The Bengals have now wrapped up five full days of practice as they head into their day off on Tuesday.
It’s been a good camp thus far with plenty of guys shining on both sides of the ball while injuries have been limited thus far. We’re still a week away from the preseason beginning, but these Bengals already look like they’ve taken some big steps forward from last year.
Here is what you need to know from Day 5 of Bengals training camp.
The big news Tuesday was Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert making his long-awaited return. Eifert missed most of the 2017 season with back and knee injuries, and he was placed on PUP to open camp.
But Tuesday saw Eifert back on the practice field and finally catching some passes in pads:
Let’s watch Tyler Eifert some more pic.twitter.com/egjNRXlKe5— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) July 30, 2018
Sure doesn’t look like they’re holding Tyler Eifert back too much. He’s had two receptions in 7x7 where he’s gone to the ground while making the catch.— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) July 30, 2018
Eifert has played well today. Just caught a TD in 11-on-11 in the red zone. Got hit, fell, held onto the ball and popped back up.— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) July 30, 2018
It’s great seeing Eifert on the field with pads on in any capacity.
Also making their return Tuesday were Tyler Kroft and Ryan Hewitt. Kroft missed Monday with a minor undisclosed issue, while Hewitt opened camp on PUP and is now cleared to practice.
However, there were still some notable Bengals unable to practice due to injuries suffered in camp thus far:
#Bengals without DE Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, WR Josh Malone and CB Sojourn Shelton today.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) July 30, 2018
Josh Malone injured his hamstring on Monday, so not seeing him practice Tuesday is a bit concerning. He’s been great thus far, so much that it seemed like an injury would be the only thing that kept him off the 53-man roster.
As for Ja’Von Rolland-Jones and Sojourn Shelton, they’re facing an uphill climb just to make the practice squad, though there’s an outside chance one of them makes the 53-man roster. Shelton is in his second year with the Bengals and looked good in OTAs, while Rolland-Jones is a promising undrafted free agent who had 42 sacks at Arkansas State.
Tate keeps shining
Auden Tate continues to make a strong push for the 53-man roster.
The seventh-round pick out of Florida State was facing long odds of making the roster when he was initially drafted near the very end of this year’s NFL Draft. However, Tate had a great showing in OTAs, so much that there’s been a lot of hype building with him.
Tate only added to that hype with a good start to training camp, though his best day yet may have come on Monday:
First 'oooooh' of the day goes to Auden Tate (late round wide receiver). Out jumped Dre Kirkpatrick down field for a ball. Also, had a one-handed TD on a fade in a red zone drill. #Bengals— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) July 30, 2018
#Bengals rookie Auden Tate is like a walking highlight reel. In WR vs DB red zone drills Tate had back to back one handed grabs that would’ve gone for touchdowns.— Marisa Contipelli (@BengalsMarisa) July 30, 2018
And with Malone’s injury, Tate now has a great chance to get more reps and make a bigger push for that No. 6/7 wide receiver spot.
Schreck making noise
It’s been a quiet two-year stint for Mason Schreck in Cincinnati. The former seventh-round pick was very underwhelming last year before landing on season-ending injured reserve. Had he not ended up on that list, he may have not even made the Bengals’ practice squad.
That’s how bad he looked, but it sounds like Schreck is already having a much better camp in Year 2.
Two TD connections from Matt Barkley to TE Mason Schreck in goal line drill. One great throw and other a one-handed catch.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) July 30, 2018
Ideally, Schreck has a good preseason and lands on the practice squad, where he can get another year to develop before Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft and CJ Uzomah all have their contracts expire in 2019.
It’s almost a certainty that at least one of them isn’t going to be back, so it would be nice to have a replacement already waiting in the wings. Perhaps Schreck can be that guy.
We’ve not heard much about the interior defensive line thus far, including one Andrew Billings. The third-year defensive tackle is expected to take on a bigger role this year now that Pat Sims is gone.
Billings even opened camp as the second starting defensive tackle next to Geno Atkins. There was some thought that Chris Baker or Ryan Glasgow would get that nod, but for now, Billings is being given the chance to start, and he made a big play during goal-line drills on Monday:
Bengals first live period of camp featured a powerful goal line stuff of Gio Bernard by Andrew Billings. Everybody out here heard that hit.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) July 30, 2018
Of all the non-Geno defensive tackles, Billings definitely has the most upside, but he struggled a lot in 2017, which was technically his rookie year after he tore his meniscus in 2016.
The Bengals have rarely gotten good play out of the second tackle spot, so hopefully Billings is the one who finally makes a big impact there next to Atkins.
Be sure to check out John Sheeran’s highlights from today’s practice:
Bengals Training Camp 7/30 LivestreamPosted by Cincy Jungle on Monday, July 30, 2018
What was your big takeaway from Day 5 of training camp?