change and I think now is a pretty good time," Benson said. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski's future is in question. And, the receiving corps is in flux with both Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. Owens, 37, is a free agent this off-season, and Ochocinco, who on Sunday will turn 33, is scheduled to make $6 million in 2011. The club can cut him at no cost and Lewis is toying with the idea of making Jerome Simpson the next go-to wideout. Cheaper. Less flak.

One thing that won't change is that Carson Palmer will be back at quarterback.

"No question in my mind," Lewis said." "He really weathered quite a storm this year and took another step as a leader." Palmer, 31, completed his seventh season as the Bengals starter and threw for 3,970 yards and 26 touchdowns, but his 20 interceptions tied his career-worst total in a single season and were the most in the AFC.

"I told him (Palmer) yesterday that I believe in him and he's important to me," Lewis said Tuesday.


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