The Cincinnati Bengals wrapped up a productive first week of camp with Saturday’s Back to Football event inside Paul Brown Stadium.
Overall, it was a fun day at PBS as fans showed up in full force to see a training camp practice after COVID-19 killed those chances in 2020.
The Bengals now have four camp sessions in the books as they get Sunday off before returning to action Monday.
Here are some takeaways from what took place Saturday.
Offense bounces back
The story of Friday’s practice was how bad the Bengals offense looked against a defense that, while improved, is still a work in progress.
Thankfully, the offense rebounded with a nice showing Saturday, especially from Joe Burrow, who was sharp throughout the session and threw some absolute dimes to Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and even Trent Taylor (more on him later).
Thundering applause as Joe Mixon gets a 70 yard TD run pic.twitter.com/zOt08y0HIm— Dadio Makdook (@dadiodefacto) July 31, 2021
It is worth noting that defensive end Trey Hendrickson sat out today, but it was still nice to see the offense respond with authority.
Trayveon Williams impressing
An early standout in camp thus far has been third-year back Trayveon Williams, who is fighting for his roster life as rookies Chris Evans and Pooka Williams look to snatch it away.
With Joe Mixon and Samje Perine having the top two running back spots locked up, not to mention the Bengals have gone into the regular season with just three backs before, Williams needs to impress in camp and the preseason to ensure he’s on the 53-man roster, and he’s doing just that.
Early in Saturday’s camp session, Williams broke off a nice run down the sideline that looked reminiscent of his college days when he led the SEC in rushing yards as a junior in 2018 before declaring for the NFL Draft and being selected in Round 6 by Cincinnati.
Trayveon Williams with the nice juke pic.twitter.com/o8kWjaahdZ— Dadio Makdook (@dadiodefacto) July 31, 2021
Trayveon Williams looks good. Real good. pic.twitter.com/PiV3EtmWFs— Dadio Makdook (@dadiodefacto) July 31, 2021
Ben Baby noted that Williams made a nice contested catch during Friday’s 7-on-7 work, something he needs to do more of if he wants to not only make the roster but get meaningful snaps as well.
Trent Taylor keeps producing
One of the early camp surprises has been the play of veteran receiver Trent Taylor. Signed to a minimal deal this offseason that includes no dead cap hit if he’s cut, Taylor has been standing out since Day 1 of camp, and that continued Saturday in what was the first real competitive session as shoulder pads came on.
The two plucky WRs on the Bengals' roster, Trent Taylor and Trenton Irwin, with some nice catches today. Taylor did a great job waiting on a corner route from Burrow, who dropped it in well.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) July 31, 2021
Trent Taylor with the play of the day!! One hand catch and stretch for the endzone #RuleTheJungle— Wheels (@Wheels02) July 31, 2021
Four wide receiver spots are pretty much locked up between Chase, Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate, while Mike Thomas also has some cushion as the fifth wideout after playing well with Burrow last season. If the Bengals keep six receivers, Taylor is making a strong case to be that guy. It helps that Taylor has returner experience on special teams.
Evan McPherson just keeps making kicks
The Bengals made Florida kicker Evan McPherson the first and only kicker to be selected in the 2021 NFL Draft (149th overall), and so far, he’s rewarded his new team’s faith. McPherson didn’t miss a kick through his first three practices coming into the day as he looks to become the franchise’s first truly reliable kicker since...Shayne Graham?
At Florida, McPherson made 51/60 field goals, setting an SEC record for career field-goal percentage (minimum 50 attempts), so he’s no stranger to making big kicks in big games, and he’s been unfazed thus far into his first NFL training camp.
Granted, McPherson did suffer his first miss of camp today, though it was a 60-yard attempt that went wide left. He was 4/4 on his other kicks, including a 53-yarder as he remains the favorite to be the Bengals kicker heading into the regular season, but he’ll need to keep it up in preseason games to lock it up.
A successful Back Together Saturday in the books pic.twitter.com/tn5eKIx72a— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) July 31, 2021
What were your big takeaways from Saturday’s practice? Let us know in the comments section!