The Cincinnati Bengals concluded their first of three mandatory minicamp practices on Tuesday. Attendance was good (Andrew Whitworth was the only absence; more on that below). There were no reported injuries (at least enough to keep someone out of training camp). Rookies received work, rehabilitating players rehabilitated, versatile players showed versatility. By all accounts, it was a ho-hum practice during a muggy Tuesday afternoon. How we like it. Boring.
Devon Still returns to Cincinnati 18 pounds lighter
While players and coaches were in Cincinnati during voluntary workouts over the last month, Devon Still has understandably stayed with his daughter Leah, who is receiving additional treatments following the news that her cancer is in remission. Now that she's responding much more favorably to treatment, and is expected to leave the hospital soon, papa Still arrived in Cincinnati for mandatory camp on Tuesday (NOTE: He's here because she's doing better, not because these practices are mandatory).
@tommie_kpf went from being able to only do 1 rep of 405 his ENTIRE LIFE to hitting 3 reps cuz he was trying to show me up while the ESPN cameras was there...but I never been afraid of a little competition so I had to school him like he was my young boy and hit 5 of them while talking trash #WhenTheCamerasTurnOnYouGottaPerform #Hungry #NewYearNewMindset
Andrew Whitworth was the only player who didn't attend
The trumpets of discontent may have momentarily sounded from those who crave hellish scenarios. Contract. Money. Being replaced. Wife learns the difference between texting and direct messaging on Twitter?
None of that.
The absence was excused because he's attending the funeral of a close friend. Rookie offensive tackle Jake Fisher substituted for Whitworth at left tackle with the first-team offense. Fisher has reportedly been working at every position on the offensive line, save for center. He primarily worked at right tackle during voluntary sessions.
Josh Shaw and Leon Hall getting work at alternative positions
One of the benefits that rookie defensive back Josh Shaw brought was his versatility. In addition to being a capable cornerback, he can substitute at safety in a pinch. Cincinnati worked Shaw at safety with the second-team defense on Tuesday. "He’s got some safety possibilities," defensive backs coach Vance Joseph said after the team drafted him in the fourth round. "He’s a big athlete. Strong. 26 reps (of 225 pounds). A 4.39-40. There it is. A good, big athlete."
Shaw has been turning heads since his arrival. "He’s going to be good. He’s going to be ahead of the curve that way, and that’s a good thing. I feel good about that," Marvin Lewis said following rookie minicamp last May. "We just need to teach him to play the game as an NFL DB and not a college DB." Cincinnati shuffled him to cornerback as well.
In the meantime, cornerback Leon Hall worked with the first-team defense... not at cornerback, but at safety. Hall did some work at safety during voluntary practice last week, but this is the first time its been with the first-team defense. Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick were the cornerbacks with the first-team defense.
There are a couple of possibilities as to why Hall is at safety. Conspiracy theorists will point to similar transitions made by players like Rod and Charles Woodson as they got older and it both extended their careers and added to their respective resumes. With Hall battling Achilles injuries to both legs in two of the past four seasons, this might be a ploy by the coaches to help keep him injury-free and hide potential speed limitations we saw at times last seasons.
Then again, it could be just a move made out of necessity because George Iloka is still sitting out of practice. It sounds like he's eyeing a return when Training Camp commences, but youngsters like Shaw, Derron Smith and the veteran Hall could be getting time mostly because of Iloka's present vacancy.
Onterio McCalebb working at wide receiver
Cincinnati signed Onterio McCalebb as a college free agent following the 2013 NFL draft. Coveting his 4.34 speed (during the NFL combine), the Bengals wanted to find a home for him. They swapped him from running back over to cornerback. One of his neighbors, Ken Riley (yes, The Rattler) helped his development. Unfortunately, the transition simply hasn't translated into earned opportunities. He spent last season on the practice squad before being activated for the Wild Card game.
During Tuesday's session, they moved McCalebb back to offense; this time as a wide receiver. And why not? Despite the favorable look at his speed, it's pretty much assured that his path into the 53-man roster will be through special teams. He returned three kickoffs during the preseason in 2013 and averaged 25.3 yards/return. McCalebb added a 59-yard kickoff return during the preseason last year.
Handful of players didn't practice on Tuesday
- Offensive lineman Andre Smith didn't practice but was doing some drill work on the side.
- Defensive end Margus Hunt and George Iloka didn't practice -- this was expected. Wide receiver James Wright, who is recovering from a PCL injury, was suited up but didn't practice.
Tweets of Note:
Marvin on @DDennard21: He has had a really good start to his 2nd yr Now when you see what the NFL is all about you're able to train for that— Lindsay Patterson (@LndsPatterson) June 16, 2015
Marvin: Devon had to grow quickly. I think every moment is about his daughter and her future health. He has been dealing w/ real life stuff— Lindsay Patterson (@LndsPatterson) June 16, 2015
Russell Bodine's been clean all spring, but just had a high shotgun snap over Andy Dalton's head. Was immediately replaced by T.J. Johnson— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) June 16, 2015
Day 1 of minicamp. pic.twitter.com/fSbiHMNC0L— Lindsay Patterson (@LndsPatterson) June 16, 2015
LB Marquis Flowers just had a nice catch for an INT. TE Jake Murphy had a ball deflect off his hand, Flowers dove, caught 1-handed #Bengals— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) June 16, 2015