Top 3 stories to watch during Bengals training camp

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CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos and Cedric Ogbuehi #70 of the Cincinnati Bengals congratulate each other after the game at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Denver defeated Cincinnati 29-17. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos and Cedric Ogbuehi #70 of the Cincinnati Bengals congratulate each other after the game at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Denver defeated Cincinnati 29-17. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) /
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As Bengals training camp eases into gear, there are still questions that need to be answered. A good dose of competition will help clear the air.

As the Bengals prepare to battle for another AFC North crown, there are still questions around the team. Fans are anxious to get back into the flow of football. But inquiring minds need to know what the headlines are going to be for the majority of training camp. The sounds of whistles blowing, coaches yelling and players in fights are just a backdrop to the drama and intrigue.

If the Bengals are going to get back to their winning ways, there are three storylines worth watching. I’m not a betting man. But, if that were my forte, my loot would be on players who are poised to make the most impact. Obviously, that doesn’t give much away. It’s a toss-up, as to who could grab the most attention. But, I have a few ideas.

The Waterbug Watch

Though he’s been cleared to participate in camp, Giovani Bernard is still nursing an ACL tear. Those injuries can be nagging in many ways. But, the main problem is the back being confident in his ability to use the full range of motion. Bernard is a shifty running back who’s made his mark in the NFL through his ability to cut and avoid hits. His speed could be affected by the injury as well.

What’s so surprising about Bernard being cleared for camp is the timing. He tore his ACL a mere eight months ago and looks ready to inflict damage on defenses. There must be some healing waters from the Amazon Jungle flowing in the fountains of Paul Brown Stadium. Not so long ago, Vontaze Burfict made a miraculous return to the lineup and didn’t miss a beat. He missed the first six games of the 2015 season but came back–like a boss–in Week 7. Hopefully, Bernard will be able to do the same.

The Glass Man Cometh 

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Who else has been cleared for return? Tyler Eifert will be active in camp, after offseason back surgery. The Bengals suffered immensely without him in on the field. Say what you want about Andy Dalton using him as a crutch. Dalton leaned on Eifert when he had to and the results were just what Cincinnati needed.

Here’s the dilemma. Marvin Lewis & Co. can rush him back or be smart about it. The games don’t count until September 10. Let him get the necessary reps in camp but stay wise when it comes to time on the field. Eifert is a dangerous and talented target. But, for some strange reason, he can’t stay healthy.

To make a serious bid for controlling the North, the Bengals will need all their firepower. That means Gio and Eifert should be treated like bars of gold bullion. See what they can do in a couple of preseason games and put them on the shelf until time for Baltimore.

The MMA Made Him Do It

There’s no sugar-coating this last story. The offensive line is going to be one of the most discussed aspects of training camp. Fans watched in shock and awe, as the Bengals calmly let two big name road graders walk. If you’re still mourning the loss of Big Whit and Kevin Zeitler, you’re not alone. Andrew Whitworth was the leader and stability of the left side for what seemed like eons. Now, it’s up to Cedric Ogbuehi to settle things down.

Next: Training Camp 101

Actually, Ogbuehi isn’t alone. Jake Fisher will be under the microscope as well. Both players have been getting rave reviews from the coaches. But, everyone looks good in shorts and with limited contact.

The Bengals training camp will be ablaze with battles on all levels. Competition can bring out the best or camouflage the worst. It’s time to find out who’s a pretender.

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