Thursday was a day that should remind us all that life moves fast in the NFL. With the news of both Brandon LaFell and Ja’Von Rolland-Jones being two of the first cuts this training camp in the morning, a few players got more chances to prove themselves in practice just a few hours later.
Cincy Jungle had two sets of eyes from different points of view on hand in myself and Nick to see everything that went down, and noted some key observations from the seventh practice of training camp.
Cody Core takes advantage of his opportunity
There was no better example of #SeizeTheDEY than Cody Core. With Josh Malone and Auden Tate missing practices due to an injury and Brandon LaFell out the door, it was now or never for Core to keep his name relevant.
Cody Core has had a nice day today. This is the first day he’s really stood out in camp. Maybe he’s taking advantage of his new opportunity.— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) August 2, 2018
Core had two touchdowns in red zone drills along with several other great catches. He didn’t play many first team snaps, but was definitely the player that stood out the most on the second team’s offense.
Core with another nice red zone grab pic.twitter.com/3IgEjkE7Gm— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) August 2, 2018
Core was on the outside looking in coming into practice on Thursday. He is still on the roster bubble, but if he puts together more practices like the one he had on Thursday, he will be hard to leave out of the mix.
When Malone and Tate come back, the wide receiver group is going to force Marvin Lewis and the coaching staff to make some really tough decisions for the 53-man roster.
C.J. Uzomah working in Tyler Eifert’s absence
After appearing in back to back practices in full pads, tight end Tyler Eifert spent most of his day on the rehab field in a cut-off shirt instead of a jersey with pads. He did appear with the offense in a few mid-practice walk-throughs, but the team seems to still be taking precautions with his back and used a non-full padded practice for some slight recovery work off to the side.
In his place, as it has been this week, was C.J. Uzomah working with the first-team offense at tight end, and not Tyler Kroft. This should be viewed more as a positive for Uzomah instead of negative for Kroft, because as athletes, Uzomah is much more a vertical threat in the way that Eifert is in comparison to Kroft.
Vertical concepts like corner and post routes along with working up the seams has been bestowed upon Uzomah, whereas Kroft is being asked to be more of an intermediate option.
When Eifert is on the field, Kroft will still be that kind of player for the Bengals. The base offense for essentially every NFL is 11 personnel, where there’s only one tight end on the field, and tight ends are basically bigger receivers in today’s modern offensive league.
You need that verticality at the position, and Uzomah offers more of that than Kroft, which is why the offense is preparing Uzomah to fill in for Eifert more so this year than last.
Dre Kirkpatrick handled John Ross
John Ross has been one of the brightest stars at camp so far, using his blazing speed to beat defenders left and right.
On the other side of the ball, Dre Kirkpatrick has mainly been on the receiving end of Ross’ great plays.
However, Kirkpatrick finally got his against Ross on Thursday. Kirkpatrick didn’t get beat by Ross at all and kept really tight coverage for most of the day. He even swatted away a would-be touchdown during a red zone drill.
Ross still had his moments, like this ridiculous grab off a tipped ball.
Of course Ross catches the hard one pic.twitter.com/VK0c0gagry— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) August 2, 2018
But whenever Ross had a catch, it was against the second team’s defense. So it looks like either Kirkpatrick has Ross figured out or he simply played on a different gear Thursday.
It was good to see Kirkpatrick recover from the rough start he had last week. Hopefully he will live up to his lucrative salary this year.
Backup quarterbacks are still disappointing
Andy Dalton has looked great during camp this year, but the same cannot be said about the other quarterbacks on the roster.
While Matt Barkley has pretty much nailed down the No. 2 spot, he hasn’t looked good doing it.
He had this gem, overthrowing Core.
Given the way he was played during camp this year, there could be worse backups than Barkley. He is the type of backup that can learn the system and come into a game to manage the offense. Other than that, he won’t be making that many great plays.
Jeff Driskel, who is the next man up, has not played the way Bengals fans have hoped. He had an excellent preseason game last year before he suffered a season-ending injury, but hasn’t lived up to that performance yet.
Driskel was especially lackluster in red zone drills. He completely bombed the first set, and while he actually threw some completions in the second set, scored no touchdowns during either.
After about 5 minutes of RZ drills, Driskell had zero completions— Nick Manchester (@NickManchester9) August 2, 2018
Bill Lazor did call an run-pass option play that we haven’t seen with the other quarterbacks. Since Driskel is the most athletic of all of the quarterbacks on the roster, the Bengals might use that tool to overcome some of his passing woes.
But as a passer so far, Driskel has shown us nothing but wild inaccuracy.
Then there’s Logan Woodside, who the Bengals picked up in the seventh round of the draft this year. Woodside did not play any snaps when he has suited up and has been wearing street clothes for the last several practices.
Woodside was still in street clothes on Thursday, but he did look on as a defensive back during walkthroughs before practice, he stretched with the team during warmups, and shagged balls for the special teams. He does not appear to be injured, so it's a mystery why he is not practicing.
He was charged with a DUI back in June, but if he is being punished, it seems like a weird time for the Bengals to start administering discipline.
Maybe the Bengals already know they’re going to cut him or put him on the practice squad, so they don’t want to take any snaps away from the other quarterbacks. We don’t know for sure.
But one thing we do know is that we don’t want Dalton to ever leave the game.
Sam Hubbard starting to make a name for himself
In light of Rolland-Jones’ departure from the morning, the main beneficiary from the move seemed to be rookie defensive end Sam Hubbard, who got extensive work from both the right and left edge in the second and third-team units.
sam hubbard and ryan glasgow stunt forced a hold pic.twitter.com/xZEnCaxnfT— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) August 2, 2018
On multiple and sometimes consecutive reps, Hubbard beat tackles Bobby Hart and Cordy Glenn around the arc, and also flashed an inside spin move against Kent Perkins, who was at left tackle in the second-team offensive line.
Hubbard’s size, bend and hands seem to be working well in unison with one another and his process looks pretty solid so far. With his impressiveness, there has been an underwhelming showcase of Jordan Willis, who has gotten equal reps with Hubbard.
Where Hubbard is using his hands to create space and work around the arc, Willis is stills struggling to fight off the first punch. He has not looked too much improved in this area, and his bout with Hubbard for reps is something to watch.
For our full recap of practice, here’s our Facebook livestream:
Bengals Training Camp Post Practice 8/2 Recap + Q/APosted by Cincy Jungle on Thursday, August 2, 2018