New Bengals wide receiver Brandon LaFell never knew Andy Dalton was this good.
"Watching them reel off (eight) straight wins (in '15), I knew he was pretty good," LaFell said before Wednesday's practice at mandatory minicamp. "But I've been here since April working with that guy (and Andy Dalton), he's way better than advertised."
LaFell broke it down with "ball placement, accuracy. How fast he gets the ball out. His command of the huddle. The way he always has us in the right play. The way he demands everybody to play to a certain level."
LaFell teamed with future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Tom Brady two years ago to win a Super Bowl in New England and while no one is Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, LaFell seems some similarities to the way things go in Foxboro.
"Everybody respects him just like everybody respects Brady," LaFell said. "How Brady demands the best out of everybody and Andy is doing the same thing. Both of those guys are smart guys. Both get the offense in the right play. They always get the ball to the right person at the right time. It's two different offenses, but both of those guys are winners." . . .
Everybody seems to think it's a make-or-break year for right end Margus Hunt as he heads into free agency. But there's not exactly pressure on him. Before he took up football, Hunt, at age 18, won Estonia's first two gold medals in the World Junior Track and Field Championships in the discus and shot put.
He says there's more pressure getting off six perfect throws with people passing you in the standings before every toss than playing in a pre-season game.
"People don't realize how challengintg those competitions actually are," Hunt said. "You have to have stone-cold nerves. The bigger the stage, the more comfortable I feel."
Cincinnati Bengals host minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium 6/15/2016
Wide receiver James Wright, shelved for nearly two years with a knee that required micro fracture knee surgery, did individual drills with his teammates for the first time Wednesday instead of on the side. He didn't participate in team sessions and he's not sure if he'll be ready when training camp opens in six weeks.
"I think so, but we'll see," Wright said. "It felt great. I felt explosive."
With the identity of the No. 4-6 receivers on the team virtually a blank slate, Wright is an interesting X factor if healthy. Before he got hurt late in his rookie year in 2014 he had emerged as the third receiver as well as a key cover guy on special teams . . .
Wright caught the ball pretty well Wednesday ("Like riding a bike," he said) and he'll have to if he wants to get back in the mix because there are guys catching the ball. Jake Kumerow caught everything again Wednesday. Like a ball on the sideline, where he was blanketed by first-round cornerback William Jackson and safety Josh Shaw and Kumerow caught it through a forest of limbs just before he went out-of-bounds . . .
Veteran Brandon Tate also had another day that people don't want to read about, but all he does is catch passes and punts. He got behind Jackson on one play where he split the secondary and while Jackson had pretty decent coverage on him, Tate made an even better catch down the middle. ..
First-year wide receiver Michael Bennett also got around Jackson and quarterback Andy Dalton aired it out for a touchdown and Jackson appeared to tweak his hamstring on the play. ..
The first two offenses ran a one-minute drill and each ended in a 45-yard field with the Dalton Gang getting it from Mike Nugent and AJ McCarron's group getting it from Zach Hocker . . .
It's never too early for a veteran's day to rest knees and left tackle Andrew Whitworth and WILL backer Vontaze Burfict got them Wednesday. But the young tackles that should be playing for Whitworth (2015 second-rounder Jake Fisher) and right tackle Andre Smith (2015 first-rounder Cedric Ogbuehi) are still only doing individual drills. They should be ready for training camp. The Bengals really like the versatility undrafted rookie Alex Cooper has shown, particularly at center, although he had a minor blip Wednesday when he shot-gunned a snap into the stands while the offensive line was working on the side. Not only that the ball was retrieved by Bengals vice president of player personnel Pete Brown . . .
Right end Michael Johnson had another tipped ball Wednesday at the line of scrimmage . .. Head coach Marvin Lewis is making sure defensive linemen like Margus Hunt, Will Clarke, and Marcus Hardison are getting tons of reps . . .