Camp report: Hawkins (ankle) probably staying home but dodges major injury; Eifert roams


Andrew Hawkins

Updated: 10:20 p.m.

With his brother Artrell tweeting that he believes he suffered a high ankle sprain, wide receiver Andrew Hawkins took the first serious injury to a Bengals regular in training camp Thursday during the Family Night festivities at Paul Brown Stadium.

Indications Thursday night were Hawkins won't be out more than two weeks.

Head coach Marvin Lewis said after practice he didn't know what the diagnosis is, but after Hawkins made a diving, stretching catch to haul in an Andy Dalton pass down the seam before an estimated crowd of 6,200, he grabbed his left ankle. He couldn't put weight on the foot as he got helped off the field and was carted to the locker room.

"I know he shouldn't dive for the ball," said Lewis, who preaches to his players to stay on their feet in practice.

The typical time frame for a sprain is two to four weeks, but if it is a high enough, it is a difficult injury and can linger. Hawkins, as the team's fastest receiver, lives on his ankles in the slot. He'll most likely join wide receiver A.J. Green (knee), left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (knee) on the won't-travel-to Atlanta list.

Although wide receiver Marvin Jones (unknown) didn't practice Thursday, it looks like he has a chance to leave on the trip Sunday.

But the Bengals picked up two rookie free-agents recently cut by Tampa Bay as they begin to take some hits.

They acquired Southern Mississippi tackle Jason Weaver on waivers and signed North Carolina wide receiver Jheraine Boyd. Boyd had cleared waivers last month.

It sounds like the Bengals dodged a bullet because Hawkins and Green are not only their two fastest receivers, but Hawkins is a big-time special teams player and his work at gunner last year was a big reason the Bengals led the NFL in punts downed inside the 5.

"He's a role model of hard work and energy and he understands football," Lewis said. "He understands working away from leverage. He's a big plus that way."

SHORT SCRUM: The practice for Thursday night was originally set for 6-8 p.m., but Lewis called it at about 7:20, saying the tempo was fast enough that they got done what they wanted to get done.

The Bengals had their first live scrimmages of the year in a couple of brief sessions mostly pitting the backups against each other.

The best looks came when the No. 1 offense scored on all three shots from the 2-yard line and the No. 1 defense took two out of three from the No. 2 offense from the same spot.

The Bengals No. 1 O went right to their power running game, scoring on power the first two snaps with running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis bowling over the right side mashed by guard Kevin Zeitler and tackle Andre Smith. Left guard Clint Boling (ankle), working for the first time since Sunday, pulled and worked off fullback Orson Charles.

Then the no-brainer on third down. Quarterback Andy Dalton went play-action, dragged rookie tight end Tyler Eifert from his spot in-line on the right side across the end zone and lofted it moving left just out of the reach of linebacker Vinnie Rey as Eifert boxed him out.

The No. 1 defense got good coverage in the end zone when backup quarterback Josh Johnson went for rookie receiver Cobi Hamilton and cornerback Leon Hall had position on him as WILL backer Vontaze Burfict pulled a towel from his belt and used it as a flag while calling offensive pass interference on Hamilton.

On the third play, Burfict was close enough that tight end Richard Quinn couldn't hang on.

The 2s did score on the second play when running back Dan Herron carried left after he got good blocks from tight end Bryce Davis and rookie left tackle Tanner Hawkinson.


» Safety Taylor Mays was part of a pass coverage that forced Dalton into a couple of eat-it-and-runs. Then when Dalton overthrew double coverage, Mays picked it off on the sidelines.

» Rookie free-agent kicker Quinn Sharp, out of Oklahoma State, hit a 55-yard field goal. Veteran Mike Nugent missed it short and to the left.

» Dalton, an estimated 11-of-20 in overall 11-on-11, looked sharp in 7-on-7 red zone work. Keep an eye on rookie running back Rex Burkhead next week in Atlanta. He looked good doling out some runs in the live stuff and he showed good hands for two TDs in 7-on-7.

» Veteran tight end Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) and Alex Smith (knee) didn't work. Neither did rookie right tackle Reid Fragel (knee), left end Carlos Dunlap (concussion) and rookie wide receiver Tyrone Goard (concussion). Rookie running back Giovani Bernard (hamstring) caught punts but didn't run from scrimmage.

» Lewis's short practice left about a 25-minute window for autographs, which he said "is meaningful ... it is part of training camp. It's an opportunity that they never get to get a little closer to the fans."

He smiled, saying he didn't get a chance to show his team the now famous viral video of a Redskins fan going nuts when she didn't get an autograph at camp that had been sent to him by Bengals director of security Rusty Guy. But it looked like a smooth effort and none of his players appeared headed to Facebook.

PLAYER OF THE NIGHT: Eifert. With Gresham and Smith sidelined, the rookie was all over the place, rarely came off the field, and kept showing why he could have a huge year right out of the gate. He got the first cheer of the evening when Dalton hit him long down the middle off play-action. He got the first ball in 7-on-7 and caught it for a TD. Then he caught the TD on the goal-line, which Lewis expects.

"Tyler is going to make that play all the time," Lewis said. "That's not the issue. The issue we have is to make sure that we can do the other parts when people try to take that away. It's a nice option to have, that guy out there that can win some one-on-ones in that situation. He's a big target and gives the quarterback a chance to get the ball there.

"Tyler's done a great job ever since he's been here. He doesn't make error. He's lived up to everything we've asked of him."

Another big one: On third-and-one, Dalton was getting squezed in the pocket and was able to wrap the ball around a couple of defenders to find Eifert over the middle.

"Those are the plays we have to make," Lewis said. "The plays we should make."

PLAY OF THE NIGHT: The play where Hawkins got hurt. It showed why he's so valuable. He slithered behind the first defense in 11-on-11 and Dalton drilled a frozen rope of about 25 yards. Hawkins extended as far as he could and crashed into the ground while holding on to the ball.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: Lewis on middle linebacker Rey Maualuga's comfort moving into his third season in the position: "I think he's comfortable. Rey just listens to dumb people too much. He just needs to listen to one person: me. He doesn't need criticism of anybody else. He'll be fine."

UP NEXT: Bengals work Friday on the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields from 3-5 p.m., gates open at 2.

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