The Bengals mandatory minicamp is set for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week, but it’s no different than the voluntary practices that took place the previous two weeks and close out the spring workouts next week.
A player can get fined for not being here this week, but everyone appeared to be accounted for during the voluntaries. In true Catch-22 fashion, the NFL allows a team two practices a day, but only if one isn’t a practice. That means it has to be a walk-through, which is a staple of all Marvin Lewis practice sessions, anyway.
Plus, the media is allowed to watch all the practices instead of just one a week during the voluntaries.
Joseph Heller may have been the inspiration for some of the offseason rules, but when it comes to this week’s set of workouts, it’s about as straightforward as Hemingway. It’s still way too early for the grace under pressure stuff that starts when the pads come on in training camp, but here are some topics to watch:
Dalton’s timing with his receivers: The word is that offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, along with quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese and wide receivers coach James Urban, have emphatically stressed route precision so that Dalton can anticipate quicker and get the ball out faster because he and his receivers have a more defined notion where they are going to be. The early returns appear to be good.
A.J. Green responding to offensive coordinator Hue Jackson: Last week, Green, the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, returned to practice after an ankle tweak and looked in top form. He said he also noticed that Jackson got on him when he didn’t run toward the end zone after he caught a deep ball over the middle. That’s one example where Green says Jackson reminds him of the hard coaching he got in high school and he likes it.
“One thing I’m working on,’ Green says, “is finishing.”
Bodine working with the first group: With center-guard Mike Pollak getting a rest because of his knee, the window has opened for fourth-round pick Russell Bodine to work often with the first group. After two weeks of practice in the system, he may start to get plenty of work with the 1s.
McCarron looking to make debut: Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, a fifth-round pick, has been saddled by some arm tightness and has yet to practice. But indications are he’ll be throwing some this week and will be practicing.
Spartans United: First-round pick Darqueze Dennard and his Michigan State teammate, safety Isaiah Lewis, have looked terrific the first two weeks and get the chance to keep it going. Dennard has looked like a pro playing the slot cornerback with the first group even though he barely played inside at East Lansing. Lewis, nicknamed “Sparty,” by safety coach Mark Carrier, has responded to the former Pro Bowl safety’s advice to study the game from the back end and not just from back to front headed to the line of scrimmage.
Bernard and Hill in the same lineup: The Bengals are toying with running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill being on the field at the same time. It’s an alignment that gives the defense pause because both have good hands out of the backfield.
How close is seventh-rounder James Wright to making the roster?: That last receiver spot might come down to Wright, veteran Ryan Whalen and Cobi Hamilton, last year’s sixth-round pick. Not a thing is going to be decided now because it’s a special teams decision as much as anything and they’ll need all four preseason games to work it out. But it does give Wright, a special teams standout at LSU, the chance to see if he can compete at receiver and all indications off the first two weeks are that he can.