Bengals safety Taylor Mays #26 talks to an assistant coach. (Photo by Brennen Warner)
Back again. Thank goodness I don't have to write about all the parking and ticket information again. You can find information on that in the day one journal entry.
Security was a little tighter today. (By the way, when I say "today", just remember I'm talking about Saturday). They were more aggressive in keeping people from stopping on the entrance walkway. I got yelled at. If you can stay and stand there, it lets you get a great view of the offensive lineman and tight ends during their positional sets. The defense also practices on the second field too, which is almost impossible to see from the bleachers.
Before I move any further, you should check out this great picture of the Bengals' practice fields, provided by the Bengals' Head Groundskeeper Darian Daily. This picture contains everything.
Every 11-on-11 set happens on the field close to the bleachers. As you can see, there are two full fields side by side. During positional drills. The long snapper, kickers, and Kevin Huber practice on that small third field behind the bleachers.
During the positional stuff, the defensive line takes the bottom left part by the equipment. The linebackers and secondary take up the rest of that field (further from the bleachers). The running backs and fullbacks practice directly in front of the bleachers on the left. The wide receivers directly in front of the bleachers on the right. Tight ends and offensive line on the far right, next to the dirt walkway. That should give you an idea of where you might want to sit. Personally, I move around to be as close to the action as possible.
The fan entrance would be in the bottom right of this picture if it stretched that far. The players enter and exit through a different entrance, which would be in the bottom left of this picture. If you are lucky, they might stop for a brief moment for autographs as they exit that gate (you must be on the outside). I got Rey Maualuga's that way.
+ Player Notes And Highlights
Yesterday, the quarterbacks weren't in sync with the wide receivers. A lot of errant passes. Today, they were able to connect a lot more during drills, but that success didn't carry over into the 11-on-11. The defense clogged up the line of scrimmage and didn't allow much separation to receivers.
It was mostly a mess on offense today. Andy Dalton wasn't himself again (a little inaccurate), but two days of below average passes is absolutely nothing to worry about. If I recall correctly, he looked horrible dealing with pressure in the first few days of his rookie training camp. Look how that turned out.
An interesting situation happened with the wideouts today. As you may have heard, Brandon Tate was "limited" today in practice, and Armon Binns got some work with the first team in his place. Well, the team ran through three different 11-on-11 sessions today. Tate was on first team with A.J. Green during the first set. In the second and third sets, he didn't appear at all. He was just standing there, behind the other players, not looking ready to go. I never saw a trainer look at him or anything, nor did I see Tate get injured. After practice, Tate reportedly said he was going to "get checked by the trainers".
At the time, I had no idea that Tate was injured, and I even got his autograph after practice. I wished him good luck this year, to which he replied, "Sorry about today man...", then he mumbled something about (possibly?) his hand. So, if his hand is somehow hurt, then there's your inside scoop. If not, don't hate me. No one knows what the injury is, as of this posting, but we should find out sometime Sunday.
Armon Binns filled in for Tate for a handful of snaps, then Ryan Whalen and Mohamed Sanu received additional snaps as well in the second and third 11-on-11 sets. Binns and Whalen generally were on the outside. Sanu mostly worked the middle, and made some tough catches in traffic. Whalen runs brilliant routes. Jay Gruden raved about his route running, consistency, and sure hands the other day. I believe it. His physical potential is far surpassed by that of a guy like, say, Marvin Jones. But the organization clearly trusts Whalen, since he's getting second and first team reps at outside receiver.
Andrew Hawkins was breaking ankles and taking names today. He turned around Leon Hall and Taylor Mays on consecutive snaps in drills. For intermediate and short routes, no one can keep up with the agility of Hawkins. With Jordan Shipley still sidelined, Hawkins has been the team's first string slot receiver.
Vidal Hazelton, Kashif Moore, Justin Hilton, and Taveon Rogers are all doing well so far. All undrafted, they are generally considered the longshots to make the team, but they honestly haven't made many mistakes in drills. Moore was rotated in as a slot receiver and Hilton has been holding his own on the outside.
Not much to say about the running backs, since today was another no contact day. Sunday and Monday are contact days though, if you were wondering. Free agent signing Aaron Brown was repeatedly yelled at by the running backs coach Jim Anderson. Anderson kept shouting "get upfield". As in, stop bouncing it outside and run forward. Brown looked speedy doing this on Friday, but I guess Anderson has had enough of it. You can get away with that in college, but not so much in the NFL, with speedier defensive ends and linebackers.
Jermaine Gresham wasn't targeted as much today. He had a ton of positive plays on Friday and didn't make any mistakes again today.
