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Training Camp 2022 - Thread 1 - News and Obs 7/19 - 7/28


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11 hours ago, membengal said:

 

Return to role with Cincinnati Bengals appears likely for Adam Zimmer, per report

1398196766000-dclark.jpg?width=48&heightDave Clark
Cincinnati Enquirer
 

Adam Zimmer, an assistant coach and coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings for the past eight seasons, appears to be returning to a role with the Cincinnati Bengals, according to a report Sunday via Twitter from Chris Tomasson of the TwinCities.com Pioneer Press.

Zimmer was an assistant defensive backs coach for the Bengals in 2013 when his father, Mike, was Cincinnati's defensive coordinator. When Mike became the Vikings' head coach after the 2013 season, Adam joined him as Minnesota's linebackers coach.

Tomasson reported in February that Adam Zimmer told the Pioneer Press he wasn't being retained as the Vikings' LBs coach and co-defensive coordinator after the team had fired Mike Zimmer in January.

Adam Zimmer also said in February that his father, who was the Bengals' DC for six seasons, does have an interest in returning to coaching for "the right situation."

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Mock turtle soup day!

 

Also, thinking on the opening PUP/NFI list - in addition to Ossai not being on it being good news - how about Tee and Logan also not being on it? I was thinking Tee would miss some of camp. Good deal that he is ready to go with his shoulder from the jump.

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The piece:

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The first practice of Bengals training camp arrives Wednesday and there are fewer questions than any season in recent memory. Another benefit of coming off a Super Bowl appearance with a roster a year ahead of schedule.

 

The Bengals addressed their glaring weakness of the offensive line in free agency, drafted for the future on defense and lost only two starters from last season.

 

They return the head coach and all three coordinators for a fourth consecutive season together.

 

So much is known about the 2022 Bengals. But even a team with the most continuity in the NFL comes with a laundry list of questions and potential issues that emerge during camp.

 

Here are the five primary questions hanging over the Bengals during training camp with my best feel for how they play out on the path to Sept. 11 against the Stealers.

 

1. Who wins the job at left guard?

 

This sits far atop the list of most important camp battles at the moment. The Bengals performed a swift overhaul of the line with Alex Cappa, Ted Karras and La’el Collins joining Jonah Williams. Yet the left guard spot remains unsettled. Last year’s second-round pick Jackson Carman endured a roller-coaster first season where he failed to show consistency to develop the full trust of offensive line coach Frank Pollack. He showed off flashes of the top physical traits that drew the Bengals to him, but his inconsistency kept him buried on the bench in the playoffs even as Cincinnati was in desperate need of competent play at guard.

 

Then there’s the polar opposite of Carman in fourth-round pick Cordell Volson out of North Dakota State. His scouting report paints the picture of a player with fewer physical tools than Carman but all the drive, grit and glass-eating Pollack has desired in rebuilding the group.

 

A story on Defector this spring detailed serious allegations of sexual misconduct from Carman’s time at Clemson. No charges were filed or have been filed since. The team and Carman declined to comment on the piece and are going forward with him in the mix for the starting spot.

 

So, the stage is set.

 

In an ideal world for the Bengals, Carman is invigorated by the competition and showcases a newfound maturity, focus and professionalism on and off the field to make good on his potential and earn the full-time gig.

 

I don’t know if it will go quite that way, but it likely ends in some form with Carman starting against the Stealers on opening day. The question will be what happens one month into the season. If Volson shows potential and plays well in the preseason, it could set the stage for a change if the starter struggles.

 

2. Where’s Jessie Bates?

 

The most discussed Bengals player of the offseason will continue to hold that banner until he actually shows up at training camp. When will that be? Will it happen at all?

 

Bates has yet to sign the franchise tag and is under no obligation to show up at camp and cannot be fined for his absence. Not until the games start will he need to sign to start collecting his $12.9 million one week at a time.

