At the NFL Combine in February, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said one of the most important things he was looking for among prospective rookies was the same thing he was hoping to find more of among the veterans on the team:
A mean streak.
Jackson wants to see more attitude and intensity, and he is turning to former Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh to help stoke the competitive fires.
The Bengals announced Monday afternoon that Houshmandzadeh, who played wide receiver for the team from 2001-08, is one of four coaches who will be working as interns this summer as part of the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship program.
Houshmandzadeh ranks third on the Bengals career receptions list (507), and his 112 catches in his lone Pro Bowl season of 2007 still stand as a single-season franchise record. He also ranks fifth in career receiving touchdowns (37) and seventh in career receiving yards (5,782).
Jackson was Houshmandzadeh's position coach from 2004-06, and he was the head coach in Oakland in 2011 during Houshmandzadeh's lone season with the Raiders, his last as a pro.
Jackson said he expects his former wide receiver to bring the same toughness to the coaching ranks that he took on the field as a player, and he's hoping Houshmandzadeh can bring out a new side of A.J. Green and the rest of the team's young receivers.
Houshmandzadeh's duties with the Bengals began today.
Among the three other coaching interns is another former Bengals player in Keith Rucker, a defensive tackle who played two of his six NFL seasons with the team from 1994-95. Rucker currently is the defensive line coach at Ohio Wesleyan.
The other two are Chuck Smith and Kelvin Bell.
Smith is a former defensive end who collected 58.5 career sacks during eight seasons with Atlanta and one with Carolina. He also has coached in the college ranks at the University of Tennesse, his alma mater, and has worked extensively as a personal trainer to many NFL players.
Bell is the director of on-campus recruiting for the University of Iowa, where he played and served as a graduate assistant coach.
Three current Bengals coaches, head coach Marvin Lewis, Jay Hayes (defensive line) and Brian Braswell (offensive assistant), are alumni of the Bill Walsh minority program.
“We are happy to have these guys with us in the Bill Walsh program,” said Lewis, who worked in the program with the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs prior to entering the NFL as a Pittsburgh Steelers assistant in 1992. “This program helped me get ahead as a coach, and it’s great to see it continue as strong as it is. It’s a good experience for our full-time coaches as well as the interns.”