Bengals wide receiver Mohamad Sanu (12) was a Wednesday workhorse.
When things don't go right, Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson puts red dots on the tape streaming across the big screen in the meeting room.
After Tuesday night's session, the Bengals first-teamers connected all the dots Wednesday against the Giants during an impressive display in their last workout before Friday's preseason opener (7:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) against New York at Paul Brown Stadium.
In front of another PBS training camp record crowd, quarterback Andy Dalton hit 18 of 27 throws and the estimated crowd of 2,600 didn't see the ball hit the ground until his 12th pass of the day.
Head coach Marvin Lewis backed off Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, but wide receiver Marvin Jones came back running full go from his hamstring injury for the first time while wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and tight end Tyler Eifert had big days.
Sanu caught a long ball down the sideline for a touchdown and Dalton found him and tight end Tyler Kroft for red-zone touchdown passes.
They not only showed depth at receiver, but they did it behind a jerry-rigged offensive line with left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right tackle Andre Smith each getting a rest day and left guard Clint Boling (knee) dressed in the uniform of the day in shoulder pads but didn't play.
Rookie Jake Fisher and veteran Eric Winston filled in for Whitworth and Smith, respectively, while T.J. Johnson played left guard. Fisher left with about three drills left with what appeared to be a shoulder issue and Dan France took his place.
Along with Green, who didn't play much, defensive tackle Domata Peko took a break while Pat Sims took his place on the starting defensive line.
"We're not going to push it right now," Lewis said. "Give guys rest when they need it."
Also not working was backup cornerback Brandon Ghee, who looked to be out with a hamstring issue.
Lewis left the field feeling pretty good about how the two days against the Giants came off.
"Very pleased," he said. "As I've said a thousand times, you get a chance to see another full speed look at someone else's work and you have to react to it. That's what football is."
But Lewis said they still haven't played football. Not until Friday.
"Football is live," he said. "Not half or two-thirds speed or half-quarter speed."
The closest moment to a problem came after a Giants running play with about a half-hour left in the Wednesday practice. Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga got tied up with the Giants' very large rookie left tackle, 330-pound Ereck Flowers, and after the play and some words, there was some shoving. Head coach Marvin Lewis yelled, "Get another Mike in there,' and Maualuga came off the field for a few plays as Lewis admonished him.
But that was pretty much that.
"I know what type of character we have on our team and the Bengals run a great organization under Marvin Lewis and they have a great team,' said Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. "We understand the character we have on both teams. We came in understanding that we were going to respect dignity and show what the New York Giants are all about and they did the same. It was competitive, but nothing chippy."
It was pretty much a throwback day on a day about 20 alumni players attended practice, led by Hall-of-Famer Anthony Munoz. Munoz begns his 18th season as the club's TV analyst for the pre-season games.
BACKERS: Here's how they'll start Friday. Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, WILL Vincent Rey and SAM A.J. Hawk. Emanuel Lamur, last year's SAM, is playing the nickel.
RUSH HOUR: The Bengals defensive line looked like it was getting back to its old self. At least that's what it looked like late in Wednesday's practice, in the red zone and then in the final drill of the day, Eli Manning's two-minute series.
And it didn't escape Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
The Bengals stopped Manning at midfield on three straight incompletions. On second down, with nickel tackles Geno Atkins and Wallace Gilberry appearing to get some penetration, Manning let go with a floater toward the left sideline that allowed Adam Jones to come over from cornerback and knock away a ball intended for rookie wide receiver Geremy Davis.
Then on third down when tight end Daniel Fells tried a hook route in front of Jones, Jones broke on the ball and knocked it away.
Then on fourth down, Gilberry and Atkins chased Manning back to New Orleans and he had to get rid of it to no one.
When Coughlin was asked how Flowers played here, he said good, but he qualified it.
"There was some comeuppance there on that last two-minute drill," Coughlin said. "No one was playing run and they just turned their front loose, so he saw all kinds of games. They've got a good front. Hopefully he can learn from that."
Cincinnati Bengals host joint practice with New York Giants at Paul Brown Stadium Practice Fields 08/12/2015
When a reporter observed that Giants center Weston Richburg and guard Justin Pugh appeared to have played well against Atkins, Coughlin was cautious.
"He's a good player, now," Coughlin said. "I know he made a good play in that two-minute drill. He's a good player."
Manning threw one touchdown pass in the red zone, to tight end Larry Donnell, but Atkins looked to be standing right there as he released it for what would have been a sack.
"It's hard to say. We had some penetration there on a couple of those, particularly one they scored on," said defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. "I think we're doing a better job rushing. It's obviously been an emphasis for us. We have to get back to rolling guys through and being fresh and being violent rushers. We're making progress. We're seeing a lot of penetration up front."
COVER CORNERS: Guenther also liked what he saw from his cover cornerbacks during their two days against Manning, a quarterback the Bengals highly regard. Before Wednesday's practice, Adam Jones talked about how he can go through every progression because he's so smart.
Early on, Manning stuck a few balls in there, particularly a dart to Cruz with cornerback Darqueze Dennard draped all over him. And he fried them on a bootleg once where there were no linebackers around Fells.
But Manning didn't hit any bombs and with Cruz and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., playing very limited team snaps, the Bengals were locking on.
And, slot corner Leon Hall made a heck of a read on a screen and barged past Geremy Davis blocking on the perimeter to blow up the play.
"This guy knows where to go, with the ball. There's no hesitation," Guenther said of Manning. "If we're breaking up balls, we have to be real tight on our routes. We've done a good job the last few days being tight on the routes. "
The Bengals were getting a bit frustrated that Beckham was taking so few snaps in both 7-on-7 and team.
PLAYER OF THE DAY: Bengals QB Andy Dalton.
Hue Jackson will take these two days. Dalton battled back from a tough opening bell on Tuesday to finish strong and he kept it going into Wednesday to lead the offense to a very nice day. Jackson had to love Dalton taking the bull by the horns and speaking to the offense before Wednesday's practice to remind them to come out fast. And Jackson loves no interceptions in two days.
"We've done a better job of making plays outside the pocket. That's been an emphasis," Jackson said.
PLAY OF THE DAY: Bengals LE Carlos Dunlap.
One of those dominant plays only Dunlap can conjure. Playing left end in 11-on-11, Dunlap blew up former Bengals right tackle Marshall Newhouse and in one fell swoop knocked the ball out Manning's hand, much to Guenther's chagrin
"He reached the QB and it's just a natural instinct," Guenther said. "But you have to stay away from the quarterback. You can't hurt his arm. We're working on staying away."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Dre Kirkpatrick on noticing that Manning saluted the press coverage of the Bengals corners after Tuesday's practice:
"Especially coming from a two-time (Super) Bowl champion like Eli, I tip my hat off to the guy. I've got nothing but respect for the guy. It shows me that people are noticing my work. I feel like I'm the hardest working corner in the league."