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3 observations from Day 8 of Bengals training camp

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The Bengals’ best two players each had their best practice of training camp before a large Friday night crowd.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Training Camp Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK

On the warmest day of the week, the Bengals had the vision to start Friday’s practice at 6 p.m., after the heat index eclipsed 90 degrees. I for one couldn’t have been more grateful for that, and the back of my neck would agree as well.

After being in just shoulder pads on Thursday, the team was back in full pads for their late afternoon session. The practice featured a lot of special teams work, including every variation of kickoffs and punts. To top things off, the best players on the team each made their presence known in team drills.

A.J. Green reminds us he’s A.J. Green

The story of training camp thus far, like it seems to be every year, has been the wide receivers, specifically, the young and unproven ones. Tyler Boyd and John Ross have had their share of moments and have been impressive enough for the team to part ways with veteran starter Brandon LaFell on Thursday. Auden Tate has also caught everyone’s eyes with his jump ball prowess, which was on display for the first handful of practices but has been put on pause while he’s in the concussion protocol.

None of theses players are A.J. Green though, and he made his presence known on Friday.

The back-and-forth battles between cornerback William Jackson and Green have been enjoyable to watch since the pads came on. On Friday, it was just Green’s day and Jackson had to watch it happen.

Green was the focal point in the first-team offense’s two minute drill, catching three passes and getting the offense inside the 30.

The offense ran through goal-line sets instead of red zone passing drills, but Green was the star of the receivers, like he always is when it counts.

Receivers Josh Malone and Tate were still recovering from their injuries, and Tate was seen watching from the sidelines.

The defensive line follows Geno Atkins’ lead

As the offensive line continues to figure out which two players will start to the right of Billy Price, the group opposite of them is ravaging in practice. No one is making more plays than All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins

A consistent occurrence in camp has been the defensive tackle leaving the first-team front four on the field while the offensive line has its second-team unit on the field. During almost every snap, Atkins or someone else besides him disrupts the play against a reserve blocker. It has led to a lot of broken plays for the second-team offense as a whole.

Atkins had a stretch of plays where he recorded several hurries in a row against guards Alex Redmond and Christian Westerman, as well as center Brad Lundblade, who took snaps at left guard behind Westerman. Clint Boling was a limited participant in practice on Friday, though it’s unclear why.

Like Green, Atkins looks as dominant as ever even as he enters his 30s.

This is also a good time to mention that Ryan Glasgow looks much quicker this year, while also looking a bit broader in the shoulders and the upper body in general. The second-year under tackle looks to rotate with Atkins at that position, and needs to provide more of a pass-rushing presence with Atkins off-the-field. At the very least, he’s been very active in practice and has ended up in the backfield along with nose tackle Andrew Billings, who continues to look impressive with the first-team.

“Bill is doing better keeping up with blocks than last year, especially with wide zone plays,” Glasgow told of Billings. “He’s taken a bunch of steps in the right direction. It’s been showing every day since OTAs.”

Linebacker Nick Vigil added to the praise of Billings.

“He’s getting push back,” Vigil said. “He’s fighting off blocks. He’s been holding double teams. He’s been doing awesome so far.”

Receivers to watch in the preseason

With all the talent at the wide receiver position, it wouldn’t be surprising to see two end up on the practice squad. Two under-the-radar favorites are Kermit Whitfield and Devonte Boyd.

Alex Erickson is still taking first team reps at kickoff returner, but Whitfield has been taking the reps behind him and ahead of John Ross, among others. Whitfield is still behind Tyler Boyd and Erickson as the third-team slot receiver, but we could be seeing him on kickoffs returns late in preseason games.

Devote Boyd has flashed the most in the third-team offense, and was seen a few times on punt teams as a gunner.

Backup quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Jeff Driskel had rough days throwing downfield, but the undrafted rookie has been making it work regardless. Boyd’s making the most of his reps, and should see plenty of late game opportunity in the preseason.