Bengals OTA Quick Hits: Hill Starts, Gresham Sits
Jan 5, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; General view of Cincinnati Bengals helmet on the field during the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The voluntary workout phase of the NFL training camp schedule officially began this past Tuesday when the Cincinnati Bengals opened with the voluntary, Organized Team Activities or OTA. There are minimal takeaways from an OTA practice, but the biggest are who showed up? How did the new draft picks do? And who was injured? If there isn’t much news coming from those three topics, then it is a successful OTA session.
Bengals fans want more. Not just more results, but more consistent play. Long gone are the days of players not showing up to the OTA practices. Long gone are the days of mediocrity being acceptable in this town. Cincinnati Bengals fans want to win and want to win now. They certainly have been patient enough, and the roster is certainly talented enough.
Going into OTA practices, the Cincinnati Bengals had their first chance to answer some questions and silence some critics. Yes, Marvin Lewis is still the Head Coach, and yes, Andy Dalton is still the quarterback, and the fear of an inconsistent offense with a limited identity still looms. Fortunately, this is about where the similarities stop. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is already committed to running the ball more, and is not shy about it. He has inserted Bengals 2nd round pick, Jeremy Hill, into the first offense as the primary runner. Jackson also mentioned the offense needs a sense of urgency and has to play at a faster pace, both of which were lacking in 2013.
Something the Bengals used less and less of in 2013, was their two athletic, big bodied, first round pick tight ends, Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert. Going into 2014, the development of these two players is a key component to the Bengals offense, and with the rule changes, stopping them in open space is going to be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Getting started early is critical, and couldn’t help but notice number 84 was not anywhere on the field. The Bengals officially reported that Jermaine Gresham is out due to an undisclosed injury, and is not expected to miss training camp. Well that clears it up. Honestly, if Gresham tweaked something or doesn’t want to injure himself, that is perfectly fine because these practices are voluntary and there is no point in risking injury this early in the season. Case in point, Sean Lee of the Cowboys is expected to miss all of 2014 with a torn ACL.
Overall the reports from OTAs are all positive. The Bengals offensive players have accepted that Hue Jackson is much more “in your face” than his predecessor. No major injuries came out of camp, Gresham sitting out was not a big deal, and the new rookies seem hungry and eager. Will this keep up? That is the next question. Only time will tell.