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Five things we learned about the Bengals this offseason


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  • Kelsey Conway, Cincinnati Enquirer
    Fri, Jun 14, 2024, 9:44 AM CDT·9 min read
     

    The Cincinnati Bengals just completed the final phase of their offseason program. Next up? Training camp after a six-week break.

     

    Over the last few months, the Bengals’ coaching staff put together a plan to set up their players to be ready to go once training camp begins. The voluntary offseason program is about installing the offense and defense, introducing the new players and learning how to practice so when the team steps on the field for practice come the end of July, everyone is ready to go.

     

    The Bengals’ roster has changed significantly since the end of the 2023 season. Veterans like Tyler Boyd, Jonah Williams and DJ Reader are no longer with the team. New players like Geno Stone, Sheldon Rankins, Zack Moss, Trent Brown and Mike Gesicki have joined the team, including the rookies, and got a chance to learn their new playbooks.

     

    Cincinnati’s three-day minicamp gave us three different chances to see what this year’s version of the Bengals is going to look like. Here are five of the biggest takeaways from the offseason program.

     

    Joe Burrow participated in two practices before getting a rest day

     

    Joe Burrow took part in the first two days of minicamp practice before he was given a rest day on Thursday as the team wrapped things up. He threw on both days and reiterated that he will be “ready to go” by the start of the season. Burrow suffered season-ending wrist surgery in November of 2023 on his throwing hand.

     

    He refrained from saying what percentage he is in terms of being close to full strength. Burrow then admitted he’s approached this offseason differently and is using more caution this time around. Head coach Zac Taylor revealed that he gives Burrow a rest day each week. We’ll see if this pattern continues during training camp as his health remains the No. 1 priority for this team.

     

    Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow says he's "ready to go" but head coach Zac Taylor has handled him carefully this offseason, giving him an off day each week. "I am really happy with how we've handled it so far, and we're going to continue to handle it this way moving forward,” Burrow said.
     
    Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow says he's "ready to go" but head coach Zac Taylor has handled him carefully this offseason, giving him an off day each week. "I am really happy with how we've handled it so far, and we're going to continue to handle it this way moving forward,” Burrow said.

     

  • “I know exactly what it's going to take for me to feel tip-top shape come September, and our training staff has been through it before, our coaching staff has been through it with me before, so we know how to handle it,” Burrow said. “Just like anything, the more reps you give something, the better you are going to be at handling it in the future and I feel like we are doing that. I am really happy with how we've handled it so far, and we're going to continue to handle it this way moving forward.”

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    Burrow said that if he was forced to throw into a tight window right now with full strength, he could.

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  • Over the next few weeks with the team on summer break, Burrow said he’s planned out how he’ll go about his work. The main change for him this summer is not pushing too hard to ensure he doesn’t suffer a setback.

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    “I’m going to definitely not quite grind as much for this next month and a half,” Burrow said. “My offseason has been about 10 weeks longer than everybody else’s. So, I’ve had 10 weeks of work everybody else hasn’t. So, I feel really good about where I am going to be at come training camp.”
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    Ja'Marr Chase present for practice but doesn't participate in team drills
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  • For the first time this offseason, Ja’Marr Chase was present for practice in Cincinnati during the Bengals' three-day mandatory minicamp. Chase reported for minicamp but didn’t practice. He took part in the team’s install period ahead of practice and caught stationary passes but changed out of his cleats into tennis shoes to watch as practice continued.

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    Taylor opted not to get into the details of why Chase – who is seeking a new contact – didn’t participate in practice but did point to his Pro Bowl wide receiver’s absence from the voluntary workouts as a reason he decided to be cautious with him this week.
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    “When someone's not been here, you don't want to rush him into things, but he clearly has done a great job this offseason,” Taylor said. “Really happy to get him back in the building. He was in all the meetings, did all the walkthroughs and all that stuff and then did a great job mentoring some of the other players as he was out there during practice. So, I thought we got what we needed out of him.”

    Chase opted to train on his own in Dallas, Texas this offseason instead of taking part in the Bengals’ voluntary offseason program. Taylor said Chase returned in great shape and is pleased with what he saw this week.

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    The former No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft is seeking a new contract as he is now eligible. Chase and his representation were waiting on wide receiver Justin Jefferson to get a new contract before engaging in conversations with Cincinnati’s front office. Jefferson signed a $140 million contract extension that includes $110 million guaranteed this offseason. As of late March, executive vice president Katie Blackburn said Chase and the Bengals had not started on the negotiation process.

    NFL players are subject to a hefty fine if they skip mandatory minicamp. Chase declined to speak to the local media this week.

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    Wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase was primarily a spectator at the Bengals mandatory minicamp this week, but did attend all the meetings and participated in the walkthroughs. Chase skipped OTAs, opting to train on his own in Dallas.
     
    Wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase was primarily a spectator at the Bengals mandatory minicamp this week, but did attend all the meetings and participated in the walkthroughs. Chase skipped OTAs, opting to train on his own in Dallas.

