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Hobson's Choice: Issues And Answers As Bengals Training Camp Looms

Fourth-rounder Tyler Shelvin one of the must sees of Bengals training camp.
Fourth-rounder Tyler Shelvin one of the must sees of Bengals training camp.

Do you see any additions to the roster during training camp? Does Adeniji's injury necessitate a move or do you see enough depth? Can some of the young guys on both sides fill capably with so many injured returning? Cap supposed to be used for extentions. Kevin Gathman, Devils Lake, ND

KEVIN: There could be an addition or two, particularly if an offensive lineman frees up given Hakeem Adeniji's shoulder surgery. But only if they feel like it's an upgrade over what they've already got at guard or if they need depth for camp.

Given that they haven't made any moves yet at that spot tells me they haven't seen that upgrade out there on the market and they don't think it's a necessity. Yet. I think they still feel like they've got a competent mix of veterans (Quinton Spain, Xavier Su'a-Filo) and young, high draft picks (Jackson Carman, Michael Jordan), but let's see how training camp plays out. And let's see who gets cut from other clubs.

From what I can gather, most of the injured guys are going to be ready to go on the first day of training camp. Center Trey Hopkins (ACL) may need a little more time, but veteran Billy Price is ready to go in his place until he gets back and it sounds like Hopkins has a shot to play the opener or somewhere close.

Love reading each edition of Hobson's Choice. Besides Chase, what rookie are you most excited to see in training camp and which rookie, again besides Chase, do you see having the biggest impact this year? Kurt Reynolds, Thief River Falls, MN

KURT: Thank you for the kind words and there is no hesitation here. Keeping up with the Big Man Camp held on draft weekend, put me down for two massive guys to have the same kind of impact: Second-rounder Jackson Carman, the 330-pound guard-tackle from Clemson, and fourth-rounder Tyler Shelvin, the 350-pound nose tackle from LSU.

Here's what I love about Carman: Brains, brains, brains. He'll eventually be a tackle, but for now he'll give them some pop at right guard against those interior pass rushers that won't be able to get by such size so quickly. And what he doesn't know, 10-year vet Riley Reiff can teach him at right tackle.

Here's what I love about Shelvin: Size, size, size. He's the kind of guy the other AFC North teams always seem to have. A huge guy that can't be moved but can move like a guy 50 pounds lighter. The people around him at LSU are convinced he can be a factor in the NFL with that kind of size and athleticism. And a defense that has given up the most rushing yards in the last three seasons sorely needs it.

Here's what else I like about these guys: It's not too big for them. Carman protected the blind side of Trevor Lawrence well enough that the Tigers were almost perfect with him in big moments. Shelvin has a big game rep, playing lights out when the lights were the brightest. Check out what he did against Alabama's NFL offensive line.

Also, don't sleep on sixth-rounder Chris Evans, the running back from Michigan. He gives them some oomph in the pass game.

One guy I was very excited about in last years draft was Markus Bailey. But we all knew going in it would be more or less a red shirt rookie season due to injury. Any update on this guy, his potential on defense moving forward? Who Dey! Calvin Young, Batavia, OH

CALVIN: They're with you. They're excited about Bailey, too. They love his speed, his ability to chase and his Purdue-smart instincts. They think he can take the next step as a contributor on defense and as a core special teamer. As they say, you can't coach speed and keep an eye on Bailey during training camp. He might just leave with a real role on defense.

Always look forward to reading Hobson's Choice. You do a great job keeping us up to date. We seem to be thin at the linebacker position. Why are we not pursuing Josh Bynes who seemed to really stand out at that position last year? Mike Kline, Englewood, OH

MIKE: Big fan of Englewood Metro Park, so thank you very much for reading and writing in. They've passed the torch to Logan Wilson to replace Bynes after Bynes did exactly what they needed him to do. A great leader, Bynes settled a young position and they feel that Wilson, in his second season, and Germaine Pratt, in his third year, are ready to go.

They really needed to get faster there in the middle of the field and they've got some wheels with Wilson, Bailey, Akeem Davis-Gaither, Jordan Evans and Pratt can run for a big guy.

