The Cincinnati Bengals were back on the field on Tuesday for another day of training camp. During the practice, which was closed to fans, we received some important updates on injured players, as well some positive developments on guys who participated in the session.
Here is a look at our four biggest takeaways from Tuesday’s action:
1. Injury Updates
The Bengals were without a host of players on both sides of the ball Tuesday, highlighted by Michael Johnson still sitting out.
#Bengals not practicing: Tony McRae, Ced Peerman, Derron Smith, Brandon Wilson, G. Iloka, TJ Johnson, Kumerow, Chris Brown, M.Johnson.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 1, 2017
The starting defensive end needs to get back on the field ASAP to ensure he doesn’t endure another subpar season. He was easily one of the defense’s worst starters last year. Missing a good amount of training camp and preseason games won’t help his cause, so hopefully this is relatively minor and he’ll be back soon.
Another Johnson now on the mend is backup offensive lineman T.J. Johnson. He was actually able to practice on Monday, but it appears he injured himself in drills:
Tweeted yesterday that I noticed Johnson tweaking something in line drills. Never rotated back in during 11s or position work. https://t.co/ApyinGxIAY— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) August 1, 2017
This would be a notable loss for the offensive line, as Johnson can play both guard spots, as well as center. If he misses significant time, that could open the door for guys like Alex Redmond, Trey Hopkins and Dustin Stanton to win a roster spot.
As for the other injured guys, George Iloka is likely out for a few weeks due to a knee sprain. There’s still no word on what Cedric Peerman is dealing with as he remains on Active/Non-Football Injury (NFI) list. Derron Smith is dealing with a foot/ankle injury suffered on Sunday.
2. Smith Returns in Limited Form
The Bengals did get some good news Tuesday with the return of Andre Smith, though, he was limited during practice. The veteran lineman missed Monday’s practice, though he did get some work in on the rehab field.
It’s unclear what Smith was dealing with, but it must have been minor. He returned to action on Tuesday, though wasn’t a full participant, as he looks to lock down the starting right guard spot:
Andre Smith vs Will Clarke face off #Bengals pic.twitter.com/PnhAoLjzlP— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) August 1, 2017
Smith has also been getting some occasional work in at right tackle, though the Bengals are hoping he performs well enough to be the starting right guard. That’s even truer if T.J. Johnson is out for significant time, as Johnson figures to be among the favorites to start there if Smith goes back to tackle.
Another player who could win the starting right guard spot is Trey Hopkins, who once again was practicing with the first team offense while Smith sat out during parts of Tuesday’s session.
Vontaze Burfict is no stranger to controversy, even within his own team. Burfict has cleaned up his game during the last year, but he’s still prone to some boneheaded plays, and he showcased one Tuesday.
Burfict tackled running back Giovani Bernard, which itself was a stupid move as it wasn’t a tackling drill, but being that Bernard is recovering from an ACL tear, it magnified the stupidity of the move.
It also pissed off a lot of people.
First play in contact for Giovani Bernard and Vontaze Burfict dives in right at his knees. As you can imagine a huge shoving match ensued.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 1, 2017
Bernard coming off ACL recovery wasn’t expecting it in the hole. RBs coach Kyle Caskey reacted first then OL all charged in.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 1, 2017
That hit to Bernard’s knees by Burfict might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen at a training camp practice.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 1, 2017
#Kerfuffle— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) August 1, 2017
Burfict goes low on Gio. RBs coach Caskey not happy.#Bengals pic.twitter.com/DZ8Ae11cgM
By the end of practice, the two had made up and Bernard explained it by saying Burfict “slipped”. There will be a big story made of this by the media, but, all should be OK moving forward between Burfict and Bernard.
But the fighting didn’t end there. Tyler Eifert tried to intervene and talk with Burfict after the play, but it looks like it only riled up Burfict more:
Eifert and Burfict had words following the tackle/scrum. pic.twitter.com/9GZAJNVO8y— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) August 1, 2017
After this play Burfict walked onto the field and yelled "Better catch that sh*t" to Eifert. They had words earlier (see previous tweets). pic.twitter.com/KPw5hukVuQ— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) August 1, 2017
This is a terrible look for Burfict, who is entering a contract year and hopefully negotiating a new deal with the Bengals. But this type of behavior will lower his stock and make other teams less willing to offer him big deals if he does hit free agency next year. It also looks from the videos like he shoved running backs coach Kyle Caskey, which is far from a good move.
That wasn’t the only scuffle to occur on this day, however. Toward the end of practice, Eifert and Shawn Williams got into it, leading into another mini scuffle:
Now a shoving match between Tyler Eifert and Shawn Williams sets off a mini-scuffle. Second of day. These guys could use day off tomorrow.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 1, 2017
It also looks like a hard hit by Adam Jones on Tyler Boyd helped spark some action.
Another skirmish after Pacman drills Boyd on this trick play. Shot obscured in camera view but hear the ooohs. #Bengals pic.twitter.com/r6Hzi2a83e— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) August 1, 2017
Thankfully, no one was hurt, so hopefully they can move past this incident, which it looks like they’re already doing:
Fences mended. Gio and Burfict laughing it up on sideline during onside kick drill. #Bengals— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) August 1, 2017
It sure will be good for the players to get a day off on Wednesday1
4. D-Line Impresses
The defensive line didn’t quite live up to the hype last year. Despite rostering Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, not having enough depth or other edge rushers kept this unit from reaching its full potential.
Now, Andrew Billings is the starting nose tackle, and he’s done well in camp thus far. Billings reportedly pancaked Clint Boling on Tuesday during practice.
He had a great play today where he pancaked Clint Boling. https://t.co/WEM9p2NxmD— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) August 1, 2017
Rookie Carl Lawson has also shined in offseason workouts and camp thus far. He’s listed as a linebacker, but his biggest role as a rookie is expected to be an edge rusher on passing downs. Lawson made a big play on Tuesday by taking Jeremy Hill down in the backfield:
Rookie Carl Lawson meets rookie Joe Mixon in backfield. #Bengsls pic.twitter.com/4sUYs1yTO1— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) August 1, 2017
But of course, no one is outshining Geno:
Geno being Geno#Bengals pic.twitter.com/hGEe45NsyB— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) August 1, 2017
This defensive line has the potential to be one of the NFL’s best, but guys other than Atkins and Dunlap need to step up for it to happen.