The first Monday practice of Bengals training camp had a mundane feeling to it.
After four consecutive afternoons grinding in the Midwestern summer heat, Monday’s session had a little less emphasis on full-team run-throughs. Coupled with a slight drizzle throughout the final half of the day, there was a slight personification of the Monday blues going on outside of Paul Brown Stadium.
Still, there was plenty of contact when both sides of the ball went against each other on the line of scrimmage. On the final practice before the team got its first day off of training camp, there were a few moments and surprises that caught my eyes.
The return of the mullet
Unbeknownst to anyone prior to the players going from the locker room to the practice fields, this was the day tight end Tyler Eifert would return to the field after being placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of camp last Thursday.
No timetable was given in regards to Eifert’s comeback, so to see him back in pads so quick was a pleasant surprise.
As ESPN’s Bengals reporter Katherine Terrell pointed out, the music playing during the half-hour warmups was extremely 80’s themed. I’d like to think it was because of Eifert and his dashing hairstyle he adopted over the offseason.
i’ve concluded the return of the mullet and this is not a coincidence https://t.co/mBTLdwq9lD— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) July 30, 2018
As for how Eifert looked on the field, he looked like how he would after passing a physical, which he just did. His overall movement and fluidity was present, and he didn’t appear to be working against any nagging pain. He looked healthy, and in the drills he was present in, he looked like his 2015 self.
The sixth-year veteran was preserved from anything involving blocking and playing in-line to the formation, as he’s still being eased back into action. However, he had to fight off traffic and make contested catches downfield and took a few dings at the catch-point, but got up every time without issue.
We’re likely to continue seeing this kind of workload bestowed upon Eifert, as he re-adjusts to taking on contact and getting into football shape. But Monday was a promising first step.
The Auden Tate experience is better in person
If you knew anything about Auden Tate before he was drafted by the Bengals, you could’ve guessed that he’d immediately become a popular practice player.
There’s a difference between being 6’5” while weighing 227 pounds and being 6’5” while being 227 pounds and maximizing that size in moments where others can’t. It’s a difference that Tate exemplifies almost every time he’s thrown a high-arching pass.
He’s not any quicker in your own presence, but he is every bit of his listed measurements, and his ability to snag any pass thrown in his general area is very real.
If you are a regular listener on the Orange and Black Insider, Cincy Jungle’s very own podcast (if you’re not, change that), then you would know I’m on record saying Tate will not make the final roster. That’s a prediction that I’ll stand behind
because of honor and all that other nonsense because of the premise behind the prediction.
Traditionally, if you are a wide receiver under Marvin Lewis and you’re not playing significant snaps on a regular basis during the regular season, you’re on the team because of special teams reasons. Tate will not be challenging anyone to become a gunner on punt teams. They have plenty of better athletes to rundown kickoff returners, and he’ll never ever field a kickoff or punt himself.
But honestly, he may not have to.
Tate has been raising eyebrows and frustrating defensive backs since he’s arrived in Cincinnati because red-zone drills on the practice field is the atmosphere that he would thrive in. If he can keep it up and show he can be a viable asset in the other 80 yards of the field, he can be an exception to the rule.
Shuffling on the offensive line continues
Something that needs to be established, if it wasn’t already, is that there are no favorites to win either the right guard or right tackle spot right now. After returning to the field from the Non-Football Injury list on Sunday, guard Christian Westerman was the first-team right guard, and tackle Bobby Hart was next to him at right tackle.
Sharing first-team reps with them were guard Trey Hopkins and tackle Cedric Ogbuehi.
hopkins and ogbuehi are also rotating in with the first team as 11-11 work starts https://t.co/zOb545QIW1— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) July 30, 2018
Rotations of Hopkins and Redmond were seen at right guard when Westerman was sidelined in the first few days of camp, and it’s mainly been Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher at right tackle thus far.
On Monday, it was Fisher backing up Cordy Glenn at left tackle and Redmond backing up Clint Boling at left guard.
some price second level work against MIKE backer preston brown pic.twitter.com/oHh5kEjibc— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) July 30, 2018
It’s safe to say that offensive line coach Frank Pollack is giving everyone who’s competing for one of those two spots a fair chance to earn it, and Pollack’s thoughts on the matter reflect that exactly.
We’re going to learn more about the line as more padded practices unfold and the preseason commences, but finding the two starters sooner rather than later will help the group gel quicker.
Center Billy Price also had a couple errant snaps again on Monday. The rookie was chewed out by Pollack after he botched an exchange on Friday, though this time it was snapping to Andy Dalton out of the shotgun that led to some issues, but it was just a mere two times. His physicality and power as a run-blocker was once again on display, which is not only refreshing to see from the position, it has led to big runs from Joe Mixon and company.
Randy Bullock is not getting pushed by Jonathan Brown
Special teams took a good chunk of practice, and both kickers on the roster had ample time kicking from 40 to 50 yards out. Comparing the two, Bullock had a much better day, as Brown had a few wide misses and even botched a kickoff.
The dynamic between Bullock and Brown does not come off as a competition the same way it did last year with Bullock and Jake Elliott. Brown is here for insurance purposes in case something happens to Bullock, and even if Brown does get some chances in the preseason, he’ll need Bullock to completely implode to take his job.
The Bengals have a day off today, but will return to the practice field tomorrow at their regular starting time at 3:00, with the gates opening to the public at 2:30.