• HAWKINSON, BENGALS IN KC THURSDAY — While I’m going to be watching Thursday’s NFL exhibition game between Cincinnati and Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium to see what the Chiefs have to offer, I’ll be watching more closely when Cincinnati has the ball.
McPherson High graduate Tanner Hawkinson is beginning his second year with the Bengals and hopefully, as with most preseason games, he’ll get plenty of opportunities to make an impression on the Cincinnati coaching staff.
Hawkinson, a fifth-round draft pick following the completion of his Kansas Jayhawk career, was active for five games last year and got into one. It basically amounted to a “redshirt year” for him, much like his first year at KU.
According to various websites that follow the Bengals on a regular basis, Hawkinson has impressed his coaches with his quick feet and ability to play several positions. At 6-5 and now 300 pounds, he moves better than most big men his size, which goes back to his tight end days at McPherson High and as a post presence on the Bullpup basketball team.
“He obviously has tremendous quickness and athleticism," Bengals line coach Paul Alexander said in a published story. "He can pull and do things in space and he's gotten a little stronger. He's had to grow up in terms of filling out with strength and maturity. He's a little better than he was last year. He just needs reps now."
Hawkinson was having a great game in his exhibition opener last year when he went down with a fourth-quarter ankle injury that slowed his progress.
On the published depth chart I saw recently, Hawkinson was not listed on the two-deep, but that doesn’t really mean anything at this point. Injuries are commonplace in the NFL and he has to be ready when his number is called.
So McPherson fans, be watching for No. 72 on Thursday. Hopefully he’ll get a few series to prove he deserves more playing time. Game time is 7 p.m. on Channel 12, or 2012 for those with high-def.
• 49ERS PICKED TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL — There are numerous football publications that come out prior to the start of the NFL season, but the most tried and true is The Sporting News, which bought out Street and Smith’s many years back, which was the most trusted name among periodicals in my humble opinion.
I picked up a copy this week and it has the San Francisco 49ers (who were my pick to win it all last year) over the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl.
According to the magazine, defending champion Seattle will lose to San Francisco in a divisional playoff game.
TSN picks the Colts to beat Denver in the AFC championship game, while the 49ers will have to get past Green Bay in the NFC championship game.
The six NFC qualifiers are San Francisco, Green Bay, Seattle, New Orleans, Chicago and Philadelphia. The NFC houses the stronger teams this year in my opinion, as all four division races will be closely contested, whereas Denver, Indianapolis and New England appear to have clear paths in their respective AFC divisions.
The three other AFC qualifiers include Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati. The most open division could be the North, as Pittsburgh is a slight favorite over Cincinnati and rebuilding Baltimore.
And the Chiefs? Well, TSN does like them to finish second in the AFC West, though I’m skeptical. I really believe they are looking at third place behind Denver and San Diego since free agency stripped them of some talented players and their replacements aren’t on par.
In the magazine’s overall power rankings, the Chiefs are ranked as the 16th-best team out of 32. So I guess what it’s saying is they’re middle of the road.
• GOLF WORLD GOES DIGITAL — For years, I have enjoyed reading Golf World, the best magazine printed for those who love and follow the sport.
It is complete with tournament reviews, features, opinions and statistics.
But in the Aug. 4 edition that I received in the mail, inserted was a letter informing me it was the last print edition. From now on, I have to go on-line to read it.
Most of you know how old school I am. Even if I have to wait a few extra days, I like having it in my hands. But Golf World has joined the computer age and while there will now be 50 weeks instead of 31 and I can click on Mondays to read everything that comes in the mail on Thursdays, give me the magazine any day.
Having been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years before getting out nearly two years ago, I always worried that all newspapers would do digital. There’s just something about having it in your hand every morning or evening. I know when I was involved, the parents liked cutting out articles and pictures about their kids. You can’t do that online unless you print it out. Kids also eagerly anticipated what I was going to write and would rush home after school looking for their newspaper in their driveway.
While it’s great we’ve made remarkable advances in technology, some old-school traditions need to be kept going.