In the grand calculus of
the multiverse training camp, getting out of the month healthy is all that matters. Nothing verifies this better than Ja’Marr Chase suffering from drops and Joe Burrow looking skittish in the pocket last year. The former was the Offensive Rookie of the Year and the latter was the Comeback Player of the Year. Enough said.
The first week of camp tells us very little aside from who is practicing and who isn’t. But things can always change in an instant, those getting the reps have a leg up on those who aren’t. Let’s examine some early winners and losers from the first week of Bengals training camp.
Hayden Hurst and Ja’Marr Chase: The lack of Joe Burrow has not hindered the offense’s new tight end and No. 1 receiver. Hurst has looked right at home thus far, displaying quality hands and speed whenever he’s been asked to stretch the field. Some of the offense’s best plays in 11-on-11 have featured the former first-round pick making contested grabs.
As for Chase, he’s experiencing the opposite of what he went through last year. It’s not been completely drop-free, but he’s looked every part of an elite receiver, even with Eli Apple clamoring in his ear constantly. Most players agree that the game slows down in year two. That looks to be the case for Chase, who’s as explosive as ever.
Kwamie Lassiter II: Darrin Simmons said it himself: Lassiter’s only shot at making the team is at punt returner, and the college free agent is right behind Trent Taylor in the pecking order. It also doesn’t hurt that the rookie has received second-team reps at receiver with Tee Higgins currently sidelined out of the rotation. So far so good, but the preseason will be key for him.
Joseph Ossai: Nearly 12 months removed from tearing his meniscus, the Bengals’ 2021 third-round pick has nothing holding him back now. Ossai took it light to begin camp but was soon integrated into team drills and took part in the team’s first padded practice. With no physical limitations, Lou Anarumo can soon unleash an explosive pass-rushing weapon on opposing quarterbacks.
Dax Hill and Tycen Anderson: The Bengals’ secondary as a whole has played well against the Brandon Allen-led starting offense. Hill specifically has adapted quickly as the starter in place of the absent Jessie Bates, but Anderson has been a beneficiary as well with one less safety in the rotation. Anderson making good impressions with the 2s will bode well for him eventually being active on game days.
Joe Burrow and La’el Collins: There hasn’t been enough practices to gauge subpar performances, and even if there were, it’s just training camp. But Burrow missing time can’t be spun in a positive way other than a 0% chance of a freak injury. Collins’ back flaring up before camp also isn’t ideal, and the offensive line not having their full starting five playing next to each other only pushes back the cohesion process. Luckily, there’s still ample time for both LSU alums to get their reps in before September.