The Bengals held their annual training camp luncheon today on the eve of what hopes to be a thrilling 2012 campaign. There was plenty of news that came out today, the biggest of which being the team will not utilize the NFL’s new relaxed blackout policy.
Gruden also stated that he expects Brandon Tate and Armon Binns to share the majority of the #2 receiver snaps in training camp. While many expect rookie WR Mohamed Sanu to eventually win the starting job, it appears as though Gruden is going to bring him along slowly and not rush to throw him right into the fire against Baltimore opening night.
Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, whose contract is expiring at the end of the season admitted that he and the Bengals have had talks on a contract extension, but when asked if a deal was in place, he responded with “I’m not at liberty to say.”
Zimmer stressed his belief in MLB Rey Maualuga, and challenged him to play like himself and not former MLB Dhani Jones, whom Rey learned how to play that spot at the NFL level from. He also admitted that while he doesn’t have the most talented defense in the NFL, he loves his teams’ hunger to win and intangibles:
This group defensively has great character. We’ve got good athletes. Good competitors. They want to win. They want to do things right. They want to please not only me, but the fans. They want to please everybody. They want to meet and accept the challenge. I feel real good about the nucleus of all these guys. We’ve got smart guys, we’ve got leaders. Are we the most talented in the league? No, but we have a lot of intangibles I really like.
Taylor Mays will be one of the Bengals’ biggest x-factors this year, and Zimmer knows he has to become a more consistent player if he wants to make an impact on this defense:
Taylor Mays is a tremendous athlete. Sometimes he lets his mind get in the way of his athletic ability. He should free flow a little more. He’s always thinking about what he should be doing. I think that holds him back a little bit. Just listen to me and let it flow. One play you might see him and say, ‘Wow.’ The next play you might say, ‘What the heck is he doing?’ That’s what I’ve got to get out of him.
Special teams coach Darrin Simmons believes Andrew Hawkins is ready to take on a bigger role this year:
He was good. He was very good. Just like he was during the season. We just didn’t feel comfortable enough to put him back there in a game during the season. Brandon was doing a good job. I’m really excited. I’m really looking forward to see Andrew return punts, get some confidence and it’s probably just as important to get the confidence of his teammates that he can handle the ball
CB Leon Hall is still rehabbing his achilles injury, and has not been cleared yet for Friday’s first practice.
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