It's been quite a month for Bengals first-round pick Darqueze Dennard. He's been getting a heavy-dose of first-team reps during OTAs in his crash-course welcome to the NFL.
But he's picking up the defense well and impressing his teammates, most notably All-Pro corner Leon Hall.
"I like Darqueze. The only hesitation I have is judging people too early, especially before the pads come out," Hall said, via Bengals.com. "But if you look at him in the helmets, I think he’s done everything the coaches have asked him to do.
"He’s definitely smart enough to make an impact in his first year once he gets more comfortable, knows the defense a little better. He understands the playbook. To begin with that’s what a lot of people struggle with."
While Dennard enters his first year, Andy Dalton is entering his fourth and arguably most important NFL season. On the verge of signing what may be the biggest NFL contract he ever signs, Dalton has clearly improved his mechanics and precision this offseason.
Whether that translates into the playing season remains to be seen, but he feels good about how he's throwing in OTAs thus far.
"I can definitely tell the difference," Dalton said to ESPN.com. "I'm hitting the spots I want to hit and there's been a few tweaks here and there. I feel like [the ball] is coming out very good."
New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said he liked the urgency and better mechanics that Dalton has displayed thus far:
"He's more compact. The ball comes out quicker. There's more urgency in his body," Jackson said. "All the way around he's improved."
Dalton lost one of best pass-protectors in Anthony Collins, but the Bengals signed a solid veteran in Will Svitek last week. Like Collins, Svitek is used to coming off the bench in a pinch,
"Year Nine I never played guard my whole career, then I ended up starting the first three games of preseason at right guard," said Svitek after his first Bengals practice. "The Patriots are really big on versatility and that really helped me in terms of learning every position and it helped me with my football IQ.
"My whole career I’ve tried to find the role that is valuable and versatile to help the team. You never know what your role will be. It’s always changing."