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2019 Bengals Rookie Mini-Camp

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Bengals Sign Five Draft Picks

 

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The Bengals today signed five of their 10 draft picks. The signings included DT Renell Wren, G/C Michael Jordan, HB Trayveon Williams, HB Rodney Anderson and CB Jordan Brown.

Wren (6-5, 318; Arizona State) and Jordan (6-6, 312; Ohio State) were both fourth-round picks in April’s draft, Williams (5-8, 206; Texas A&M) and Anderson (6-0, 224; Oklahoma) were sixth-round picks, and Brown (6-0, 201; South Dakota State) was a seventh-round pick.

Wren spent five seasons (2014-18) at Arizona State, including a redshirt year in 2014, and saw action in 42 career games. He totaled 81 tackles, including 14.5 for losses and three sacks, and had six passes defensed, one interception and a forced fumble.

Jordan started all 41 possible games while at Ohio State, and helped the Buckeyes lead the Big Ten in rushing in each of his three seasons (2016-18) with the program. Jordan played his first two seasons in college at guard, before switching to center in 2018.

Williams played three seasons (2016-18) at Texas A&M and compiled 3379 career rushing yards. Last season, he led the Southeastern Conference in both rushing yards (1524) and TDs (18), en route to earning multiple All-American honors.

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Bengals Sign 10 College Free Agents

 

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NFL Photos/2018 National Football League

The Bengals today signed 10 college free agents.

The CFAs will participate in the team’s Rookie Minicamp, which begins today at Paul Brown Stadium and runs through tomorrow.

The complete list of today’s signings:

Table inside Article
Position Name Height-Weight College Hometown
LB Curtis Akins 6-1, 235 Memphis Byhalia, Miss
CB Anthony Chesley 6-0, 188 Coastal Carolina Temple Hills, Md.
QB Jake Dolegala 6-7, 242 Central Connecticut State Hamburg, N.Y.
G/OT O’Shea Dugas 6-4, 330 Louisiana Tech Lafayette, La.
HB Jordan Ellis 5-10, 229 Virginia Suwanee, Ga.
WR Charles Holland 6-2, 194 Tiffin Columbus, Ohio
S Tyree Kinnel 5-11, 207 Michigan Huber Heights, Ohio
WR Stanley Morgan 6-0, 202 Nebraska New Orleans, La.
G/OT Keaton Sutherland 6-5, 316 Texas A&M Flower Mound, Texas
WR Damion Willis 6-3, 204 Troy Meridian, Miss.

The Bengals also have arranged for more than 20 unsigned players to work with the team on a tryout basis during Rookie Minicamp. A list of those tryout players will be included on rosters available at the minicamp.

 

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Bengals Line Up The Rookies

 

Hobson_Geoff

Geoff Hobson

SENIOR WRITER

 
 

OT Jonah Williams

No. 1 pick Jonah Williams in his first Bengals practice.

Jonah Williams, the NFL Draft’s 11th pick and biggest name in a Bengals rookie offensive line class that is just plain big, lined up at left tackle Friday morning when new head coach Zac Taylor’s watered down version of rookie minicamp got underway. He may be the left tackle of the future, but when that future starts with the veterans is anyone’s guess.

What we know for sure is the 6-5, 302-pound Williams is a left tackle for at least the next two weeks. And the looming 6-6, 312-pound Michael Jordan, a fourth-round pick, is a left guard for at least the next 14 days after centering Ohio State last season to cap an exhaustive trip up and down the Buckeyes’ line during a busy three years.

“One spot for now,” said offensive line coach Jim Turner as he walked off the field. “It’s the NFL, so they should be able to adjust quickly by moving to another spot. But to learn the system, I think it’s only fair to somebody to put them in one spot and at least give it two weeks in one spot and once he learns the system, then he can he adjust. I think it’s unfair if you do it any other way.”

