The Bengals are nearly at the halfway point of training camp.
On Friday, head coach Zac Taylor met with the media to discuss the state of his team as they inch closer toward the regular season.
Here is a recap of everything he had to say via Bengals.com:
Initial comments ...
“We’re back at it again today. We’ll get two days of full pads today and Saturday. Today we’ll bring back Billy Price. Billy Price was on (Active/Non-Football Injury) the last few days, so he’ll be (practicing). We’ll ease him back out there, so we won’t give him the full dose right away, but ease him back into the fold. We’ll see where he’s at this week before this first game.”
Is there an update on John Ross III?
“Nope — still day-to-day.”
When you got a chance to look at the Wednesday practice, what did you like and what didn’t you like?
“Going back, I saw what I said after practice. The defense started sluggish, the offense started off fast. It was good to see from the offense, and poor to see from the defense. As we got cranked up, the defense really stepped up in the competitive periods and won the day in red-zone period. Offensively, pre-snap penalties—all 11 guys coming off the ball at the same time—those are the things we can not have and we need to get ironed out. That’s going to come a little bit more once we get a continuous group working together of 11 guys. That chemistry will increase. That’s something that as an NFL offense we can not have today, tomorrow and leading up to the Chiefs game.”
How have offensive line injuries affected the team from a day-to-day standpoint?
“The biggest thing it affects is the rotation. There are more bodies in the mix. Particularly with the ‘ones,’ and when you change up the ‘ones,’ that does mix up the ‘twos’ as well. We’ll take as much time as we need, but as quickly as possible we’d like to set those units so that they can develop that chemistry together. We want to find the best five guys that work together. It does have a trickle-down effect to every single unit when you keep mixing up those guys. We’ll do it as long as we need to. Hopefully it resolves itself sooner rather than later. It may take one, two or three games in the preseason to figure out what that combination is going to be. Once that happens, it allows the whole unit to settle down a little bit and really hit our groove.”
Do you attribute pre-snap penalties to the offensive line shuffle?
“Yeah. Sometimes it’s (caused) by one guy. It’s oftentimes a different guy. At the same time, it’s early in the process. Guys have pads on, so things are a little more physical. We’re going to get in a groove. Each quarterback has a slightly different nuanced cadence, so a guy was going with Andy (Dalton) and now he’s going with Jeff (Driskel), or vice versa, and all of a sudden it’s a tick off one way or another. So we have to find a consistency across the board. Quarterback cadence, linemen hanging in there, and being able to mentally know where they’re headed, and also to listen to the cadence at the same time and getting off on the right snap count—those the little things we’ll see improvement on today.”
Do you have to know who the starting left guard is by the third preseason game?
“No. I’d think it’d be unfair to put a time table on it. We’ve got all these practices, and we’ll use them if we have to. If it resolves itself sooner than that, then we’ll pick it and go with it. Right now we’ve got several guys that are in contention for that job, and we want to make sure that they all (get a chance). This is the NFL, they don’t all need their fair shot, but we’ve got a lot of candidates that we feel like are worthy of getting a shot at that job and we’ll see how each one of them does.”
What have you seen out of G Christian Westerman as he’s been running with the first team?
“That was really predetermined that he and John Jerry get the first two shots there. John did it the first couple days, and then Westerman did it the next two. You’ll see John Jerry in there today again with the ‘ones.’ Again, that was really predetermined. Especially now that we get into pads, we want to see John. Now that we get Billy back, he’s really back in at center. Trey Hopkins will get some opportunities and as we keep going, Mike Jordan is in the mix. It’ll be good to see each of those guys get a chance to work, but today you’ll see John Jerry in at left guard.”
How do you plan to work Tyler Eifert into practices?
“No. 1, it’s, ‘Let’s make sure Tyler is ready to play against Seattle.’ We know what he can do on tape. The live reps he’s gotten so far just running are really good for me to see. This dude can play some ball. Just keep him healthy. Last year was a fluke deal, so you say he’s injury prone, but last year was a fluke deal. We are mindful to take care of him and ease him in there. We have a good tight end group, and we need to evaluate some of these younger guys as well. We need Tyler to get his work, but at the same time, he’s a guy you will see every so often sit out a portion of practice or just do (certain portions) and take the rest of it off. He’s a guy that we’ll take care of all through camp.”
You’re coming from the L.A. Rams, where the top guys didn’t play at all in preseason. Will that be the case here as well?
“Not this year. Certainly in Year 1, I don’t think Sean (Rams head coach Sean McVay) would have done that. Even if we’ve shown the chemistry in practice that we’re looking for, you still have to get out there under the lights and get a chance to play, especially on the road. Everybody walks out from the sidelines together and kind of be isolated out there on the field where coaches aren’t on the field. It’s just a different feel to it, so you want those guys to get out there, be isolated on their own and get that feeling together — whether it be four snaps or 15 snaps, that remains to be seen. Then we’ll evaluate each game and how much we want those guys to play, but barring anything unforeseen, you will see those guys go out there in the first game.”
‘Black and white’ is a phrase that’s been mentioned quite a bit in the locker room. Have you preached keeping things as simple as possible so far in training camp?
“Yeah, we want our players to understand the intent of everything we do on and off the field. That’s been a big focus point for this staff. We’re not destined to do things just to do it, we want them to know why. Why are we practicing two days with full pads and then taking a day off? Why is our meeting schedule this way? Why are we installing this play? That carries over to everything that we do. If they explain it as ‘black and white,’ that’s fine by me. We want to eliminate the gray. That’s a big focus point. There are some things that are difficult early on in camp, but by the time we’re ready for the first game of the season, everyone has to be on the same page. Everyone has to understand why we’re doing everything so that we can play fast and play with confidence. That way we can put our best foot forward.”