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Bengals training camp 2018: 5 takeaways from Day 2

A recap of what took place on Day 2 of Bengals training camp.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Training Camp Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals have now finished off two training camp sessions, and it won’t be long until the pads are coming on.

Friday was another pad-less session until they come on for Saturday. Friday still brought about some notable developments, which we’re here to recap for you.

Boyd passing LaFell?

The Bengals have been relying heavily on Brandon LaFell as the No. 2 wide receiver for the last two years, though he struggled mightily in 2017 to make a positive impact. He was one of the NFL’s worst starting receivers at getting separation from defensive backs, as evidenced by him finishing 104th out of Pro Football Focus’ top 116 receivers in 2017.

Needless to say, someone needs to step up and take his starting spot, which it sounds like Tyler Boyd may be doing.

Boyd had a very promising rookie campaign, but injuries and discipline issues led to him catching just 22 balls for 225 yards and two scores. He did end on a high note with his big touchdown that knocked Baltimore out of the playoffs in Week 17, and he also had a good spring.

Then he followed that up with a good showing on Thursday, which earned him Player of the Day honors from If he keeps this up, he’ll take LaFell’s spot with ease and possibly help send the veteran packing, something the Bengals need to think long and hard about doing.

Barkley still struggling

The Bengals signed Matt Barkley this offseason in hopes the journeyman could be a viable backup behind Andy Dalton. However, Barkley was a mess during spring OTAs, and things haven’t gotten better since training camp began.

That really came to a head on Friday, as Barkley was flat-out awful at times:

If this keeps up, the Bengals will have no choice but to cut ties with Barkley and rely on Jeff Driskel, Logan Woodside or an outside quarterback as Dalton’s backup. If Barkley is this bad in pad-less practices, it’s untelling how bad he’ll be when the pads come on and that pass rush s bearing down on him.


Westerman progressing

The Bengals have a heated battle at right guard right now between Trey Hopkins, Alex Redmond and Christian Westerman that may not get settled until the regular season.

Unfortunately for Westerman, he’s off to a slow start after opening camp on NFI due to a virus. He’s now missed the first two days, but he was seen doing conditioning work on Friday, a good indicator he’s close to returning.

Westerman initially looked like a promising fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft after some projections had him going as high as Round 2. However, he’s had a tough time getting on the field through his first two seasons, though he did show some nice flashes late in the 2017 season.

Of all the players competing for this spot, Westerman has the highest upside, so hopefully he’s back on the field soon and reaching said potential. He’s probably going to make the final roster now that Rod Taylor is out for the year, but it’s still not a guarantee.

Malone fighting for his roster life

Perhaps the most heated roster battle right now is at wide receiver, where any one of Cody Core, Alex Erickson, Auden Tate and Josh Malone would be a solid fifth or sixth receiver. However, assuming the Bengals keep A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross and Brandon LaFell, there’s going to be at least one, and probably two quality receivers not make the final roster.

Those final 2-3 spots will probably come down to Core, Malone, Tate and Erickson, though there’s an outside chance the Bengals keep them all and cut LaFell. But as much as the Bengals love their vets, we should expect one of the promising young guns to get cut.

So far, Malone is making sure it’s not him, as he’s had a really nice training camp thus far:

Because Malone was a fourth-round pick just last year, I’d already give him a slight lead over Core, Erickson and Tate, but he still needs to have a big camp and preseason to secure his spot.

Malone had a big training camp and preseason last year, though he rarely saw the field as a rookie. Perhaps this is the year he breaks out and makes an impact.

Injury report

The Bengals have now lost two players to injury through two practices.

On Thursday, backup lineman Rod Taylor suffered what has no been confirmed as a season-ending injury. He was a seventh-round draft pick that was hoping to make the team as a swing lineman. With him out, it slightly increases the chances for guys like Westerman, Redmond and Bobby Hart to make the final roster.

On Friday, reserve cornerback Tony McRae suffered a leg injury that led to him being carted off to the locker room for further testing. McRae was vying for the final cornerback spot along with KeiVarae Russell, Sojourn Shelton, Josh Shaw, Darius Phillips and Davontae Harris.

McRae was likely on the outside looking in, so a significant injury could kill any hope of making the final roster.

What was your biggest takeaway from Day 2 of training camp?