The Cincinnati Bengals will host the New York Giants for two practices (Aug. 11 and Aug. 12) before the preseason opener against New York on Aug. 14. "It’s great that we were able to make this work with Coach (Tom) Coughlin and the Giants," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said earlier this year. "It’s not something we’ve been able to do every year with another team, but our past experience with it has been good. It helps our guys stay sharp and focused as we move through the preseason. You put yourself on the field with another team and let the competitive juices flow a little bit."
These sessions will bring Bengals running back Jeremy Hill and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. back together.
"It's going to be fun having him here, and we're definitely going to be feeding off each others' energy, and it's going to be fun," Hill said via ESPN. "I know he's going to be putting on a show before the preseason game." Hill and Beckham, former teammates at LSU, entered the NFL together last year. Hill was a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft while Beckham went No. 12 overall.
Photo credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Packed with highlight film grabs and mind-altering statistics -- 91 receptions, 1,305 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns in only 12 games played -- Beckham received a commanding 42 votes as the rookie of the year. Dallas Cowboys rookie Zack Martin finished second with seven votes and Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans received one. Hill finished his rookie season with a team-high 1,124 yards rushing, 1,339 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns. Noted as the first Bengals player to surpass 140 yards rushing four times during a single-season, he's only the third rookie to reach that milestone in NFL history -- Eric Dickerson (1983) and Curtis Martin (1995). Hill is also the first Bengals rookie to reach 150 yards rushing twice.
"It'll be cool to have him down here and just competing every day," Hill said via ESPN. "Both of our competitive natures are going to be at an all-time high." As Coley Harvey notes, Hill and Beckham will be joined with other LSU alumni like wide receiver Rueben Randle, defensive end Sam Montgomery, wide receiver James Wright and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth for the joint practices.
After winning the rookie of the year award, Beckham talked about keeping up with his former LSU teammates. "We'd be in the middle of our game and they would be playing and I’d be looking up at the (scoreboard) trying to see what they're doing, trying to see if they scored," Beckham said. "Those are like my brothers. I want to see them be successful. We're really very tight." Beckham said there was no competition with Hill’s five 100-yard games. "That’s like a brother of mine, we just want to see each other do well."
The idea of joint practices dates back to 2007 when Cincinnati played host to the New Orleans Saints, for two sessions, prior to a preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium. Atlanta hosted the Bengals in 2013 for a few sessions, featured on HBO's Hard Knocks, before the Bengals 34-10 win victory at the Georgia Dome on Aug. 8. Cincinnati and the New York Jets were unable to work out a schedule in 2014, prior to the Jets 25-17 win over the Bengals on Aug. 16.
"Rex and I were pretty close," Lewis said via the Cincinnati Enquirer, regarding practicing with the Jets last season. "It just kind of fell apart at the last second. Obviously, Rex and I have worked together, and are good friends and a lot of our coaches have worked with their coaches. Mark (Carrier) was a part of their staff and Marty Mornhinweg and I have been friends for a long time. I thought it would be a good relationship where our coaches will know their coaches enough, and we could get it done and do that but it kind of fell apart at the end."