The Cincinnati Bengals started the week by adding pads to the practice equation, and you can tell the intensity and urgency is picking up a notch.
This week, the team also welcomed refs for the first time in training camp. It may not have been a name that fans were too excited to see though.
To be a fly around this conversation. Bengals DC Lou Anarumo chats up Super Bowl LVI ref Ron Torbert before Thursday's practice. Whatever could they be discussing? #RuleTheJungle pic.twitter.com/yfjkBStEvF— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) August 4, 2022
It may be a bit too early for that kind of reminder of the Super Bowl loss.
Of course, there was plenty of good to takeaway from this practice as well. One of the most eye catching was quarterback Joe Burrow returning to cart duty as he continues to recover from getting his appendix removed. Here are some of the best shots of Burrow taking in the Bengals practice.
Joe Burrow responds to cheering fans with a wave from his cart at training camp #Bengals @WCPO pic.twitter.com/RcfjIdMJxG— Caleb Noe (@CalebNoeTV) August 4, 2022
Waterboy Burrow.— Caleb Noe (@CalebNoeTV) August 4, 2022
Joe Burrow making sure the officials are hydrated at practice.@WCPO @Bengals pic.twitter.com/y8P8ZZDEiA
Joe Burrow going through conditioning drills with the team (on his golf cart)— Caleb Noe (@CalebNoeTV) August 4, 2022
In the very back of this video@WCPO pic.twitter.com/lsNBWTD5YT
If training camp doesn’t end with a Tokyo Drift style race between Burrow and owner Mike Brown in their carts then what is even the point of this season.
While it is fun to see the franchise quarterback out there, it is also important to note he has made some progress since his last appearance.
Joe Burrow was in the #Bengals locker room today.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 4, 2022
No longer had PICC line on his arm and seemed to be walking OK in the small distance we saw him go across the locker room, FWIW.
Progress is one of the evergreen themes for all training camps, and an unfortunate partner to that in some cases is opportunity. Several Bengals continued to miss practice with varying degrees of injury, but one of the most notable was cornerback Eli Apple not participating in team drills following an injury that doesn’t appear to be serious.
This gave several younger players in Cincinnati some opportunities on the outside at cornerback. Including first round pick Daxton Hill, who had another great day.
Dax Hill with a good compete rep against Ja'Marr Chase, breaking up the pass, possibly using too much hands but still. pic.twitter.com/GlwCYb0jKi— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) August 4, 2022
What was actually surprising was undrafted cornerback Allan George getting the first team reps at Apple’s position over second round pick Cam Taylor-Britt. Both of these players are very young, but it is quite interesting to see the team currently favors George to take those valuable reps with the first team. It is certainly something worth watching over the preseason.
The offense had a bit of good news mixed in with plenty of bad news.
Bengals OL Alex Cappa getting more work with the 1s during team drills as he continues to ease back from injury.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) August 4, 2022
It was good to see Cappa mixed in during team drills as the unit tries to build some chemistry. Cappa was one of the cornerstones brought in to improve this offensive line, so getting him up to speed with the offense is vital.
The bad news. First was the offensive line was still missing its biggest piece (both figuratively and literally) in La’el Collins who sat at recovering from a back injury. What was worse was the offensive line’s struggle with pre-snap penalties.
Offenses having a rough day with the refs here for their first camp. Lots of pre-snap penalties— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) August 4, 2022
We also saw Drew Sample go down with an apparent knee injury. A good sign was he did ride in the passenger seat off the field.
It wasn’t all a loss for this offense on Thursday, though. We had a couple nice plays from players we may be hearing more from once the preseason kicks off.
The Hayden Hurst hive is gonna like this one. Nice catch with Dax Hill in coverage #Bengals pic.twitter.com/pj4Kl2uVbQ— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) August 4, 2022
Chris Evans just made his best run of camp.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) August 4, 2022
He said his biggest focus has been adjusting to the zone blocks in front of him and making decisions that give his runs some upside. Evans just did that really well.
However, it was clear that the defense was the star of the show yet again. With quarterback Brandon Allen out there and an offensive line still finding their footing together, the offense didn’t stand a real chance.
The Bengals first team defense has been playing really fast defense. Mike Hilton, Dax Hill and Akeem Davis-Gaither are all showing how range is a strength for them.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) August 4, 2022
Rookie DT Zach Carter continues to be disruptive as a pass rusher.
Trey Hendrickson is having one of the best 11 on 11 periods I’ve seen from a defensive lineman.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) August 4, 2022
He just got yet another sack and shouted at the offense, “kick that field goal!”
This tweet probably is the best advice the entire offense can take.
Today’s message to O-Line after this practice pic.twitter.com/Ws8CWB8Aa1— Tony Pike (@tony_pike15) August 4, 2022
The offense lost the day, but they didn’t walk away empty handed.
Lou Anarumo says Zac Taylor in the team meeting said the loser of the red zone period of practice had to do gassers at the end of practice and that’s why the offense had to do them. #Bengals— Kelsey Conway (@KelseyLConway) August 4, 2022
It is never too early to inject some more competition between the offense and defense at this point in training camp where things could become a bit stale. The offense couldn’t be happy they didn’t have Burrow leading them, but the offense needs to find a way to score with all the weapons they have.
It is fun to try and come up with hot takes right now, but it is very important to still realize how early in the process we are still in. There is plenty of time for this offensive line to get on its feet, Burrow will be back eventually and the defense has been balling out. This team has plenty of time to get back on track.