Turner isn’t ruling out any positions for Williams (“Any first-round draft pick offensive lineman can play more than one spot.”) And, as he observed, there’s no sign of the starters or the pads and so, “It’s speculative.” Maybe we’ll know more by the time rookies and veterans hit the field together in ten days, because they’re not going to get much out of this weekend.

Remember your father’s rookie minicamp of three days and five practices complete with team periods? This isn’t even your twin’s rookie minicamp. Only two practices for the draft picks. No 11-on-11. On Saturday morning the picks are going to be weightlifting while the college free agents and try-out players go through basically a personnel session. And that’s it, kids. Home for Mother’s Day.

In an obvious attempt to cut down on needless injury, Taylor is mirroring a transition throughout the league best exemplified by Jets head coach Adam Gase simply turning the rookie minicamp into an orientation weekend.

“I think what you saw ten years ago was the full three days, two-a-days, all that stuff,” Taylor said after the first workout “You’re doing 11-on-11 and getting your money’s worth. Some teams have gone the other way. We’re kind of in between. Just find that balance. You won’t see any 11-on-11, but it’s more than a tryout.”

 

OL Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan during his first NFL practice.

So it’s a chance to watch one of Taylor’s key assistant coaches in Turner, the demanding ex-Marine, go to work deploying his technique with two draft picks (Williams and the fourth-rounder Jordan) and two college free agents, one of whom played for Turner last season at Texas A&M, the 6-5, 316-pound Keaton Sutherland. The other, massive 6-4, 330-pound guard-tackle O’Shea Dugas of Louisiana Tech, had the longest wingspan among the draft’s offensive lineman.

But even though Turner likes them big, he plays small ball. He wants even the tiniest step choreographed into his scheme and he’ll chew you out if it’s not. That’s OK with Williams and Jordan.

“I like him. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do it and make sure you do it the right way,” said Williams , whose first-round grade was beefed up by his NFL-like rituals at Alabama, “I think it’s a good mentality to have on the O-line, where it’s so precise and it comes down to inches. I like how exact he is.”

Jordan heard Turner’s wrath when he didn’t have his foot on a line to begin a drill designed to mimic the steps in a run play. And this sharp reminder: “No tippy toes. Always flat feet.”

“Coach Turner isn’t going to blow smoke up your butt or anything,” Jordan said. “He’s told us how it is and we just have to live up to the high standards he’s setting for us.”

This is the fourth team where Taylor has worked with Turner and if you want to get an idea how this thing is going to evolve, check in with the defending SEC rushing champion. Sixth-rounder Trayveon Williams, also of A&M, did it on the blocking supplied by Turner’s group.

“Very intense, very intense,” agreed Williams after practice. “He carries his military vibe in everything he does … He excels at his game and really helps everybody. (Turner’s emphasis) is communication up front with the running backs because it’s all about hat for a hat and get a man for a man. If you can’t get a block done, if you aren’t on the same page, I don’t think it’s going to work too well.”

 

OT Jonah Williams

Jonah Williams was all ears Friday in O-line coach Jim Turner's first run with the rookies.

Both Jonah Williams and Jordan didn’t see much difference from their college schemes. “It was little bit different, not much different,” said Jordan and Williams saw, “some of the schemes are similar. Every coach has a certain technique on every block, but it’s similar.”

And Trayveon Williams can see some of A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher’s handiwork.

 

“The one thing I was thinking about through this whole process is I’m extremely happy Coach Fisher came in when he did because (he) brought in a pro-style offense. Basically everything we did with Coach Fisher is about the same here, but different terminology, so I definitely feel comfortable.”

What is different is the size of his line.

“It’s a big difference. I’m excited to be able to run behind them,” Williams said. “And hide behind them and be able to squirt out of there. Big guys. Be able to run behind them and do big things.”

Turner’s first glance passed his test.

“The first impressions are what I expected,” Turner said. “They look good. Just learning the system. But they look like they’re going to be fine.”

 

Of course, where they end up looking fine remains to be seen. One of Cincinnati summer games is going to be guessing Jonah Williams’ Opening Day position in Seattle. Left tackle? Or somewhere else?

