My experience at Bengals Training Camp (Sunday, July 28)

I'd like to share my experience at Bengals Training Camp.

The most notable sight on the walk towards the training camp site is the players’ parking garage under the stadium. Most of the cars are customized large trucks and SUVs.

The training camp site consists of two large natural grass practice fields: one adjacent to PBS, and one further away which is overlooked by the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge. In between the two fields are bleachers for fans to sit and some open areas for fans to roam. Both the bleachers and open areas were jam-packed. A dirt sidewalk connects the entrance and the actual training camp site. At the beginning of the dirt sidewalk is a makeshift ticket booth (for game tickets) and Porta-Potties (pretty long lines for those), and at the end is a concession stand. Bengals Radio Network analyst Dave Lapham, standing near the bleachers, was talkative and lively. Former running backs coach Jim Anderson was also present.

The field adjacent to PBS was to be used by the O-line, D-line, LB's, and specialists. The QB's, WR's, TE's, RB's, and DB's used the field further from PBS, and this field was also the site of team warmups, special teams drills, the Oklahoma Drill, and the 11-on-11 drills. Among the fans, there was definitely a lot of shifting back and forth between the fields.

I arrived during team warmups, with some really good sights of individual players. After the entire team huddled up, then the O-line, D-line, LB's, and specialists moved to the field adjacent to PBS while the rest of the team stayed put. The units that were moving jogged around the crowd and bleachers to do so.

The D-line and specialists practiced the farthest from the crowd and the closest to PBS. This side had great views of PBS and the city. Each member of the D-line, one-by-one, hit a football dummy. The placekickers (Quinn Sharp and Mike Nugent) used an "H" field goal post; both of them looked good. The O-line practiced right in front of the dirt sidewalk, so the fans standing there (many late arrivals) got a great view of them. Instead of white-painted hashmarks, this O-line area had white-painted square boxes (altogether forming a checkered pattern). Two O-linemen would be placed into each box, one acting as a D-lineman and the other one doing his job. The LB's were the closest group on this particular field to the crowd/bleachers. They did mainly coverage drills. James Harrison, Rey Maualuga, and Vontaze Burfict got some initial action but got to relax the rest of the time. Backups, specifically Emmanuel Lamur, Vincent Rey, Jayson DiManche, Sean Porter, Jordan Campbell, Bruce Taylor, and J.K. Schaffer got most of the practice. Brandon Joiner and Aaron Maybin got a bit of action too, but mainly were relegated to acting as offensive skill players while the others practiced in coverage on them. The position coaches (Paul Alexander, Jay Hayes, Paul Guenther, Darrin Simmons) were all very visible. Mike Zimmer and Marvin Lewis were on this side of the field and focused on the LB's and D-line. Each position group had a 2- to 4-man NFL Films Hard Knocks crew on the scene: one man holding a large camera, one man holding a large, long mike, and possible others carrying bags and excess wire. They each wore a Bengals Hard Knocks shirt and a Secret Service-style coiled communication earpiece. Each position group then huddled up before heading back to the field closer to the CWB Bridge for the Oklahoma Drill, jogging around the crowd/bleachers to do so. (FYI: it was extremely crowded, so I couldn't get to watch the other units. At this time, I ended up focusing on linebackers in particular.)

Most fans had a so-so view of the Oklahoma Drill. Those with perhaps the best view were standing on the CWB Bridge overlooking practice. I assume that's where Brennen Warner stood when capturing his great video footage. The matchups involving O-line, D-line, linebackers, tight ends, and fullbacks were more easily seen by the fans on the CWB Bridge, while those involving wide receivers and defensive backs were more easily seen by the fans on the ground. Factoring in the crowd and the players constantly moving around, it was tough to see anything beyond the WR's vs. the DB's. Also, Hard Knocks camera crews were set up right next to each Oklahoma Drill "lane," and every matchup was caught on film. Marvin Jones did a very solid job on Reggie Nelson, pushing him back even though Nelson technically won. Sanu was solid against Leon Hall and won in a close one (Hall didn't lose any ground). Andrew Hawkins won by pushing Terence Newman way back, perhaps surprising given his size but maybe not considering his toughness. Ryan Whalen was solid- he pushed Adam Jones a long, long way back to win one matchup, and later Shaun Prater shed Whalen's block but not before Dan Herron had gained some yardage; Prater tackled him, resulting in a draw. Cobi Hamilton was so-so, barely beating Brandon Ghee but not being able to block Onterio McCalebb (who subsequently didn't come close to taking down BJGE), resulting in a draw. Tyrone Goard was superb, steamrolling Dre Kirkpatrick just like what Mo Purify did to Roy Williams in the 2009 Hard Knocks. That elicited roars from the crowd and celebrating by the WR corps. Goard also solidly beat Terrence Brown. Roy Roundtree struggled, getting obliterated by George Iloka and Shawn Williams which sent the defensive backs into a frenzy (and of course roars from the crowd). He also lost to Taylor Mays, but that was closer as Gio Bernard gained some yardage. Dane Sanzenbacher eked out a win over Chris Lewis-Harris; I felt that could have been a draw. Then Troy Stoudermire eked out a win over Sanzenbacher by wrapping up the runner but well past the line of scrimmage, so I thought that could be a draw. Taveon Rogers crushed Tony Dye, also eliciting crowd noise. There was plenty of frenzy further down the field but those matchups were tougher to see. Also, WR coach James Urban is much smaller than most of his pupils.

