I had the privilege of attending the Bengals second day of training camp on Saturday. First of all, let me say that I absolutely love how accessible training camp is this year for those of us that live in Cincinnati. As much as I enjoyed the atmosphere in Georgetown in years past, there’s something to be said for how incredibly convenient it is driving a mere fifteen minutes to see this team practice and prepare for the 2012 season. For the first time in my life, I can head downtown and experience training camp by driving no more than your average daily work commute. Once again, I feel privileged and so should the majority of Bengals fans.
The overall setup and concessions of training camp, at least while on the practice field, has been wonderfully broken down by our very own Brennen Warner. With that said, I won’t be spending time mapping out the area, describing vantage points, and so on. I will recommend that anyone interested in training camp should make a point to attend a camp session at the practice field simply because I can’t imagine Paul Brown Stadium enabling fans to get as close to the players and action on the field. Then again, I haven’t actually experienced the luxury of sitting at field level in Paul Brown Stadium so I may find my assumptions to be incorrect within a week.
Much like my newfound short commute to training camp this year, I was also faced with a new task while taking in the experience: I decided to tweet my observations during Saturday’s practice. Let me point out that anyone who consistently watches a live event, while typing developments onto their cell phone, has my absolute admiration and respect. Aside from the expected distractions of nearby conversation and fans crossing your view as they shuffle across bleachers – I found that following the never ending rotation of players and formations a bit daunting when attempting to accurately identify each player that deserved credit for the makings of a successful play. Make no mistake; I enjoyed every second of it.
With that said, I want to point out one of the first things I noticed upon entering training camp yesterday: The lack of Training Camp literature for fans. Anyone attending a practice will receive a one-sheet Xerox printout of a relatively up-to-date roster. One improvement I noticed immediately from last offseason was that one side of the roster sheet ordered players by their jersey number and the reverse side listed players alphabetically. The roster sheet is free, and a much better reference than last season’s program which only listed players alphabetically. However, this is a single sheet of paper. I’m hoping that in the near future fans will be able to purchase a more in depth program similar to what was available in Georgetown . Time will tell, I suppose.
Now that I have a few minor compliments and criticisms out of the way, here are some takeaways from Saturday’s Training Camp:
- Brandon Tate was reported as limited today. I missed an opportunity to see him in action.
- Andy Dalton had his ups and downs. He completed a pass, approximately 40 yards, to AJ Green. Aside from that, there were a handful of intermediate and short completions throughout the afternoon. A handful of plays never came together as players were out of synch or the occasional whistle ended a play just before or after a snap, for coaching purposes. This is training camp, people.
- Mohamed Sanu had several impressive moments. Dalton deserves a lot of credit on one of Sanu’s catches. He threw a 25 yard pass while in motion that had plenty of zip behind it.
- Andrew Hawkins might have been my Day Two MVP on offense. During 1-on-1 drills, Hawkins clearly created the most separation. The crowd was audibly impressed by his speed and ability to stop on a dime in the face of a defender.
- Saturday’s Training Camp was rated TV-MA, as it contained strong language from Special Teams coach Darrin Simmons. Prepare to earmuff any children. I was entertained, personally.
- I feel as if I’ve touted running back Cedric Peerman every offseason since he was claimed by the Bengals in 2010. This offseason is no exception. Brian Leonard gets the honorable mention at running back. He had several big plays. Regardless of there being no contact for running backs, both were getting attention from fans as they escaped coverage and found an open field several times.
- Chris Pressley was given several opportunities to move the ball and was generally impressive. One play in particular, Pressley trampled over safety Jeromy Miles. Pressley’s physicality should not be news to anyone, and today was certainly a reminder.
- Safety Reggie Nelson had his second interception in two days. Today’s pick was while covering Jermaine Gresham.
- Seeing 6’5” Jermaine Gresham and 5’7” Andrew Hawkins running alongside one another instantly made me regret that my camera was out of reach.
- Taylor Mays had some missed opportunities in pass coverage primarily due to his inability to close the gap on his man. Also, Mays was noticeably beaten by receivers on a handful of 1-on-1 drills.
- Brandon Ghee put a lot of effort into Saturday’s practice. He made an athletic dive for an interception in one play but the ball brushed off his fingertips, just out of reach.
I sincerely encourage anyone who considers himself or herself a Bengals fan to make their way down to Paul Brown Stadium at least once this offseason. Bring a camera. Observe. Enjoy. And if you’re feeling particularly adventuresome, tweet to the world your observations because you have the privilege of seeing an NFL franchise prepare in the heart of Cincinnati.