The Cincinnati Bengals hit the field for day 10 of training camp for a joint practice with the New York Giants. With almost two weeks of practice in the books, here's a look at our biggest takeaways from today's session.
1. Russell Bodine is pissing Andy Dalton off
Andy Dalton has never been known for being a strong vocal leader, nor for his ripping into teammates when they don't do their job. Both are qualities most great QBs have, and it could be something Dalton is developing more of now entering his fifth NFL season.
Or, maybe he's just really tired of center Russell Bodine not executing what should be a painfully easy thing to do for someone with as much experience as he has.
Second play of 11s #Bengals have bad snap from Russell Bodine. Andy Dalton: "We can't have that!The snap is first thing we got to put away!"— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) August 11, 2015
As I was typing that tweet, Russell Bodine had another bad snap. Andy Dalton animated again. There's some if that fire Hue Jackson's wanted— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) August 11, 2015
Bodine had a lot of issues with bad snaps last year in training camp before getting them cleaned up and doing an OK job in the regular season. Hopefully, that's the case again this year.
2. Mario Alford continues to impress
In what was a very deep wide receiver class in this year's NFL draft, the Bengals opted to wait until the seventh round before grabbing one in West Virginia's Mario Alford. However, Alford has been one of the biggest bright spots at receiver in camp of anyone not named A.J. Green.
He was one of the stars of Saturday's mock scrimmage, and he parlayed that into another strong showing Monday afternoon. Alford has already made it clear he's ready to work his tail off just to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. His actions in practice have reflected that, and if the final roster were made today, he'd be on it.
3. Andy Dalton meshing with young tight ends
Arguably the Bengals' biggest weakness coming into training camp was at tight end. While Tyler Eifert has shown a lot of promise, he's never assumed a starting role full-time, nor has he played a down of real football since dislocating his elbow in Week 1 last year. After him, third-rounder Tyler Kroft and fifth-rounder CJ Uzomah are the likely top-two guys behind him, leaving a lot of uncertainty surrounding this position.
However, all three have played well throughout camp, and that continued today with Eifert and Kroft having good showings. Dalton has made sure both guys stay involved in the offense throughout camp, and he connected with Eifert on a great deep ball today while Josh Johnson connected with Kroft:
Josh Johnson just delivered a nice deep ball to Tyler Kroft. The former Rutgers standout (Kroft) continues turning that corner. #Bengals— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) August 11, 2015
Beautiful ball from Dalton to beat good coverage by Kennard on Eifert in 7s.— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) August 11, 2015
Josh Johnson beautiful pass to Tyler Kroft on a deep corner route. Potentially an 80-yd TD in a real game https://t.co/CW3PUU00BH— Brennen Warner (@BrennenWarner) August 12, 2015
Dalton is the kind of QB who needs a good, consistent tight end to help overcome his arm strength or deep-ball accuracy not being quite up to the same level as the NFL's upper echelon of QBs. Having a big tight end who can go up and get anything over the middle is something he has to have, and both Eifert and Kroft are giving him that.
4. Marvin Jones looking more like 2013 Marvin Jones
After missing all of last year with foot and ankle injuries, the Bengals were holding their breaths last week when a minor injury knocked him out for five practices. Thankfully, Jones returned Monday and looked even better today. He's entering a critical contract year in which millions of dollars are riding on his performance in 2015.
When he's managed to practice, Jones has looked like the guy who caught 10 touchdowns in 2013 as part of a Bengals offense that ranked sixth in scoring offense that year. While having guys like Alford and the tight ends step up, a healthy Jones could be what pushes this passing game back into the NFL's upper rankings after coming in as the 21st ranked passing offense last year.
5. AJ McCarron is aching, but should be back soon
For the first time in this training camp, backup QB AJ McCarron was not able to practice as he was held out with what was initially reported as a rib injury by Geoff Hobson last night. After practice, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said McCarron was simply "sore," and "he'll be back soon. We'll figure it out and move on."
Given the Bengals' history of not being forthcoming with injuries, this could be something minor that McCarron recovers from in a day, or he could be out the rest of the week, including Friday's preseason game against the Giants. If McCarron does miss any significant time, that opens the door for Josh Johnson to win the backup QB spot, which could have a significant effect on the Bengals' overall roster.