 

The sides didn’t reach an extension at the July 15 deadline and the Bengals’ offer of $14 million per season and $19 million guaranteed was well short of the top of the market for the position, recently reset by the Stealers’ Minkah Fitzpatrick signing for an average annual value of $18 million with $36 million fully guaranteed.

 

The chances of the Bengals trading Bates are slim. Doing a deal would be complicated and likely wouldn’t garner a huge return seeing as how a team trading for him cannot sign him to a long-term deal at this point because of the tag. It’s like trading for a one-year rental.

 

No player except Le’Veon Bell (on his second franchise tag) has actually sat out a full season and not played. There’s essentially zero precedent for Bates passing on $12.9 million. For a player who has made only $4.9 million over his entire career, passing on a payday almost three times that would seem a nonstarter. And would sitting out a year be a bigger risk to value than potentially not playing great or sustaining a serious injury?

 

These are questions Bates must ask himself. Either way, the Bengals will use any absence to give important starting reps to first-round pick Dax Hill, set to take Bates’ spot in the future, and this year if necessary.

 

So, how does this end? Bates likely signs the tag and shows up with some kind of limited participation or late arrival in camp to avoid injury, collects his $12.9 million and plays the entire season. He probably plays well — as he has his entire career — and signs a massive contract with his desired guarantees on another team in March.

Either way, eyes will be peeled every day to see when No. 30 comes stepping through the locker room door.

 

3. Could the Kevin Huber era come to an end?

 

A battle we thought would be waged last camp will unfold a year later between punters Drue Chrisman and 14-year veteran Kevin Huber.

 

Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons liked what he saw from Chrisman during the 2021 OTA period. A broken hand kept him out the majority of camp and cost him a shot at the competition last year. The stage is now set to see if he can do enough to displace hometown hero Huber, who just turned 37 and is one game away from the Bengals record for games played in a career.

 

Oddly, this job probably won’t come down to how either punts the ball. This could end up being about how Chrisman performs as a holder. Huber has been magnificent in conjunction with long snapper Clark Harris for well over a decade. The idea of bringing a new piece into the process with kicker Evan McPherson would require six weeks of significant trust-building with Simmons.

 

Chrisman brings a bigger leg but an unknown in terms of what he will bring when the real games begin. Conversely, the Bengals know what Huber will bring as much as any player on the roster, but he’ll still have to prove another year isn’t further wearing down his power. The trick for Simmons is testing that without giving much extra work to the veteran punter.

 

All of these same conversations apply to a slightly lesser degree to Harris, who will try to hold off undrafted free agent Cal Adomitis as his replacement.

Chrisman has a better chance of replacing Huber than Adomitis of Harris, but both will be closely monitored.

 

When trying to predict where it ends, it’s hard to get past a vision of McPherson lining up for a 37-yard, game-winning field goal attempt in the opener where Simmons would rather have Adomitis to Chrisman over Harris to Huber as those responsible for winning the game.

 

The three preseason games and two dozen practices could quickly change that vision.

 

4. Can the rookie defensive backs bring it?

 

The Bengals aggressively addressed the future of the secondary with the 2022 draft class. Hill, Cam Taylor-Britt and Tycen Anderson will all be tested to see how ready they are to contribute as rookies.

 

As mentioned when discussing Bates, Hill could see plenty of opportunity for reps in both practices and the preseason. His versatility makes him first off the bench should an injury occur to Mike Hilton, Vonn Bell or Bates. Plus, expect defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo to implement a number of three-safety looks when all are active.

 

Taylor-Britt will find himself in direct competition with Eli Apple. Apple was on his fourth NFL team upon landing in Cincinnati but played well enough to find a more permanent home.

 

The Bengals signed him to a one-year, $4 million contract and put him in direct competition with the second-round pick.

 

The hope will be for Taylor-Britt to push the veteran incumbent to get the best out of both. How well Taylor-Britt plays in camp will go a long way to telling if he’s ready to take over the position or is a longer-term project. Make no mistake, the Bengals will give the second-round pick a chance to show he’s ready.

