Bill Walsh Fellowship brings T.J. Houshmandzadeh back to Bengals

CINCINNATI -- Former Cincinnati Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh is back working in the Queen City -- briefly.

He's one of four men to spend part of the spring and summer with the Bengals as part of the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship program.

In its 28th year, the fellowship has helped launch several professional coaching careers, including that of the Bengals' Marvin Lewis. Before becoming an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1992, Lewis interned as part of the program with the 49ers and Chiefs. His current defensive line coach, Jay Hayes, and an offensive assistant, Brian Braswell, also worked in the program.

"This program helped me get ahead as a coach, and it's great to see it continue as strong as it is," Lewis said in a news release.

Houshmandzadeh, a Bengals seventh-round pick in 2001 and one-time Pro Bowler, has been working recently as a high school coach in the Los Angeles area. The Southern California native still holds the franchise record for receptions in a season (112). He also ranks in the top 10 in team history in career receptions (507), receiving yards (5,782) and receiving touchdowns (37).

Houshmandzadeh played in Cincinnati from 2001 to 2008. His career ended in 2011, when he appeared in nine games for the Raiders. That year current Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, himself a minority, coached in Oakland. Jackson and Houshmandzadeh previously had worked together when Jackson was the Bengals' receivers coach in 2004-06.

Officially, Houshmandzadeh's first day was Monday. He will be interning through June 18, when the Bengals end minicamp and break until training camp.

In addition to Houshmandzadeh, former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Chuck Smith was interning the first two weeks of organized team activities. His portion of the program ended last Thursday. He spent his share of time working with the Bengals' pass-rushers during OTAs, backing up Hayes. Since his own retirement after the 2000 season, Smith has been a personal trainer to NFL players.

Beginning in late July, the Bengals will be joined by two other coaches from the fellowship. One of them, like Houshmandzadeh, has a history with the Bengals.

Keith Rucker spent two of his six NFL seasons (1994-95) as a defensive tackle in Cincinnati. He currently is the defensive line coach at Ohio Wesleyan. He'll be joined for two weeks near the start of Bengals training camp by Kelvin Bell, the director of on-campus recruiting for the University of Iowa's football program.