I generally don't pay attention to both the offensive and defensive linemen, since there's no contact. I noted who was on which teams, and that's about it.
The linebacker rotation was generally the same today. The only change was that Dontay Moch was moved around between third and fourth team. Since there's only eleven linebackers, Moch, Micah Johnson, and Emmanuel Lamur are all being rotated around the third and fourth squads.
At cornerback, Leon Hall and Terence Newman took the first team snaps again, with Nate Clements still sidelined. When the team decided to limit Hall's snaps a bit (still recovering from an achilles injury), Jason Allen was the guy that got moved up to first team. He also came in during nickel formations. Allen and Hall were on the outside, while Newman surprisingly moved to the slot. That slot position should be Nate Clements' job, come week one. Adam Jones had a minor injury to his calf, apparently. If he was healthy, maybe he would have been moved up, and not Allen. Hall still looked rusty again today. Got beat pretty badly in a few one on one drills. Nothing to worry about. Physically, he's fine, just needs to relearn and refine technique.
Taylor Mays didn't have a good day. But both Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson and The Enquirer's Joe Reedy have noted that Mays looked good covering A.J. Green deep on one play. Here's Hobson's quote:
Taylor Mays drew raves from the coaches for his coverage of wide receiver A.J. Green, on one deep route.
Reedy included it in his "plays of note".
Here's the thing. It was only one play. Mays allowed a lot of completions today because he simply let receivers get too much separation. He got burned a lot in one-on-one drills, and was slow to help out on a few deep balls when he was playing deep zone. He simply can't cover the quicker wide receivers in the league. A 230-pound man just physically can't turn his hips and change direction to match the quick-twitch, smaller guys.
Right now, Mays' biggest strengths are being able to run really fast in a straight line (which was on display when he ran stride for stride with A.J. Green on one play today), and his ability to stick to the hips of big tight ends. He can shut down a guy like Owen Daniels, and, in my opinion, would have a solid dogfight with guys like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. Looking forward, Mays must play better when he is in deep zone coverage. React to the ball quicker and make a play on the ball in the air. If he can do that, then you've got something to work with.
I think that's it for offensive and defensive player observations. Now special teams! Six guys got work as kick returners today. The pairs were Bernard Scott and Cedric Peerman. Taveon Rogers and Andrew Hawkins. Marvin Jones and Aaron Brown. Two more will probably join that group later in Brandon Tate and Kashif Moore.
Special teams coach Darrin Simmons wasn't very pleased with the kickoff coverage at first. He cussed at them loudly after a few kickoffs.
The team ran a few fake field goals and punts today. On the fake field goal, the holder Kevin Huber had the option to run it, or throw the ball to a streaking Dennis Roland. That's a 6'9" offensive lineman, mind you. Considering the athleticism of both players involved, the options were pretty absurd, which made me laugh out loud. On the punts, Cedric Peerman was the punt protector, and took a few direct snaps to try and run for a first down. I hope that happens in the real season. Huber also scrambled to throw the ball down the field, where a few blockers had slipped by their defenders to run routes.
Last thing I'll leave you with, starting full back Chris Pressley plowed over Jeromy Miles after Pressley caught a dumpoff to the sideline. It was accidental, but pretty hilarious. I would never want to be in front of a charging Chris Pressley. That man is built like a wrecking ball.
+ First Teams, Second Teams, & Whatnot
Fourth team: Micah Johnson / Emmanuel Lamur, Grant Hunter (47), Micah Johnson / Dontay Moch
First team: Leon Hall (29), Terence Newman (23)
Second team: Adam Jones (24), Jason Allen (25)
(Nate Clements, Dre Kirkpatrick injured)
First team: Reggie Nelson (20), Taylor Mays (26)
First team: A.J. Green (18), Brandon Tate (19)
Second team: Armon Binns (85), Ryan Whalen (88)
Third team: Marvin Jones (82), Mohamed Sanu (12)
Fourth team: Justin Hilton (15), Vidal Hazelton (17) / Taveon Rogers (89)
Slot receivers: Andrew Hawkins (16), Kashif Moore (83)
(Jordan Shipley injured)
Defensive Line: (DE-DT-DT-DE)
Third team: DeQuin Evans (69), Brandon Thompson (79), Vaughn Meatoga (60)
No pictures today. Left my darn camera in the car. You can check out fellow Cincy Jungle writer Andrew Miller's Saturday pictures on his flickr account instead. He also wrote a story about his experience at training camp on Saturday, which should come out at Sunday afternoon sometime.
Thanks for reading.