Think of it this way. By this time next week, the Bengals will already have one preseason game under their belts. The regular season will be less than a month away. The optimistic fan gets to cheer, applying an offseason that brought enough talent that has them thinking that Cincinnati will compete again. The pessimistic fan will have their talking points memorized, which won't be thrown out until the Bengals win 12 Super Bowls this year alone. There's something for everyone.
Kicking off Training Camp is one thing. A preseason game is another; like confirmation that we're actually progressing towards the regular season. The week before preseason starts a new level of anticipation. An intrasquad scrimmage is like a preview of a preseason game. What's the talent level like? Is the team cohesive? Can the players play off of each other enough to become productive?
On Friday, the Bengals offense took on the Bengals defense during the annual intrasquad scrimmage in front of 6,500 fans at Georgetown College. The question on everyone's mind. How does the offensive line look? Kyle Cook looked solid, quickly stepping turning his guy. Whomever Andrew Whitworth and Anthony Collins blocked, stayed blocked. Jonathan Luigs was also solid. Many of the tackles from the defense came from the secondary and the backside. As a result of a strong offensive line performance, the offense ran on the defense 21 times for 119 yards rushing.
"Nice. Three words afterwards," said offensive line coach Paul Alexander when asked about his young line's physicalness. "It was fun. We've got a young group that hasn't accomplished anything, has everything to prove and you can just see they're filled with effort and determination and finish. It's been inspiring. Our backs are really understanding their courses and fitting it together. I like right now the teamwork between our line (and backs) and our receivers are right now blocking better than ever."
"For one day at one small point in time, I was feeling satisfied," Alexander said.
In defense of the defense, the Bengals had several marquee players sit out the intrasquad scrimmage; however nothing serious.
Starters Dhani Jones (excused) and Keith Rivers (sore muscles) were scratched, as was rookie backup Rey Maualuga, also with sore muscles. Rivers' backup, Brandon Johnson, injured his hamstring early in camp and was also out.
Frostee Rucker, Corey Lynch, Pernell Phillips, David Jones, Ben Utecht, Daniel Coats, Bernard Scott and Kenny Watson also sat. Most sat with tight muscles.
Cedric Benson rushed only four times, but for 24 yards rushing. As a whole, the Bengals averaged 5.7 yards per rush as the team made good on the promise to run the ball. However, with the success of the offense, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was pissed.
"We sucked. We didn’t stop the runs well," Zimmer said. "We were aggressive but we missed a lot of tackles. We had some guys playing different positions but still that’s no excuse. We had guys getting in wrong places."
There were several plays that someone in the defensive secondary made a nice stick, but didn't bring down the ball carrier. In one play, newly acquired running back Brian Leonard spun off a Marvin White stick. Michael Johnson did get sacks on back-to-back plays. However, it was against the most recent acquisition in Augustus Parrish -- who is freaking tall. On several plays when they matched up, Whitworth had no problem with Johnson.
Carson Palmer finished Friday completing three of four passes for 36 yards passing. The incomplete was actually a Chris Crocker interception return that went 39 yards.
The Bengals have a mock game on Saturday, a week of practice and a Friday night game in New Orleans this week. Yea, buddy. Things are rolling.