Bengals banned from tweeting during camp

CINCINNATI — Nobody’s going to hear a tweet out of the Bengals for a while.

Coach Marvin Lewis has banned his players from tweeting during training camp, a way of trying to get them to focus while they work out at their downtown facility the next few weeks. He imposed the ban after consulting team leaders about the social media crackdown.

Many Cincinnati players tweet regularly, keeping up with each other, friends and family. So far, they’ve gone along with the ban.

“I don’t think it’s something where we’re trying to fine guys $10,000 if they Twitter something,” said offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, who doesn’t have a Twitter account. “I think we’re just more saying, ‘Let’s let our focus be on what we do.’”

Fine with Lewis, who is particularly wary of players spreading information about injuries through social media. Rookie cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick unintentionally crossed the line when he tweeted earlier in the week that he had a leg injury.

Lewis informed the players of the ban when they reported for the start of camp this weekend.

“I don’t see how tweeting is going to help us win a football game,” Lewis said. “So it’s part of being selfless right now. It’s not best for our football team to be involved in that. It’s best that we just take care of ourselves and not announce what we’re doing or not doing, or who did this or who did that, and commenting on what’s going on in other spots. Let’s be football players.”

Lewis struggled for years to try to get former Bengals receiver Chad Johnson to cut back on his social media comments. Johnson would use Twitter and other media to bait opponents or post photos of himself getting treatment for an injury.

The NFL’s relationship with social media has been in transition for years. Some teams cracked down on players, fans and reporters using social media during training camp workouts. The league adopted a policy in August 2009 that permits players to use social media except during a limited time frame, from 90 minutes before the kickoff of a game until after traditional postgame interviews are completed.

Lewis’ policy is stricter, with limits on what players can share from Paul Brown Stadium during the week. This is the first time he has prohibited the entire team from tweeting away from the stadium.

Whitworth, who is the team’s union representative, said he has asked the players’ union whether the ban is permitted under the collective bargaining agreement adopted last year.

“I don’t know what the rules are on something like that,” Whitworth said. “I’ve already checked into that, I’m waiting to hear back on that.”

Lewis said he’ll let the team leaders decide whether to extend the ban into the season.

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