Attrition is an unfortunate reality of training camp, especially during the first handful of practices. The Bengals experienced more of this during Friday’s session—their third straight day of practice.
Mike Thomas, competing for reps but with a solid grip on a roster spot, appeared to suffer an ankle injury during 11-on-11 work.
While it’s normal to see players get carted off for all kinds of injury, Thomas opted to leave the field under his own power and immediately try to work through it on the open field.
As the main reserve receiver behind the team’s starting trio of receivers, Thomas is the beneficiary of snaps with both the 1s and 2s during practice. He made up for those loss of reps after practice at the JUGS machine.
Mike Thomas shook off that ankle injury to get in some extra time with the JUGS machine after practice. He didn’t return to team drills, but never left the field pic.twitter.com/l7MegpRoxP— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) July 29, 2022
Not to be outdone by Thomas, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins got in some JUGS work as well.
Chase and Higgins have had picture perfect camps thus far even without quarterback Joe Burrow out there. Burrow’s return from his appendectomy is still unknown, but it’s not negatively impacting his star pass-catchers.
Back on the injury front, practice ended right after rookie edge rusher Jeff Gunter went down with a left leg injury.
Like Thomas, Gunter got off the field without a cart, but he was seen struggling to put weight on his injured leg. We may not see him practice for a little bit going forward.
Dax Hill is also a rookie, but he’s not practicing like one. Hill and cornerback Eli Apple created a pair of turnovers on back-to-back plays early in 11-on-11 work.
Bengals first-round pick Dax Hill forces a fumble during team drills. Next play, Eli Apple gets an INT.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) July 29, 2022
The secondary as a whole has taken advantage of practicing against backup quarterback Brandon Allen. Early parts of camp usually lean towards the defense regardless of who’s under center, but one of the team’s strongest units performing well early is also to be expected.
On the other side of the ball, the offensive line would like to become of Cincinnati’s greatest assets, but there is plenty of work to be done.
We’re not going to see tangible evidence of improvement until all the starters are out there, and o-line coach Frank Pollack knows even for the most experienced one, La’el Collins, it’s important to get reps in.
Bengals OL Frank Pollack, when asked if La’el Collins needs practice reps to play Week 1: “Yes and no.”— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) July 29, 2022
Said he is a veteran and can roll out B there, but getting reps in camp would be ideal. pic.twitter.com/bYIm8HPnP7
Jackson Carman needs the most reps out of anyone expected to start this year, and Pollack, who usually keeps it 100 in front of the microphone, didn’t shy away from giving the second-year player his props.
#Bengals o-line coach says it’s “night and day” how much weight Jackson Carman has lost compared to last year. Says Carman “learned a hard lesson” last year during this time pic.twitter.com/rmibwMkf54— Kelsey Conway (@KelseyLConway) July 29, 2022
The more praise Carman receives, the larger the microscope will grow when the pads come on and preseason play begins. But if he’s impressing his coach this much early on, then perhaps the leash will grow as well.
Lastly, Chris Evans will get plenty of carries this upcoming month, but special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons is making him a priority elsewhere. While Brandon Wilson recovers on the PUP list, Evans is getting first reps at kick returner.
RB Chris Evans is getting the first reps at kick returner. With Brandon Wilson out, Evans is the favorite to be the kick returner.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) July 29, 2022
This spot will likely give or take away roster spots for some of Evans’ teammates, including college free agent Kwamie Lassiter II. Wilson should get looks as well when he returns, but Evans could easily run away with the role and leave everyone else in the dust.
That’s what the next month is for.