1. 'Spirit of collaboration:' Those are the words Hamilton County (Ohio) Commission President Chris Monzel used last week to describe how he and other local politicians are working with Cincinnati Bengals officials on a host of initiatives that might help spruce up Paul Brown Stadium and beautify and expand the downtown Cincinnati riverfront area known as "The Banks." The Bengals' lease for the stadium contains language about limiting the height of new buildings built on The Banks. The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that by Thursday, those requirements might be waived so the city can bid General Electric for a building that the company has been trying to build in the region. Spaces in two nearby neighborhoods already have bids on them, but the city and county would prefer the structure go downtown. The height waiver could be a crucial precursor to getting a long-needed new digital scoreboard installed at Paul Brown Stadium. Updates to club-box furniture could be coming, along with stadium-wide wifi and an expansion of the Bengals' weight room, in the event the city ever lands a professional soccer team. Atlanta announced the arrival of one there Wednesday.
2. Collaboration is important: The Bengals and the county have come to multiple impasses the past few years regarding updates the stadium needs. The collaboration hasn't been quite as strong in recent years as it appears to be now. Collaboration is good, as is having some of the updates outlined above. It's also good for the city and county to continue to pump money into the area around the stadium. Though it's tougher for the restaurants and shops to operate in those down times when the Bengals and Reds aren't playing -- namely January to March -- the area has seen a jolt of life with the emergence of an apartment complex where players from both teams live during the season, and the construction of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Since opening in 2004, the museum has been an important piece of Cincinnati's tourism draw. So have Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark. The better resourced and funded those three buildings are -- and the better the teams play -- the more people will visit. The new apartment development should be a draw, and GE could add 2,000 jobs to the riverfront, according to the Enquirer. This collaboration is very important for the city, county and teams.
3. Taylor Mays' long recovery: By Monday morning, a number of Bengals will unofficially begin their training for the 2014 season, working together for the first time since January's disappointing first-round playoff loss. It will be the first time they can get keyed into the plans new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther have for their respective units. One player glad to make the trek back to Cincinnati is defensive back Mays. His season ended last year on Oct. 27 when he suffered a shoulder injury. After a conversation with Mays in California, where he has been training, USA Today's Tom Pelissero writes here about how vicious the injury really was. It sounds really painful. Mays says his shoulder came out of socket, that he tore his labrum in two places, and that for more than 90 minutes after the injury the training staff had trouble getting the shoulder back in place. Mays said all that time out of socket made his recovery longer, but he estimates he will be coming back to Cincinnati at 90 percent.
4. How Mays fits: Quickly, we'll add that Mays will fit somewhere in the Bengals' plans, it's just not clear where. He will provide depth at safety, playing in some rotation with George Iloka, Reggie Nelson, Shawn Williams and the recently added Danieal Manning. Nelson, Iloka and Manning are expected to get the majority of snaps. Mays also could jump into an emergency nickel linebacker spot, a role he started playing last season when Emmanuel Lamur was out with his own shoulder injury. Lamur is healthy and expected to resume his duties at the position.
5. Latest on Orson Charles: TMZ Sports reported Wednesday that the gun H-back Charles allegedly waved at a motorist while traveling down Interstate 75 in Kentucky last month was loaded. The website obtained the latest version of the police report, which contains more details about what happened in the road-rage incident. A passenger of Charles' told police that when she saw Charles reaching for the gun, she grabbed it and put it in her purse and tossed the purse into the backseat. Previous incident reports said the gun was found in a purse. Charles pleaded not guilty last week and has a pre-trial hearing set for next Thursday. For now, this incident has no bearing on his status with the Bengals.
Plus-1: A bonus take. The Bengals signed punter T.J. Conley on Wednesday. Nothing to be alarmed about there, starter Kevin Huber will be fine and fully recovered from his late-season jaw and neck injury long before training camp starts. Conley was just brought on to give the Bengals an extra leg to keep Huber's fresh in camp.