Which is why the man said, at the moment, “It’s speculative.”

 

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Notebook: Wren Finds Nest; Taylor's No. 36; Rodney Eyes Camp; Trayveon's Travels

 

Hobson_Geoff

Geoff Hobson

SENIOR WRITER

 
 

DT Renell Wren

The big man: Arizona States's Renell Wren.

The hit of the first day of rookie minicamp turned out to be fourth-round pick Renell Wren out of Arizona State for just showing up and casting a behemoth shadow in the doorway of Paul Brown Stadium.

The man is a chiseled 6-5, 318 pounds and looks like he walked out of textbook designing modern NFL defensive tackles. With a bow to long-time Bengals supporter James Brown sitting in on his Friday news conference, head coach Zac Taylor said Wren’s size was so impressive that “he’ll lead us out of the tunnel with J.B.” 

Plus, there was last year’s fifth-round pick, Virginia defensive tackle Andrew Brown at 6-3, 296 pounds, and try-out player Aime’ Walvenski, a 6-3, 285-pound defensive end out of Florida State.

“They are three good looking dudes,” Taylor said. “I know one of them is on our roster and one was a draft pick and the other we (brought) in, but it was a good-looking group over there as well.”

NO. 36: Remember how you celebrated your 36th birthday? Zac Taylor had the ultimate Friday when he coached his first rookie minicamp practice. Taylor wouldn’t have had it any other way. His wife started the day by getting him a coffee and it moved on to two on-field practices: “That’s a good birthday,” he said.

Part of the day included Taylor, a former Nebraska quarterback, watching college free agent Stanley Morgan, Nebraska’s first 1,000-yard receiver. Morgan, Troy’s Damion Willis and Tiffin’s Charles Holland are guys getting some looks to push the current group of receivers since the Bengals didn’t draft a receiver for the first time in 12 years.

“They’re three guys that could have been drafted,” Taylor said. “You’re encouraged about what you see in the individual period, but those are some of the groupings I am talking to when they are running routes for the first time and having to work releases. There’s a little bit of that uncertainty there, but we’ll get that corrected and get those guys playing full-speed. But in individual (drills), I thought those guys all showed good traits.”

 

QB Jake Dolegala

Jake Dolegala's hopes to show off a big arm.

QB CORNER: Taylor had good things to say about his two rookie quarterbacks when it came to fourth-rounder Ryan Finley’s comportment and free agent Jake Dolegala’s big arm. Dolegala, a 6-7 flamethrower who ended up at Central Connecticut after a devastating injury his senior year of high school in the Buffalo area, thought he’d end up anywhere from the fourth round to priority free agent.

Not the end of the world when he didn’t get a call. He was able to call his shot after visits to the Bengals, Jets, Giants, Bills and Browns and after the draft he was also talking to the Eagles and Vikings. The hometown Bills would have been nice, but Dolegala says they had two quarterbacks each with two years left on their deals.

That’s why it’s nice to have a choice. Plus, while the other teams were hesitating, the Bengals came with a solid offer. It didn’t hurt that one of the Bengals coaches that spent the most time with him, quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, was a long-time Bills player.

“It’s an even playing field now,” Dolegala said. “Obviously the guys that get drafted have a little more up front, but it will all work out in the wash. I think here I have the best opportunity to rise up the ladder as quickly as possible. (A new coaching staff) is a great opportunity. We’re basically all learning together.”

RODNEY EYES CAMP: Sixth-round pick Rodney Anderson, the running back from Oklahoma rehabbing an ACL tear, is shooting to be on the field for the start of training camp at the end of July. That would be ten months after surgery. Here’s another guy that looks the part at 6-0 224 pounds. He played at Katy High School just outside Houston and graduated nearly a decade after Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and remembers going to a camp where Dalton was helping out while he was in high school.

But don’t ask him anything else.

“I don’t know. Probably,” said Anderson when asked if he got an autograph or caught a ball from Dalton. “I don’t remember.”

Why should he? Anderson said it was when Dalton was a junior or senior, which would have made Anderson seven or eight.

