We are the unfortunate few; relegated to normal jobs while the Bengals practice during the middle of an afternoon under an intense sun. Saps, we are, for having normal working jobs at normal working hours while the Bengals offer free sessions to fans willing to trek for practices filled with individual drills between the more fan-favorite 11-on-11 sessions that invite "oohs" and "aahs".
Because Cincinnati is holding "Family Day" on Saturday, which will be filled with activities for kids, seating arrangements for season-ticket holders, and the team’s annual scrimmage, the Bengals held a conservative session on Friday that included less contact and more concepts. It’s not unlike a Saturday afternoon walkthrough before Sunday’s game (during the regular season).
In between 11-on-11 work, the team focused heavily on kickoff coverages, notably specialized situations that required a squib or onside. At one point, special teams coach Darrin Simmons shredded Mario Alford, who lazily watched a squib kick slowly bounce past him while the coverage team was bearing down on the football. "Get the goddamn football, Mario," Simmons hollered. Simmons also coached his punt team, while Kevin Huber’s leg turned to jelly after his 23,115th punt.
Of the 11-on-11 sessions, quarterback Andy Dalton appeared strong. Despite opening practice with a handful of overthrows, he submitted a superior two minute drill, completing eight of nine passes with a "throw away" considered his lone incomplete pass (intentional grounding?). A.J. Green glides on water, Jake Kumerow is spirit and effort, and Marvin Jones continued working with trainers, despite being publicly called out by a displeased Marvin Lewis. "I think we’ll get him out soon. I really do," offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said after practice.
Practice had another massive turnout, many initiating date night with a quick viewing of the Bengals. "Sorry ladies, it’s just ‘our thing’". "But I like the Bengals too." Wedding bells and newborn Bengals fans are rolled off the factory floor. One dad brought both of his kids; neither particularly caring about practice. Long snapper Clark Harris approached a fan, who motioned for him to throw the football. "Are you going to throw it back?" The kid nodded. Harris tossed the football with the fan, who was standing on the last row of the uncomfortable bleachers. Harris would eventually navigate down the bleachers, tossing the ball with other fans before making his way back to the primary practice field.
Cincinnati held a practice with limited contact, evident by the shorts and shoulder pads. Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith worked, but Adam Jones enjoyed rest while Rey Maualuga, Vontaze Burfict, Sean Porter and Cedric Ogbuehi worked with Chip Morton and the team’s training staff. Clearly preparing for the annual "Family Day", the Bengals are investing in Saturday’s session for a no-holds slobber-knocker. After all, nothing makes more sense than family, blood, sweat and hittin’.