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Bengals Bytes (6/26): Earning it again

Alex Erickson worked super hard last year to earn a spot on the Bengals, and he will have to earn it all over again this training camp. What can the Ravens expect from Breshad Perriman? How have analytics changed the past 10 years?

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking Down the Cincinnati Bengals Receiving Corps Headed into Training Camp

Last season was a long one for a Cincinnati Bengals team that had been to the playoffs the previous five years. What happened? A lot, but one of the problems was the loss of Muhammad Sanu and Marvin Jones. The Bengals did find solid replacements in draft pick Tyler Boyd and veteran Brandon LaFell, but then they loss A.J. Green for the final six games of the season. So have the Bengals improved at wide receiver? Let’s take a look.

Timeout with The Times: Getting to know Bengals' CB Dre Kirkpatrick
The rain held off for the most part, and Dre Kirkpatrick's Football Camp went on as planned at Titan Stadium.The former Gadsden City and Alabama star, Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green, Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and the rest of the camp's coaches led the 300 campers through drills and activities. All three NFL stars hung around and signed autographs for the children.Afterwards, Kirkpatrick spoke with The Times to discuss several topics.

Cincinnati Bengals could have offensive trio threat in 2017
It’s easy to look at the Bengals roster and imagine the possibilities. After an impressive draft and wasting no time signing the youngsters, all signs point to something good happening. It’s time to quit fuming over the state of the offensive line. It is what it is. Now is the time to consider what the Bengals have. Frankly, Cincinnati has quietly put together a group of players that will bring back the excitement.

Top Bengals players to target for Fantasy Football in 2017
Thanks to a killer draft class and a strong veteran presence, the Bengals are loaded with talent and prepared to win now. Considering how much speed the Orange and Black have added to the roster, there are plenty of options to expose your fantasy opponent week-in and week-out. It’s no secret Cincinnati’s offense is built around cornerstone players A.J. Green, Andy Dalton and Tyler Eifert. But, the expected battle at running back will be one of the most closely watched storylines of the 2017 season.

Bengals LT Cedric Ogbuehi Has Big Shoes To Fill
Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth has abandoned his post with the Cincinnati Bengals and gone on to join the Los Angeles Rams for a bigger payday. That leaves the monumental task of protecting quarterback Andy Dalton’s blindside to third-year offensive tackle Cedrick Ogbuehi. People would have been uncomfortable with Ogbuehi being responsible for protecting Dalton’s gym socks a year ago. The 25-year-old floundered and failed miserably to live up to his first-round draft status at right tackle. Things got so bad last season that he was benched and made inactive for a Week 13 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Bengals' Alex Erickson: Needs to earn roster spot again
Erickson will have to compete for a roster spot, despite leading the AFC in kickoff return average (27.9 yards) as a rookie, Dan Hoard of reports. Erickson caught on as an undrafted free agent due to his ability to contribute on special teams, and while his work on kickoffs was impressive, he averaged only 7.0 yards on 28 punt returns.

AFC North Bytes

What Should The Ravens Expect From Breshad Perriman In 2017?
The Baltimore Ravens lost Steve Smith Sr. and Dennis Pitta this offseason. The two valuable veteran pass-catchers combined for 156 receptions, 1,528 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016. That’s not to say the cupboard is bare for the Ravens at the skill positions. To the contrary, they’re still pretty well-stocked.

Cleveland Browns: Kicking competition still in early stages
For a long time, the kicker position was essentially the only position on the Cleveland Browns roster that the team never had to worry about. From the franchise’s return in 1999 until 2012, Dawson kicked balls for the Browns. Since Dawson left after the 2012 season, though, Cleveland hasn’t had a permanent solution for the kicker position.

Antonio Brown puts Steelers/Bengals rivalry aside to help Dre Kirkpatrick’s football camp
Sometimes sports rivalries are more about the fans than they are the players. Fans often freak out when they see a member of their favorite team fraternizing with a member of the opposition. However, there are some rivalries which you can imagine the disdain for one another carrying over off the field for the players.

Random Bytes

Fantasy Football Bust Warning: be very careful if drafting these players in 2017
After selecting league MVP Matt Ryan as a sleeper and Carson Palmer as a bust in this space last season, we're inclined to first grab an icepack for our back after patting it so hard, then use some of the same dart-throwing methods again: age/injury concerns and tenuous depth chart alterations continue to be our biggest hints at potential busts.

How Analytics Has Changed in the Last 10 Years (and How It’s Stayed the Same)
Ten years ago, Jeanne Harris and I published the book Competing on Analytics, and we’ve just finished updating it for publication in September. One major reason for the update is that analytical technology has changed dramatically over the last decade; the sections we wrote on those topics have become woefully out of date. So revising our book offered us a chance to take stock of 10 years of change in analytics.

Louis Riddick Denies Report He Was Contacted for Chiefs GM Interview
ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick is reportedly a candidate for the Kansas City Chiefs' vacant general manager job after John Dorsey was surprisingly fired last week. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Chiefs would like to interview Riddick next week. Riddick, 48, last served in a front office as the director of pro personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2010-13. He denied being contacted by Kansas City.

NFL Nostalgia: Ranking the Best Defenses in NFL History
Patriots fan trigger warning: No modern Patriots team made this countdown. It's not that Bill Belichick's defenses haven't been great in the last 15 years. Heck, they would dominate the second tier of a top-50 countdown. It's just that the modern Patriots lack something most of the historic defenses on this list had to cope with: lousy quarterbacking.