 

RB Trayveon Williams

Trayveon Williams: Winning numbers to match personality.

TRAYVEON’S TRAVELS: Anderson knows someone else on the Bengals. A fellow Houston product and running back who was also drafted in the sixth round. Texas A&M’s Trayveon Williams just happens to be the defending SEC rushing champion who is cut out of marble. He’s listed as 5-8, 206, but is stacked like he’s three inches taller and 15 pounds heavier.

He’s also an interesting guy. He’s got a Biblical verse tattoo (“Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,”) as well as one with the words “Blood, Sweat, Tears.” He went on Twitter after falling to the sixth, but he was a little more low profile Friday.

“In the draft I didn’t go as high as I wanted or where I was projected,” Williams said. “At this point I’m not trying to prove the league wrong. I just want to prove the Bengals right for believing in me.”

 

He's surrounded not only by Anderson, but by two guys he had running the ball last year in College Station: offensive line coach Jim Turner and college free agent guard Keaton Sutherland.

"We're bringing the Aggie attitude," he said.

 

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On 5/11/2019 at 5:45 PM, oldschooler said:

 

Did it keep falling out of his hand?  Could he not move his arm?

 

:lol: 

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On 5/11/2019 at 5:45 PM, oldschooler said:

 

Oof. Guess we can put all that "push Dalton" talk to bed. 

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Bengals rookie mini-camp: Undrafted QB Dolegala shows off arm strength, Finley struggles


by Richard Skinner, WKRC

Friday, May 10th 2019
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Bengals fourth-round pick Ryan Finley during Friday's rookie mini-camp (WKRC)<p>{/p}
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CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Right off the bat let's get one thing clear that it was only day one of rookie mini-camp for the Bengals on Friday, but of the two quarterbacks participating the one who went undrafted looked far better than the one who got picked.

Undrafted Jake Dolegala showed off a powerful and accurate arm during 7-on-7 drills, while fourth-round pick Ryan Finley struggled not only with accuracy during those drills, but also during positional passing drills, and at times showed very poor arm strength and threw numerous wobbly passes.

Finley admitted he didn't throw the ball the way he would have liked, but didn't really offer a reason why he struggled.

"Uh, I don't know," said Finley. "I could have thrown it better, but first day so ... (when I) get into a rhythm I'll be fine."

The Bengals traded up to the second pick of the fourth round to select the 6-foot-4, 213-pound Finley, who was highly productive in his last three college seasons at North Carolina State after transferring from Boise State (click here for Finley's draft profile on Local12.com including a scouting report from NFL.com).

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor praised Finley for the way he commanded the huddle.

"One time we broke the huddle, and it was a poor huddle and we weren’t on the same page, and he got them back in there," said Taylor. "Those are the things you want to see — that leadership and intangible stuff — from the quarterback position. Day 1, that’s a good start for him, showing those qualities and showing a good command for calling the play in the huddle, which is not always easiest thing at this level.”

Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said after Finley was picked that what they liked about him was the football intelligence he showed when he visited the team prior to the draft.

“He was exceptional," said Van Pelt. "We put him through a process where we had him talk about protections and had about a half a dozen adjustments (on it), maybe more. He took a little break and came back in, Brian got him on the board, and he spit it out pretty much verbatim. We were impressed with his ability to learn and comprehend quickly."

The only other quarterback the Bengals brought to Cincinnati for a pre-draft visit was Dolegala.

The 6-foot-7, 240-pound Dolegala said his visit was short with the Bengals due to a three-hour delay in his flight to Cincinnati, but he obviously showed the team enough that they signed him as a free agent after the draft.

"He’s a big, tall guy (with) a strong arm," said Taylor. "He had a good career there at Central Connecticut State. We’re excited to get a guy like that in here and get a chance to evaluate him in person.”

Dolegala ripped several throws into tight windows on Friday and looked impressive.

"I threw the ball well today," said Dolegala. "Once I get the play and know what I'm doing the reads are coming to me in stride and with more reps I'm going to get better."

