Themes and narratives are forming as Bengals training camp progresses into the first week of August. Most of those narratives stay true Tuesday afternoon.
The Bengals donned their pads for the first time this year and things began to feel real. Joe Burrow was out there, as expected, but some others weren’t. The camp grind isn’t hitting the Bengals quite like it’s hitting the Indianapolis Colts (yikes), but they’re out a few players right now.
Riley Reiff, Fred Johnson, Trae Waynes, and Darius Phillips all missed Tuesday’s practice with their respective minor injuries (Larry Ogunjobi and Drue Chrisman remain on the PUP list). Reiff and Johnson being out gave rookie D’Ante Smith first-team reps and the opportunity to face the Bengals’ top pass rushers.
The results weren’t great for Smith.
Sam Hubbard is giving rookie RT D'Ante Smith his "Welcome to the NFL" day.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) August 3, 2021
Not only is Smith a rookie, he barely played during his last season at East Carolina. To say he’s an unfinished product is an understatement.
That Smith had to be out there for so many reps with the 1s is the troubling aspect here. Depth at offensive tackle took a hit when Hakeem Adeniji landed on the NFI list with a torn pectoral that should keep him out for the entire season. Reiff and Johnson—specifically Reiff—shouldn’t be out for too long, but this situation is just another advantage for the defense.
OL coach Frank Pollack is working closely with rookie D’Ante Smith at tackle today as Smith gets reps.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) August 3, 2021
Getting to Lou Anarumo’s unit, they’re apparently performing like the 1985 Chicago Bears. From the secondary to the pass rush, they’re not letting the offense breathe.
Chidobe Awuzie is one of the newest additions to the defense, but he’s quickly making his name known as a starter. He’s made numerous plays on the ball in his reps against Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.
Early on in practice, however, Chase got the better of him and connected with Burrow deep.
Burrow to Chase deep ball.— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) August 3, 2021
Best I can do for a quick turnaround. This is off the camera.
(I was iso’d on Ja’Marr Chase) pic.twitter.com/uD4e5d91Ep
That was probably the highlight of the day for the offense as most reports say the defense came away dominant again. Awuzine even got back at Chase and broke up a deep pass of his own.
#Bengals in pads today. That’s different. Not much else has changed from what we’ve seen. Another dominant day by the defense.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 3, 2021
Absolutely nothing happening in the passing game. Trey Hendrickson with a pick of Burrow and only one completion of any note beyond 10 yards from him.
In 11-on-11s, Hubbard gets the blow by and would have had a sack.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) August 3, 2021
Play keeps rolling. Trey Hendrickson picks off Joe Burrow.
Been that kind of camp for the Bengals offense.
With Reiff out, the defensive line really took advantage of their counterparts on offense. Jackson Carman and Michael Jordan got more work in at right and left guard, respectively, so it was not the group that’s expected to be out there come Week 1.
Nevertheless, o-line coach Frank Pollack kept his guys out on the field after practice and gave Bengals Ring of Honor inductee and Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz a chance to talk to the players.
Practice ended 15 minutes ago. Frank still holding court with the offensive line pic.twitter.com/P14TByCeJu— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonATH) August 3, 2021
Following practice Frank Pollack asked Anthony Munoz and Dave Lapham speak to the O-line.— Dan Hoard (@Dan_Hoard) August 3, 2021
“These two guys were part of one of the best lines in team history that took this team to the Super Bowl. That’s the standard we’re trying to reach” pic.twitter.com/E6IVSF0Ly0
The tone has been set for the remainder of training camp. It’s only going to get more physical from here, and eventually the offense needs to fire back in their own way. The team’s first preseason game is 11 days away.