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More Bengals Quick Hits: Ken Anderson Impressed With Intensity; Tyler Boyd Wonders What If; Practicing With New Era Pack

Bengals Legend Ken Anderson visits during training at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on Tuesday, May 30 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Bengals Legend Ken Anderson visits during training at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on Tuesday, May 30 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

When slot receiver Tyler Boyd returned to the huddle Tuesday, the Bengals skill players lined up at full strength for the first time since Boyd went down in the first half of last season's AFC Championship in Kansas City with a deep thigh bruise. And to at least one outside observer, it looked as if they didn't miss a step while displaying up-tempo intensity.

"I was very impressed. I really liked it," said Bengals all-time passing leader Ken Anderson, a former NFL quarterbacks coach who stopped by the Kettering Health Practice Fields and noticed the changes in spring ball through the eras. "It was different than what I'm used to seeing, but what I did see is the attention the players had.

"The quarterbacks with the running backs working on handoffs. They make the handoff and then there was a very quick move into the play-action. There was no, 'OK, let's go through the motions on this.' When they're running routes, it's full speed. It was very impressive."

This is exactly what head coach Zac Taylor wants to hear as he strives for practicing game-like precision with a streamlined offseason schedule as they brace to go hopefully two games more than last year and play 24.

"The concern when you have the style of offseason that we have is that guys go through the motions because it's not physically as taxing as if you're doing full-speed work, 11-on-11 stuff," Taylor said after the workout. "So I'm really proud of the way our guys have handled it. They understand this style of practice demands great responsibility and attention to detail. To be able to do things on air.

"I spend a lot of time watching the huddle. I watch the defensive guys bring it up and their interactions with each other and calling the plays in the huddle and urgency to get lined up. Same thing on offense. T.B. walks to the huddle for the first time today, so there's a group of 11 there that hadn't been together before. (Left tackle) Orlando (Brown) is a new offensive lineman that's in there. T.B. jumps in there as the receiver. He hasn't been there. (New tight end) Irv (Smith) is in there. So it's just good to see the camaraderie and those guys start to come together. And that's what I think is so important in the offseason. Developing that chemistry and integrating new players, rookies, and free agents."

Anderson, who coached in the league one year longer than his Bengals-record 16 playing seasons, thinks the players are visibly responding to Taylor's regimen.

"The players appreciate Zac and the coaching staff and how they're going to approach the offseason," Anderson said. " 'OK, he's taking care of us. We're going to make sure we're getting the most out of this.' That's what I saw."

Anderson, the Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate with four NFL passing titles, may be 74, but he read the mind of the 28-year-old Boyd.

"Zac takes good care of us. He kind of lets us come in a little later in OTAs," said Boyd of a phase that starts next week when the offense lines up against the defense in helmets. "But in previous years, I will come in and would try to get the (workout) I wanted by coming in so early. A few years ago, I'll feel like I'm not ready yet but that's what OTAs are for, to get your legs back right, get fundamentally sound, just sort of critique your little things. Just get your body prepared and just get the feeling of playing football again."

KENNY ON BURROW: As always, Anderson left the field raving about his Pro Bowl descendant Joe Burrow. If anyone knows what accuracy is, it's Anderson, the NFL's first modern 70% passer in a season and his career mark of 59.3% is the second-best of any quarterback whose career started before 1972. Burrow is the NFL's all-time leader at 68.2%, ahead of Drew Brees' 67.7.

"You can't say it's one thing. It's the whole package," Anderson said of what stands out. "He's working on every little detail of playing his position and taking it into practice. You see him work on all types of throws today, whether it's out of pocket simulating different things, throwing side-arm, throwing to his left, or getting his feet set. He's working on all the little details."

T.B. LOOKING TO SCORE: Boyd says he's recovered from that thigh bruise, but believe it; he still feels it. He thinks the Bengals make it to a second straight Super Bowl if he's playing.

"To this day, I feel like if I would have played the game, I was the key factor," Boyd said. "We would have won the game. The second quarter, I had two huge catches for 50 yards. I was getting more of the one-on-one matches, and I knew I had the better matchup to win … It kind of eliminated the things we were trying to do. But at the end of the day, we trust every guy, and we just barely fell short … At the end of the day, we've got to go out there and play and they ref. But I feel if I was ready and healthy, we would've secured that."

Boyd indicated that there has been talk about more punch. After the Bengals reeled off a 37-30 win in his hometown Pittsburgh on Nov. 20, they only hit 30 one more time the rest of the way and still went 8-1.

"We still believe that we have the best offense, the most explosive offense. But it's easier said than done … That's our main goal, going out there and score 30, 35, 40 a game," Boyd said. "I think the biggest step I think that we talked (about) on offense was just score more points, outscoring (teams). We know we have a great defense that even if we don't get off to a fast start that we've got a defense that can balance that out for us. But I think we want to work on just starting fast every game, jumping out on teams, putting the pressure on them."

PACK BACK: For the first time since the 1991 preseason finale in Milwaukee, the Bengals face a Packers team without Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers playing quarterback in the Aug. 11 preseason opener at Paycor Stadium in a Friday nighter.

(It will be recalled Favre got his chance in the third game of the 1992 season against the Bengals when Cincy nose tackle Tim Krumrie added to his legend with a sack of Don Majkowski that drove him from the game with an ankle injury.)

This one is a matchup against old friends, Taylor and Packers head coach Matt LeFleur. So it's a natural that they've scheduled a joint practice on Wednesday before the game. Taylor and another old friend, Rams head coach Sean McVay, did that here before last year's preseason finale and it still couldn't prevent L.A. defensive tackle Aaron Donald from swinging his helmet at all comers late in the second day to end the joint workout.

"Last year was last year. But this year we're only doing one day." Taylor said. "I feel good about how we'll practice together and the communication with the other team's coaching staff. There's a lot of guys on that staff, (defensive coordinator) Joe Barry, guys that I've worked with before, so feel good doing that for a day."

· Fri 08/11 · 7:00 PM EDT


Green Bay Packers

Paycor Stadium

SLANTS AND SCREENS: Kenny Anderson says he thought all three quarterbacks spun it well Tuesday. Burrow and Jake Browning we know. Trevor Siemian, who signed a few weeks ago as the heady, well-traveled vet, is as advertised.

"He's heard these types of playcalls. He's run these routes before," Taylor said. "It's just putting it all together with how we say it and with the personnel that we have, I think, is really the adjustment. I think he fits in really well and is doing a good job of getting in there and getting reps. It comes to him very quickly. It's just more of a terminology aspect and getting used to the personnel that we have." …

Irv Smith, the new starting tight end via the Vikings, is looking to become the third Bengals tight end in three years to get at least 49 catches and 414 yards. Either would be career highs for Smith in his fifth season.

"Very aware. He has an understanding of what we want to do and how we want to use him. He's been all in since he walked in the door here," Taylor said …

Boyd is heading into the last year of his deal, but A) he realizes there are some bigger numbers with Burrow and Tee Higgins, B) he knows "the front office loves me,") and C) he says, "I might not be here forever. But I mean I've always loved this franchise and I'm always going to be a Bengal."

"I am very appreciative of them still wanting me to be around and knowing that they don't want to trade me and things like that," he said.