Part of the reason he went undrafted is because the competition level he faced in college was understandably questioned by NFL scouts.

Even Dolegala said he understood that, too, but that none of it matters now.

"We're all on the same level now," said Dolegala. "It doesn't matter where I played and who I played. Obviously that hurt in the draft, but I'm here now and I feel like I've got a great opportunity. I belong here."

FIRST-ROUND PICK LINES UP AT LEFT TACKLE: First-round draft pick Jonah Williams did his drill work and lined up at left tackle when the Bengals went to 11-on-0 situations running plays (they didn't do any 11-on-11 situations).

It's still unclear where the Bengals will utilize Williams, but he is expected to get a chance to start at left tackle, which would mean 2018 left tackle Cordy Glenn either moves inside to left guard or competes with Bobby Hart at right tackle.

It's also possible that Glenn stays put and Williams competes with Hart.

The possible offensive line scenario for 2019 and post-draft reaction from Glenn and long-time starting left guard Clint Boling can be found here.

RB ANDERSON SITTING OUT; SIGNS DEAL: Running back Rodney Anderson, the third of the Bengals three sixth-round picks, is sitting out mini-camp as he continues to recover from knee surgery. He suffered a torn ACL in the second game of last college season at Oklahoma.

Anderson said he is hopeful to be ready when training camp starts in late July.

"He’s in the rehab phase, and we knew that when we drafted him that he wouldn’t be practicing this offseason," said Taylor. "He’s in there with Coach Singleton (Bengals running backs coach Jemal Singleton) getting the mental part of it down. I have no worries that he will be able to do that and continue with the rehab, and so when training camp rolls around we’ll see where he is at that point.”

FOUR OTHER ROOKIES SIGN: The Bengals also announced on Friday they have signed four other draft picks: defensive tackle Renell Wrenn (4th round); guard/center Michael Jordan (4th round); running back Trayveon Williams (6th round) and cornerback Jordan Brown (7th round).

VETERAN PUNTERS TRYING OUT: Two punters with fairly significant NFL experience are attending this weekend's camp as tryout players in Colton Schmidt and Drew Kaser.

Schmidt was the regular punter for the Buffalo Bills from 2014-17. He was cut before the 2018 season began, but re-signed with the Bills on Oct. 31 before getting released for good on Nov. 28.

In 67 games for the Bills, Schmidt averaged 44.0 yards per punt.

Kaser was the regular punter for the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers in 2016 and 2017 and was cut by the Chargers after four games in the 2018 season.

He was signed by the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 3, 2018, and cut three days later. Then he was signed by the Oakland Raiders on May 6, but was cut the next day.

In 35 games for the Chargers, Kaser averaged 47.4 yards per punt.

The Bengals are obviously trying to look at some competition for 10-year veteran Kevin Huber, who is coming off his worst season in terms of gross average (43.9 yards per punt) since his second season in the NFL and had his lowest net average (39.4 yards per punt) since 2011, his third season in the NFL.

NOTEWORTHY: Middletown Bishop Fenwick High School graduateMatt Tunnacliffe is participating as a tryout player and is listed as a long-snapper and wide receiver. He played both positions in college at the University of Dayton. ... The Bengals will conclude mini-camp with a short practice on Saturday morning that isn't expected to include any of the draft selections.

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5-10 Zac Taylor press conference transcript: 'Let's be great note-takers'


by WKRC

Friday, May 10th 2019
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Bengals head coach Zac Taylor at his press conference on Friday following first day of rookie mini-camp (WKRC)<p>{/p}
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CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Bengals head coach Zac Taylor held a press conference on Friday to recap the first practice of the team's two-day rookie mini-camp and here is the transcript:

Initial comments ...

