This year the Bengals training camp will be held at Paul Brown Stadium. That is a storyline in itself; however, there are many intriguing happenings that will be going around this year during training camp. New faces have joined the team, position battles will be prominent, and development of players will be a huge focal point. There are several interesting developments that Bengals fans should keep a keen eye on during training camp. This article will break down each of these sub-plots and will lend a hand in speculating what could or should develop.
Rookies, Rookies, Rookies
Parts of the new faces in the Bengals organization this year are the many draft picks of the Bengals this offseason. Cincinnati had a stellar draft and should have multiple rookies that will be able to contribute right away. Each rookie has a different expectation behind him. These are the questions to ask yourself during training camp.
How is Kevin Zeitler gelling with the offensive line?
Zeitler will be plugged in as the starting guard from day one and shouldn’t have much trouble adapting to the Bengals offensive line scheme, as he was part of a similar system in Wisconsin.
Is Dre Kirkpatrick getting the hang of off-man zone coverage?
This is something that Kirkpatrick was not asked to do in college. He was a great press coverage, man on man type cornerback. On the next level, however, he needs to get a grasp on the other coverages used in the NFL to be an every down starter.
Does Mohamed Sanu have a chance to win the number two wide receiver slot?
Sanu is in the running against Armon Binns and Brandon Tate for the wide receiver position opposite A.J. Green. Sanu can win out that spot, but most likely will share time there and also in the slot position.
Jockeying For Position
There are quite a few positions that are still up for grabs during training camp this season. There will be hard fought contests between members of the Bengals organization that will determine who will be starting on opening day. There are certain positions that are highlighted in this category.
Second Wide Receiver
As mentioned earlier in this article, the three players that are gunning for this position are Armon Binns, Brandon Tate, and Mohamed Sanu. This is a fully open competition thus far with all three players getting snaps with the first team. This positional battle may not be settled until well into the preseason. Once the season begins there could very well be a committee approach to this position between two or all three of these players that will allow offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to utilize them to their strengths.
There are a total of six cornerbacks on the Bengals roster right now that have been past first round selections. These corners are Leon Hall, Pacman Jones, Nate Clements, Terence Newman, Jason Allen, and Dre Kirkpatrick. Typically the Bengals keep six cornerbacks, however, the dark horse here is Brandon Ghee, a former third round pick of the Bengals. During OTA’s this year Ghee has started to show the kind of player that he is capable of becoming. Since some other corners are up there in age, it is refreshing to have a young player step up that could possibly be counted on for years to come. Watch for Ghee this training camp and see if he can make the roster ahead of any of these former first round selections.
One of the safety spots is already filled as the Bengals decided to keep Reggie Nelson on the roster after he tested the waters in free agency. The problem is that the Bengals do not know who will start opposite Nelson. Right now the battle consists between Taylor Mays who many have deemed the favorite, Robert Sands, Jeromy Miles, and rookie George Iloka. There is a lot of youth and a lot of inexperience here and chances are that the winner of this position will be the one that can grasp the playbook and make the least amount of mental errors on the field.