     

  • Chase has become one of the NFL’s best players in a short period of time. He’s earned a Pro Bowl nod after each of his first three seasons and was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2021. In three seasons with the Bengals, Chase has caught 268 passes for 3,717 yards and 29 touchdowns.

     

  • Dax Hill running with the starters during position switch to cornerback

     

  • Former first-round pick Dax Hill appears to be fitting right in at cornerback. Cincinnati planned for Hill to be a starting safety when they selected him with the No. 31 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft. Hill’s first two years at safety didn't go as planned so defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and his staff decided to move Hill to outside cornerback to see if he could thrive in that role.

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    Hill was running with the starting defensive unit during all three days of minicamp opposite of Cam Taylor-Britt. This isn’t to say Hill is for sure going to be the starter come Week 1 as he’s going to keep battling second-year cornerback DJ Turner. This is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing position battles to watch in training camp.
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    Dax Hill, who played safety each of his first two seasons as a Bengal, was running at outside cornerback with the first defensive unit all three days of minicamp. “He certainly looks very comfortable playing out there at corner,” Zac Taylor said.
     
    Dax Hill, who played safety each of his first two seasons as a Bengal, was running at outside cornerback with the first defensive unit all three days of minicamp. “He certainly looks very comfortable playing out there at corner,” Zac Taylor said.

     

  • “He certainly looks very comfortable playing out there at corner,” Taylor said. “I think that's a really good room right now from a competition standpoint and Dax certainly has continued to make improvements over the course of the spring and put himself in a position that we feel really good about."

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  • Ted Karras responds to contract extension from Bengals

     

  • On the final day of minicamp as the team got ready to head out to practice, the locker room got notice that center and team captain Ted Karras signed a one-year extension with the Bengals.

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    Karras is now under contract with the Bengals for the next two seasons. Since he arrived in Cincinnati, Karras has done nothing but make a positive impact on and off the field. In addition to anchoring the Bengals’ offensive line, Karras has provided consistent leadership that the team has relied heavily upon.
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    It's why his teammates were so excited for him, especially Orlando Brown Jr.
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    “When you have a center that not only understands the game but is also super talented and has a great relationship with our play-caller and quarterback I think that in itself speaks for itself with our offensive success,” Brown said of Karras.
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    Bengals teammates were happy to hear the Bengals rewarded center Ted Karras, entering his ninth NFL season,  with a one-year contract extension. He is now under contract for two seasons.
     
    Bengals teammates were happy to hear the Bengals rewarded center Ted Karras, entering his ninth NFL season, with a one-year contract extension. He is now under contract for two seasons.

     

  • Karras said he still feels young and fresh despite heading into his ninth season. But when the time comes for him to call it quits on his career, Karras made it clear he wants to retire as a Bengal.

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    “I want to play for as long as they'll me, and then I'll play one more,” Karras said.“That's kind of been my thought process in this league.”The Bengals opted not to draft a center in any of the early rounds in this year’s draft signaling the team had plans to keep Karras around.
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    Chase Brown, Mike Gesicki look like they can make a big impact on offense

     

  • Keep your eye on Chase Brown and Mike Gesicki this year as those two players looked primed for a big seasons.

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    Taylor commended the way second-year running back Brown attacked the offseason in his pursuit to become a better pass-catching weapon. It looks like his hard work is paying off. If Chase can prove he’s a reliable receiver for Burrow, he’ll get to stay on the field more.
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    “A guy that's going to continue to grow and understand what that role entails as a running back in this league and the more downs you can put yourself on the field, the better,” Taylor said.  “And he's really worked hard to do that. It's noticeable and that's a real positive.”Chase hit his stride in the middle of the Bengals’ season last year after suffering a hamstring injury that kept him from hitting the ground running after training camp. The Bengals are hoping that a 1-2 punch of Brown and Zack Moss will make Cincinnati’s run game more explosive.
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    Zac Taylor was happy to see running back Chase Brown had dedicated himself to being a better all-around player, particularly as a pass-catcher. “A guy that's going to continue to grow and understand what that role entails as a running back in this league and the more downs you can put yourself on the field, the better,” Taylor said.
     
    Zac Taylor was happy to see running back Chase Brown had dedicated himself to being a better all-around player, particularly as a pass-catcher. “A guy that's going to continue to grow and understand what that role entails as a running back in this league and the more downs you can put yourself on the field, the better,” Taylor said.More

     

  • Gesicki saw a lot of targets throughout the Bengals’ offseason program as a main target for Burrow.

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  • Cincinnati’s starting quarterback said he wanted to make sure he and his new slot wide receiver/tight end got on the same page from a dialogue standpoint so those reps they got in May and June were important.

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    “We have guys we feel really good about, so I'm going to continue to build the dialogue with those guys so we can earn that trust and hopefully that translates to on-field success,” Burrow said of Gesicki.
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    With wide receiver Tee Higgins skipping the Bengals’ offseason program and Chase only taking part of the walkthrough portion of minicamp, Gesicki benefited from more time and snaps with Burrow.
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  • Expect the Bengals to get creative with how they use their new 6-foot-6 target.

 

https://sports.yahoo.com/five-things-learned-bengals-offseason-144412514.html

 

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