“Practice No. 1 of the rookie camp is in the books. As you all may have seen, it was primarily individual (drills), just to get a chance to get out there. We won’t be doing any 11-on-11 in the time out here. You get a chance to watch those guys in individual (drills) doing some agility work early on and evaluate those guys. It was a good, competitive day. You could tell with guys there was some anxiousness and nervousness getting out there. This afternoon will probably be a little bit sharper of a practice, but it was good to see those guys compete. A lot of those guys — 95 percent of them — are stepping on an NFL field for the first time, so it’s an exciting day for them. I’m looking forward to making some corrections with them and getting back on the field this afternoon and getting ready to go again. So, I’ll take any questions you have.”

Did you open with a team meeting with these players? If so, what was your message to them?

“Last night, we met with them and established some of the culture things we’ve talked about with the rest of the team. We congratulated them on getting to this point — it’s exciting for a lot of these guys — and just let them know they represent the Cincinnati Bengals now and they have to protect each other. The first thing we really hit them on was, ‘Let’s be great note-takers when we’re in that first meeting.’ About 80 percent of them had their notebooks and pencils out, and the other ones were a little bit unprepared. But we’ll get that corrected. We just let them know there’s no more school anymore and that this is their job now, so the approach is going to be different in everything that we do.”

Does it excite you to find a guy that goes undrafted that is an underdog in this process?

“Yeah. There’s plenty of guys that are here that maybe we had draftable grades on. We’re excited, because you don’t get a chance to draft them, and then no one else does, and you bring them into the camp and you feel you might have something there. We’ll continue to evaluate these guys the next two days and see what we’ve got with some of those guys that weren’t drafted.”

Is there anyone that stood out and caught your eye today?

“I’m not quite ready to say that yet, but it was good to get chance to evaluate each position in those individual drills. We’ll go back and watch the tape to zero in on some of them. A little bit of it is when I’m watching, I’m not trying to jump to any conclusions on some guys. Again, there’s that nervousness, especially when we’re competing in seven-on-sevens. There’s guys running routes for the first time, guys playing in coverage for the first time, so you don’t want to jump to any conclusions. You really gain a little bit more right now in the individual drills as they’re moving full-speed on air with some confidence. That’s really the best chance to evaluate them right now.”

What did you see in how rookie QB Ryan Finley carried himself today?

“Confident. I thought he had good command in the huddle. I was pleased. One time we broke the huddle, and it was a poor huddle and we weren’t on the same page, and he got them back in there. Those are the things you want to see — that leadership and intangible stuff — from the quarterback position. Day 1, that’s a good start for him, showing those qualities and showing a good command for calling the play in the huddle, which is not always easiest thing at this level.”

When you brought in QB Jake Dolegala as a college free agent, what did you like about him?

“He’s a big, tall guy (with) a strong arm. He had a good career there at Central Connecticut State. We’re excited to get a guy like that in here and get a chance to evaluate him in person.”

Do you see some guys being too tentative or too aggressive, because they’re trying to impress the coaching staff?

“It is. It’s a little bit both ways. That’s the one thing we tried to hammer home. I had (senior defensive assistant) Mark Duffner, who has a lot of experience, talk to these guys last night. It’s one of the things he pointed out. Guys are so excited, but we’re not going full-speed trying to knock people out. The guys that are athletic enough at this level should be in position to show us what they’ve got athletically, but then also be able to pull off and protect their teammates at the same time. We did make that point to those guys. Today, for the most part, I didn’t see any issues with that.”

Did the wet and slick practice fields impact some things today?

“Obviously it’s not ideal when it rains your first practice. The fields have really held up well for us. I thought the guys did a good job. Again, you get to see a little bit of the athleticism with the guys that control their bodies and can play underneath themselves. So there is a whole different evaluation aspect to it at that point.”

You didn’t draft any wide receivers this year, but you brought in some interesting college free agents. Did anything strike you today in the wide receivers group?

“Yeah. You see some raw talent there. We signed three free agents (Charles Holland, Stanley Morgan and Damion Willis), who all had great college careers. Certainly, they’re three guys that could have been drafted, but they didn’t. You’re encouraged about what you see in the individual period, but those are some of the groupings I am talking to when they are running routes for the first time and having to work releases. There’s a little bit of that uncertainty there, but we’ll get that corrected and get those guys playing full-speed. But in individual (drills), I thought those guys all showed good traits.”

