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OTA Stuff and other Bengals news week of 6/13/22


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I think that covers everything of note today- except for Baby’s question to JoeB on guns. I happen to agree with Joe’s answer but would assume putting it here would take thread off topic. I never go to the politics side of the forum but if people want to discuss it, that would probably be the place.

 

Break until training camp almost here. From Burrow‘s other answers he’s not taking a lot more time off. 

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23 minutes ago, membengal said:

I think that covers everything of note today- except for Baby’s question to JoeB on guns. I happen to agree with Joe’s answer but would assume putting it here would take thread

off topic. I never go to the politics side of the forum but if people want to discuss it, that would probably be the place.

 

Break until training camp almost here. From Burrow‘a other answers he’s not taking a lot

more time off. 

 

Thank you for not including it.  There are plenty of places to discuss those things. 

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A month ago the door seem shut on Ogunjobi returning, but it is interesting that Cappa would take sets of media day photos wearing both #66 and #65. DJ Reader, one of Ogunjobi's best friends, took time to praise Cappa for being a true team player by giving his preferred number to Ogunjobi if there is an eventual signing. 

Guess that means that Ogunjobi could have his old number back if he ends up back in Cincinnati. Really a shame that Ogunjobi was set to get his bag and then the foot injury has seemingly not healed as well as anyone expected. 

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Dehner's OTAs wrap-up column:

 

https://theathletic.com/3369156/2022/06/16/cincinnati-bengals-ota-takeaways/

 

 

Quote

 

The Bengals wrapped the offseason program on Thursday with the final of their six OTA practices that took place over the last two weeks.

 

They were back at Paul Brown Stadium for six weeks since returning from Los Angeles and the loss in Super Bowl 56.

 

They will take another six weeks off before returning for the beginning of training camp.

 

It’s as anticipated as any season in team history with season ticket sales creating waiting lists and projections for one of the most complete, star-studded rosters in team history.

 

What did we learn over the past six weeks that will affect the 2022-23 campaign? Here are the major takeaways from May and June:

 

New school the new standard?

 

You can wonder what the average NFL offseason will look like in five years. You never know for sure what the trend of the league will be. We know the direction it’s currently going.

 

There’s an exponentially higher chance the rest of the league looks like what the Bengals just went through this spring rather than what we’ve seen in years past. The luxury of continuity in staff and personnel allowed them to back off the players throughout this period. This isn’t just about pushing everything back two weeks to give the coaches time to focus on the draft, which was the case when everyone arrived back at the beginning of May. This is about what these practices looked like when they did ramp up the last two weeks.

 

There were short periods of seven-on-seven at the tail end of those open to the media, but that’s as far as any real competition goes. Head coach Zac Taylor referred to any talk about competition, specifically on the offensive line but generally everywhere, as this being the warm-up stage before the real thing begins at camp.

 

Taylor has preached about his team being as fresh as any on the field in December and January upon his arrival in Cincinnati. That showed up last year. This is the next step. They don’t need to evaluate a bunch of positions, so they didn’t. They focused on installation, meetings and the mental side of the game. Do their best to make sure when camp rolls around, everyone knows where to go then figure out who is best at going there.

 

Most importantly, besides Trey Hendrickson and Jessie Bates, everyone was in attendance.

 

In so many ways this is the new NFL. Look around, coaches were giving their teams multiple days off at the end of camp. Even Bill “No Days Off” Belichick passed on the end of Patriots’ camp. Taylor said he would go back to the normal routine of previous years if the Bengals are not in the Super Bowl, but I tend to see when they analyze the production and response they got from the physically manageable offseason strategy, they find it becomes the new normal. It understandably seemed to resonate with players.

 

Joe Burrow, veteran


Burrow saying and doing all the right things is not news. The news would be if he didn’t. But don’t think it was lost on anybody how much his attitude flip both on the field and in front of the microphone in recent weeks felt purposeful and tone-setting for the entire team.

 

Burrow jokes about how good his captions are on Instagram and one recently stated, “My spidey sense is starting to tingle a bit.” Now, beyond an explanation of his view of Batman compared to Spiderman and other superhero musings, this went beyond his latest witty caption. His intensity has ratcheted up. He has started to get “locked in,” as he repeated to us.

 

“It’s go time,” he said.

 

Burrow says he’s bringing his personal trainer with him on a few trips he’s taking during the downtime and he’ll be “thinking about football every day.” That might not be his spidey sense tingling, but rather the unique brand of motivation that has fueled his entire career. One doused with a fresh blanket of diesel after losing in Super Bowl.

 

Yes, the Bengals staff took it easy physically throughout the last few months. Yes, they have a ton of continuity and culture to pick up where they left off in February. But Burrow sent the message to everyone: the time to get ready to shove this regression talk down everyone’s throat is upon them.

 

He made sure everyone knows he will be as ready as ever on the first day of camp and they better be following suit.

 

Invaluable, instinctual, credible leadership. Burrow already had incredible maturity and social team dynamic feel for his age, but as one staff member put it to me, he’s becoming a veteran. It’s fun.

 

“That’s a great message for our team,” Taylor said. “The time for vacation was in March and April. That doesn’t mean you can’t get away for a couple days, but physically, you need to come back and be in the best shape of your life when we hit training camp. So when your leadership is making those statements, it trickles down to the entirety of the roster. If they want to keep up they got to get on that level. That’s what we want as a team. That’s where we want to get to and we’ve just got to be prepared when the first day of training camp rolls around that we don’t skip a beat.”

