It's nice when your first-round pick comes in as advertised. It's even nicer for head coach Zac Taylor that when safety Dax Hill takes reps with vets like safety Vonn Bell and veteran cornerbacks such as Mike Hilton, Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple, it's not all that hard for a rookie to get them lined up.
"The good news is when you're trying to get Vonn Bell and Mike Hilton lined up, it doesn't take a lot," Taylor said after Tuesday's voluntary practice where the offense faced the defense for the first time this spring in helmets.
"Those guys generally are probably one step ahead of you, so at this moment, he's surrounded by some really, really good veterans who have a high level football IQ."
Still, what Hill has done picking up the defense well enough to get people lined up pretty consistently in three weeks-plus of work has drawn praise.
"I've been really impressed with him. I think the part that's maybe the most impressive is I always see him having these sidebar conversations with some of those veterans whether it be Vonn or Mike or Chido or some of those guys," Taylor said.
"It's after a rep, it's after a drill. Whether it's him asking questions or whether them helping him get up to speed, that's what you want to see from the rookies is not feel like there's that wall between them and the vets communication-wise. Not to be intimidated. That just speaks to the character of the veterans that we have on the team and that defense specifically."
_Coming off that record-breaking rookie season, Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase has no problem working more in the slot as wide receivers coach Troy Walters envisions.
"I'm cool in the slot. I just need more reps in it," said Chase, who is not exactly a neophyte in there after his 72-yard catch-and run touchdown out of the slot put the Bengals on the board in the AFC North clincher over the Chiefs. "It doesn't really matter to me. It's just another way for me to get the ball. There's no way to get open easy. Just get the ball in another way."
No question. Chase is a rep guy. He doesn't think he'll get much out of watching slot receiver Tyler Boyd.
"(The slot) is more TB's thing," Chase said. "I like to do it myself. I don't like watching." …
It was a local day with the University of Cincinnati coaching staff on hand, which meant a reunion with Bengals captain and defensive end Sam Hubbard and UC's new cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs.
Of course there's nothing new about Coombs in Cincinnati. It's his second stint in Clifton after he put together one of the state's best programs as the head coach at his alma mater of Colerain High School. Coombs was Ohio State's man in Cincinnati when he was the Buckeyes secondary coach and later defensive coordinator and one of the hometown' biggest prize's was Montgomery's Hubbard.
Coombs made the recruiting visit and Hubbard's mother made the chili dip for him.
"We've still got the picture of him in my living room," Hubbard said. "I had already committed. That's probably one of the closest relationships I've had with a coach through my career. Just a great dude. A genuine guy. A Cincinnati guy. We take a lot of pride in that. He always looked out for me.:" …
_More veteran-rookie bonding. The last three players off the field Tuesday were nine-year safety Michael Thomas, fifth-round safety Tycen Anderson and undrafted rookie long snapper Cal Adomitis.
"He's helping me with everything. My breaks, making sure I understand the defense," Anderson said of Thomas.
But that's not why they were out there. In the second half of last season, Thomas was the Bengals personal protector, that is to say, the punt team's quarterback. So Thomas was helping Anderson and Adomitis with different protection schemes.
"He's been coaching me up literally," Anderson said. "He's been in the league for a long time. Any advice he can give to me, I'll take it. I love (special teams). He was a special teams Pro Bowler. He didn't tell me that when I first met him. He's so humble. He's the truth on special teams."
You can look it up. When Thomas was with the Giants (and Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo), he made the 2018 Pro Bowl as a special teamer.
** _Defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, who was** out and had his wrist wrapped Tuesday, is expected to be ready for next month's start of training camp.
"It's been bothering him so they just had a slight procedure," Taylor said. "Might keep him out the next couple of weeks but nothing major." …
_Evan McPherson's crew made its debut Tuesday and McPherson went 5-for-6 in his first team action since his record-breaking postseason. McPherson made all three of his kicks with the vets, Clark Harris snapping to punter Kevin Huber. He missed his first of three with the newbies, Adomotis long snapping to punter Drue Chrisman. ….