Pro Bowl pass rusher Carlos Dunlap is giving tips to new right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi.
If you're looking for regular-season intensity and old-school knock-down-drag-out intrasquad scrimmages, you're at the wrong training camp.
In Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis' world of preparation for a mature, seasoned play-off team in the early 21st century, you're more likely to see left end Carlos Dunlap giving new right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi tricks of the trade rather than a welt on the side of the head.
Or perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green offering emerging slot cornerback Darqueze Dennard a tip rather than some lip after beating him deep.
"The goal of training camp is to get healthy and to make everyone on the team better while competing as much as you can," said Dunlap, coming off a Pro Bowl season with the most sacks by a Bengal in a generation. "We're trying not to hurt each other. We're trying to make each other better. That's training camp."
By the way, Ogbuehi looks to be the real deal. It's early and Dunlap offers caution. But when asked if Ogbuehi can be one of the league's top tackles, Dunlap can't hide his optimism.
"Athletically he's already there, now he just has to clean some things up," Dunlap said. "He has the pen and paper right now. He just has to do it right. This is his first training camp starting from day one, so that's when he'll make the most progress."
Walking off the field after camp's second practice this week, Dunlap recalled his advice after one disastrous snap by Ogbuehi. Keep square to the line of scrimmage.
"He opened up his hips too quickly. Those are sacks," Dunlap said. "He gave me an easy edge on the play, so I told him and he corrected it. Stay squarer to the line of scrimmage."
Dunlap knows they don't start counting sacks until Sept. 11.
"He's my right tackle on Sunday," he said. "I'm not going to be facing him. I want to make sure he's ready for any D-end he's going against. I use him to help me to get ready and I'm helping him. As iron sharpens iron."
As iron sharpens iron. That's the sign hanging in the weight room of head strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton. Or in the words of Ogbuehi, "He's a Pro Bowl player. I'll listen."
So will Dennard working against a Pro Bowler five times over. He says Green is the best receiver in the league.
"Overall," Dennard said. "Route running. Catching. Size. Speed."
Green also has the most NFL catches in an inexperienced group, so there's a lot of jockeying in drills when the DBs line up against the receivers. Since Adam Jones is the lead veteran in that group, he usually takes Green. But he's getting some competition.
"We all try to work against him," Dennard said. "We've got some younger receivers trying to learn, so we all try to get work with A.J. when the time comes."
Exhibit A: on Saturday, after rookie wide receiver Cody Core came back to the ball to make a nice catch on the sidelines and stopped after he went out of bounds, veteran cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick barked at him to keep going to the goal line.
The time came early for Dennard. In one of his first snaps since he blew out his shoulder in Arizona last Nov. 22, Dennard found himself in a corner's nightmare. Lined up one-on-one vs. Green. The AFC North calls that No Man's Land. It was a one-on-one drill, but Green treats them all alike, whether it's scalding Steelers cornerback Antwon Blake with 1:50 left in a post-season game or running past Dennard to secure a deep catch during the first one-on-ones of camp.
Dennard was with him step-for-step. And then suddenly he wasn't.
"A.J. gave me some advice. He told me something," said Dennard, who won't reveal secrets. "No reason to. It was a 'Go,' ball. I was there. He did his thing and caught the ball. He did something when the ball was in the air. He was telling me ways to stop it."
Lewis' words weren't too far away.
"His whole thing is it's not a sprint, it's a marathon," Dennard said. "You don't win any games in training camp. The team needs to get better toward the season."
So while you can have intense competition, like frustrated defensive tackle Geno Atkins whipping the helmet off left guard Clint Boling and winging it 30 yards, there can't be any fights.
"You don't get a ton of interaction with those guys, but at the same time if you notice something, we're always talking," said Boling, like Green, a six-year vet, of the D-line. "I would say as a whole we talk to the O-line more and they help out the D-line. If there's something, we say something. The older guys when I came in (on the offensive line); they helped me out along the way. Whit (Andrew Whitworth). Nate Livings. Bobbie (Williams). It's an on- going cycle."
It's a cycle on a winning team. That's why Dunlap watches tape on every tackle in the league. It's why he's casing Ogbuehi. If he helps Ogbuehi, prevent a sack, that's one more chance for Dunlap to get one. One more chance to get a win.
Asked which NFL tackle Ogbuehi reminds him of, Dunlap hesitates. The only pressure he wants to put on him is the bull rush.
"I see what we saw when we drafted him," Ogbuehi said. "He's the most athletic I've seen. His arms are longer than mine, which is rare. If you had to pick somebody right now, I can't say that because I haven't studied him…There are only two guys in the NFL."
But it's early. How early?
"The marathon hasn't even started yet," Dennard said. "We're still training for it."
Cincinnati Bengals host Training Camp Practice at Paul Brown Stadium Practice Fields