Nearly 5,200 fans attended training camp this past weekend, starting Friday afternoon and going through Sunday where 1,900 people meandered to the practice fields off Pete Rose Way. The beginning of training camp always invites a sense of romanticism; the Bengals have been outside of arm's reach since their Wild Card loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Eventually we'll transition into the dog days of summer, team-based concepts are emphasized and coaches are mentally noting the players they're most impressed with.
For many kids, school has already started, but my little brother has two weeks of freedom remaining before summer vacation expires and he begins his journey to platform 9 ¾. He sat to my left and aside from my commanding "heads up, brother", to pay attention. He was bored. I don't blame him. Most of training camp practices really are boring for the uninitiated Bengals fan. Monday's buzz began when linebacker Vontaze Burfict was spotted with his defensive mates during pre-practice warm ups. When the offense and defense united for stretches and calisthenics, Burfict walked toward the side field where he was joined with linebackers Rey Maualuga and Sean Porter, defensive end Margus Hunt and offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, all of whom worked out with training strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton. In other words, all five players remain on the Physically Unable to Perform and Non-Football Injury list.
Wide receiver Marvin Jones didn't suit up, nor did he workout on the side with Morton's crew. It's believed Jones had the day off for precautionary reasons. Michael Johnson was predictably absent and Wallace Gilberry was out with muscle soreness.
Save for the injured players, it was all pads on Monday, yet tackling was a rare entry. Despite the death of the Oklahoma drill, the Bengals conducted Half Line drills on the far field, too far to make any note of the players participating. On the near field, cornerbacks and wide receivers worked on blocking. Quarterbacks would pitch a wide receiver, who was acting like a running back while a cornerback and a wide receiver jostled for position and a safety would come up to make the stop - they wrapped, but didn't tackle.
Quarterback AJ McCarron continued to struggle at times, however his performance on Monday was far better than his work on Sunday. Andy Dalton looked solid. A greater concern is pass protection, largely because Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap have been so disruptive.
Yet, when Cincinnati's quarterbacks unloaded, wide receiver Mario Alford was one of the receivers there with solid hands and complementary speed to break away from defenders.
"Every opportunity I get in with the offense, I just need to show ‘em what I can do," Alford said via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "If I can just put in the work and show coach that I can be playing with this offense, I can work my win at slot, it's just show, show put it out on the field and show them that I'm real dynamic, I am a receiver. I've got great hands. I need to focus on it all. I am a great route runner. I just feel like I can be an NFL slot receiver."
Jake Kumerow continues building an impressive resume, along with an indisputable argument that the 53-man roster isn't without its merits. Based on my impressions though four practices, Kumerow should be considered for the 53-man roster.
Cincinnati conducted a heavy dose of running plays on Monday, featuring more Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, with scant participation from Rex Burkhead, who spent most of his time with the team's wide receivers during individual drills.
In the end, Cincinnati's defense is clearly ahead of the Bengals offense.
Jake Kumerow. https://t.co/UlzqVbmAwh— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 3, 2015
Nice job by Dennard to fight through the block. https://t.co/MTSU76GTEY— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 3, 2015
Mario Alford v CLH https://t.co/Uv9H3RQNrl— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 3, 2015
Dennard and Josh Shaw are first team gunners on punt team.— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 3, 2015