The Bengals have concluded their 2018 training camp.
The 12th and final camp practice took place Saturday, where the Bengals wore pads and shorts as they worked under a cloudy Queen City sky, which eventually turned into lightning and led to a shortened practice.
Here are four things to know from the Bengals’ final camp session:
Now that the Bengals have wrapped up training camp and one preseason game, the injury list is about as small as you could hope for a team to have this close to the regular season. No one that’s unable to practice due to injury is a starter, and only Vinny Rey has played significant snaps.
No practicing for #Bengals:— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) August 11, 2018
Andrew Billings (graduation)
Sure, you’d like to have no injuries, but that’s just not realistic. There are teams who’ve suffered three season-ending injuries to players, yet the Bengals have just one to this point.
After opening camp with minor issues, Tyler Eifert and Vontaze Burfict are both practicing right now. If the Bengals can stay this healthy going into the regular season, that offense is going to be mighty dangerous early on.
One notable injury/issue that popped up Saturday was both Dre Kirkpatrick and Josh Malone not finishing practice.
Dre Kirkpatrick didn’t come back out in uniform after the rain delay. In street clothes. Same with Josh Malone— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) August 11, 2018
That’s the only word on either right now, so it’s untelling what caused them to miss the rest of practice.
The story of training camp has been John Ross, though for both good and bad reasons. The good is when he’s blazing past any defender and stretching the field for the offense.
The bad is when he can’t catch even the easiest of passes, then make a crazy diving grab the very next play:
The enigma that is John Ross continues. Double moves WJ3, gets wide open, then drops underthrown ball from Barkley.— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) August 11, 2018
Next rep, Ross makes ridiculous leaping catch from Driskel to beat solid coverage from Darius Phillips. #Bengals
john ross against darius phillips pic.twitter.com/vNnRsu6QLx— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) August 11, 2018
@JamesRapien @MoEgger1530 @LanceMcAlister pic.twitter.com/lNoMrRjMMw— Timmy Gormly (@timmy_gormly) August 11, 2018
If Ross can find consistency before the preseason ends, he’s going to be one of the NFL’s biggest breakout players in 2018. But if he continues to drop passes, he’ll lose more and more reps to Tyler Boyd, Josh Malone and maybe even Auden Tate.
Tate runs with starters
Today was the day Auden Tate finally was rewarded for his great camp and preseason thus far. Today was when Tate got his chance to run with the starters:
Auden Tate is getting first team reps today.— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) August 11, 2018
Now, Tate can hopefully show what he’s really capable of, something that will never happen while playing with Matt Barkley and Jeff Driskel. We can really see how well Tate can do in an offense where Andy Dalton is throwing him the rock while A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert occupy the attention of defenses.
This also speaks to how secure Tate’s roster spot is right now. He would really have to bomb for the rest of the preseason to even get to the roster bubble. He may very well be the steal of the Bengals’ 2018 draft class.
Redmond still only real challenger at RG
It’s looking more and more like Trey Hopkins will retain his starting right guard spot, partly because the real challenger may not even get a chance.
For most of training camp and even the Bengals’ preseason opener, Westerman has been the best guard not named Clint Boling. The problem is Westerman has only gotten time at left guard, where he has no chance of unseating Boling, the team’s best offensive lineman.
So, what about right guard?
Beating out the likes of Hopkins and Redmond seem like something Westerman would do, but for whatever reason, the coaching staff won’t give him reps at right guard.
If that continues, we may not see Westerman at all in 2018, which would really be a shame since it seems like he’d be a major threat to win the right guard spot.
Maybe he just can’t make that switch to the right side. Maybe he just can’t block as well from the right side.
Maybe, but it would still be nice to see him get a chance.