 

The question will be how realistic is it that Taylor-Britt can make an immediate impact at a higher level than Apple performed last season. Precedent suggests the chances are not good.

 

The median grade for the cornerback position over this time was 63.5. How many corners picked who played at least 300 snaps posted a grade even considered average? The answer is zero of 10.

 

Trayvon Mullen, Trevon Diggs and Paulson Adebo came close but still graded below average overall as rookies. The learning curve is steep at that position if you don’t come into the league with a pedigree of being able to bring it. A number of these corners performed well in consequent seasons, so this is not to say the second round is an awful place to find a corner, just to find one who can play at a high level for you right away is unrealistic.

 

The best bet here is Apple will be the starter and Taylor-Britt will contribute on special teams and have to fill in a few games here and there as injuries pile up and probably take more than a few lumps as he progresses.

 

5. Did the Bengals avoid the injury bug?

 

Every NFL team will be monitoring this question throughout August, the worst news month on the NFL calendar when basically only bad news can occur.

The first step will be avoiding any surprises upon reporting and a few seem to creep up every year. That mostly means everyone completing an injury-free month because all except for Trey Hendrickson and Jessie Bates were in attendance at OTAs.

 

Beyond that, the Bengals have structured camp to limit injuries and coach Zac Taylor acknowledged tweaking the length of some periods based on lessons learned from the previous year. Cornerback Trae Waynes was the only substantial injury to occur during camp last year and it came on one of the final open practices when he injured his leg and ended up missing the first three weeks and falling out of favor of the organization, replaced by Apple.

 

This question is impossible to predict, but the answer to it in early September will probably be the most important when it comes to the regular-season outlook.

 

 

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Burrow in Tier 1 - the tier 1 QBs in the survey are Rodgers, Mahomes, Brady, Allen, Herbert and Joe

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6. Joe Burrow

 

Burrow has started 26 regular-season games and four in the playoffs. He has made it through one season healthy. He also quarterbacked the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl after Vegas set Cincy’s win total at 6.5, fifth-lowest in the league. Voters love how he plays.

 

“Burrow is a young Tom Brady,” said a GM who placed Allen and Burrow in the top tier, but not Herbert. “I think Herbert has shown he can do it in doses. Burrow is a step ahead. I think his mind is a lot quicker than Herbert’s. Burrow wins with his brain, and he has had to, because he played behind probably the worst offensive line ever to go to the Super Bowl.”

 

Burrow’s accuracy, calm under pressure and willingness to stand strong in the pocket even when he’s taking punishment has earned admirers.

“This league is in good hands with the quarterbacks right now, and they’re in good places, with (coaches) who like to throw the ball,” a head coach said. “These veteran guys know that these colleges are throwing the ball more and they had better maximize their abilities, man, or they ain’t going to be doing it long, because the colleges are putting out better guys right now.”

 

Any concerns on Burrow?

 

“He got fooled on that fourth down in the Super Bowl,” a quarterbacks coach said. “He predetermines a lot of his quick game. They’ll spread it out and try to show him the picture. When you can change the look for him, I think the kid locks in and some of these guys. Once you get a book on them a little bit, you can make these guys struggle a little. I’m not saying this is a guy you are going to take off the map. The kid is a competitor. I’m just saying he clearly predetermines some things and until he grows out of that, he is a good 2 for me.”

 

A head coach who placed Burrow in Tier 1 explained that Burrow’s poor offensive line was a contributing factor.

 

“Joe reminds me of the West Coast Offense quarterbacks you always were looking for with the anticipation, instincts, ball accuracy, throwing guys open,” another head coach said. “You just don’t see that at a very young age coming out, and I’m talking particularly from the drop-back phase. I’m a Joe Burrow fan. I’d put a 1 on him.”

 

 

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