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5 takeaways from the Bengals’ Friday night training camp practice

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The Bengals hit the field for their only night practice of training camp and the defensive line continued to shine. Meanwhile, Joe Mixon continued his impressive training camp performance.

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The Bengals held their first and only night practice of training camp on Friday, a steamy day in Cincinnati.

There were ups and downs as the team prepares for Saturday afternoon’s intrasquad scrimmage. On the bright side, there were no major injuries and the team got back Clayton Fejedelem who missed Thursday’s practice. From a negative perspective, the flags were flying with officials in town.

Here are our takeaways from the action on Friday night.

1. Offensive line starters

The offensive line continues shuffling starters on the right side. On Friday it was Trey Hopkins who started out with the first team at right guard and Bobby Hart who started with the first team at right tackle. There have yet to be two consecutive days featuring the same starters at those spots. On lock are the other three offensive line positions as left tackle is being satisfied by Cordy Glenn, while Clint Boling is holding down the left guard spot and Billy Price is at center.

As for Christian Westerman, he has now spent most of the last two days with the second team at left guard behind Boling, which isn’t a great sign for his hopes of starting this year. But, it’s early.

He did get some first team reps at left guard, too, not that he’s beating out Boling for that job. And don’t worry, Boling wasn’t hurt. He was just getting some reps off.

The first preseason game will begin to show how the team is looking at the linemen and the practices following that game should be better indicators than anything we’ve seen thus far in training camp.

Here’s a look at some of the lineman action with Jake Fisher going up against Sam Hubbard and Cedric Ogbuehi going up against Jordan Willis.

And here’s Geno Atkings facing Alex Redmond, who’s also competing for the starting right guard job.

2. Returning duties

Prior to training camp, I thought there was a chance someone could unseat Alex Erickson as the Bengals’ primary return man. There’s been no indication during training camp that will happen.

That could change during the preseason, but on Friday it was Erickson and fellow wide receiver Kermit Whitfield running out kickoffs at the start of the night. Interestingly, John Ross was working with the return team as a blocker initially and then got a few chances at returning, too.

His first opportunity at taking the ball out was not a good one.

But the second one went better.

3. Snap troubles

Billy Price’s snap issues continued on Friday as he experienced trouble handling the first snap of 11-on-11 drills.

Interestingly (and unfortunately) enough, the same happened for backup center T.J. Johnson.

Dalton wasn’t pleased.

4. All the flags!

Prior to practice, the media met with NFL officials to learn about the new helmet rules this year. And, it seems they were overwhelmed and confused, just like Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels, Thursday night’s Hall of Fame game announcers.

Then, flags were flying during practice.

Training camp is all about working out the kinks and dealing with things of this sort. Hopefully the Bengals get their act together during the next month.

5. Joe Mixon is shining

Last year’s run game was abysmal, but Mixon is doing his best to make sure that’s not the case again this year. An improved offensive line will help his cause and he’s also slimmed down to boost his speed. Reviews in training camp have been positive and Joe Danneman had quite the statement on Mixon during Friday’s practice.

Katherine Terrell added that he was doing well in pass protection, too, which is an area in which he needed to improve this offseason. If he can do better in pass protection, the Bengals will be able to keep him on the field more often.

This sounds good, doesn’t it?

With that said, Andrew Billings got him here:

But he may have punished himself for that — or something else — as he was running on his own after practice.

Though, John thinks he’s just crazy.

The Bengals will be back on the field soon as they have their intrasquad scrimmage during Family Dey on Saturday before an off day on Sunday.