Get your Friday started off with these five thoughts on the world as it pertains to the Cincinnati Bengals:
1. International "home" games? Speaking of the world, with the team's new deal reached Thursday with Hamilton County (Ohio) officials, the Bengals could soon be taking part in the NFL's international series.
Last season, the league sent four teams to London, including division rival Pittsburgh. Six are going in 2014 (Dolphins-Raiders, Lions-Falcons and Cowboys-Jaguars). Since 2007, eight regular-season NFL games have been played overseas. It stands to reason that more games per season could be played in Europe and elsewhere as the NFL tries to expand its global brand. It's a detail from Thursday's deal that could be easy to overlook because it's the one part of the deal that doesn't immediately impact the Bengals at home, but the county commission agreed to allow the team to play two international "home" games within a five-year stretch. That's intriguing news for a franchise that could stand to grow its global brand. This month we learned the Bengals ranked 24th among the most-searched NFL teams on Google. Now, the Bengals just have to see if the NFL will select them for any overseas games in the near future.
2. Good thing for the players? How much do the players benefit from playing games outside the country? Jet lag can be a concern as they take a longer trip than they're used to, even if they are playing a game that begins at the normal 1 p.m. ET kickoff time. Is the team at a disadvantage in games both before the international matchup and after it? While the league likes to build bye weeks around the London games -- last year the byes for the Steelers and Vikings fell the week after they played at London's Wembley Stadium -- is it enough? Don't be surprised if you see a few Bengals players question that if Cincinnati is scheduled for an international game. Though it's great for the Bengals to be able to market themselves in London and abroad, some players may be bothered by playing a regular-season game so far from Paul Brown Stadium, where they were 8-0 last season.
3. Canada's calling. On the same day the Bengals learned they'd have a chance to take their talents out of the country, one of their former players, Chad Johnson, signed withthe CFL's Montreal Alouettes. It's the same CFL team now-former Bengal Andrew Hawkins played for before he arrived in the NFL in 2011. It's the same team current Bears coach Marc Trestman used to coach for. While the two-year deal might seem like a publicity stunt simply because of the 36-year-old's flashy personality, it is also about football. Johnson hasn't played a game since 2011 and recently mentioned how much he missed playing the game. Following his fall from grace over a 2012 arrest for allegedly headbutting his wife, this could be just the career rival he's been looking for.
4. Draft days. Mock drafts have overtaken the lives of the NFL beat reporter. They change constantly and are debated almost ad nausea, but we still devour them. ESPN draft insider Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest mock Thursday, providing a look at the players he believes each team will take in the first and second round. That's two picks for the Bengals; one is a new name to the Bengals mock board and the other is a familiar one. Since this is an insider article, I'm going to keep their names out of this post, but I will point out that one is a cornerback and the other is an offensive tackle. Both are real positions of need for the Bengals.
5. Thoughts with the Lewis family. Finally, we close these Quick Takes by sending along thoughts to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and his family. Lewis' father, Marvin Lewis Sr., died Thursday afternoon in a Pittsburgh-area hospital after a long battle with an illness. Lewis Sr. was 78. Unfortunately, all too often it's moments like these that remind us how much coaches and players are like the rest of us. They have families too, and they experience loss the very same way the rest of us do. Again, all the best to Coach Lewis and his family at this time.