Today featured the Cincinnati Bengals’ last practice before their first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team will travel to Tampa tomorrow, and Cincinnati gave them a scorcher of a send off.
Thursday’s heat index nearly hit 110 degrees, and since there is a game to be played in 48 hours, practice featured no pads and was shortened for good reason.
But the hottest thing of the day bounced off of Jessie Bates’ microphone when he expressed clear frustration in regards to his on-going contract negotiations. His words may’ve sparked panic amongst the Bengals’ fan base, but an effortless glance at the calendar shows a full month between now and the regular season. Plenty of time for Bates’ management and the front office to creep closer together at the negotiating table.
In the mean time, Bates is still putting in the work and doing what he does best.
Those were the extent of Thursday’s highlights as the team went in early to escape the heat and begin final preparations for Saturday’s exhibitions.
Joe Burrow, who will not play this weekend, didn’t throw very much today, but reportedly did complete most of the handful of throws he did make.
Early practice highlights from 11s.— Shelby Dermer (@EnquirerShelby) August 12, 2021
Joe Burrow lofted a perfect corner route to Tyler Boyd for a big play.
On the next snap, linebacker Logan Wilson came right through the line on a blitz and forced Burrow to scramble and thrown it away #Bengals
Brandon Allen and the backups got most of the work, which reflects the game-plan for Saturday.
Compared to last week, the Bengals’ offense at the very least has a pulse. Burrow and his receivers appear to be back on the same page, and the franchise quarterback seems to have regained his feel for the pocket. There’s something to be said about an environment that prohibits the quarterback from being touched, but progress is indeed progress.
Five observations from Day 13 of #Bengals camp:— Dan Hoard (@Dan_Hoard) August 12, 2021
1. I isolated on Tee Higgins on this red zone 7-on-7 play, and it shows how Joe Burrow anticipates where/when his target will be open and throws before Tee has turned around. He catches it at the five and runs into the end zone pic.twitter.com/T63Af6NpEQ
TD drive for the Bengals first-team offense in 7-on-7.— Shelby Dermer (@EnquirerShelby) August 12, 2021
Burrow hit Tyler Boyd for a 7 yards, Ja’Marr Chase for 10, then found Tee Higgins twice for 18 yards, including a 3-yard TD. #Bengals
Progress is also what the Bengals need to see from their second-round pick, Jackson Carman. Listed as the third-string right guard on the depth chart, Carman is sure to get plenty of reps this preseason. He stayed after practice in the bone-dry heat to get some extra work in before Saturday.
4. It was 94° with a heat index of 109° on the field (according to my phone). Jackson Carman was among the last players out there, doing O-line drills on his own pic.twitter.com/IrKJYlyUT5— Dan Hoard (@Dan_Hoard) August 12, 2021
Carman is the center of arguably the biggest storyline surrounding the team entering preseason play. Cincinnati needs all the time it can get to figure out which guards are going to be starting for the regular season.
The Bengals drafted Carman to play right guard immediately, yet he’s a heavy underdog to be out on the field come September 12th vs. the Minnesota Vikings. Zac Taylor is waiting for the games to begin to start the real assessment of Carman.
“It’s a long training camp,” Taylor told media members Thursday. “We are not even really a third of the way through. There is a long ways to go and that is what we preach to these guys. Hey, it hasn’t been perfect for a lot of you but there is plenty of time to get this thing ready. You have no evidence on tape of what you look like as an NFL player across the league right now. That starts on Saturday.”
Taylor isn’t wrong. Training camp will continue during the preseason, but the first game usually feels like a stepping off point. When we have actual game tape to look at, the work on the practice field becomes less and less relevant to us on the outside. It’s just like during the season when all we hear and care about are the injury reports; games take priority in our minds.
Training camp will resume next week after Saturday’s game in Tampa, which will hopefully not be impacted by Tropical Storm Fred. We’ll keep you posted!