The Cincinnati Bengals are rounding out a great offseason and now head into training camp and the preseason. Here are three major storylines to watch.
Bolstering the offensive line and adding explosion to the secondary were crucial steps to the Cincinnati Bengals‘ successful offseason. The team spent money on three linemen who are projected to start this season and spent their first two draft picks on coverage guys.
Now the new additions will go toe to toe with the AFC Championship squad in training camp. Here are some position battles to look out for in the preseason.
All stats courtesy of NFL.com
Will Eli Apple hold onto his spot?
The most infamous player on the team is probably over-hated after his Super Bowl performance. Eli Apple let up the game-winning touchdown in that game but he had some clutch moments throughout the playoffs including a critical fourth-down stop against the Chiefs.
Nonetheless, Apple will face some competition this offseason with Cam Taylor-Britt joining the team as a second-round pick.
This matchup will determine who covers the number two receiver with Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton’s spots locked in. Fans will be hoping for Taylor-Britt to shine but it’s never that straightforward for a young rookie.
The rookie out of Nebraska possesses all the physical tools to be a great corner in the NFL and his athleticism stood out at the combine. He measured in at just under six feet and just under 200 pounds yet he ran a blazing 4.38 forty-yard dash. The 22-year-old also impressed with his impressive ball skills. Many expect Taylor-Britt to win the job with ease but transitioning to the NFL is no easy task.
Eli Apple is a seven-year veteran. He was drafted 10th overall by the Giants back in 2016 and now finds himself on a team-friendly contract in Cincinnati. He showed flashes of the elite coverage skills that made him a first-round pick but for the most part, he was a below-average corner.
Apple allowed a 60% completion percentage when he was targeted and gave up more than 600 yards in the regular season, which is not great for a backup cornerback. Apple does deserve some credit though. He was tasked with covering many of the league’s best including Cooper Kupp on several snaps during the super bowl.
The competition should be exciting and both corners will have their hands full covering the Bengals’ superstar receiving core in practice. We will see who comes out on top.