If you're attending Bengals training camp Saturday, you're in for a treat.
The team will be holding its annual mock scrimmage as part of its Family Day activities. This will be the lone game-like scrimmage the team has during camp with the preseason opening next week.
It's also something you'll only see if you actually attend the event on Saturday. While it won't be exactly like an actual game, it still is as competitive as you'll see players going at each other in camp. Gates will open at 12:30 p.m., and fans can enjoy a range of family-friendly activities leading up to the mock game around 1:30 with Bengals quarterbacks leading different offensive squads in skills drills against the defense.
While it won't be as good of an evaluator for lineman, it's a great chance to see how some of the skill players are coming along, most notably AJ McCarron. The second-year QB has yet to take a snap in any kind of NFL scrimmage after missing most of last year with an arm injury. He's in line to be the backup QB behind Andy Dalton, but some early camp struggles could lead to Josh Johnson overtaking him for the backup spot.
Marvin Lewis said on Thursday he expects quarterback Andy Dalton and the first team to get about 20-25 snaps during Saturday's scrimmage.
Another position to watch is tight end, where the Bengals have a lot of talent, but a lot of questions as well with Jermaine Gresham gone. Though enigmatic, Gresham did miss just six games over the past five seasons while being the No. 1 tight end during that span. Tyler Eifert essentially has just 14 whole games under his belt as injuries have cost him significantly to this point in his career. Can he step up and maintain the No. 1 role for an entire season?
Then there's the question of who steps up behind Eifert. Rookies Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah have shown some promise in camp, as has second-year man Jake Murphy. Which of those guys steps up and takes over the No. 2 spot behind Eifert is one of the biggest ongoing stories in camp, and we may get a better idea of how it's progressing during the mock scrimmage.
"It’s a different world out there," said Kroft, via the Dayton Daily News. "It’s grown men now. I tried to prepare myself mentally as much as I could, but obviously you can only do so much until you get out there. But I think I’m doing pretty well."
Another key thing to watch will be the linebacker. Starters Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga have yet to practice in camp and will more than likely be held out Saturday. That leaves newcomer A.J. Hawk, rookie third-rounder P.J. Dawson and second-year man Marquis Flowers to get more runs with the starters. Dawson in particular will be interesting to watch. He's been making noise early on in camp and could be in for a big role in this defense in his first NFL season.
One other thing to keep an eye on will be the cornerbacks. Thus far in camp, Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard have been the clear-cut starters along with veteran Adam Jones. Does that mean Leon Hall is actually about to spend 2015 coming off the bench? Or might we see the vet switching positions to play safety?