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Bengals winners and losers from OTAs

Take everything here with a grain of salt, because we’re just talking about practice. Practice man. Practice.

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Cincinnati Bengals have wrapped up mandatory minicamp, and now we’re waiting for training camp to begin.

Minicamp, or organized team activities (OTAs), is just practice. We have a good idea of what the starting lineup will be for both the offense and the defense heading into 2023, and we’ll get a much better idea of where people will play in training camp.

OTAs are basically a fancy term used for getting the team all on the same field, getting into shape together, and seeing what they have in the rookies.

Having said that, there are some winners and losers following minicamp, but take them with a grain of salt, because we are just talking about practice.


The Fans

Football is back, kinda, and after a long waiting period of nothing happening, we finally got to see the entire team together on the field all at the same time. It’s the unofficial-official beginning of the 2023 season, and seeing all the great videos of the players working together was fantastic. If you were desperate for some NFL football, hopefully, your appetite was satisfied for a little while.

Joe Burrow

In 2020, Burrow had to deal with Covid protocols that changed the offseason program. In 2021, he was recovering from a season-ending knee injury and didn’t get to participate in the entire offseason program. Then in 2022, he had an emergency appendectomy and missed most of training camp and the preseason. This is the first time in Burrow’s young career that he hopefully gets a full offseason.

On top of that, he has what should be the best offensive line he’s played behind this season. The addition of Orlando Brown Jr., and moving Jonah Williams from left tackle to right tackle should give the quarterback more time to process than he’s had so far. Considering he’s led the team to two consecutive AFC Championship games and one Super Bowl, having more time to throw should be scary for opposing defenses.

Joe Mixon

It’s clear at this point that Mixon isn’t going anywhere and is poised to be the primary running back in the Bengals offense. Of course, anything can happen, but the most I see happening is Mixon restructuring his contract with the team to take a paycut.

Mixon will be looking to bounce back from a down season, after struggling with pass blocking and rushing for only 814 yards, averaging less than four yards per carry for only the third time in his career. He did, however, have a career-high 441 yards receiving last year.

Either way, it’s clear at this point in the offseason, Mixon is going to lead the backfield.

The Secondary

First and foremost, Chidobe Awuzie, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last season, seems to be doing just fine.

Awuzie seems to be on track to be ready for the beginning of the season.

One concern this offseason was depth at the cornerback position, and the Bengals attempted to solve that problem by not only signing free agent cornerback Sidney Jones IV, but also by selecting DJ Turner and DJ Ivey in this year’s draft. All of them got work during OTAs, and they got some good reviews, especially Ivey, who was the team’s seventh-round pick.


The Rest Of The NFL

As I stated earlier, this is Burrow’s first real offseason. Everything he has accomplished over the last three seasons, which has been a lot, has been without OTAs and minicamp.

What can he do when he gets a chance to put in the time during the offseason?

Watch out, NFL.

Jackson Carman

With Williams and La’el Collins rehabbing on the side, Carman has filled in at right tackle. However, by the looks of this, it would appear that at least Williams will be ready for the start of the season, and possibly even earlier.

If that is the case, Carman will be relegated to a backup spot, which is probably where he belongs.

Drue Chrisman

Chrisman replaced long-time punter Kevin Huber last year but had his ups and downs. The Bengals used their extra sixth-round pick to select Brad Robbins out of Michigan to compete for the team’s punter position. I didn’t see much, if any, film of Chrisman at practice, but there was some of Robbins, and his hang time seems to be as advertised.

Chris Evans

What’s going on with Evans? Who knows. He looks great on the field one week, especially as an extra receiver, and the next, he doesn’t get any touches at all or doesn’t get in the game. I don’t know if the coaches don’t have confidence in him, but you’d think with the departure of Samaje Perine, this would be Evans’ chance to get more playing time.

However, as long as Trayveon Williams is catching passes like this out of the backfield, there may not be enough room for Evans this year.

Now, we must face the long dark of Moria the dead zone between minicamp and training camp. Good thing we got the Reds and FC Cincinnati to keep us entertained.

So, who was your biggest winner from Bengals OTAs? Let us know in the comments section!