The third day of Training Camp was not only fast-paced, but the bleachers were full as the weekend crowd gathered to watch the Bengals work toward a third consecutive playoff berth, which is currently being documented by the award-winning HBO series Hard Knocks.
While attending practice on Saturday, I reported a lot of my observations on Twitter but I thought I'd expand my thoughts beyond the 140-character restriction that I'm faced with. I should point out: I ended up being on the side of the field where there weren't as many defensive drills occurring. With that said, here are some of my observations:
+ The setup on the practice field is largely the same as last year. Players tend to shift to the field behind the bleachers for drills from time to time; causing fans to constantly shift from one side of the field to the other. One benefit to this was that players and coaches constantly cut through the crowd between ropes, making the players seem a bit more accessible.
+ Andy Dalton played well. Despite his pick-six against Terence Newman, a handful of tipped passes by Geno Atkins, and a couple of overthrown deep balls. Still, Dalton looked sharp overall. He attacked the middle of the field particularly well today throwing a few darts into traffic with impressive accuracy.
+ Giovani Bernard was getting a lot of attention in the passing game today. Whether he was catching passes in the flats or a quick hitch for the easy check down, Bernard was extending plays on the field. He even recovered a ball tipped by Atkins at one point.
+ Andrew Hawkins continues to impress. There was one play in particular where Hawkins lined up outside and accelerated off the line. Rookie safety Shawn Williams didn't have enough time to generate speed to keep up. Dalton threw the ball deep, which landed perfectly in Hawkins' hands for at a 30-yard gain down the sideline.
+ Tyler Eifert has been as advertised. He and Mohamed Sanu saw a lot of work today, particularly in the middle of the field. Both players are showings signs of being the physical threats that we've hoped for this season.
+ Adam Jones was vocal on the sidelines. Constantly shouting encouragement to other defensive backs, he even heckled Andy Dalton a bit, yelling "Nope! Joke!" after he overthrew Mohamed Sanu on one play.
+ I witnessed at least two passes by Dalton that Geno Atkins swatted at the line. It must be nice to practice against one of the best defensive tackles in the league.
+ Domata Peko was very engaged with fans during practice. You rarely saw him without a smile and he was quick to greet children along the sidelines.
+ Rookie running back Rex Burkhead may have been my unsung hero of the afternoon. He seemed to relish contact when he was on the field. I was impressed by his toughness during practice.
I'll leave you with some photos I captured on Saturday:
Andy Dalton participates in positional drills early in practice.
A healthy Dre Kirkpatrick observes 11-on-11 drills from the sideline.
Rookie tight end Tyler Eifert (right) chats with tight end Alex Smith (left).
Daniel "Boom" Herron takes a Gatorade break.
Defensive end Wallace Gilberry watches his teammates as Mike Brown quietly wheels into the background.