Since they rarely play three linebackers and mostly play two, they've actually got good numbers there. So they'll probably only keep five and it seems like they've already got them. But if someone surprises at training camp, don't be surprised if they keep a sixth linebacker.

Hi Mr Hobson

I hope all is well with you. I have been a fan since 1971 I was 11 years old. My question is do you believe that we are done in free agency also will there be a Family Day this year? Thank you Tina Hail in Indiana

TINA: Thank you for the support down through the years, since Ken Anderson's rookie year. Never say never as training camp draws closer. But there aren't going to be any big deals. Those are ticketed for free safety Jessie Bates III and edger Sam Hubbard, vets they hope to extend before the season. The fans' training camp schedule has yet to be released, but the NFL has said each team is going to have some kind of Back Together Again event on July 31 and that will be open to the public. Look for more details later on

Why don't we ever pick up a veteran experienced QB for a back up to Burrow? My opinion is with the inexperience / young backups it leaves us very weak and vulnerable behind Burrow. A real team weakness. Melissa Knoop, Jupiter, FL

MELISSA: That was my take until they signed Brandon Allen before last year's training camp. Allen is well traveled even though he's got just eight NFL starts. He's been with four clubs and the big thing is he's got a ton of experience in the system head coach Zac Taylor is running here. Taylor was his coach with the Rams in 2018 and Allen made three starts in 2019 in a similar scheme in Denver. I don't think you can call them weak and vulnerable at that spot when you can turn to a guy that can give you performances like Allen has.

After he outdueled Deshaun Watson with 371 yards while completing 78 percent of his passes in the season's next-to-last game in Houston last year, it was believed Allen became the first Bengals quarterback to complete 69.4 percent of his passes in his first four starts while hitting better than 70 percent twice.

In a league of Jacoby Brissetts, Case Keenums, Mike Glennons, Allen looks to me like a capable, not weak, No. 2 option in this system. Every team in the NFL longs for a more proven backup quarterback. But, heck, you have to be glad the Bengals have not only a quality starter unlike so many teams, but a No. 1 that looks top shelf and one always able to put up points.

Long time fan and probably only Bengals fan in Puerto Rico. It appears Taylor is happy with the current roster. You think they will wait to see if there are injuries before adding other free agents? What are the chances of re-signing Atkins? Alex Fuentes, San Juan, PR

ALEX: Thank you for your support. Like I say, the big deals are reserved for Bates and Hubbard. But if they can find an upgrade at the bottom of the roster or there's a surprise cut, they could add a guy or two. And you always adjust with injury. From what I hear, nothing from here on the Geno Atkins front right now. That could always change and you never say never.

Hey man huge fan of the podcast. My question to you is do you think this defense has the disruptive capability to play like a Jim Johnson's Eagles defense? With all the moves it seem like we're going to be seeing more creative blitzes! Rize, Cincinnati, OH

RIZE: Interesting question. According to pro football reference, the Bengals were in the upper half of the league (15) in blitz percentage at 31.1 percent. And it sure didn't seem it. Which will happen when they had the fewest sacks in the league with 17. So they weren't getting there.

But they made some intriguing moves in this offseason to address pressure. They signed arguably the NFL's best slot blitzer in Mike Hilton while drafting edge rushers that also have the capability of dropping into coverage. And their biggest free agent ever, Trey Hendrickson, brings 13.5 sacks off the New Orleans edge with the tools to drop. So let's see how and where these guys end up blitzing from. But maybe a little help from each of Hendrickson, a proven three technique in Larry Ogunjobi, a healthy D.J. Reader, last year's fifth-rounder Khalid Kareem and rookie draft picks Joseph Ossai and Cam Sample will make a big difference.

Hobs love your forum! What happened to Scotty Washington? 6'5" WR I haven't heard anything about him this year. He's still listed on the roster, hope he gets a far chance. Fansided agreed with me on Price, most FA are gone, so we coach up. Kiva Dior Sr. Cincinnati, OH

KIVA: Thank you for reading and becoming a part of it. More than anyone, Scotty Washington, the undrafted wide out from Wake Forest, is one of those 2020 rookies that benefits from training camp. Washington spent all last year on the practice squad and they love his size and college tape. He missed time at Wake with injuries, but when he played he showed size, strength, and hands.

