The Bengals have wrapped up their first training camp practice of 2018.
It was a fun day under the sun at Paul Brown Stadium, though there wasn’t too much action taking place on the field. That’s because this was a pad-less practice, as full pads won’t come on until Saturday.
Still, it was great seeing the Bengals on a football field.
Training camp 2018 begins. #Bengals @FOX19 pic.twitter.com/ayMjzGCFrJ— Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) July 26, 2018
It's time. #SeizeTheDEY pic.twitter.com/uY7hIkGIZ8— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) July 26, 2018
Here are five takeaways from Day 1 of what hopes to be a special season in Cincinnati.
Price healthy and starting
When the Bengals spent a first-round pick on Ohio State center Billy Price, it was unclear if he’d be ready to roll for Day 1 of training camp. His torn pectoral muscle suffered at the Scouting Combine was initially thought to be serious enough to have him open camp on NFI.
Thankfully, the injury was later revealed to not be as serious, and he ended up getting a clean bill of health right before the Bengals drafted him. He then got some light work in during OTAs but never got a full workload in, indicating he may not be a full-go on Day 1 of training camp.
However, Price was taking first-team reps at center on Thursday, a good indicator that he’s fully recovered and ready for a full workload in his first training camp.
I didn’t hate the Billy Price pick, but I wasn’t in love with it. He looks great today, it may be safe to say he’s going to hold down the center position for years. #Bengals #NFL— J. Angelo Carriero (@AngeloMediaLex) July 26, 2018
That’s great news for the man Cincinnati hopes becomes a major upgrade to what was arguably the worst offensive line in football last season. Price will also look to break the trend of Bengals first-round picks that make little-to-no impact as rookies.
Right side rotation
Two of the biggest position battles this year are at right guard and right tackle, so of course, we saw rotating at both spots in terms of first-team reps.
Initially, it was Cedric Ogbuehi at right tackle and Trey Hopkins at right guard. Ogbuehi has been drawing a lot of praise this offseason, so it wasn’t a big surprise to see him getting the first nod.
The same goes with the incumbent Hopkins, who started most of the 2017 season at right guard, though the results left a lot to be desired.
As camp went on, Alex Redmond got first-team reps at right guard, while Jake Fisher was in at right tackle. Redmond showed some nice flashes last season, enough to think he’s a real threat to be the opening day right guard.
As for Fisher, he’s had an up-and-down career thus far, though it’s hard more bright spots than Ogbuehi. I would give Fisher the slight edge to win the right tackle spot as of now, but Ogbuehi seems poised to make a strong push for it.
These two battles have a long way to go and may continue into the regular season.
John Ross healthy and shining
The Bengals have had an interesting trend of first-round picks not contributing much, if at all as rookies, but then later becoming impact players.
Last year, we saw William Jackson become one of the game’s best cornerbacks after missing all of his rookie year with a pectoral injury.
The hope is John Ross is going to follow that script in 2018 after rarely seeing the field last year. Injuries played a big role in that, but now, Ross is fully healthy and is already turning heads in camp, including that of Dre Kirkpatrick and Tony McRae:
Biggest roar of the day.— Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) July 26, 2018
Andy Dalton 50-yd deep ball to John Ross for TD. Beat Dre Kirkpatrick. #Bengals @FOX19
John Ross ran past Tony McRae in this drill. McRae answered by knocking the ball away from Brandon LaFell during his next rep pic.twitter.com/TVwbB5dhEa— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) July 26, 2018
If Ross can have remotely the kind of impact Jackson had in his sophomore season, the Bengals offense is going to get a much-needed boost in 2018. Just having someone that is a threat to stretch the field will do wonders for guys like A.J. Green, Joe Mixon and Tyler Eifert.
16 years of frustration
When the Bengals decided to bring Marvin Lewis back, they all but ensured attendance for training camp and likely the regular season was going to be one of the worst we’ve seen in over a decade.
Well, that unfortunately played out for the first day of camp, a day when fans should be flocking to see their favorite team in action for the first time since last season, but for the Bengals, it didn’t happen.
Camp attendance 950— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) July 26, 2018
Most NFL teams can get at least 1,000 fans to each camp session, so seeing the Bengals not even crack that number on Day 1 is pretty concerning.
Sure, it was a pad-less practice in the middle of a work day, but it’s still a very low number that could be a sign of things to come.
Of course, the Bengals getting off to a hot start could help cure this woe in terms of regular-season attendance. But for training camp, expect this to finish among the lowest-attended of the Marvin Lewis era.
Preston Brown impresses in debut
The first official practice of Preston Brown in a Bengals uniform was a promising one. The former Bills linebacker was one of the biggest free-agent acquisitions of the Marvin Lewis era, and he’s off to a fast start with his new club.
Preston Brown has been around the ball on several plays and broken up two passes.— Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) July 26, 2018
Impressive first day. @FOX19 #Bengals
Rarely have the Bengals had a linebacker not named Burfict that could make a positive impact against both the run and passing games, but Brown is capable of doing just that. He’ll need to be for the Bengals to survive without Burfict, who is out for the first four games due to a PED violation, and he’s also not practicing now due to a tight hamstring.
It’s not a stretch to call Brown one of the 3-4 most important players on this defense, at least while Burfict is out. Brown also needs to have a big year to get a long-term contract from the Bengals or someone else in 2019.
What was your biggest takeaway from Day 1 of Bengals training camp?