CINCINNATI — School’s out for summer. The Bengals are beginning the process of truly recharging their minds and bodies for the next four weeks to be ready for what should be a very focused training camp that underscores the urgency of their mission.
Urgency. That is the word you’re going to hear more than any other when it comes to the 2023 Bengals, who know full well that the time is now to bring home to Cincinnati its first Super Bowl title.
The players know it. The coaches feel it. The staff on the field and in the offices at Paycor can sense it.
The team doesn’t reconvene until July 25, when players report for physicals. Camp begins the next day.
Here are some things to keep top of mind this summer about the Bengals as you’re enjoying a beverage in the backyard:
- The Bengals are in the perfect mental space to be ready for the challenge come July:
All you have to do is listen to how comfortable Zac Taylor is with his team’s approach to the offseason workouts, practices, OTAs and mandatory minicamp to get a sense that everyone is taking the Super Bowl mission very seriously. Many teams chose to end minicamp early and send players on their way. Not the Bengals, partly because Taylor chose to go light at the front end and work them a tad harder on the back side.
“I think that we got really good work in. I think guys have an understanding what we’re all about here, guys that are new our program. The vets really hit the ground running this offseason and I really enjoyed the urgency. It wasn’t the most physical or taxing practices probably in the league right now, but that’s because of the urgency these guys attack walkthroughs with and the individual drills. So, there’s an appreciation from the coaching level that aspect of how the guys approached it and proved that they can handle this type of workload. And so we come out of this thing relatively healthy and these guys can continue to build on the foundation that they’ve presented for themselves over these next five weeks so that when training camp hits, they’re ready to hit the ground running and you’re ready to go.”
- Urgency is there:
Echoing what Joe Burrow said on Tuesday, Taylor made it clear that these Bengals are mentally locked in. While not going physically full speed, they were making up for it in the mental reps. Be in the right place at the right time. Blocking assignments on punts and kickoffs, blitz pickups, receiver routes, communication on the backend of a new-look secondary. None of those require physical exertion. But they do require diligence. And that’s what was noticeable in the minicamp practices inside Paycor Stadium.
“It can mean a lot of different things. It’s an urgency to iron out some details in plays. It’s an urgency to run from drill to drill and finish drills full speed. So there’s a lot of different ways they can use, but I think it’s a very applicable word for just how we want to operate here. There’s a sense of urgency where we’re not laid back and it is we want to get moving and we’ve got expectations for ourselves.”
"I really enjoyed the urgency." Zac Taylor on the end of Bengals offseason practices Thursday. Urgency is biggest buzzword of Bengals 2023 season pic.twitter.com/0krcpJqWO4
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) June 15, 2023
- All aboard:
Tom Brady would always let the newcomers and rookies in New England know that when they report for camp, they better be ready to go because they train will be getting up to speed fast and if you’re not on board, you will be left behind. It’s no different with Joe Burrow and the Bengals. Burrow, in his quiet way, has conveyed that same message with the full support of his head coach.
“I think you just watch 11 on zero offense, 11 on zero defense, 11 on zero (special teams), you feel that you feel like this thing is way ahead of we’ve been years past, just from especially the first day I got here. So you can see the details. Guys are moving so quickly because they understand. It’s such a great understanding. The players here are empowered, they’ve taken ownership of our schemes and so that allows them to take the next step. It’s new players I think feel that, and they feel the need to study up and maximize the reps they get because they can see guys that have been in these systems for years now at the high level that they’re playing, the high level of understanding of what we ask them to do and that’s a really good thing for our team.”
Asked Zac Taylor about new players jumping on moving train that is the Bengals. "You feel this thing is way ahead of where we've been in years past." pic.twitter.com/eRQI6rrTtw
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) June 15, 2023
- Business is business:
Joe Burrow has not looked distracted by his off-the-field negotiations for a massive extension that is coming his way before his fourth NFL season. No details have been leaked except for a possible scenario whereby Burrow receives an average annual valued contract of about 16 percent of the team’s annual cap for the life of the deal. The biggest variables? Years and guaranteed cash. Burrow’s guaranteed money could range from Patrick Mahomes’ $141 million to Lamar Jackson’s $185 million to Deshaun Watson’s $230 guaranteed number. The higher the number of years, the more flexibility for the Bengals. The years could range from the five of Jackson and Watson to the 10 of Mahomes. A length of 7-8 sounds about right. But again, pure speculation. The structure is likely in place. The details are what is taking longer, which is to be expected. Both sides would like to have this announced formally before camp begins and that could happen anytime in the next five weeks. Once that’s resolved, then it’s time to get a deal done for Tee Higgins (if he and agent David Mulugheta are open to it) and linebacker Logan Wilson.