Like all the young guys last season, Washington's chances were obliterated by not having a preseason. Now he'll get three games to show what he can do. He'll have to catch the eye of special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons because he's fighting for the last receiver spots with punt return candidates Trent Taylor and Pooka Williams Jr., and accomplished cover man Stanley Morgan, Jr.

What all Darius Phillips's role be in the defense and special teams? Splitting punt returns? Excited to see this CB room in general but I want to see him on tht field more than some others. Devin Mediratta. New York, NY

DEVIN: So far, Phillips' career has been a tempting "what-if". Once he gets rolling, he gets hurt. The Bengals have given big money to three cornerbacks in the past two offseasons and that would seem to make him the No. 4.

He'll get a chance to be the punt returner after a spring he couldn't catch them because he was recovering from shoulder surgery and he'll have to be a more consistent catch. But the guy's a natural football player with playmaking instincts. If he's healthy, he'll give them valuable snaps on both defense and teams even though he's in the next-man-up line at cornerback.

Hello! Hopefully you can shed some light on how effective Coach Pollack has been in changing the Offensive Line's confidence. Also, when are you going to get over Fisk's interference with Ed Arbrister? Sam Turner, Leawood, KS

SAM: I have no problem with Fisk's interference on Ed Armbrister because it never happened. But I'll never get over Armbrister's interference with Fisk.

We won't be able to see the fruits of offensive line coach Frank Pollack's work until preseason, but you could see the evolution begin this spring on the field. Pollack has demanding workouts when it comes to repping drills and he does it so many times and is so exact that players have said it makes Sundays seem easier. The repping and the detail are a big part of how Pollack can transform a guy's self-confidence. And the biggest impact may be on play calling. Every offensive line coach likes to establish a run game (and every offensive lineman loves to run the ball) and Pollack's influence on the play calling will be intriguing.

Do you think James Brooks will ever get the "Ring of Honor." I'm a lifelong Bengals fan and personally get upset the way James Brooks has been underrated. He played at the time of Smith, Sanders etc. And his #'s are up there with the best!! Matt Malone, Philadelphia, PA

MATT: You're right. James Brooks has always been underrated even though he was a key ingredient in Sam Wyche's no huddle offense. He never came off the field and was a running back that ran routes like a wide receiver. He'll get in there. It's hard to put him ahead of guys who set team records, but he'll get there. The Ring of Honor is going to be around for a long time and J.B., I feel, is going to get his shot.

Why isn't Jordan playing tackle with how massive he is. He's been horrible at guard since he came into the league. He can't be worse there then he's already playing! Also why we haven't paid Jessie yet? We all know he isn't going anywhere Henry Schemauri, Greenville, SC

HENRY: Except for saying Michael Jordan can finish a game for you out there in a pinch, I've never heard them mention him as a possible tackle. They've already got five, including two incumbents (Reiff and Jonah Williams) and maybe two for the future (Carman and D'Ante Smith). Jordan played both center and guard at Ohio State, but tackle doesn't seem to be on the resume.

I think you're over your skis on the criticism of Jordan. He's had stretches where he's played well during his two seasons. Yes, he's had up-and-downs, but he's young and has enormous talent. To cut bait on a guy with his size and ability who just turned 23 years old would be negligent.

The two things needed to revive his career have happened. I'm not saying he was mismanaged, but I'm saying it's great for Jordan that he can start from scratch with Pollack. Plus, Jordan completely re-made his body this offseason, showing his commitment to them and his desire to be a force in the league. Give the guy a shot with Pollack, then have your say. It sounds to me like you may be surprised with what you get.

Bates is no different than any big extension they've done the past 15 seasons, from Willie Anderson in 2006 to Joe Mixon last year. They are done primarily in training camp before the regular season. They couldn't extend Bates until after he played his third season and the early part of this offseason was tied up with inking five new starters in free agency and then lining up the draft.

Next month is the time for Bates and Sam Hubbard. Just like it's been since Willie.

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