DAYTON, Ohio - There's no doubting Forest Brooks' passion for the Bengals. Just look at him sporting his authentic, custom made Giovani Bernard jersey.
Yet until Saturday, Brooks, a factory worker and pastor from Springfield, Ohio, had never ventured to Cincinnati for the team's training camp, only games at the old Riverfront Stadium.
Brooks though had plenty of company at Welcome Stadium for the team's first official training camp practice with 7,500 fans in attendance. The experience made quite an impression on him
"I love seeing the team out there," Brooks said. "I'm excited for the defense, I'm excited to see the offense and head coach Zac Taylor."
The Bengals kicking off training camp in Dayton is part of a partnership effort with the NFL to celebrate its 100th season. Dayton is considered one of 13 "Original Towns" the NFL will honor in 2019, starting with the Bengals opening training camp.
The huge turnout, driven by optimism for the coming season and balmy sunshine, was exactly what the Bengals had been counting on as the annual training camp got under way.
"I think it was good to get in front of these fans," Taylor said. "The Bengals fans here in the Dayton region is a big support base for us so it's exciting to get out here and get a chance for these players to perform in front of them."
The team performed individual drills, then went into 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 sessions. Following practice, the entire team met with fans in attendance for an autograph session.
For 12-year old Raeshon Jones, seeing the Bengals in Dayton brought back memories of a happier time with his grandfather who passed away two years ago.
"My grandad was a Bengals fan and growing up we used to watch the Bengals games a lot," Bowers said. "He passed away a few years ago I never thought I would get a chance to see the Bengals play here in Dayton.
Raeshon's mother Dorinsa echoed her son's excitement.
"I had never seen the Bengals practice here and it's exciting to have the Bengals be a part of this," Dorinsa said. "I'm so excited for my son to be able to witness this and see everybody wearing the orange and black. I was a fan, then I started to cheer for another (NFL) team, but now I'm back."
The remaining training camp practices will take place in Cincinnati. For the latest schedules and camp information, please visit Bengals.com/camp.
Check out some of the best images from the Bengals first day of Training Camp 2019 from Welcome Stadium in Dayton, Ohio.