The Bengals signed two wide receivers out of Thursday morning's workout to bolster their training camp practices that begin Friday at 3 p.m., on the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields.
But they still may be a month away from landing a No. 4 receiver to replace the injured James Wright.
The club also announced after Thursday afternoon's conditioning tests that starting middle linebacker Rey Maualuga had been placed on the non-football injury list. Initial indications were the problem isn't serious and he's expected to be ready shortly.
On a day their players reported to camp, they made a swap and cut wide receiver Cobi Hamilton while adding wide receiver Greg Little in a bit of a surprise move involving two of the backup receivers that came up empty in last year's Wild Card loss in Indianapolis. They also signed a rookie speedster in Desmond Lawrence, an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina A&T who was signed and then cut by the Lions back in May.
It's believed the Bengals also worked out former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes via The Ohio State. But with the Bengals seeking a young, fast player that can help out on special teams, the 31-year-old Holmes apparently wasn't the right fit.
The 5-10, 181-pound Lawrence is a college track star who reportedly breezed through Thursday's 40-yard dash in less than 4.4 seconds and presumably he'll try to track down a spot on the practice squad.
The Bengals look to have four locks at receiver in their top three of four-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, and Mohamed Sanu, as well as seventh-round pick Mario Alford. The question is who is going to join the top three as the five active receivers on game day. The Bengals signed former Raider Denarius Moore in the offseason and Alford could be vying with Brandon Tate for the punt return job.
The C.W. is they'll get a shot at a viable fourth receiver (one who is primarily a special teams player) late in the preseason, when they can make a trade or claim one that gets cut. Or, someone on the roster could play well enough in the preseason to make it.
Little, 26, a fifth-year player who joined the Bengals before their sixth game of the season, came off the street to help them when Green missed three games with a toe injury. After Little had three huge catches in his second game with the club against Baltimore, he had two the rest of the way and was inactive for five of the last seven games. While Hamilton took 28 snaps in his first and only NFL appearance in the Wild Card Game, Little took four and neither had a catch.
They were trying to compensate for a receiver corps that had been devastated with the losses of Green (concussion), Wright (knee), and tight end Jermaine Gresham (back) to go along with the season-long absences of two starters, wide receiver Marvin Jones and tight end Tyler Eifert.
Eifert showed up Thursday wearing a Blackhawks jersey and the smile of a man who is healthy for the first time since he tore up his shoulder in the first spring practice of 2014.
"I was going to go up to Game Six (last month) and then drag through the practice the next day, but I decided against that,' said Eifert, a Hawks fan via Fort Wayne and Notre Dame.
Eifert pronounced his labrum and elbow (dislocated in last year's opener) 100 percent. And that has people fantasizing about what offensive coordinator Hue Jackson can do with the matchup problems Eifert inflicts on safeties and linebackers.
It took just 11:41 into the season for Eifert to suffer that season-ending dislocation, but he had already caught three balls for 37 yards and had a great vibe with quarterback Andy Dalton.
"Last year we had a good camp. We grew, me and Andy did, as well as the team. Looking forward to getting back out there, getting in the grind and seeing what happened," Eifert said. "(The first quarter) was a lot of fun, I remember that. (The) most catches I'd ever had in a game was five my rookie year. I was like, all right, this is going to be a lot of fun this year, then I didn't make it out of the first quarter. Hopefully can change that this year."
If his golf game is any indication, he should be OK. Eifert, regarded as the Bengals' best golfer, had been on the shelf for about a year until recently.
"It was not pretty. It took a lot of getting used to again and trusting the elbow and shoulder," he said. "Actually I'm playing my best golf right now, which is pretty perfect for training camp because you can't play at all."