Two other quick things about this particular field: there's an ambulance (with the TriHealth logo) parked here in case of an emergency. Also, the Brown family was on this side. Mike Brown (in his classic Bengals cap, sunglasses, gray t-shirt, shorts, crew socks and old sneakers) sitting in a John Deere vehicle, Pete Brown (pink dress shirt), Katie Blackburn, and presumably one of Katie's daughters. I noticed in a previous Cincy Jungle post with a photo that someone identified the man standing in the pink shirt as Mike Brown. I'm 99% sure that he's Pete Brown because the man in the John Deere was unmistakably Mike Brown.

The O-line, D-line, LB's, and specialists moved back to the field adjacent to PBS. I stayed near the field closer to the CWB Bridge to watch the QB-TE and then QB-WR drills and defensive backs. The first-string tandem of QB-TE was Andy Dalton and Jermaine Gresham. The second-string was Josh Johnson and Tyler Eifert, and the third-string was John Skelton and Richard Quinn. Alex Smith and Zac Robinson were present in street clothes. The tandems practiced simple pass-and-catch plays, with the TE both in a three-point stance and out wide. Zac Robinson "played" center. Jonathan Hayes was clearly visible. Jay Gruden himself went down in a three-point stance with Gresham and Eifert respectively, showing them how to chip off a defender (Quinn) then run a route, with Dalton and Johnson respectively doing a play-action pass. Quinn is clearly the odd TE out. Most everything was smooth, though Gresham dropped one pass. As for the receivers, A.J. Green and Brandon Tate were in street clothes. Sanu, Jones, and Hamilton all lined up closer to the fans on the ground while Goard, Hawkins, Rogers, Roundtree, Sanzenbacher, and Whalen were more visible to the fans on the CWB Bridge. All the QB's threw, and they all looked okay, as did the three receivers I could see. The defensive backs all looked good as well. Dre Kirkpatrick was very lively and talkative. I'm very excited to see him on the field this year. I could not clearly identify Ken Zampese nor Mark Carrier.

Going back to the field adjacent to PBS and looking far into the distance, strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton was working one-on-one with Andre Smith. Later, Andre put on a goofy-looking bucket hat. Also on this field, Harris was deep-snapping to Huber, who was definitely punting for height and accuracy over power. Later, Harris snapped and Huber held as both Nugent and Sharp were given field goal opportunities, with special teams coach Darrin Simmons closely watching.

The four specialists returned to the field further from PBS for the punt return/coverage/fake drills. Only Huber and Harris were really needed, but all four of them went back. Instead of jogging around the crowd/bleachers like some of the other units, they cut directly through the crowd itself with the help of security officers present. Many defensive backs were used on coverage, and multiple guys were used at punt returner, notably Bernard and Hawkins, but not Tate who was sidelined. Cedric Peerman was also sidelined and in street clothes, so Rex Burkhead and Tony Dye were the fake punt runners. Kevin Huber threw a few fake passes (lefty, of course).

Regarding the 11-on-11 practice that happened on the side of the field I was closer to, the two most memorable plays were a Josh Johnson bullet down the seam to Sanzenbacher (who burned Brandon Ghee), and a Dalton deep ball to Marvin Jones that was barely incomplete. Jones was down briefly, and trainer Paul Sparling jogged across the field (~50 yards) to Jones. Fortunately, he was okay. I couldn't see any of the 11-on-11 practice on the other side of this field.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and can make it out to training camp sometime if you haven’t already.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.

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