 

One last bet for Jessie Bates

 

The Bates saga took two more turns this week, but his absence has hung over an otherwise boring offseason program. Bates has yet to sign his franchise tag, the deadline for a long-term deal is July 15 and first-round pick Dax Hill smoothly swooped into his safety spot for every first-team rep this offseason.

 

Hill’s drawn consistent quality reviews internally, but he’s still not a five-year vet in his prime coming off a run of the best football of his career.

 

Burrow made the latest impassioned plea for Bates on Tuesday, just as Mike Hilton, Vonn Bell and nearly every Bengals defensive back prior. The quarterback stated how valuable he is not just on the field but invaluable off of it.

 

He said they talk often and even have a trip to Las Vegas together planned in the near future.

 

Then on Wednesday, Pittsburgh rewarded Minkah Fitzpatrick with a four-year extension, resetting the market at $18.4 million per season and $36 million guaranteed.

 

As we’ve said at every step since the Bengals spent a first-round pick on Hill and a fifth-round selection on safety Tycen Anderson, the writing is on the wall. It’s all but over in Cincinnati for the long term.

 

Any shot of a long-term deal getting done in July just moved from four percent to less than one percent. The Bengals will not be paying that kind of money. Fitzpatrick’s contract essentially ensures Bates will land in the vicinity of that type of deal if he hits free agency in March. Somebody will pay it. It won’t be the Bengals.

 

That’s fine.

 

It leads the Bengals back to the same place they were before every news cycle offered a new entry point to the Bates discussion. What’s in the best interest of both sides is for Bates to sign the franchise tag, return to Cincinnati, crush it, pocket $12.9 million and break the bank somewhere else in free agency.

 

Could he sit out the year, pass on the $12.9 million and just collect his huge check in March? He would eliminate risk but how much value would he lose in the eyes of teams by not playing this year? At least some.

 

Those are all discussions Bates and agent David Mulugheta will have to have, but when push comes to shove it’s hard to argue with making one more run at the Super Bowl and making life-changing money on the path to more life-changing money. It’s a risk, but everything in football is a risk and one more bet on yourself is always the best bet to make.

 

I’d imagine that will be the line of discussion when Burrow and Bates ride from Harry Reid International Airport to the Bellagio.

 

“We’re hoping that everything works out in his favor,” Burrow said. “I know that he’s working really hard right now in the weight room. He’s looking great. He’s going to be ready to go for whenever he gets here. Business is business. He’s gotta take care of what he’s gotta take care of. But I know when it’s time to show up, he’s going to be ready to go.”

 

Offensive line changes the tone


The tone around the offensive line sure is different these days. The days of deflecting dread and responding to critics are a complete afterthought — for now. If there comes another string of five-sack games, maybe the same-old questions could arise. At this moment, there’s a real sense of leadership and having control of the situation in that group.

 

That starts with Ted Karras, whose presence reverberates throughout the offense. Just watching La’el Collins in No. 71 trot off the line changes the view of the entire group. Alex

 

Cappa’s core muscle injury was unfortunate, but he’s not missing much and he’s expected back at the beginning of camp.

 

Coaches have been impressed with fourth-rounder Cordell Volson and the consequential reaction from incumbent Jackson Carman to the competition’s arrival.

 

There’s no judging any on-field work to this point, but the camp battle does appear to be shaping up to be one that could benefit both the starting level of play and quality depth.

 

Along the same lines, there’s optimism about what undrafted free agent Ben Brown could bring. There’s an opening for him to make this team as the backup center/guard.

 

Defense looks the same … and that’s the good thing

 

When trying to make judgments this time of year, it often revolves around a new face or somebody who made a significant change of position or body composition or both.

 

That’s why there hasn’t been much to say about the Bengals defense. They look very much the same. That’s a fantastic spot to be in.

 

When last seen, the defense was busy carrying the Bengals to the Super Bowl. Yeah, Burrow and his receivers grabbed all the headlines, but it was the turnovers and crucial play of the defense that propelled them to Super Bowl 56.

 

Outside of Bates, looking down the line of starters all the names are there. They look very much as they did in January.

 

The defensive backs are still sticky, Eli Apple has responded well to competition from Cam Taylor-Britt. The defensive line boasts the same energetic pieces with B.J. Hill seeming far more confident after being rewarded with his $30 million contract this offseason.

 

Expectations are this defense should hit the ground running under coordinator Lou Anarumo and these last six weeks solidified they are still on pace to do so. Perhaps boring, but wildly important.

 

WR, TE, 3T depth still hanging out there

 

The Bengals are content with the pieces that exist at the back of the receiver and tight end groups, but there’s no doubt they’ll continue to stay on the lookout as training camp, veteran casualties and final cuts unfold.

 

There is no shortage of tight ends on the roster, seven in total. The big number tells the story of the position. They are hoping competition can create another player worthy of a roster spot. Mitchell Wilcox was a product of that last year, showing up specifically on special teams and making an impact. In fact, his continued development has opened a few eyes as well. But the bottom line is beyond Hayden Hurst and Drew Sample, there’s room for somebody to seize a spot. If they don’t, it could urge the Bengals to look elsewhere for the answer.

 

On the defensive side, there still are questions about what’s going on behind B.J. Hill. Yes, the Bengals drafted Zachary Carter, of Florida, in the third round and he looks every bit the part of a physical hybrid inside-outside piece at 287 pounds. However, he’s still a hybrid player and a rookie, at that. Consider this: Hill (6-3, 311 pounds) is the only defensive player on the roster listed as weighing between 287 and 345 pounds. That’s a significant size gap to only have one player filling. They might be looking for the next Hill, whom they traded for at the end of last preseason, when August and September roll around.

 

 

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