The Cincinnati Bengals completed their second week of OTA practices on Thursday, leaving a four-day session for next week and the team's mandatory camp the week after that. Of the six practices completed, only two were open for the media and even then, for only the first thirty minutes.
Yet enough is being known to give fans an impression on how the team is developing.
+ There's clearly an indefinable line between injuries and players just needing to rest. Guys like Andrew Whitworth and Dre Kirkpatrick are injured, rehabilitating from offseason procedures that will hold both out until training camp.
Adam Jones suffered a calf strain, placing his offseason workouts in jeopardy. Rest is the ideal rehabilitation and the importance for OTAs is far more critical for free agent signings, rookies, and younger player seeing an increased role. Leon Hall suffered a torn ligament in one of his thumbs during a workout prior to OTAs, but he's expected to participate in all drills next week. As a result, Brandon Ghee is being given a rare opportunity to play with the first-team defense.
Clint Boling and Trevor Robinson are also out for an extended period of time.
Beyond that, several players are resting and sitting from minor "ailments" that's allowing younger players like Devon Still additional playing time while Geno Atkins rests.
+ Andre Smith has been the most notable absence from OTAs at this point, dealing with Marvin Lewis is calling a personal issue. Along with Whitworth's injury, the Bengals offensive line has a rookie in Tanner Hawkinson and Anthony Collins covering the tackles, while free agent acquisition Mike Pollak is sitting in for Clint Boling, who is also sitting during practice.
+ One storyline coming out of OTAs is the level of talent being promoted at tight end. There's a very real possibility that Cincinnati could keep four tight ends entering the first week of the regular season, adding that Orson Charles could be the variable wild card that plays multiple positions and Alex Smith being one the more complete tight ends on the roster, when you factor blocking.
While Tyler Eifert is easily satisfying expectations and Jermaine Gresham being the starter (for now) of the four-man crew, the Bengals could arguably have the best tight end squad in franchise history.
"Not only is it the best group of tight ends the Bengals have ever had, but I think it's potentially one of the best groups in the league," Bengals analyst Dave Lapham told Bengals.com. "Danny (Ross) and Rodney (Holman) overlapped only briefly (two-and-a-half seasons), but Danny was at the end of the line. In Gresham and Eifert you've got two top tight ends that could conceivably be playing together in their primes for something like seven years with the caveat being if the NFL keeps the two tight-end trend going."
+ Of all the rookies, Cobi Hamilton is receiving tremendous praise from the Bengals coaching staff. We're not sure if that's due to his sixth-round status, but he's making nice catches, even during crossing routes within heavy traffic.
+ Though not really surprising, second-year player Emmanuel Lamur is earning his place on the team's roster, playing as a nickel linebacker with Vontaze Burfict. It's open for discussion, considering Lamur might be a stop-gap until James Harrison is feeling more comfortable. However Harrison, still adjusting to Mike Zimmer's defense, is projecting a more active role as a pass rusher; not coverage linebacker.
+ Andy Dalton is reportedly working on his deep pass, with some reports that he's looking good. This is one of those things that I'll never buy. Dalton has always shown exciting passes when throwing deep during offseason practices and even training camp. Yet that isn't so much the problem as it is his production under pressure and his willingness to release the football quicker. That being said, Dalton has looked good this year.