To the casual football fan, OTA workouts aren't all that exciting, nor do they mean all that much on the surface. But, to coaches and the hardcore fan, there are things to keep an eye on. First and foremost has to be injuries. In practices that are mostly non-contact, you would hate to hear about an important player sustaining a major injury.
"No broken bones", Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis told the team's official website on Thursday. "We've been fortunate not to have any longer-term injuries of any kind", he continued. This has to bring a sigh of relief to fans after we saw so many critical players go down with major injuries in practices last season.
The other thing that you want to get out of the OTA sessions is a sense of where the team is at and how the youngsters are processing terminology and the playbook. In that respect, Lewis is pleased as well, saying:
"I think we got through the revisions and additions we’ve made as a coaching staff," he said. "It all involves personnel, philosophies and schemes. Hopefully we’ve got the young guys in position so that when we start training camp, they can really show their abilities and play football. They deserve an opportunity to stay here in the NFL, and they’re going to make us better as a team."
In the files labeled "wise" and "unfortunate", Lewis also had to remind his team to stay out of trouble while they are away from the protective eyes of the staff until they return at the end of July. This reminder likely stemmed from the unfortunate incident involving cornerback Adam Jones at a local Cincinnati-area bar earlier this week.
Lewis echoed some of the same sentiments that we've been preaching here about certain situations and settings with football players, telling his guys to "stay away from knuckleheads".
I told them to stay away from knuckleheads. Know your surroundings and stay away from people you don’t quite know or who don’t have your best interests at heart. That goes for every day. As NFL players, guys have targets on them. Wherever they go, people know who they are, and you’re not going to win a confrontation. However wrong the other side of a confrontation may be, you’re going to have a hard time coming out of it looking good."
+As for the performances of the team on Thursday's final practice, there were some good moments and some bad ones. Per Pete Schramm of Bengals.com, the quarterbacks went a combined seven of 14 with an interception. The receivers made a few nice catches and the interception came from Taylor Mays, which is music to our ears.
The tight ends all had nice plays as well, be it in red zone drills or other opportunities. Schramm reports that Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert and Alex Smith all had nice plays at one point or another. Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer also tells us that Mohamed Sanu and Giovani Bernard were grouped in with the return team along with mainstays Jones and Brandon Tate.