It may be just an OTA session, but the Bengals had several notable players battling various minor injuries at Tuesday’s practice.
First up were Tyler Kroft and Clint Boling, who were seen working on the side field.
At the start of position work, tight end Tyler Kroft and left guard Clint Boling working out on the side field. #Bengals— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) May 29, 2018
The fact that Boling and Kroft were working at all suggests whatever kept them from doing more team work is minor at best. Boling is one of the few players this offense can ill-afford to lose, as he’s become one of the NFL’s best left guards. He’s also one of the few rocks on an offensive line that’s been littered with holes in recent years.
As for Kroft, he needs a big year in 2018, as this is currently a contract year for the former third-round pick out of Rutgers. He’s played well enough that the Bengals could look to extend him this offseason, but with Tyler Eifert still here, the team may wait to see how both players do in 2018 before offering them new contracts next offseason.
While those two were limited from the start of Tuesday’s session, two other key players suffered what are hopefully minor dings during practice. They were wide receiver A.J. Green and cornerback William Jackson, who may end up being the Bengals’ two best players in 2018.
Two key #Bengals had tense moments today. A.J. Green looked to tweak his quad and checked out of practice midway through. Wasn't tended to by trainers though. William Jackson III came out from a play holding his hand and was looked at, but returned a series later.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) May 29, 2018
I asked A.J. Green if Jay Gruden’s “Don’t touch the merchandise!” line ran through his head when he ran into some defenders today.— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) May 29, 2018
He laughed, said no, but he skipped the rest of OTA for precautionary reasons after knocking legs with DBs after a catch.
The absolute 100 percent last thing the Bengals can afford right now is a serious injury to Green in an offseason workout. He’s the heartbeat of an offense that’s been on life support for much of the past two seasons, so losing him would be fatal. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear this is anything significant. He sat out for the rest of practice, like as a precautionary measure as he hardly needs an OTA practice to improve.
The same goes for Jackson, who had a minor ding but was able to return to practice. He’s quickly become one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks, and he could be poised for another major jump in 2018. It seems like Jackson’s injury was just a scare as he got right back on the field following an interaction with trainers.
Elsewhere, starting safety Shawn Williams was limited with an unknown injury, allowing rookie Jessie Bates to actually get starting reps.
Shawn Wiliams continues to run sprints across the field intermittently between plays. Hasn't participated in practice. Allowed Jessie Bates III starting reps next to George Iloka. Important snaps for the second-rounder right now.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) May 29, 2018
It’s unclear why Williams isn’t getting a full session in, but seeing that he’s running sprints suggests he’s ok. This may also be the Bengals simply keeping him limited to allow Bates to play more. They’re expecting big things from the rookie safety out of Wake Forest, so better to get him as many reps as possible now.
The Bengals were also without cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick on Tuesday, as he was attending a funeral. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap continues to be absent as he looks for a new contract from the Bengals and doesn’t want to risk an OTA injury in a contract year.