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Camp report: Smith in the right place


Safety Derron Smith comes up with the sideline pick in front of rookie wide receiver Cody Core.

PLAYER OF THE DAY: Backup safety Derron Smith.

As Saturday's practice came to a close before 1,950 at Paul Brown Stadium, Adam Jones walked over to the kneeling Dre Kirkpatrick on the sidelines and told his fellow starting cornerback, "Good practice today."

And he could have been talking to most of the DBs as they found their legs and had a much better second practice than first. Jones is good most of the time and Kirkpatrick came out of the gate early Saturday with a pick-six in one-on-one. But Smith, a second-year special teamer trying to hold off seventh-rounder Clayton Fejedelem and veteran Jimmy Wilson to keep his job, gets the nod in a close call over Kirkpatrick.

Smith, who took just 14 snaps from scrimmage last season as a rookie, arrived out of Fresno State in the sixth round with a heady-always-in-the-right place rep and that was on full display Saturday.

In 7-on-7 he read quarterback Andy Dalton's eyes scanning a zone and Smith ran from the middle of the field to the sideline to get in front of rookie wide receiver Cody Core for the interception.

Then a few snaps later he had to play man-to-man because defensive coordinator Paul Guenther called an all-out blitz and Smith responded by hemming in the other drafted receiver, Tyler Boyd, forcing a Dalton overthrow when Smith wouldn't let Boyd get to the sideline.

Not exactly a favorable matchup, but Smith's smarts made it work. Later in 11-on-11, Fejedelem had a chance for an interception on a deep ball from backup quarterback Andy Dalton, but he didn't find the ball in time and rookie wide receiver Alonzo Russell snared it for a touchdown.

"In man-to-man the ball comes out quick, whether you go over the top or it's just a quick throw," Smith said. "If you play within the scheme of the defense, you know what to expect. You know the quarterback doesn't have much time on that blitz."


For the second straight practice the second-rounder made the Play of the Day. On Friday he did it throwing a touchdown off a reverse. On Saturday he leaped up between cornerback Darqueze Dennard and safety Josh Shaw on another McCarron deep ball, grabbed it, and when he landed he ripped the ball away.

"I wanted to give him a chance to go up and get it," McCarron said. "TB works hard, busts his ass and that's all you can ask. "Good teammate. He's awesome to be around."

By the way, McCarron was in the running for Player of the Day with those two long throws and some accurate passing in both seven-on-seven and team drills. According to Bengals radio play-by-play man Dan Hoard, McCarron was 14 of 17 in 11-on-11, with the qualifier being that defensive players are instructed to let the receivers catch the ball if they're close to avoid injury.

Head coach Marvin Lewis has fostered a camp culture where taking care of each other trumps competition.

QUOTE  OF THE DAY: Left guard Clint Boling after Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins ripped off his helmet and threw it about 30 yards into the sideline following a scrum: "Yeah, I saw it. It was my helmet. . . He threw the shot put in college."

Boling figures between the three years they were together at the University of Georgia and the six they've been with the Bengals, they've had their share of disagreements. But Saturday's scuffle ended like they all do. They talked and it's all good.

It appeared they both got locked up with their hands getting under each other's helmets.

"I think we both got tied up. He took exception," Boling said. "Things happen. We're not supposed to be fighting out there anyway. We talked after and everything is fine."

Boling is a fine player in his own right and he always goes out of his way to credit Atkins for some of that development.

"He's probably the best guy I've gone against in my career," Boling said. "Obviously when you get a chance to go against a guy like that it makes you a lot better."

Boling says Atkins in Season No. 7 looks as good as ever: "He had a hell of a year last year and it looks like he's picked up right where he's left off."

Of course, everybody ended up laughing about it and when Guenther saw Boling at the end of the period he told him, "A Bulldog scrum. Fighting like an old married couple."

SLANTS AND SCREENS: It was 86 degrees and the second day is always harder than the first, so it was a day for cramps. Boyd limped off late when his calf locked up and Kirkpatrick limped off and then went back in. Core got carted off as trainers looked at his foot and while it's not known the extent of the injury, it's believed not to be serious . . .

Another guy in the running for Player of the Day was Wisconsin rookie free agent wide receiver Alex Erickson. All this kid does is catch the ball. At 6-0, 195 pounds, he's slight. But he catches everything and has the awareness of the nooks and crannies of routes and zones befitting an NFL veteran …

Boyd and wide receiver Jake Kumerow each had a drop, but that's OK. They saw five-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green drop one Friday. And on Saturday, Green was terrific. He caught another long one like he did Friday and on Saturday he was a terror over the middle . . .

Mike Nugent looked to be perfect on five field goals between the 40 and 52 . . .

Cincinnati Bengals host Training Camp at Paul Brown Stadium Practice Fields 07/30/2016

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