Whistles blow, pads click, cleats clack, and Cincinnati Bengals football has begun again at Paul Brown Stadium. With rookies like Tyler Kroft, Paul Dawson, and Jake Fisher just trying to find their way around, to grizzled veterans like Andrew Whitworth, Leon Hall and Domata Peko going through what might be their final training camp, football is in the air. Sometimes, however, it’s not what happens directly on the field that counts, but behind the scenes where every move counts.
Take for instance AJ Green. The Bengals named him their top priority going into the 2015 season and all signs pointed to Green and the Bengals inking a long-term deal. This has yet to happen and both sides are confident it eventually will happen by this offseason coming up. Beyond that, the Bengals signed WR Greg Little, and Desmond Lawrence, an undrafted sub 4.4 40 yard dash runner, rookie from North Carolina A&T.
We all remember shades of impressiveness from Greg Little, but by the time the season ended, we were all reminded as to why he was on his couch until week 6. However, this is a new season, and like Little, Lawrence joins with a fresh start on a very talented wide receiver corps.
A little further behind the scenes, the Cincinnati Bengals are going to need to make tough cuts early and often. No longer are the days of Jim Lippencott, standing next to the locker room stopping the recently cut from even entering. No, that job is up to Duke Tobin now, and Duke Tobin makes it a private matter. Yes, the outcome is still the same, but the Bengals are a very talented team, and cuts will not be easy.
With nearly 90 players starting camp, the Bengals have until the end of August to have their final 53 ready to play. Some cuts may not be all that surprising, but some will be indicative of the amount of talent surrounding the Bengals. Take for example Brandon Tate. Tate is a serviceable punt returner, even had a big one against Denver last season on Monday Night Football. Brandon Tate is a wide receiver though, and with Green, Jones, Sanu, Mario Alford (R), Wright, Little, and now Desmond Lawrence, there may just not be any room for him on the roster.
As the Bengals enter training camp, excitement should fill the practice field. This Cincinnati Bengals team, when healthy, is one of the best ever assembled. The Bengals need to practice with urgency and take every rep seriously as they march toward 2015. With so much looming, so much pressure, and so much talent, the Cincinnati Bengals are hungry for post season wins, but it all starts now in the Queen City.