The Bengals held the final day of training camp on Thursday.
It was a fairly light practice with a lot of installing the game plan in preparation for Monday's preseason game against the Buccaneers. With that said, here's a look at our biggest takeaways from the final day of Bengals training camp.
1. Darqueze Dennard's groin injury may be significant
It was a year to forget for Darqueze Dennard as a rookie in 2014. Part of the reason why Dennard rarely played last year was due to the hip injury he suffered during a special teams play against the Jets (second preseason game). It knocked him out for the rest of the preseason and the regular-season opener. He was never able to make up ground and crack the rotation as he played just 77 snaps as a rookie.
Hopefully, that's not the case with his groin injury this year, but that's a tricky injury to deal with, and it's already cost him a full week of practice. He suffered the injury during practice last week, but opted to play through it during the preseason opener against the Giants. Dennard left the game after just 18 snaps and hasn't practiced since. We probably won't see him Monday against the Buccaneers, and his return is undetermined.
Dennard was competing with Leon Hall for the starting slot cornerback spot before this setback. If he can come back in time for the third preseason game, Dennard still may be able to pry it away from the veteran.
2. Russell Bodine knows snap issue is unacceptable
The Bengals were unable to get through their final camp session without an errant snap from Russell Bodine. After another was snap to Andy Dalton Bodine was yanked from practice it in favor of T.J. Johnson.
Though Bodine eventually came back in with the starters after Johnson didn't fair much better. Bodine knows this is unacceptable and is working to fix it. As he told Bengals.com, he knows preseason snap issues don't necessarily translate into the regular season.
"Last year I had to tell you that it wouldn’t be a problem and I’ll tell you the same thing again," Bodine said after practice. "We’re trying to work on different techniques. Obviously it’s not acceptable Even though we’re working on different techniques. It messes up the whole play. "
Bodine had several bad snaps during last year's camp as a rookie, but never had that issue during the regular season after working through it during the preseason. Hopefully, that will be the case again this year.
3. Jake Fisher's injury could help Dan France earn roster spot
Rookie offensive tackle Jake fisher was held out once again Thursday while dealing with a little-discussed shoulder injury. After suffering the injury last week, Fisher didn't play in the preseason opener and got just one limited session in this week. With Fisher not practicing today, he probably won't play Monday vs. the Bucs.
That means Dan France will be getting more reps once again after getting a team-high 69 against the Giants last Friday. He got reps at both guard and tackle after spending last year on the practice squad as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State. He's played primarily at guard to this point in his pro career, but spent two seasons starting at left tackle in college before moving to guard as a senior.
That kind of versatility is what the Bengals love having, especially along the offensive line. After all, they tend to just keep nine linemen on the initial 53-man roster, leaving a backup at only four sports because one or more of them can typically cover multiple spots.
France would be the only backup lineman that could play guard and tackle effectively if he made it. That could be what helps him get a spot on the final roster.
4. Tyler Eifert is fine, but Ryan Hewitt finished the day in his place
The Bengals got a bit of a scare when Tyler Eifert went down briefly. Thankfully, he just had the wind knocked out of him and was able to shake it off. When Eifert ended practice early, it wasn't Tyler Kroft or C.J. Uzomah that got his reps with the starters. Instead, it was h-back Ryan Hewitt who took his place with the starters.
Tyler Eifert is still on the field, but looks like his day is done. Ryan Hewitt is taking his reps. May be precautionary. #Bengals— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) August 20, 2015
As an undrafted free agent out of Stanford last year, Hewitt caught just 10 passes (14 targets) for 86 yards. He did show that he can be a dangerous weapon running down the seam in camp, even when Dalton was unable to hit him last year.
While the Bengals ideally want Hewitt in the backfield blocking like a fullback, it's clear he could be a tight end if the team needs him to be.
5. Camp ends with no season-ending injuries
When is the last time the Bengals made it through training camp with no one suffering a major injury?
Sure, Michael Johnson's MCL sprain was unfortunate, but all indications are he'll be back for the regular-season opener. The status of Vontaze Burfict is still unclear, but his condition stems from microfracture surgery last January.
Other than them, no one appears to have suffered anything that will cost them significant time in the regular season. Meanwhile players like Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin, Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham, and Ravens safety Matt Elam all suffered injuries that will cost them much of, if not, all of the 2015 season.
The Bengals didn't even lose so much as a key backup to a significant injury in this training camp, and that's a big win for a team that typically has several of them.