- Battles to watch:
From the three days of high-energy minicamp inside Paycor Stadium, it’s apparent where most battles lie. “I don’t think that there’s an area where there’s not going to be competition, whether it’s at the starter level or the backup level,” Taylor told me. “I think this team has really high end starters and really talented depth and so I’m excited to see how it shakes out. I don’t go into camp with any foregone conclusions that this is how it’s going to play out. I think you just let it play out and we’re going to get plenty of reps, plenty of opportunities for guys to have an opportunity to showcase what they can do and take a spot on the team and we’re very open to all that.”
Jackson Carman is the leader in the clubhouse for the starting right tackle spot. But with Jonah Williams back for minicamp, he made it clear that he’ll be ready for camp and ready to win the job that was put before him and getting moved from left tackle after the signing of Orlando Brown Jr. La’el Collins is a definite candidate to start camp on PUP.
Joe Mixon is the No. 1 running back. Off-field legal issues, speculation about his $12.8 million cap price for this season and his spotty production from last year haven’t changed that. He is still a leader in the locker room, well-respected for his work ethic and remains committed to showing he can still play an important role in the offense.
Trayveon Williams is the leader for the Samaje Perine role. Rookie Chase Brown will be given reps along with Chris Evans in the preseason.
Charlie Jones looked smooth working with all three QBs and will battle with Trent Taylor and Kwamie Lassiter II for punt return reps. It’ll be fascinating to see what kind of run time Jones gets with Burrow and the big three of Higgins, Chase and Boyd in camp and the preseason.
Nick Scott and Dax Hill will be the two safeties. Zac Taylor wasn’t committing just yet to Chido Awuzie being full strength and ready for camp but he sure looked the part on the rehab part of the field during minicamp. Awuzie, Taylor-Britt and Hilton are the corners.
Corner DJ Turner II and safety Jordan Battle will get reps in preseason while Myles Murphy will slot in behind Joseph Ossai for edge reps behind Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard. Murphy and Battle will definitely be part of Darrin Simmons’ special team units.
Trevor Siemian looks for all the world to be the No. 2 QB behind Burrow and ahead of Jake Browning.
Finally, rookie Brad Robbins looked the role of starting punter in minicamp with some booming kicks and some good directional work. Drue Chrisman, if things go well for him and no other team needs a punter at the end of August, could still land on the practice squad.
For the Bengals and any team with championship aspirations, the No. 1 goal of the next five weeks is to stay safe, healthy and out of the headlines.
That goes for you, too. Stay safe, soak up the sun, take in a red-hot Reds team that might just be ready to shock the world like the 2021 Bengals and make a deep playoff run. Who knows? There’s FCC, which is enjoying an historic run in Major League Soccer. There’s Taylor Swift at Paycor on June 30-July 1. July 26 and the opening of Bengals camp will be here soon enough. Rest up and enjoy, Cincinnati. The Bengals are getting ready for an epic season.
Training Camp Set for July 26-Aug. 16:
Bengals Training Camp presented by Kettering Health kicks off on Wednesday, July 26 and will feature 10 open practices for fans. Four additional practices will be open exclusively to Season Ticket Members and Waitlist Members. The Bengals will practice inside Paycor Stadium on Saturday, July 29 as part of the NFL’s Back Together Weekend, presented locally by Swift Meats. Mobile tickets are required for all fans attending this practice. Tickets are free and will be made available the week of July 17, with Season Ticket Members and Waitlist Members receiving first access.
All other open practices will take place at the Kettering Health Practice Fields located just west of Paycor Stadium. The entrance is located on the corner of Central Avenue and West Pete Rose Way. Fans are encouraged to park in Lot 1, Lot A or Lot B for practices at established prices.
The Kettering Health Practice Fields have bleacher seating for 1,250 fans next to the fields, plus additional standing room along the sidelines. Admission is free and no ticket is required. Fans are encouraged to arrive early since capacity is limited and admission is on a first-come, first-served basis. Concessions and Bengals merchandise will be available to purchase.
The NFL Clear Bag Policy will be in effect for all practices. Visit bengals.com/bagpolicy for more information about the sizes and types of bags that will be permitted.
Bengals players will sign autographs for fans along the sidelines following open practices at the Kettering Health Practice Fields. Different position groups will be available each day after practice.
Season Ticket Members and Waitlist Members will have access to four exclusive practices, including the joint practice with the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday, Aug. 9. Members will receive more information via email the week of July 31 about how to claim free tickets to the members-exclusive practices. Fans can visit bengals.com/tickets to learn more about the Season Ticket Member Waitlist.