Earlier on Monday, Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote up a Bengals minicamp preview, as they kickoff their next set of practices this week. We've dissected it and based on his observations, as well as our own, we've come up with some things that need to be watched this week. Earlier, I discussed the importance of the Bengals' defensive coaches finding their groove and becoming a more cohesive unit.
What about the other side of the ball? While A.J. Green and Andy Dalton surprised all of us with their maturity and early impact, there's still a lot of growth that needs to happen on offense. While the team put up points and made the playoffs last season, they were wildly inconsistent and need to be more efficient in the red zone. Getting some of those finer points down will be a part of this week's minicamp.
Even though nearly every NFL analyst has been singing his praises this offseason, A.J. Green has been using the OTAs to clean up his route-running. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden told us that Green had been relying on his raw athleticism to get him by throughout 2011, and he wants him to learn more of the nuances of the position to help him become a truly dominant NFL wide receiver. Apparently Green has been looking very good throughout camp so far and it couldn't hurt that he has a full offseason to truly grasp everything this year.
Aside from Green doing his share, the rest of the youngsters will have to get up to speed as well. Someone has to start to get a stranglehold on the other starting wide receiver position, even if they are planning to have it manned by committee. Mohamed Sanu, Armon Binns and Marvin Jones have all been battling it out, and there really isn't a clear-cut winner at this point. Though we haven't been hearing anything about these young guys being "lost" in practice, this week will tell a lot because of a further installation of the playbook.
Overall, things are looking good for the group, but there's still a lot of work to be done. Jay Gruden recently told reporters (via Reedy):
Said Gruden: "We are all confident right now. Everybody should be this time of year. If not, then you got problems already. We feel very good about our offense right now. The backs look very good. The tight ends are doing well, the receivers are doing well, obviously the quarterbacks have had their moments. We feel good about where we are, we just have to clean up a lot of issues."
The "cleaning up of issues" will continue this week and we're all hoping for big strides of progress.