Wednesday was a fairly light practice with mostly walkthroughs and light work with both teams having just two days before Friday's preseason game, the first contest of any kind either team has played in for more than seven months. With that said, here's a look at the biggest takeaways from day 11 of Bengals training camp.
1. Offense bounces back after sluggish Tuesday
For much of Tuesday's session, the Bengals offense looked sluggish and out of sync as they seemingly couldn't do anything right. Whether it was bad snaps or turnovers, it was a rough way to open practice before everyone started clicking more toward the end.
That apparently helped translate into a fast start on Wednesday as the offense started well and never let off the gas. Andy Dalton was sharp and didn't throw a pick, and neither did backup Josh Johnson, who's now in for a lot of playing time Friday with AJ McCarron possibly out.
#Bengals offense started much faster today. Hitting a couple passes downfield and opened a few big holes off left side in run game.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 12, 2015
No interceptions and only one ball stripped (Tyler Kroft) against Bengals today. Should improve Hue Jackson's mood.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 12, 2015
It's good to see the offense clicking well with Friday's opener almost here, especially the passing game. This offense really does have the potential to be a top 10-12 unit if everyone stays healthy and young guys like Jeremy Hill, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Tyler Eifert continue to improve.
2. Rex Burkhead continues to shine as pass-catcher
After two years at running back, Rex Burkhead is trying his hand as more of a pass-catcher in order to get more playing time. He's played at wide receiver quite a bit in camp, though the coaches are adamant he's still a running back.
Whatever he is, Burkhead continued to shine today vs. the Giants today, though several of his big plays came while running routes out of the backfield.
Here's another problem Rex Burkhead poses: getting open for passes from backfield when linebackers blitz. He just did that #Bengals— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) August 12, 2015
As long as he keeps doing that, the Bengals should give him more snaps in 2015 than he's had to this point in his career. The thought of Burkhead and Giovani Bernard coming out of the backfield with A.J. Green running deep and Tyler Eifert going across the middle could present some major mismatches vs. opposing defenses.
3. Tom Obarski is a capable NFL kicker
You wouldn't think there's really a competition at kicker with veteran Mike Nugent having just been re-signed this offseason. However, Darrin Simmons made it clear that when Concordia's Tom Obarski was signed this offseason, there would be competition at kicker.
While Obarski is highly unlikely to actually beat Nugent out for a spot on the 53-man roster, there's always the possibility he makes it onto the practice squad. The Bengals are certainly going to want to hold onto him if he keeps drillings 50+ yard field goals in practice.
Backup kicker Tom Obarski just buried a 54-yard field goal that probably had another 10 or 15 yards to spare #Bengals— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) August 12, 2015
Nugent didn't hit a 50-yard field goal in 2014 other than the one he got against the Colts in the playoffs, which was in a dome setting. At this point, Obarski looks like a possible addition to the practice squad, which also gives the Bengals insurance if Nugent gets injured at any point in 2015. Then they could simply call up Obarski and have him already familiar with the team. The Bengals love familiarity throughout the roster after all.
4. Mohamed Sanu surging
Now in a contract year, fourth-year wide receiver Mohamed Sanu was having a good camp leading up to this week. However, Sanu has stepped his game up this week now that he's practicing against a real opponent.
Or maybe Sanu is finally getting loose now that he's not having to go up against Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick as much as he has been during training camp. Both of the Bengals corners are better than any corner the Giants have with Prince Amukamara sidelined.
Whatever the case, Sanu just had what was probably the best back-to-back stretch of practices he's had this training camp. He was constantly getting open and beating defenders on all three levels.
Bengals offense is on the far field today. Saw Dalton connect with Sanu on a deep corner route. Then Eifert on a dig route for 15-20 yards— Brennen Warner (@BrennenWarner) August 12, 2015
A couple big plays for the offense. Dalton to Sanu 40 yds on a deep corner. Johnson to Little and Johnson to Burkhead both deep posts— Brennen Warner (@BrennenWarner) August 12, 2015
Sanu had another player where he beat his man deep down the sideline, but the pass was a bit wide and forced him out of bounds:
As of now, Sanu is listed as the other starting receiver next to A.J. Green. While ideally Sanu plays more in the slot with Marvin Jones occupying that other boundary receiver spot, it's good to see Sanu is showing he can be a complete pass-catcher. He'll be one of the more intriguing players to watch in Friday's preseason opener.