What did you want to see out of the offensive linemen today? Is this a time when they get to show their feet and their hands?

“No question. And being coachable as well. Sometimes there’s some techniques they weren’t taught in college. It’s the first day on the grass listening to Coach Turner (Bengals offensive line coach Jim Turner) and Coach Martin (Bengals assistant offensive line coach Ben Martin). You do get a chance to see how coachable are they and how quick they can make those corrections, because in this league that’s critical at that position. Same goes for the D-line, I enjoyed peaking over there at the D-line. That group certainly looks the part. The three guys we had over there today working with Coach Eason (Bengals defensive line coach Nick Eason) and Coach Chatman (Bengals assistant defensive assistant Gerald Chatman), they are three good looking dudes. I know one of them is on our roster and one was a draft pick and the other we bought in, but it was a good-looking group over there as well.”

Rookie DT Renell Wren certainly looks the part

“Yeah. He will lead us out of the tunnel with J.B. (James Brown) (laughs).”

For rookie HB Rodney Anderson, who is not fully healthy yet, what do you want to see from him right now?

“He’s a guy that we thought highly of, with the stuff that he could put on tape when he did play in college. He’s in the rehab phase, and we knew that when we drafted him that he wouldn’t be practicing this offseason. He’s in there with Coach Singleton (Bengals running backs coach Jemal Singleton) getting the mental part of it down. I have no worries that he will be able to do that and continue with the rehab, and so when training camp rolls around we’ll see where he is at that point.”

What is your philosophy for rookie minicamp? Do you throw a lot of information at them, or break them in slowly?

“A little bit of both. Again, we want them playing fast, just like the other guys in the voluntary minicamp are doing. You try not to overload them, but at the same time you introduce them to this offense because they are three weeks behind at this point. You can’t just spoon-feed them there. You have to give them some stuff so that on Monday when they show up with the veterans they’re ready to go and can jump right in. It’s a little bit of a mixture there.”

What are your overall thoughts on rookie minicamp? Some teams essentially don’t even bother doing it, while others make it pretty extensive.

“What you probably saw 10 years ago was the full three days with two-a-days and all that stuff. It was a full 11-on-11, and getting your money’s worth. Some teams have now gone the total other direction, and really it’s just a tryout for the undrafted guys. We’re kind of in-between, as you’ve seen. We’ll get two days of work tomorrow morning and just find that balance in-between. You won’t see any 11-on-11, but it’s more than a tryout because you get a chance to see those guys compete against each other. So we’re right there in the middle.”

You basically eliminated one full day, right?

“Almost a full 24 hours.”

How different is it for you as head coach this year to oversee the entire practice, instead of just worrying about one position like you have the last few seasons?

“It’s good. When you’re a coordinator, you’re kind of doing this on one side of the ball and walking around to those positions. It’s been nice to get over there and hang with the defense and see those guys get to work. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed these last couple weeks.”

Are you still trying to find a rhythm with the coaching staff, in terms of planning practices and all of the other stuff that comes along with a new staff?

“I have been on a lot of new staffs in the last 10 years. I feel like I’ve had a lot of these phases, so it’s not that uncomfortable for a lot of us. We’re used to a new staff and a new way of doing things. You’re always trying to find your rhythm and make sure everyone is on the same page, but it’s flowed very easily for all of us because I do think we have a great group of coaches and it’s easy to communicate. I feel like we really hit our stride and are in good shape right now.”

Have you already seen these rookies’ love for the game and their football acumen?

“Absolutely. These guys are really sharp. They do have a high football IQ. These are guys that were very eager today to get started, and you could tell their excitement. There probably wasn’t as much nervousness from the guys we picked (in the draft), because there is a lot of confidence there. That is what happens when you draft team captains — guys who are about the right stuff and have high football character. That’s not to be unexpected when they walk in the building on the first day.”

 

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