If Bengals fans have been riding a high since Joe Burrow lit up the first team scrimmage last week, Monday’s practice may’ve provided a little bit of a come down. Jordan Evans was carted off of the field halfway into practice and players like Joe Mixon and Carl Lawson were given days off. But hey, at least the team didn’t have a dozen false positive COVID-19 tests to deal with, right?
Here’s the rundown for what happened during Monday’s practice.
Green almost has the Green light
Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com tweeted yesterday that the team expects A.J. Green to play in their next scrimmage on August 30th. Seeing Green run for the first time on the rehab field is a good indication that he will be ready for that scrimmage.
Green has been sidelined with hamstring tightness for a week now, but Green knows these things can’t be rushed. Need an example? Tee Higgins returned to practice yesterday after dealing with hamstring tightness of his own and had a trainer help him stretch during practice.
Tee Higgins’ left hamstring got tight during practice. He stretched it on his own and had a trainer stretch his left leg. He’s still participating in 11-on-11 pic.twitter.com/g3K560tnB0— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) August 24, 2020
Higgins has said he models his game after Green, so the jokes can write themselves since both are dealing with similar ailments at the moment. Green gave him some advice on this matter as well.
“You know your body,” Higgins told reporters yesterday. “Take your own time if you need it. Don’t try to play through it if it gets tweaked again.”
If anyone knows, Green knows.
Higgins did have a very good day on the field, though. He impressed on the second team with a couple of great catches from Ryan Finley, including one where he tipped the ball to himself before reeling it in near the sideline. Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic called it “Probably the best catch by anyone all camp.” He was also seen returning kicks with Tyler Boyd and Giovani Bernard, who are emergency options at the position.
Higgins may’ve had the highlight of the day, but the consensus star of camp continues to be the guy ahead of him on the depth chart.
Auden Tate and...DaMarkus Lodge???
The “catch-radius monster” known more commonly as Auden Tate continued to impress today. He was the recipient of yet another Joe Burrow touchdown that concluded 11-on-11 work, and if you guessed it was another jump ball situation where Tate grabbed it 10 feet in the air, you would apparently be correct.
Auden Tate ended 11-on-11 with a circus TD catch. Joe Burrow just threw it up to him. #Bengals— Tyler Dragon (@TheTylerDragon) August 24, 2020
Tate and Burrow have formed obvious chemistry this past month. We don’t even know for sure that Burrow has ever completed a pass to first-year receiver DaMarkus Lodge, but he sure did today.
Burrow’s consensus best throw from practice 40 yards and landed in the hands of Lodge, who went on into the end zone for a touchdown. Burrow was reportedly going against the second-team defense for a couple of the 11-on-11 drives, so Lodge being on the field in that scenario makes sense.
Lodge was signed onto the Bengals’ practice squad last December and was retained by the team after the 2019 season ended. He was Ole Miss’ third receiver when they had D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown on the roster and had 877 receiving yards during the trio’s one season together, so he’s got the ability to produce with great talent surrounding him.
Lodge was presumably working with the backups, which now includes Mike Thomas as well. John Ross reportedly returned to the first-team Monday after returning to practice on Sunday. Thomas had been filling in for Ross during the week of Ross’ absence and playing well in that role.
Because you all want to know, Burrow was efficient from the pocket once again. He finished 16-20 with two touchdowns during 11-on-11 work, with Tate and Lodge hauling in the two scores.
The Bengals’ first-round pick continues to impress his veteran teammates. C.J. Uzomah spoke of his pre-snap prowess after practice.
Bengals TE C.U. Uzomah said QB Joe Burrow is checking into things that Uzomah didn't even know was possible.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) August 24, 2020
Burrow's response: "Why not?"
Burrow stayed clear of trouble aside from a would-be sack from Sam Hubbard, but Ryan Finley did not. One of Finley’s passes was tipped by Darius Phillips and intercepted by Jessie Bates, which feels like the first time we’ve mentioned his name since camp began. Arguably the two biggest playmakers in the secondary, Phillips and Bates on the field together is a welcome opportunity for a defense that’s looking to create more turnovers.
From our observations of the Bengals Training Camp Report, we learned that backup center Josh Knipfel, a college free agent out of Iowa State, did not practice today due to a possible head injury. In his place, Billy Price took snaps as the backup center. Interestingly enough, Price has exclusively been at guard this camp.
Fred Johnson saw snaps at both right tackle and right guard. He even took snaps with the first team at right guard. Linebacker Brady Sheldon was seen working as an edge rusher, and Mike Daniels took some reps at nose tackle.