When the mock turtle soup is on the table, you know Cincinnati Bengals football is right around the corner.
The Bengals’ annual media luncheon took place Monday morning as team owner/president Mike Brown, director of player personnel Duke Tobin, head coach Zac Taylor, and coordinators Darrin Simmons, Lou Anarumo, and Brian Callahan all spoke to local media members.
Let’s go over the big topics that were discussed.
Paul Brown Stadium’s new name?
As reported last week, the Bengals may be close to selling the naming rights of their stadium. Paul Brown Stadium, named after Mike Brown’s legendary father, has been the stadium’s name for all 22 years of its existence, but Brown said Monday that bringing in additional revenue from a name change would be something his father would’ve agreed to.
#Bengals team president Mike Brown on stadium naming rights: We’re exploring it. We’re in discussions. It’s a difficult move for me. (But) I think the best move for the football team at this point is to generate revenue.— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) July 25, 2022
Bengals owner Mike Brown on the possibility of stadium naming rights: "My father's name has been up there, deservedly so."— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) July 25, 2022
"This is a move he would have agreed to. It's a time now where we need a revenue stream. It'll help us build the indoor facility and handle the cap easier."
Nothing appears to be imminent on this front, but the intent to bring in more cash for the organization is clear. Now’s as good of a time as any with the franchise coming off of a Super Bowl appearance.
Joe Burrow entering Year 3
Coming off of his first full season in the NFL, Joe Burrow is already viewed as a top-tier quarterback. Such acclaim will help him secure the largest contract extension in Bengals history next year.
Brown is already looking towards that process, which will begin as soon as the 2022 season concludes.
Mike on signing Burrow: Most important thing we’re facing is signing the quarterback … We see that train coming … We couldn’t be happier with Joe Burrow. He’s everything you could want. Our focus is going to be on re-signing him.— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) July 25, 2022
Burrow has already done so much for the team in just two years of playing, but there are areas where he can improve. Callahan noted that No. 9 has a part to play in reducing the number of sacks the offense suffers, but mentioned he doesn’t want to eliminate his ability to extend plays out of structure.
Brian Callahan on some things emphasizing with Burrow this camp: We don’t want to change the way he plays, but also trying to cut down on sacks.— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) July 25, 2022
What’s going to happen with Jessie Bates?
Training camp may begin this week, but we won’t see Jessie Bates for a little while longer. The fifth-year safety has stated he doesn’t intend to play on the franchise tag, and that would include not participating in training camp.
#Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin on Jessie Bates: “We’re counting on him” for this coming season.— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) July 25, 2022
Bates will likely end up returning in time for the regular season to begin, but it’s a safe bet to make that he won’t be practicing with the team until closer to September, or the week before the season begins.
While the situation with Bates is not ideal, there seems to be a clear understanding between him and the team. It’s just a deal that couldn’t come together. Tobin didn’t rule out restarting negotiations in the offseason.
Offensive line chatter
On the injury front, Alex Cappa and La’el Collins are currently recovering from injuries and will likely miss some time in training camp. Cappa is expected to return before Collins, but neither player is expected to be rushed back.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he anticipates Alex Cappa will be back before La’el Collins. Said Collins has been dealing with a back issue and it’s up to the staff to manage veterans through training camp.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) July 25, 2022
Both Taylor and Callahan expect each player to be ready for Week 1 in September, but who will be at left guard? As of right now, it’s Jackson Carman’s spot to lose. His year of experience in the system gives him the edge over rookie Cordell Volson.
Brian Callahan says he's optimistic that Alex Cappa and La'el Collins will be ready for the start of the season.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) July 25, 2022
Jackson Carman is "a little bit ahead" at LG.
Callahan says Jackson Carman has the edge over Cordell Volson based on pure experience. #RuleTheJungle "Think that's going to be the most fun battle to follow on offense (in camp)."— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) July 25, 2022
Carman hasn’t just been in the news for his play. A report from April detailed damning rape allegations from when Carman was an underclassman at Clemson. This was a few years before the Bengals drafted him in 2021, and Brown said that the team not only knew about it, but the allegations weren’t going to impact their decision to draft him.
Bengals owner Mike Brown on sexual misconduct allegations with Jackson Carman: "That was years ago. Back then we were aware of it. The decision was there wasn't anything to do that should deter us with going forward with him."— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) July 25, 2022
Eli Apple vs. the world
The Bengals are higher on Eli Apple than the average NFL fan is. That’s why the team re-signed him this offseason to handle starting duties along with Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton.
Though the team traded up to draft cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt in the second round, Apple is still the starter in the eyes of Anarumo.
Lou Anarumo on a potential CB battle: “Eli (Apple) is the starter until somebody shows me they are better.”— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) July 25, 2022
Taylor-Britt will surely get opportunities to prove himself behind Apple as camp and the preseason progress, but he won’t be splitting reps with Apple to start.
Can’t forget about special teams
As the special teams coordinator, Simmons is used to making tough roster decisions. To start, he’ll have to decide on a punter between long-time veteran Kevin Huber and fellow Cincinnati native Drue Chrisman, who’s entering his second year in the league.
Bengals ST coach Darrin Simmons on the punting competition: "I'm looking for the best guy, whoever that is."— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) July 25, 2022
"It's something we tried to push for last year but Drue came in and got here... He gave himself a chance to compete."
But make no mistake, this will be a true competition, as it will be for long snapper between Clark Harris and rookie Cal Adomitis.
Darrin Simmons on Bengals punting battle: Assume it will go all the way through preseason.— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) July 25, 2022
Lastly, if Brandon Wilson returns to full health, he’ll likely retake his role as the lead kickoff returner. But Chris Evans, Pooka Williams, and rookie Kwamie Lassiter will get looks as well.
Look for Trent Taylor to reclaim his spot as the punt returner as well.
Darrin Simmons said the kick return competition will be impacted by Brandon Wilson's health. Chris Evans is also a candidate, as well as Williams and Lassiter.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) July 25, 2022
Lassiter, Trent Taylor and Trenton Irwin are among the punt return candidates.