The Bengals broke for summer vacation after Thursday's final workout of the mandatory minicamp on the turf in windblown Paul Brown Stadium and franchise player A.J. Green sent them out in upbeat fashion when he backed up running back Joe Mixon.
Mixon has been saying the Bengals are going to the playoffs. Green agrees. He pointed to the halfway point of last season, when he joined tight end Tyler Eifert on the injured list.
"I think so. We are. If everyone stays healthy, the sky's the limit for this offense," Green said after practice. ""Last year, we were averaging (28) points a game … We have talent. We have a great back. We have great receivers. We have a great line. We've got a great defense. We just have to put everything together and everybody stays healthy."
Staying healthy is the operative phrase. The mandatory minicamp ended with no word on starting left tackle Jonah Williams' health, but everything else looks to be fitting into place with Green, Eifert, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins, edge rusher Carl Lawson and defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow looking good to be on the field July 26 for the first training camp practice.
New head coach Zac Taylor is leery of making predictions, but he appreciates how his players have responded confidently to his message.
"We want our guys to focus on us, but we certainly love the confidence that Joe has," Taylor said. "Guys that know what they're doing and we expect a lot of them on the field and it's good to have that confidence. We like to take a humble approach to this thing. I think it's important to not make any predictions, because the NFL is a tough league and you have to come out and focus each game at a time, but I do like our guys to have some confidence, too."
- Taylor gave the starters the morning off and undrafted rookie quarterback Jake Dolegala took full advantage in team drills where he and fourth-round pick Ryan Finley split the snaps. The 6-7, 242-pound Dolegala, who took just one snap all spring before Thursday, unveiled the big arm that got him noticed at Central Connecticut State.
By the count of Bengals radio voice Dan Hoard, Dolegala sifted 12 of 17 passes in the team stuff that included touchdowns down the middle to veteran wide receivers Cody Core and Josh Malone and a scoring flip to rookie running back Trayveon Williams getting behind rookie linebacker Germaine Pratt.
"Coach let me know this morning I'd be getting some work and it was great to get some reps," Dolegala said. "I thought I did well. There are things I can do better, of course, procedurally and protection-wise. But as a whole it was a positive day."
He hit Malone for a touchdown on a post on the final snap of the spring and while there was a debate if Malone had both feet in the back of the end zone, there was no debate about Dolegala impressing on such short notice. Although he credited Malone for making the play with making a mid-air adjustment. But he gunned it with no hesitation and showed the same decisiveness all day.
"He threw well today. It was good to give Andy (Dalton) and Jeff (Driskel) a break and see these other guys," said quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt. "He was accurate. He threw the ball well for not having many reps. It was good to see from a young guy."