Wednesday's last day of Bengals training camp was actually like a Friday as head coach Zac Taylor crafted his schedule in preparation for the trip to Washington for Friday night's (8 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) second preseason game.
But Taylor didn't have the Washington Football Team in mind. He was thinking about the first road trip of the regular season for the second game of the year in Chicago. It was Taylor's last shot to simulate a "Fast Friday," before a Saturday trip because the Bengals are at Paul Brown Stadium for their next two games, the Aug. 29 preseason finale (4 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) against the Dolphins and the Sept. 12 opener (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 19) against the Mike Zimmer Vikings.
So while not a lot of action on the field Wednesday/Friday, there was on the flip card as Taylor mulled playing time. He said the first offense sans Joe Burrow won't play beyond the first quarter and indicated they'd get more than the six snaps and one series they got in Tampa.
Center Billy Price gets the start again as Trey Hopkins (ACL) remains on target for his third straight Opening Day start. The experience is a reason why Taylor doesn't feel forced to play Hopkins until Sept. 12.
"I don't know that it's that important. He's a veteran lineman. He's taken a lot of plays," Taylor said. "He gets good work going against our interior defensive line in practice. You see him, he takes all those reps. We'll also talk through if he's going to play in (the preseason finale) or not. I haven't made that decision on Trey, but he's not one of those guys that you're concerned about. If there's a younger player coming off an ACL, you probably would want to get him back in there and see how they respond but not Trey."
Burrow, by the way, looks to be in that same category.
On Friday, Price may be centering a different starting line. Rookie D'Ante Smith, taking snaps at left guard with the ones Monday and Tuesday, missed Wednesday's practice with dehydration and is questionable. Although they went to the veteran tandem of guards on Wednesday with Quinton Spain at left and Xavier Su'a-Filo at right, Taylor said not to read anything into that after Michael Jordan got the start at right guard in Tampa.
"We're going to mix all those guys in. I'm not going to make any statements on who's going to get more reps," Taylor said. "All those guys are going to get a chance to earn their playing times."
Expect to see a bunch of running backs Jacques Patrick and Chris Evans with Trayveon Williams (hamstring) out again.
Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi is set to make his Bengals debut, but the defensive line is going to be thin at end when Taylor ruled out Joseph Ossai and Khalid Kareem.
Ossai, the third-rounder from Texas, hasn't been seen since his spectacular debut on Saturday night when his five pressures and one sack came on just 22 snaps. On one of those plays he injured his wrist and on Wednesday Taylor said he's still being evaluated. Kareem, who had looked good early in camp in his bid to get in the edge rotation behind Ossai and starters Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson, hasn't worked in more than a week with a shoulder issue.
Also out is the trio of defensive backs that didn't play in Tampa: cornerbacks Donnie Lewis, Jr., and Eli Apple and safety Ricardo Allen.
JA'MARR-JOE: Like his LSU soul mate Burrow, rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase has made huge strides since struggling early in camp. Burrow has tried to help him like he would any other receiver.
"Not just Ja'Marr. Depending on the kind of day somebody is having, I may feed them a little if they're having a bad day. Try to get them out of their slump and get them back in their groove," Burrow said. "That's just not unique to Ja'Marr. That's every single guy on the receiving corps. If they're having a bad day I might feed them a little more than usual."
But Burrow says he hasn't had to feed him all that much lately. He made the call Wednesday:
"He's going to make a lot of big plays for us. We're going to get him the ball in space and he's going to score a lot of touchdowns."
Here's another example that Burrow gets it and why he's always talking on the field. At the end of Tuesday's practice, he not only huddled up the offense to remind them about the pitfalls of starting flat in a practice or game, but he called in running back Joe Mixon for a double-team from the bosses.
Then on Wednesday he and Chase were chatting it up after a team period. And that's another thing. Burrow has to remind us that he's not that far removed from Baton Rouge as Chase.
"When you're practicing in the NFL for the first time, you have revelations every single practice. He's had those and he's getting better every single day," Burrow said. "We have a lot of those conversations that are sometimes about plays and routes and technique and sometimes about mindset, how practice is going. Those conversations are critical when you have two young guys. I've only played ten games, too. And we're trying to figure this thing out together."
PLAYER OF THE DAY: CB Chidobe Awuzie
Again. What a training camp the Dallas free agent has had. Earlier this week, Chase had his way with Awuzie. On Wednesday Chase couldn't get away from him on a goal-line fade and a sideline route, among others that he got a hand on.
"You just don't know a guy until you get him in the building. So just his personality and how disciplined he is and how focused he is, is something I wasn't ready for," Taylor said. "I didn't know a lot of people that knew him. We liked the tape. We liked what we'd been told. But when you get him in person, he is as impressive as any person I've ever been around, not only as a person but his approach to the game."
But Chase also made some nice catches Wednesday. He showed how strong his hands are on a route over the middle where the ball was thrown a bit behind him in a crowd and he leaned back and snatched it away with both padlocks.
"I think you've seen him making more plays these last couple of days. And that's what we expected," Taylor said. "I think it's starting to slow down, you know, the schematic part of it. We got everything in, he understands what we're asking of him. You start to see improvement from him every single day. This makes more sense, and then the next day, that makes more sense."
PLAYS OF THE DAY: Bombs away
Take your pick. In what the backup offense hopes is a harbinger for Friday, quarterback Brandon Allen threw a dime to wide receiver Auden Tate in stride for six and Kyle Shurmur did the same a few minutes later when he feathered one to Stanley Morgan, Jr.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
QB Joe Burrow on what he says to WR Ja'Marr Chase after a drop (another reason his mates swear by him):
"When a receiver drops a ball, I never say anything. They know they dropped it. You don't have to remind them. You just let them know you're going to come right back to them. That's the way this works."