The Cincinnati Bengals opened up their first day of training camp on Friday, and it was the first opportunity for fans to see many of the team’s new players in action. Training camp will run through Thursday August 10th, the day before the team’s first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Day 1 was an interesting day in Cincinnati and we learned a lot about the Bengals in the process.
The rookies will shine
The Bengals were excited to watch their top two rookie draft picks playing in the same offense for the first time. Ross was unable to participate in OTAs and minicamp, so today was his first time on the field as a member of the Bengals. It was particularly good to see him practicing, as his offseason surgery is requiring him to practice in a limited capacity, but still allowing him to see the field. When he did get his chance, he shined bright, for the most part.
Dalton is going to like having John Ross pic.twitter.com/0gTXU12VaA— Kyle Phelps (@KylePhelps92) July 28, 2017
He did have some drops, but, that should have been expected in his first practice at the NFL level. Remember, most of these other guys got to play in rookie minicamp, OTAs and mandatory minicamp; Ross did not.
The Bengals’ second round pick, running back Joe Mixon, also impressed in camp, being worked in on a significant number of snaps.
The Bengals’ offense is expected to receive a huge boost from these two players in 2017, so getting a chance to see them finally practicing together was really encouraging.
Fear the running game
There aren’t enough good things to say about the way Mixon performed on Friday. But, it was virtually every running back at the Bengals’ disposal who performed well. Even embattled running back Jeremy Hill looked great in shorts.
Jeremy Hill still has the patience and the stutter step. Can he bounce back this year? pic.twitter.com/rKi9lmMjRq— Kyle Phelps (@KylePhelps92) July 28, 2017
Hill’s counterpart, Giovani Bernard, received his share of ooohs and aahhs on Friday, which was great to see in his return from ACL surgery. What was, perhaps, less expected, was impressive performances from lesser known running backs like Tra Carson and Stanley “Boom” Williams. Unfortunately, Williams did end practice with cramps and didn’t get to finish the full session. Hopefully, it won’t linger for too long.
Carson and Williams will likely be fighting for the practice squad spot occupied by Carson in 2016. Jarveon Williams is also in that mix, although he is currently on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list and not cleared to practice due to an undisclosed injury.
A.J. Green still has it
The Bengals’ star wide receiver was all over the practice field on Friday, at one point making a spectacular diving catch, which I am still angry about because I did not catch it on video. However, it was really hard to stay mad when Green kept making catches like this all day:
It is worth noting Bengals’ cornerback KeiVarae Russell had a great day at camp and and at one point, absolutely denied Green on one of those tough passes he is usually so great at coming down with. But, it was more of a highlight from the Bengals’ young cornerback than a lowlight from Green, who seemed to do everything he possibly could to come down with the catch.
Green also started camp off by going deep for a long pass from quarterback Andy Dalton, who looked good throughout the day. He was picked off once, on a tipped pass that was grabbed by William Jackson. And with everyone hoping for greatness from Jackson, the now second-year cornerback who missed his entire rookie year, it was almost the type of pick-six you want to see as it showed more about Jackson than Dalton.
Jake Kumerow looked great before injury
Speaking of lesser known players like Russell who are well liked by the coaching staff, Jake Kumerow is often talked about as a potential dark horse candidate for the Bengals’ wide receiver position. Given the injection of talent at the position this offseason, his odds seem small. But, he looked impressive in practice.
Jake Kumerow has the coaches' attention, but is that going to be enough to finally make the roster? pic.twitter.com/kzHZEKlSc3— Kyle Phelps (@KylePhelps92) July 28, 2017
Unfortunately, he played too hard and came up limping on one play. After he got up, he walked off the practice field to talk to the coaches.
Jake Kumerow came up limping after a passing play. It doesn't appear to be serious. pic.twitter.com/9yIgAh9hHJ— Kyle Phelps (@KylePhelps92) July 28, 2017
He was reportedly diagnosed with an ankle sprain, though it’s unclear how serious the injury really is. Regardless, Kumerow is in a volatile position this year. It is already extremely unlikely he will make the final roster, but if he loses any playing time due to injury, he could struggle to even retain the practice squad role he has held for the last two years. That said, the promise he showed before he went off the field could help him earn more reps, as long the injury remains a non-issue.
The Bengals have practice on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 3:00 p.m. - 4:45 at the practice fields just west of Paul Brown Stadium. Definitely prepare to arrive at least 30 minutes early for weekend practices as you can expect about 2,000+ fans in attendance.