New Bengals right tackle La'el Collins had a reassuring session with the media before Friday's practice and said he'll practice before the Sept. 11 opener against the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium.
Collins, 29, who has played all 16 games twice in seven seasons, confirmed he tweaked his back over the summer break and it's an ailment he's had before but hasn't caused him to miss time.
"I'll be fine. I'll be ready to go," Collins said. "The thing to do is to be smart about it."
He says he'll have no problem getting into a rhythm with new right guard Alex Cappa through meetings and film study.
"I've got a good feel for the type of player he is," Collins said. "He's a hard-worker. Wants to be great. It takes 12,000 hours to master something, so we have a long way to go. I don't count the days. I make the days count."
_Quarterback Brandon Allen, replacing Joe Burrow during his appendectomy recovery, had some interesting pre-practice observations:
Rookie of the Year Ja'Marr Chase has, yes, improved: "It's already scary to see him improve. He's got a lot freer in his routes and disciplined in his routes. That's because he's been in the system for a whole year now so he's got a big understanding of what the route needs to look like, how I can get myself open to work little techniques here and there. That will make him even better."
First-round pick Dax Hill's 4.38 40 speed is quite noticeable in the lineup at frees safety: "His speed out of center field was impressive. We had a bootleg and had a guy running scot- free. I was going to lollipop one out there and at the last second I noticed him screaming out of center field, so I had to drive one. That speed showed up. He's adjusting to the calls and all that, but his natural athleticism really popped."
Allen is so impressed with new center Ted Karras that when he talked about the leadership of strong safety Vonn Bell, he said, "He's kind of the Ted Karras of the defense."
"Naturally the center is the leader of the offensive line, but it's his personality, too. Let me know if you ever see him blink because I haven't yet. He's in tune, he's wired the right way. His personality because he is a leader in general is infectious on that offensive line. You can see guys listen to him, guys follow him and he hasn't been here that long."
Allen joked that he "sort of," told Burrow not to rush back. And as tough as Burrow is, Allen said he didn't expect him back in the facility today: "Can't mess with an organ. You can mess with other things, but I don't know if you want to mess with the organs."
_When the veteran defensive linemen showed up for work Friday, they had zero-gravity lounge chairs in front of their lockers courtesy of right end Trey Hendrickson.
"Great gesture. He's our guy," said fellow edge Sam Hubbard. "We have a break and we sit in our chairs and hang out."